Ethical Code of Conduct for Humanist Professionals

and supplemental policies

Celebrants, Chaplains, Invocators, and Lay Leaders are ambassadors of humanism and expected to uphold the highest standards of personal ethics and conduct, especially in their official duties.

Violation of the Ethical Code of Conduct is grounds for immediate removal of endorsement.


Represent Authentic Humanism

Humanist Professionals shall uphold and represent the ethical and philosophical principles of humanism as expressed in Humanist Manifesto III: Humanist and Its Aspirations, as well as adhere to and uphold the purposes, policies, and bylaws of The Humanist Society.

Humanist Professionals may choose or not choose wording referencing divine/supernatural or otherwise non-humanist content in ceremonies.  However, this should only be to recognize the culture, traditions, or guests of the ceremony.  It is unethical to present scripture readings, explicitly supernatural elements, or elements of other religions as humanist prayer.

Humanist Professionals should be honest in any interaction with the nature of humanism including scientific naturalism and human-based rational ethics.  This is particularly important for ceremonies or coaching.

Maintain Humanist Values

Humanist Professionals should at all times conduct themselves in a manner that reflects the highest degree of honesty and integrity when dealing with clients.  All shall be expected to treat others with courtesy, dignity, respect, and tolerance, and without prejudice or bigotry.  All will treat those suffering from stress, trauma, or tragedy with the utmost empathy and care.

People and the diversity they represent should be valued.  this includes a diversity of belief.  While Professionals need not hide their own beliefs or avoid disagreements, they should reserve arguments for the proper time and place.

Maintain Professional Integrity

Humanist Professionals should treat any information divulged by clients with strict confidence at all times within the extent authorized by law.

Humanist Professionals should not use their positions of respect to further any other paid or voluntary work.  They should do business primarily as ambassadors of humanism.  Financial compensation is appropriate for services provided, but profit-making should never override humanist values.

For official work, Humanist Professionals should maintain a high standard of dress and reserve informal for times when such is called.  “Vestments,” if used, should be reserved and strictly humanist in nature.

Humanist Professionals shall protect the integrity of their profession by investigating and reporting violations that may occur.

Humanist Professionals should never exceed their qualifications.  This applies to the type and size of ceremonies, events, or counseling.  It is particularly important for Professionals to not provide mental health services of any kind without proper qualifications.  All 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 or Chaplains, as appropriate.

Protect Those In Your Care

Humanist Professionals 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.

Humanist Professionals shall avoid exploiting those in their care, especially for commercial, sexual, political, or other favors.

We strictly prohibit and will not tolerate harassment based on an individual’s protected status, including but not limited ot sexual or racial harassment.

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.

Humanist Chaplains who work in institutions with vulnerable and non-humanist populations are expected to maintain an additional standard of pluralistic support and non-proselytism in their chaplain duties.

Humanist Chaplains are expected to support institution 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.

Humanist Chaplains are prohibited from coercing and encouraging those professing non-humanist beliefs to adopt humanist beliefs.

Humanist Chaplains will not invite others to humanist activities, materials, or discussion 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.

Pursuing justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion is a moral imperative for The Humanist Society (THS) and integral to our understanding of the humanist worldview.

We are aware that inadequate laws and implementation disproportionately harm Black, Brown, Asian, Indigenous, LGBTQ+, and other communities often targeted by society for discrimination. We recognize these injustices are born of longstanding systemic inequalities, and are forms of continued systemic oppression.

THS commits to holding ourselves accountable to ensure equity is embedded in our operations and processes. Our goal is to create an environment that is inclusive, respectful, and equitable, and to endorse people with different backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives to accomplish the mission of the THS. We are also committed to the lifelong learning that is required for effective diversity and inclusion work.

We seek to be humble yet bold in this endeavor, open and without defensiveness. We hope to identify, encourage, endorse and support people that better reflect our changing nation. We will make mistakes and missteps as we grow, but we will always try to learn from them. We invite our community – our Celebrants and Chaplains, supporters and partners, and the general public – to join us on this journey so that together we can better advance the principles of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion.

  • We will foster and sustain an environment of inclusion, equity, and diversity through training, recruitment, and peer support.
  • We will challenge long held opinions and assumptions and act in order to change them.
  • We will evaluate and rectify organizational structures, policies, and practices that cause differential impact and limit access and opportunities for all Chaplains, Celebrants, and those they serve
  • We will foster a culture of respect and inclusion that values the experiences and perspectives of all of our Chaplains, Celebrants, and those they serve
  • We will address intergroup disparities in representation and retention through consistent dialogue and training, and intentional efforts to make our environment welcoming to individuals from underrepresented groups.
  • We will support and advance a diverse collective and make intentional efforts to recruit individuals from underrepresented groups.
  • We will provide resources and programs to promote individuals that enhance our ability to reach our goals of diversity, inclusion, and equity.
adopted February 25, 2002