CFI Secular Celebrant Program

Center for Inquiry has created a Secular Celebrant Program to train and certify secular celebrants to perform non-religious weddings, commitment ceremonies, funerals, memorials, and other “milestones of life”.

CFI certified Secular Celebrants may legally solemnize marriages in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, DC. A lawsuit is in progress in Texas.


You can become a certified CFI Secular Celebrant by attending a CFI Secular Celebrant Training workshop and meeting a few other certification requirements.

Why a CFI Secular Celebrant Program?

Persons who are not affiliated with any religion constitute 20% of the US population.  Unfortunately, the choice of persons to conduct ceremonies for marriages, same sex commitments, memorials, and other rites of passage is usually between religious clergy and civil officials.

For a nonreligious person this can be a traumatic experience.  They may be required to go through religious counseling and/or have religious references in their ceremony.  They may be prevented from having their choice of music or readings as part of the ceremony.  The local minister called on to conduct a funeral/memorial may preach a “come to Jesus” sermon or otherwise use religious references that are not in keeping with the worldview of the person being memorialized.  Many of us have seen this done.

Additionally, civil officials are usually not available to do marriage ceremonies at the place and time of the couple’s choosing, but only in a government setting such as an office or the courthouse.  Furthermore, these officials are typically personally unknown to the couple.  Wedding ceremonies, memorials, and other life passages are extremely important events – they are life’s milestones – and people should be able to have these ceremonies conducted in a manner and by a person of their choosing.

While some people of the secular worldview do not see a need for rituals and ceremonies of any kind, many feel that having a way of marking life passages is important.  CFI feels that this is a personal choice and that secular ceremonies – and persons to conduct these ceremonies – should be available to those who want them.

By utilizing the services of a CFI-certified secular celebrant, members of the non-religious community may mark life’s milestones in ways that are most personally meaningful to them. In addition, utilizing certified secular celebrants’ services to perform weddings will assist CFI in bringing legal challenges to laws that allow religious officials to solemnize marriages, but unconstitutionally bar representatives of secular organizations from doing so.

CFI Fights for Equality for Secular Celebrants

Due to the ongoing legal work of Center for Inquiry, CFI certified Secular Celebrants may now solemnize marriages in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Oregon, and Washington, DC.

In 2014 CFI won a landmark ruling allowing CFI Secular Celebrants to Solemnize marriages in Indiana. Ever since CFI has continued the fight for secular marriage equality. They won a similar lawsuit in Illinois and helped pass Secular Celebrant legislation in Oregon in 2017.

In April 2020, CFI’s lawsuit in Michigan was resolved after MI Attorney General, Dana Nessel, reversed the government’s opposition to the lawsuit brought by the Center for Inquiry. Promising that the state considers CFI Secular Celebrants to be covered by existing statutes regarding marriage solemnization.

CFI currently has an ongoing lawsuit in Texas, which has been appealed to the Circuit Court.

If you reside in a state that does not allow Secular Celebrants to legally solemnize weddings contact Reba Wooden, CFI Secular Celebrant Program Director, about becoming a celebrant and assisting CFI with advocating with your state leaders to change the law.