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Humanist ceremonies and pastoral care

Watch humanist celebrant Isabel Russo and pastoral carer Carrie Thomas describe cases in which humanists are denied the same freedoms as the religious
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Humanists can’t, in England, have a marriage with legal recognition. If you want to have a humanist wedding, you have to have a civil marriage in order for it to be legally recognised. And obviously that’s not the case if you’re religious, you go to a church and that’s the legally recognised ceremony, so there’s a huge inequality in what’s available to non-religious, humanist people, as far as a wedding ceremony’s concerned.
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So by not having the legal recognition of a humanist marriage, a humanist couple are missing out on having what they believe to be the ceremony that has heart and meaning for them, and significance and that they’re putting their attention and energy and finances and gathering all of their family and friends from far corners of the world to come and acknowledge and witness, they’re not allowed for that to be the ceremony that’s legally recognised by the state. Everybody should have the right to mark moments in their lives that are profound and significant, times of great transition, in a way that is meaningful to them.
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We believe in liberty, freedom of choice, equality, the ability to live your life according to your philosophy, and beliefs, and the fact that we can’t have our marriages legally recognised feels like a transgression of those things. Humanists UK began about think of pastoral care in big institutions when it was perceived there was really nothing for the non-religious. Pastoral care for me as it provided is about equity, I believe all human beings whether or not we all have a religion or faith should be able to access the same level or support, and those of us who have a worldview like as I share with humanism should be able to provide that.
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It’s critical at the end of life to be able to share time and speak to someone who has a similar world view to you. There have been challenges on the way for us to have to deliver pastoral support, certainly for years this has been provided by religions and those of a religious faith have been of the opinion that they’re there to provide support for those of all faith and none. But now I do believe more people are accepting that it is appropriate for there to be like-minded support for those without religion and those who refer to their selves as a Humanist.

Humanists UK’s Head of Ceremonies, Isabel Russo, and Pastoral Support Trainer Carrie Thomas describe two cases in which humanists have struggled to achieve equal support during important transitions in life, and equal freedom to mark and share important moments in their lives in ways that are meaningful and personal to them.

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Introducing Humanism: Non-religious Approaches to Life, with Sandi Toksvig

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