BHA defends humanist funerals

  • Date / 20 October 2009

The British Humanist Association (BHA) launched a defence today of the right for everyone to have a funeral of their choice, in response to Church of England vicar Reverend Ed Tomlinson’s assault on humanist funerals.

Tana Wollen, BHA Head of Ceremonies, said, ‘Humanist ceremonies regularly get into the press with the funerals of such celebrities as Keith Floyd, Ronnie Barker and Bob Monkhouse in recent years, but our trained celebrants actually conduct the funerals of over 7000 ordinary people every year.’

‘When saying good-bye to someone you’ve loved, being channelled into having a religious funeral or saying words that simply don’t ring true with your beliefs or with the beliefs of the person who has died can be especially painful. For most non-religious people it’s important to celebrate the life that has ended, to focus on that person, on the memories and human “footprint” they have left behind.’

‘Committing the dead to a god or gods that you don’t believe exists or sending them off to an after-life you believe is fictional, even with the accompaniment of a sonorous liturgy, doesn’t feel right. Humanists hold that we have just one life: this one. A humanist funeral which pays tribute to how someone has lived, to what they have done for themselves and for others, with music and words particularly fitting to them can be a joyous occasion.’

Ms Wollen continued, ‘What a shame that this particular priest seems more concerned with his own feelings than allowing bereaved people a ceremony that reflects their beliefs and wishes and those of the loved ones they have lost.’


For further comment or information, contact Tana Wollen at or +44(0)20 7079 3582.

The BHA carries out over 7000 funerals each year through Humanist Ceremonies, its network of trained and accredited humanist celebrants.

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.

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