Nhs_choices Bthft Bradford Teaching HospitalsNHS Foundation Trust NHS Choices
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No Religious Faith

It should not be assumed that people who describe themselves as having no beliefs wish to be ignored by members of the chaplaincy team. Nor should it be considered that they have no 'spiritual needs'.

Some people use terms such as agnostic and atheist to express that they do not belong to any formal organised religion. Clearly many have no religious structures and are suspicious of organised religions.

All people whether or not they have a religion have 'spiritual' (not religious) needs. They may say 'I would be better off dead than living like this' or 'I can't endure this any more. Where's the sense of going on like this?' Some may ask: 'Why?' 'Why me?' 'Why have I deserved this?' 'Doesn't anybody care?' 'Why is life punishing me?' 'It just isn't fair!'

People are glad of human support, friendship and a listening ear including that offered by all members of the chaplaincy team. Sometimes a healing of hurts and a recovery of self esteem and personal dignity can take place. Our team would always approach people on their terms and with sensitivity and compassion.

Non-religious ceremonies can be arranged either by members of the team or by, for example, a member of the British Humanist Association. Such ceremonies or rites of passage include the recognition of 'life' relationships, naming occasions for new 'arrivals', funerals and remembrance/memorial events.

The content of these is various but can include an address, music, poetry and silence.

Note: Committed Humanists care deeply about moral issues, but from a non-religious standpoint. They believe in the good that is in every human being and the right of the individual to free choice in the main decisions of life and death. The British Humanist Association offers 'officiants' who come from a variety of backgrounds and whatever the circumstances of life and death do not moralise or judge.