Q and A: Juliet Wilson

One of the Humanist Society of Scotland's youngest celebrants explains why the movement is growing following yesterday's report in The Scotsman that humanist weddings are on the rise, while overall marriage figures are in decline.

Why is it that when humanist weddings are gaining ground over traditional church weddings one group – gay couples – is excluded from having such a ceremony?

Under government legislation, only registrars are allowed to perform civil partnerships but we can conduct a ceremony after the legalities have been done. We hope one day same-sex couples will have the same rights as everyone else.

Does the humanist movement oppose the teaching of religion in school?

No, we think children should be taught about all religions but shouldn't be indoctrinated into one religion. Humanists go into schools to tell children what we are about and support the idea of more philosophy classes for pupils.

Are there other alternative humanist ceremonies which are different from mainstream churches?

We do a divorce ceremony which allows people to acknowledge their sadness and deep feelings they have about the failure of the marriage. This is a positive thing, especially if there are children involved, and also allows families and friends to be comforted at a time when they might be expected to take sides.

Is being a humanist the same as being an atheist?

Although it is perhaps true that a large proportion of humanists would describe themselves as atheists, the humanist movement has never considered atheism (construed as a rejection of all concepts of God) as a necessary part of the humanist outlook.

Do the main political parties look positively on your beliefs?

Not really. They seem to be afraid of religion at a time when it is no longer a force. You only have to look at the reaction when a politician says they don't believe in God to see how worried they get.

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