A Humanist Alternative to Religious Confirmation

The prospects of secular humanists who hold to positive, progressive, nontheistic worldviews are on the rise as the idea of being good without a god becomes more accepted and the numbers of nonreligious Americans increase. With millions of people growing up without traditional religion, it becomes noticeable that some religious ceremonies aren’t just formalities.

Weddings and memorial services are life events that nearly everyone agrees should be commemorated with a memorable experience, support from the involvement of family and friends, and some sort of recognition from the communities in which folks reside. There are strong humanist options for such events, such as those provided by humanist celebrants of the Humanist Society. While such celebrants also engage in baby naming ceremonies and other life-cycle events, one that tends to be lacking is a coming-of-age event similar to a Jewish bar or bat mitzvah. Arguably, a “humanist confirmation” could be the most powerful and meaningful life-cycle ceremony of them all.

As the Catholic Church’s confirmation does for Catholics, a humanist confirmation can be a major milestone for humanists. This gives teens or young adults a chance to “confirm” that they embrace positive nontheistic humanist principles and reject superstition. Such an event, at a pivotal point of their lives, gets them thinking about secular morals and values based on reason, not dogma. Such confirmations could include a commitment to be true to oneself, to be open about one’s convictions, and to take a mature approach to life’s important issues.

Having communities coming together to recognize teens who visibly accept the basic concepts of humanism reinforces the benefits of a humanist approach to all involved. Importantly, a humanist confirmation would be a way of showing that humanism is more than just a rejection of ancient myths, but an embrace of empathy, compassion, and ideals that build a better world for all. It would be a way for families to show that their worldview is normal and as valid as anyone else’s. Most importantly, it would be a way for humanist groups to build community. By involving the increasingly trained and experienced humanist celebrants in community experiences, substance and cohesion are realized. Finally, by calling it a “confirmation” we’re leaving no doubt that we are doing something to put ourselves on equal footing with traditional religion.