Why a CFI Secular Celebrant Program?
Persons who are not affiliated with any religion constitute 16% of the US population. Unfortunately, the choice of persons to conduct ceremonies for marriages, same sex commitments, memorials, and other rites of passage is usually between religious clergy and civil officials.
For a nonreligious person this can be a traumatic experience. They may be required to go through religious counseling and/or have religious references in their ceremony. They may be prevented from having their choice of music or readings as part of the ceremony. The local minister called on to conduct a funeral/memorial may preach a “come to Jesus” sermon or otherwise use religious references that are not in keeping with the worldview of the person being memorialized. Many of us have seen this done.
Additionally, civil officials are usually not available to do marriage ceremonies at the place and time of the couple’s choosing, but only in a government setting such as an office or the courthouse. Furthermore, these officials are typically personally unknown to the couple. Wedding ceremonies, memorials, and other life passages are extremely important events – they are life’s milestones – and people should be able to have these ceremonies conducted in a manner and by a person of their choosing.
While some people of the secular worldview do not see a need for rituals and ceremonies of any kind, many feel that having a way of marking life passages is important. CFI feels that this is a personal choice and that secular ceremonies – and persons to conduct these ceremonies – should be available to those who want them.
The Center for Inquiry has created a Secular Celebrant Program to train and certify secular celebrants to perform weddings, memorials, and other “milestones of life” ceremonies.