Scots ditch religion in ever great numbers, and embrace humanist ceremonies instead

FOLLOWING a recent survey which shows that Scotland is increasingly turning its nose up at religion,  comes a report that secular weddings are on the rise.

The Humanist Society of Scotland said that its celebrants officiated at about 3,000 weddings last year – and it predicts they will become more popular than Church of Scotland weddings in as little as two years.

This photo of a non-religious Scots wedding is featured on the Humanist Society Scotland's website

This photo of a non-religious Scots wedding is featured on the Humanist Society Scotland’s website

A similar trend would be on the cards for the rest of the UK if only the ceremonies were legally recognised, says  the British Humanist Association (BHA). That happened  in Scotland in 2005, when there were fewer than 100 ceremonies, but the country is now one of few in the world where non-religious weddings are allowed. The others are Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Norway and certain states of the USA.

Said  Andrew Copson, Chief Executive of the BHA:

It’s a great shame because people want them and there’s no real argument against them.

He hopes the law will soon change. In the meantime, humanist couples may marry at a registry office and then have a humanist ceremony some time afterwards (or just have the ceremony and to hell with legal recognition).

About 800 couples do this a year in England and Wales. The BHA’s growing membership, meanwhile, stands at 30,000.

A humanist wedding – like a funeral – can be anything the folk involved want it to be – but without any religious claptrap. There are no prescribed rituals.

Explained Copson:

Ceremonies are designed to be extremely personalised and meaningful. They’re a celebration of a relationship in front of family and friends. They’re not religious but look for meaning instead in people.

Earlier, the National Secular Society reported that Scotland, “once one of the more pious parts of the British Isles”, is rapidly becoming secularised.

Referring to a poll to commissioned for the Sunday Times and Real Radio Scotland, over the past decade the number of Scots saying they belong to a Christian faith has fallen from almost two-thirds (65 percent), as recorded in the 2001 census, to 55 percent.

Over the same period, the number of those who follow no religion has risen from 28 percent to 39 percent.

Terry Sanderson, President of the National Secular Society, said:

These figures indicate a growing national trend towards secularisation. And even then the results of the Scottish poll are likely to be underestimates of the extent of it. When the Scottish census figures are released later this year, we expect to see similar levels of decline in religious identity.

Sanderson referred to the well-established phenomenon of people overstating their religious beliefs and loyalties; a recent poll in England showed implied attendance double the actual figures taken from church statistics. He also pointed to the response to another poll conducted on behalf of the Chef and Brewer pub chain about how people spent their Sundays.

Fifteen per cent claimed that they “usually went to a place of worship”. Terry Sanderson said:

Even the churches wouldn’t try to claim that. Their own head counts show less than half of that number actually show up at church on a normal Sunday.

He continues to be puzzled by the way people still often felt the need to exaggerate their religious adherence when questioned by pollsters.

So why do people feel the need to say they go to church when they don’t? It seems to be another indication of the religious indoctrination we have all undergone, which leaves many of us still feeling guilty about admitting we couldn’t really care less about the church and are bored by it.

Hat tip: Agent Cormac and Barriejohn