Humanist Society Guidelines

 


Humanist-Society-logo-tealThe Humanist Society provides endorsement for those intending to be ambassadors, advocates, leaders, and scholars of humanism. Humanism will never be hierarchical or monastic in character, but there is value to deliberate and progressive collective action as humanists to represent and improve humanist thought and action.

By standardizing processes and applying peer review to humanism, we can earn respect as humanists and from non-humanist professionals. Additional certification levels and training programs will require formal organization. The guidelines here will also provide for formal collaboration among humanist organizations.

Humanism is, if nothing else, a progressive life stance. The endorsements listed here are intended to be progressive as well and will grow as the cadre of Celebrants grow the base of knowledge. The Society will work primarily through the Humanist Institute for education and training programs. The Society gives special recognition to other humanist leadership programs such as those of the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, American Ethical Union, and The Clergy Project. The Society is open to other organizations interested in being afforded special consideration.

There are several Humanist Society designations. Most applicants seek the basic Celebrant designation. There is an Associate Celebrant designation that provides an introductory endorsement. Limited qualifications are required and the endorsement expires in 90 days unless the Associate Celebrant applies for and receives basic Celebrant status. The Lay Leader endorsement meets requirements for certain military chaplain programs.

The other available designation is Chaplain and qualifies for humanist services in an institutional setting (eg, military, prison, school, hospital). Chaplains will be expected to seek professional development as chaplains and to work with non-humanists. A “chaplain” designation is not required or those seeking to provide exclusively humanist services. Those wishing to provide exclusively humanist services in an institutional setting should seek a standard Celebrant designation, and connect to humanists through that institution’s chaplain or administration.

Note on clergy status: The Celebrant and Associate Celebrant designations are legally considered equivalent to clergy/ordination with authority, among other things, to solemnize weddings. Clergy are expected and required to abide by all applicable laws and regulations regarding confidentiality, reporting, marriage officiating, and other issues. Legal compliance is solely the responsibility of the Celebrant. If a Celebrant has any legal concerns, he or she should consult with a lawyer. The Chaplain status is not clergy, though individuals will normally apply for Celebrant and Chaplain status concurrently. (Lay Leaders seeking clergy credentials would apply for Celebrant status to replace their Lay Leader designation).

Read on to learn more about:

 

 

Endorsements Process

All endorsements require a completed application with three references or reference papers, a $40 application fee ($25 for lay leaders, $75 for associate celebrants), current membership in AHA, professed commitment to humanism, background check if requested. Also required is a $100 annual professional fee ($25 for lay leaders) and re-endorsement applications (two years for the first, and then every five years). Celebrants of all designations will be held to the standards in the Code of Conduct and may be removed for any violation.

1) Ensure you understand and profess humanism as defined by the Humanist Society. Take all the time you need.

2) Read these Guidelines as well as the Code of Conduct expected of Celebrants (and the Chaplain Covenant expected of Chaplains).

3) Select a designation – Celebrant, Associate Celebrant, Lay Leader, and Chaplain as well as Celebrant & Chaplain for chaplains who also want clergy status. Go to the application page of your desired designation.

4) Complete application and submit all documents. Questions are the same for initial endorsement and re-endorsement for each designation.

5) Pay $100 annual professional fees ($25 for Lay Leaders)

6) Apply for initial re-endorsement after 2 years and later re-endorsements every 5 years using the same application process.

Referrals are required for endorsement applicants but not for re-endorsements. In lieu of referrals, applicants may submit a Humanist Institute completion certificate, certification as an American Ethical Union Leader, as an IISHJ or SHJ Rabbi, or a letter of good standing from The Clergy Project.

Endorsements Available

Associate Humanist Celebrant: This introductory endorsement level is a one-time celebrant status valid for a 90-day period. If after 90 days, you want to continue with this endorsement we encourage you to apply to become a Humanist Celebrant, in which case, your application fee and reference requirement will be waived. Associate Celebrants are granted the rights equivalent to ordained clergy allowing them to legally perform weddings under the jurisdiction of the law within their state and subject to “clergy” confidentiality.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $75 application fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership

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Humanist Celebrant: Humanist Celebrants may legally perform weddings as well as preside over memorials, coming-of-age, baby welcomings and other life milestone ceremonies. Humanist Celebrants have the rights equivalent to ordained clergy, allowing them to legally perform weddings under the jurisdiction of the law within their state and subject to “clergy” confidentiality.

Initial Humanist Celebrant endorsement is valid for a 2-year period. Renewal is required following 2-year initial endorsement. See section on Humanist Celebrant Renewal for more information.

Those less familiar with humanism or unsure about fulfilling the role of Humanist Celebrant should consider “Associate Humanist Celebrant” designation.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $40 application fee
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Humanist Celebrant role

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Humanist Celebrant Renewal: Initial Humanist Celebrant endorsement is valid for a 2-year period. Celebrants desiring to continue status at this endorsement level need to seek renewal. If granted continued endorsement, Humanist Celebrants are then valid for a 5-year period before renewal is again required.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Humanist Celebrant role
  • Officiated a minimum of 1 ceremony per year*

*If seeking renewal after initial 2-year endorsement a celebrant needs to have officiated a minimum of 2 ceremonies. If seeking renewal after 5-year endorsement a celebrants needs to have officiated a minimum of 5 ceremonies.

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Humanist Lay Leader (Military): This endorsement level is for those committed to supporting a military installation in organizing humanist meetings within chaplain services in accordance with various military requirements. Lay Leaders are encouraged over time to apply for full Celebrant status as their qualifications and commitment to humanism grow. The Society understands that some applicants may refuse any clergy-related titles and opt instead to remain a Lay Leader.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $25 application fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Lay Leader role in a military setting

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Humanist Chaplain: A chaplain represents Humanist values and principles in secular institutions such as a hospital, nursing home, prison, military unit, school, police department, university and/or humanist community. This is intended for those working as chaplains and will not be given or renewed for those not intending to work in an institutional setting and will not be renewed for those who have not had significant institutional work during the endorsement period. Chaplains are distinguished from Celebrants in their responsibility and authority to work with non-humanists as well as humanists. This position is distinguished by a professional chaplain’s covenant (see appendix) to serve all and exploit none.

Initial Humanist Chaplain endorsement is valid for a 2-year period. Renewal is required following 2-year initial endorsement. See section on Humanist Chaplain Renewal below for more information.

The Board of Chaplaincy Certification Inc., an affiliate of the Association for Professional Chaplains (APC), sets their own standards for certification (APC standards for certification). APC recognizes the Humanist Society as an endorser of chaplains. The Humanist Society provides endorsement that one is authentically humanist. Employers may require specific professional certifications for individuals to function as a chaplain within their institution

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $40 application fee
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Humanist Chaplain role

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Humanist Chaplain Renewal: Initial Humanist Chaplain endorsement is valid for a 2-year period. A Chaplain desiring to continue status at this endorsement level needs to seek renewal. If granted continued endorsement, Humanist Chaplains are then valid for a 5-year period before renewal is again required.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Humanist Chaplain role
  • Service as chaplain subsequent to endorsement

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Humanist Celebrant & Humanist Chaplain (dual endorsement): The Chaplain endorsement does not grant equivalent rights as clergy to legally perform weddings under the jurisdiction of most states within the U.S. without additionally holding a Celebrant endorsement. Chaplains who wish to have the privilege to legally perform weddings are encouraged to apply for dual endorsement of Humanist Chaplain and Humanist Celebrant.

Initial Humanist Chaplain and Humanist Celebrant (dual endorsement) is valid for a 2-year period. Renewal is required following 2-year initial endorsement. See section on Humanist Chaplain and Humanist Celebrant Renewal below for more information.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $40 application fee
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Understanding of Humanist Celebrant role
  • Understanding of Humanist Chaplain role

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Humanist Chaplain and Humanist Celebrant Renewal (dual endorsement): Initial Humanist Chaplain and Humanist Celebrant endorsement is valid for a 2-year period. A Chaplain and Celebrant desiring to continue status at this endorsement level needs to seek renewal. If granted continued endorsement, Humanist Chaplains and Humanist Celebrant are then valid for a 5-year period before renewal is again required.

Qualifications:

  • Completed application
  • $100 annual professional fee
  • American Humanist Association Membership
  • Officiated a minimum of 1 ceremony per year*
  • Service as chaplain subsequent to endorsement

*If seeking renewal after initial 2-year endorsement a celebrant needs to have officiated a minimum of 2 ceremonies. If seeking renewal after 5-year endorsement a celebrants needs to have officiated a minimum of 5 ceremonies.

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Appendix: Ethical Conduct as a Celebrant

Celebrants are ambassadors of humanism and expected to uphold the highest standards of conduct. In addition, those chaplains of humanism who work in institutions with vulnerable and non-humanist populations are expected to maintain an additional standard of non-proselytism in their chaplain duties

Codes of Conduct and Covenant

As ambassadors of the Humanist Society and more generally of humanism, Celebrants are expected to maintain a high standard of personal ethics and conduct, especially in their official duties. Celebrants should stay true to the following Code of Conduct and use it to guide their actions. Violation of the Code of Ethics and Conduct is grounds for immediate removal or endorsement.

Celebrant Code of Conduct

The following is drawn originally from various documents including the Ethics Statement from The Secular Fellowship located in Ayr, Scotland, the prior Humanist Society Code of Ethical Conduct dated March 2005, the Association of Professional Chaplains, the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy, the National Conference on Ministry to the Armed Forces, and others.

  1. Represent Authentic Humanism
    1. A Humanist Celebrant shall uphold and represent the ethical and philosophical principles of humanism as expressed in Humanist Manifesto III: Humanism and Its Aspirations. A Humanist Celebrant shall not willfully distort or misrepresent humanism or the greater humanist community.
    2. The Celebrant may choose or not choose wording referencing divine/supernatural or otherwise non-humanist content. Just as priests may refer to scientific or humanistic ideals, so may we include spiritual ideas in our own ceremonies. However, this should only be to recognize the culture, traditions, or guests of the ceremony. It is unethical for a Humanist Celebrant to present as humanist prayer, scripture readings, or other explicitly supernatural elements or elements of other religions.
    3. A Humanist Celebrant shall adhere to and uphold the purposes, policies, and bylaws of the American Humanist Association and the Humanist Society; a Humanist Celebrant shall not willfully contravene or misrepresent the purposes, policies, and bylaws of the American Humanist Association or the Humanist Society.
    4. Celebrants should be honest in any interaction with the nature of humanism including scientific naturalism and human-based rational ethics. This is particular important for ceremonies or coaching.
  2. Maintain Humanist Values
    1. Celebrants should at all times conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the highest degree of honesty and integrity when dealing with clients.
    2. People and the diversity they represent should be valued. This includes diversity of belief. While Celebrants need not hide their own beliefs or avoid disagreements, Celebrants should reserve arguments for the proper time and place.
    3. A Humanist Celebrant shall be expected to treat others with courtesy, dignity, respect, and tolerance, and without prejudice or bigotry. Celebrants will treat those suffering from stress, trauma, or tragedy with the utmost empathy and care.
  3. Maintain Professional Integrity
    1. Celebrants should treat any information divulged by clients with strict confidence at all times within the extent authorized by law.
    2. Celebrants should not use their position of respect to further any other paid or voluntary work.
    3. For official work, Celebrants should maintain a high standard of dress and reserve informal when for times when such is called. “Vestments”, if used, should be reserved and strictly humanist in nature.
    4. Celebrants shall protect the integrity of their profession by investigating and reporting violations that may occur.
    5. Celebrants should do business primarily as ambassadors of humanism. Financial compensation is appropriate for services provided, but profit-making should never override humanist values.
    6. In performing any service, Celebrants should never exceed their qualifications. This applies to the type and size of ceremonies, events or counseling. It is particularly important Celebrants provide no mental health services of any kind without proper qualifications.
    7. All Celebrants should be willing to act on behalf of those they are working with and provide referrals to more-qualified personnel whenever necessary, including psychologists, religious personnel, or other celebrants, as appropriate.
    8. A Humanist Celebrant shall be expected to work and interact with other Humanist Celebrants and Humanist Leadersin an atmosphere of collegiality, cooperation, and mutual benefit, and without undue enmity or disparagement.
  4. Protect Those In Your Care
    1. Celebrants should not publicize the content of any ceremony or activity that has been completed without first ensuring that sufficient changes have been made to ensure that identification of the subject is impossible or that subjects have authorized, in writing, use of their likeness or ceremonies.
    2. Celebrants shall avoid exploiting those in their care especially for commercial, sexual, political, or other favors.
  5. Harassment Policy
    1. We strictly prohibit and will not tolerate harassment based on an individual’s protected status, including but not limited to sexual or racial harassment.
    2. Humanist Celebrants are prohibited from harassing others.
    3. This conduct includes but is not limited to:
      – Unwanted sexually suggestive statements, questions or jokes;
      – Repeatedly rejected sexual flirtations, advances, or propositions;
      – Pressuring for sexual activity, including offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors or denying employment benefits in response to a refusal to provide sexual favors;
      – Offensive touching or assault, obscene gestures or suggestive sounds;
      – Use of insults, slurs or negative stereotyping;
      – Circulating, individually targeted offensive jokes, pictures, or other similar material;
      – Intimidating acts, such as bullying or threatening based on an individual’s protected status;
      – Falsely denying, lying about, or otherwise covering up or attempting to cover up conduct that is prohibited by this policy; or
      – Any other conduct that shows hostility toward, disrespect for, or degradation of an individual based on an individual’s protected status.
    4. Violation of this harassment policy is grounds for immediate removal of endorsement.

Chaplain Covenant

As a Chaplain, I will uphold the provisions of the Celebrant Code of Conduct, and I further pledge to uphold the following provisions for pluralistic support and non-proselytism in my chaplain duties.

  1. A Humanist Chaplain is expected to support personnel on their own terms, making every effort to respect and provide for the deeply-held beliefs and practices of non-humanists with just as much care and concern as they would humanists.
  2. A Humanist Chaplain is prohibited from coercing or encouraging those professing non-humanist beliefs to adopt humanist beliefs.
  3. Chaplains will not invite others to humanist activities, materials, or discussions unless the chaplain has good reason to believe that the individual wishes to investigate humanism. “Good reason” might be a specific request, a specific profession of nontheistic beliefs or humanistic beliefs.
  4. Any profession of theistic beliefs or non-humanist beliefs, verbal or non-verbal, shall be a reason (though not a requirement) to end any humanist discussion even if the person has previously invited a conversation.


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