Guy Otten


Non-religious people have human needs (just like religious people), particularly around the major events in life and death. These include the need to mark these major events in an appropriate ceremony.  Some might call these ‘spiritual’ needs, but I see them as human – without any transcendental element.

After many years in the legal profession (finishing as a tribunal judge), I decided in 2011 to retire and reinvent myself  – training as a humanist celebrant. I am active in humanism and currently acting secretary of Greater Manchester Humanists and a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Humanist Association.

I live in Stockport and have been a humanist since the mid 1990s. This was after many years of reading and thinking about the evidence for God’s existence.

I prepare and conduct mainly Funerals and Naming ceremonies. I also address meetings about humanism and other matters.

For more about funerals – click Funerals

For more about Namings –  click Namings 

For more about my role as a public speaker – click Public Speaking


Humanism as a life stance or philosophy goes back to ancient times but the word has only been used in the last 100 years to mean a belief that for humans this is the only life we have, and we have to decide what purpose and meaning to give our existence; there is no transcendental force that can give us the answers.

We also have the right and responsibility to decide how to lead our lives ethically. We seek actively to work to solve the problems of humankind. We see moral guidance comes from shared human values not from any divine revelation.

We have the benefit of our power of reason, the findings and approach to truth of science and our own human experience individually and in community to help us find our way.

The Trend

The statistics from British Social Attitudes Surveys and other surveys consistently show that over half the UK population have no religion; not all call them themselves humanist; many have a residual belief in the possibility there might be a deity, but increasing numbers feel uncomfortable in the presence of religious language whose belief assumption they no longer share. Some feel it is hypocritical to have a ceremony based on beliefs they don’t hold, and all find humanist ceremonies enjoyable, meaningful and helpful.


For the last few years I have been representing Greater Manchester Humanists at the Remembrance Day Ceremony in St Peters Sq. I am acutely aware of the many thousands of non-religious people – alongside those of faith – who have sacrificed their lives so that we today could be free from tyranny.

The battle to remain free is an eternal one, so I fear more lives may be lost in that struggle, particularly now that the world is in a dangerous period with the rise of religious terrorism. I consider the dedication of humanists and non-religious people to risk their lives to protect us generally should be better acknowledged and honoured.

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