Non-Religious Weddings Are on the Rise in Ireland

Just weeks after I posted about the rise of godless funerals in Ireland, there’s another trend worth noting in the country:

Demand for the Humanist Association of Ireland’s secular weddings has surged as the moral authority of the once almighty Catholic Church collapsed in recent decades amid sex abuse scandals and Irish society’s rapid secularisation.

But statistics show rising demand for non-Church weddings. In 1996, 90 percent of Irish weddings were performed by the Catholic Church or the Church of Ireland. But by 2010 that percentage had fallen to 69 percent.

The pent-up demand from those who want more than a civil ceremony in a registry office but reject a religious wedding has created a major backlog for the humanist group’s ceremonies director.

More godless weddings and more godless funerals. Let’s hope there’s no connection.

This comes less than a year after Humanist Celebrants won the right to perform such weddings.

I guess it’s not all that surprising given that Irish citizens, when ranking their priorities earlier this year, placed religion dead last out of 119 possible choices.

It would probably make more sense to just have the media discuss the rise of the Nones in general… but if they want to milk the topic for all the articles and pageviews they can, let’s not stop them.

Watch for future articles on the rise of Irish atheist clubs, communities, divorces, musicians, writers, teachers, and actors.

(Image via Shutterstock)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • Tim

    The Irish have, in general, an admirable attitude to education. Even when there were no jobs they sent their young people to University either in Ireland, the US or the UK.

    I wonder if we can collerate the loss of faith with the rise of education.
    The irony of course is that the Irish valuing of education is partly a profuct of its catholicism.

  • pete084

    Secular marriages in the UK are still not possible, but legislation is passing through Parliament that could change that. The opposition is coming more from civil servants than the church. The majority of marriages in the UK are conducted by Registrars (Civil servants. ), who see Humanist Officiants as a threat to their livelihood.

    Both my niece and nephew where married at licensed venues by Registrars, and this trend of non-religious ceremonies is growing!

    • Psychotic Atheist

      I got married by Registrars and kept it as sterile as possible. I then had the family and friends attend a Humanist ceremony which was fantastic.

  • pagansister

    Good news indeed from the land of my ancestors—-none of whom were Catholic, however.

  • Ryan Hite

    I think it is interesting as to how religious people react to these kinds of weddings. I wonder what they think of non-religious weddings.

  • Monika Jankun-Kelly

    I’m fortunate I was a able to find a friendly judge to officiate at my beautiful secular wedding. Maybe if/when I have kids, they can grow up in a world with humanist celebrants and find nothing surprising about that.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Book idea for Ireland and Britain: How to Turn Your Village Church or Cathedral into a Local History Museum and Increase Tourism Revenue.

    • Tim

      Just leave it as a Church or Cathedral. Most of the old ones are more tourist attraction than houses of worship already.


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