While a significant portion of the United States identifies as “non-religious,” having a traditional wedding without a religious leader presiding seems to be a hard thing to come by. I came across this article written by USA Today which discusses the rising desire for traditional weddings without being affiliated with a religion.
The big problem at hand with non-religious weddings is a lack of advertising. Currently the Humanist Society lists 138 celebrants who perform different life celebrations. Due to the shortage of people in this profession, some of these perform weddings in multiple states. However people who are interested in a ceremony with a Humanist celebrant don’t know where to look, and when they do look they can’t find them in mainstream places like the Yellow Pages.
Now my big question is this: What is causing this lack of advertising? There are many layers to this problem, the deepest of them all I think being the cultural expectations that surround religion and marriage. For many couples, their wedding day is the most involvement that they have in their faith, until they have kids (sometimes). According to our social standard, whether or not you practice your faith is up to you, but your wedding day should be a day where you at least pretend. That’s where the problem is; why can’t people be practicing Humanists, Atheists, or Agnostics on their big day?
While the article written by USA Today looks at the problem at a surface level, addressing the need for advertising, this goes much deeper than that. I think that this calls for an acceptance of non-religious wedding ceremonies and officiants. When something is socially accepted, then it is more prevalent and easier to come by. This calls for all of us as interfaith leaders to look even more closely at our perceptions of the non-religious and support them and their right to not just have a traditional wedding like the other religions, but have it be just as accessible.