Humanist weddings – letter from our chair to the Oxford Times, Jan 2018

To the Editor, The Oxford Times


I read with interest [in the 11/1/18 edition of The Oxford Times] your article headed “Sharp decline in church weddings across county over past five years”. I don’t happen to know how Oxfordshire compares to the rest of England but in comparison with Scotland [where Humanist Weddings were legalised as long ago as 2005], there are a couple of potentially significant differences.

The major difference is that in Scotland the rapid decline in the number of church weddings began about 15 years ago – from being over 50 % until the 1990s – to a low today of not much more than 10%.

The other significant difference between Oxfordshire and Scotland is the very rapid rise in the number of Humanist weddings in Scotland ever since they were first legalised in 2005. By 2016, the number of Humanist weddings [around 20%] was greater than the combined total of all religious weddings – whether in church, mosque, temple or whatever. To date though, the percentage of civil marriages remains around 50%

Regrettably, from a humanist viewpoint, English law still excludes Humanist marriages from legal status [which practically all religious ceremonies are now afforded] despite being actively discussed during the UK’s coalition government of the early 2010s. There is a dozen Humanist trained Marriage Celebrants currently offering this service within about 20 miles of Oxford so it’s surely time they were given equal status with all their religious counterparts ?

John White

Chair, Oxford Humanists