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UK News

Scotland's number of Christian marriages overtaken by humanists for first time ever

by Premier Journalist

The number of people getting married in humanist ceremonies in Scotland has overtaken traditional Christian marriages for the first time.

Data from the National Records of Scotland showed that humanist marriages comprised 22.6 per cent of the total last year, while Christian marriages accounted for 22.3 per cent.

Civil ceremonies remain the most popular of all, making up almost half (48.6 per cent) of all recorded marriages. However, overall, marriage is decreasing in popularity, with just 26,007 in 2019 -- the lowest number on record. 

The statistics revealed that there were 12,635 civil ceremonies last year, 5,879 humanist marriages, 5,812 Christian marriages and 1,409 marriages of other religions. Humanist marriages have seen a dramatic increase in popularity over the last 15 years, with just 82 taking place in 2005 when the non-religious form of matrimony was legalised across Scotland.

Fraser Sutherland, chief executive of the Humanist Society Scotland, said the new figures indicated that humanist marriages were now a “mainstay of Scottish public life”.

He added: "The figures also show that our celebrants have solemnised the biggest percentage share of total weddings we have ever had – showing that more couples are opting for a meaningful humanist ceremony than ever before.

“These stats also put more pressure on the UK Government to relent and legally recognise humanist marriages in England and Wales.

“The claims there is no demand for such ceremonies are blown out of the water by these new Scottish figures.

“We support our friends at Humanists UK in their campaign for humanist marriage recognition in other parts of the UK.”

A Church of Scotland spokesman said: “Church of Scotland weddings are deeply personal and as unique as the couples being married.

“Ministers are called to a community precisely so that they may get to know and live within their local context.

“That means that over time they develop deep relationships with local people who often come to their minister because of friendships that can span generations.

“The minister, who does not personally charge a fee for their service, draws on the strength of those friendships to create with the couple a unique experience tailored just to them and this can include music, format, style, vows and venue amongst other things.”

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