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Information for funeral directors
An increasing number of independent funeral celebrants seem to offer any form of ceremony, including "humanist" ceremonies, and consequently many people have been led to believe that the terms "humanist" and "non-religious" are synonymous, which is false. As far as we're concerned, only humanists can provide humanist funerals. To find out more about what it means to be a humanist, see the page entitled, What is Humanism?. Our humanist values inform everything we do, but we don't preach or proselytise.
When arranging a non-religious funeral, clients have a choice.
There are Civil Celebrants, who'll provide ceremonies that include some or no religion. Because we don't believe in the supernatural, we feel it would be hypocritical and insincere to say or do anything that conflicts with our philosophy of life, just as it would be inappropriate for a Christian to conduct a Hindu or Muslim funeral. Our funerals are totally religion-free, which is what an increasing number of clients want. This means that we never refer to an afterlife, as this is a religious concept. However, we don't say or do anything that could be construed as anti-religious, unless, with the family's agreement, it's part of a tribute to a deceased person who was outspoken about his or her views on faith.
There are British Humanist Association celebrants who, like us, offer humanist funerals. The Suffolk Humanist group is affiliated to the BHA and members of our Ceremonies Team are individual BHA members. We've been providing ceremonies since before the BHA introduced its accreditation scheme and have chosen to work independently of it. The difference between us and the BHA's network of celebrants is like a small local business and a national chain - we're local. Most BHA celebrants work without the support of a local humanist group.
In Suffolk, the local humanist and secularist group (Suffolk Humanists & Secularists) and the Ceremonies Team have developed together since the group was founded in 1991. We're proud of our high standards and unblemished record for customer satisfaction. We know and trust one another, we're in frequent contact with one another, and we make decisions about development and recruitment as a team. Unlike the BHA, we don't charge a fee for training, though it's of the highest standard - ask if you'd like to know more. It's like an apprenticeship. We're very fussy about who we accept for training; we think that selecting the right sort of person is an important first step, asking, "Would we be happy for this person to conduct a funeral for someone we loved?". We expect trainees to become active members of Suffolk Humanists & Secularists, and to live as humanists. We provide ongoing support for each other, especially when someone is relatively inexperienced. As demand increases, we're aiming to train new additions to our team. You can refer your clients to the Suffolk Humanist Ceremonies Team with complete confidence.