Humanist weddings outstrip Church of Scotland weddings for the first time


Humanist marriages in Scotland overtook Church of Scotland weddings last year for the first time.

According to figures from the National Records of Scotland, there were 4,290 Humanist wedding ceremonies conducted in 2015. Almost eight in 10 of these (3,378) were conducted by the Humanist Society Scotland (HSS), while the rest were conducted by independent groups and the Humanist Fellowship of Scotland.

The Church of Scotland held 4,052 wedding ceremonies last year, while the Catholic Church held just 1,438.

The number of Church of Scotland marriages has been steadily decreasing over the past decade. In 2005, the first year the Humanist weddings were made legal in the country, there were 8,686 Kirk weddings, and 82 Humanist ceremonies.

HSS head of ceremonies and chaplaincy, Lynsey Kidd, said the organisation was "delighted to see that Humanist weddings continue to grow in popularity.

"Our registered celebrants across Scotland are ambassadors for Humanism and work hard to ensure that life's big milestones are celebrated in a meaningful way," she said. "As the original, and most popular organisation for Humanist ceremonies in Scotland it's really encouraging to see the growth of these wonderful ceremonies."

The Church of Scotland, however, pointed out that it remained top of the list of ceremonies conducted by religious and beliefs-based celebrants, once the different Humanist groups are split into their denominations.

Rev Norman Smith, convener of the Mission and Discipleship Council, said churches remained a special place to get married.

"When couples stand in church where generations have stood before pledging their love to one another, it is a reminder that human love endures. Standing before God is a reminder that the Christian God is a God of love who delights in people," he said.

"The Church of Scotland has always stood with the people of Scotland and helped them take this step together. That is still the case and we would encourage anyone considering marriage to remember their local church when thinking about their very special day."

David Robertson, moderator of the Free Church of Scotland, told Christian Today the new figures came as no surprise.

"Given that less than 10 per cent of the population actually attend any church in Scotland, and that nominal Christianity is in freefall, then it should come as no surprise that many couples will choose humanist weddings. Why would a non-Christian want a Christian wedding?" he said.

Robertson also said the Humanist understanding of marriage appealed to "a shallow, superficial" culture.

"In the church we will continue to offer the full riches of Christian marriage, rather than the empty promises of Humanism!" he said.