Ethical Conduct Information


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.


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