Alternative legal weddings in Ireland: the difference between Humanism, Spiritualism and Interfaith


Often, when I explain to people that in Ireland as in Interfaith Minister, I can legally marry people under HSE legislation’, people respond that they get it by saying: ‘Oh, like a humanist’.
You are 100% forgiven for thinking this. Often, the choice in Ireland would be between a religious wedding in a church or an ‘alternative’ wedding.
Because your wedding is one of the most important days of your life, you want to make a well-informed decision about the person creating and delivering the service for you.
In this blog, I will explain the difference between the 3 main alternative wedding options in Ireland today.

First of all, it is important to recognize that Spiritualist, and Interfaith Ministers are recognized to deliver religious ceremonies, and Humanists secular ceremonies.
This means that Spiritualism and Interfaith are recognized as religions in Ireland.
Humanism cannot be called a religion, as a religion is built around the believe that there is a supernatural power bigger than humanity, aka the god of your understanding.

Spiritualism, Humanism and Interfaith have very specific ideologies. I will attempt to explain each of them in short:

Spiritualism is a religious movement that believes that when a person dies, they become a spirit.
Spiritualists actively seek to communicate with spirits of deceased through for instance mediumship, in order to gain a better understanding of the workings of the universe.
Spiritualism is a very old belief system, you can read further about it on the website of the Spiritualist Union of Ireland: http://spiritualistunion.com/?page_id=234

Humanism, as already explained is not a religion. In my humble opinion, a vast majority of people that call themselves Atheists, because they do not believe in a divine power, are actually Humanists.
As opposed to looking to an external divine power, humanists belief we humans are in control of our own advancement, and should be actively seeking the advancement of the human race. Humanism is based on a very old belief system, the separation between ‘belief’ and ‘reason’ in regards to denouncing a divine power to be in existence is a fairly recent development.
To read about the basic principles of Humanism as stated in the Amsterdam agreement, you can visit: http://humanism.ie/2012/12/amsterdam-declaration-2002/

Interfaith is a spiritual movement that honours the whole, without making distinction based on spiritual conviction. Interfaith Ministers serve people of all religions and none.
Interfaith is a very recent spiritual movement, as it only got started in the 1970’s as a result of a group of various religious leaders coming together after WWII to establish a multi-faith dialogue.
All ordained Irish Interfaith Ministers adhere to the following code of ethics:
https://www.interfaithfoundation.org/code-of-ethics/

As you can read, the three movements have very specific ideologies that are likely to influence the tone of your wedding ceremony.
It is therefore important that if you do choose an ‘alternative’ wedding solemniser, to make sure that you understand what they stand for and believe in.
Some very important questions to ask your solemniser:
– What organization are you registered under in the HSE register?
– What is the ideology of this organization?
– How will this ideology impact my wedding ceremony?

To check if and under which organization your wedding solemniser is registered, you may check this link: https://www.welfare.ie/en/downloads/RegisterOfSolemnisers.pdf

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