Today is Religious Freedom Day in the United States, a celebration of one of our most important values. The date marks the anniversary of the passage of the Virginia Statute of Religious Freedom, which was enacted into law by the Virginia General Assembly 233 years ago today. The Statute makes a compelling case that freedom of religion must be a centerpiece of any democracy, arguing that attempts to impose religious views on a populace lead to ” habits of hypocrisy and meanness”, and restrict the natural rights of the person.
Humanists in particular find much to cheer in Jefferson’s Statute. Although he framed his argument in theistic terms, speaking of a creator God and mobilizing that concept to defend religious freedom, he nonetheless stressed that human beings are fallible, and that therefore no authority (civil or ecclesiastical) should impose their beliefs on others. Jefferson rails against forced contributions to religious groups and leaders, arguing that everyone should decide for themselves whether to support a religion or a pastor with their money. And he makes the forceful declaration that “our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions any more than our opinions in physics or geometry” – a position which, if followed to its logical conclusion, would defend the civil rights of those of all religions and none, Humanists included.
In the political sphere, Jefferson stressed that no citizen should be prevented from holding public office due to their religious beliefs: to do so would “[deprive them] injuriously of those privileges and advantages, to which, in common with [their] fellow citizens, [they have] a natural right”. This is a vital principle at a time when there are exceedingly few openly Humanist public officials at any level of government: belief in God still seems to be a litmus test of political respectability in the minds of many.
Most important, though, is that Jefferson understood that just as religious freedom must mean the freedom of individuals to choose a religious path for themselves without fearing reprisal or discrimination, it must also mean that no one is offered special benefits because of their religious views. In the Statute he stresses that a person’s “opinions in matters of Religion…shall in no wise diminish, enlarge or affect their civil capacities.” That “enlarge” is critical, because today our democracy faces many attempts to enlarge the civil capacities of some citizens because they hold particular religious beliefs.
Across the country so-called “Religious Freedom Bills” now make the argument that some citizens, because of their religious views, should have the right to discriminate against other citizens, or to make decisions regarding how their employees should use their healthcare benefits. This has nothing to do with those citizens’ right to their own religious beliefs: my religious freedom is not threatened when someone else chooses to live by a different set of beliefs. Rather, it is the attempt by some unscrupulous lawmakers to twist the definition of “religious freedom” so that it enlarges the civil capacities of their supporters to such an extent that they can burden others with the consequences of their own religious faith.
This trend must be resisted. If religious freedom is to remain a meaningful idea, we must return to a proper understanding of the term. We should all be free to choose our own religious path, without fear of sanction or pressure from the government. But we should all be bound be the same laws, without seeking to use our own religious views to win special privileges. We have the right to choose our own religion, but not the right to force others to live according to its dictates. The first is religious freedom – the second religious tyranny.
A message from Kate Lovelady, Leader:
Greetings to all members of the Ethical Society of St. Louis,
This notice may seem early, but the Ethical Society has become so wonderfully planful that we are already looking ahead to setting goals for the 2019-20 season. And so it makes sense to share now that at the end of that season, in June 2020, I will be stepping down as Leader.
I imagine this surprises a lot of you, and that it will bring up a variety of emotions in the community, which we will work through together in the coming months. And I know many of you will want to know what I’m going to be doing next. I don’t actually know. I intend to stay active with the American Ethical Union and the Ethical Humanist movement, of course, but I have no plans to take another Leadership position in the near future. It’s just time for me to make a change and downshift a bit and see what comes next. I feel that I’ve accomplished the things I planned to when I came here. The Society has become a very active but still warm and welcoming home for humanists of all ages, it is on solid financial footing, and it is poised to become a major voice in our region. I read somewhere that in a relay race it’s important for the runner to pass on the baton while they’re still running well, and that makes a lot of sense to me. It’s time for this Society to benefit from new energy and new perspectives.
In the coming months, the Board and James will be working with the membership to decide how to approach this leadership transition. The thoughts that members have been sharing with the Two-Leader-Model Evaluation Task Force as well as the Strategic Planning Task Force will be central in the decision-making process. I thank all of you who participated so far in giving feedback and encourage everyone to be active in discussions going forward.
A year and a half is a long time to say goodbye, so all I will add right now is that I am very proud of this community and the progress we’ve made together so far, and I look forward to seeing how the Society and its membership and leadership will continue to develop and become an even more effective and powerful voice for Ethical Humanism and ethical living.
A message from Krystal White, President of the Board of Trustees:
Dear fellow Ethical Society members,
When Kate announced that she will leave her role as Leader in June 2020, the Board of Trustees experienced a wide range of emotions. Shock, concern, confusion, and dismay were my immediate personal feelings. After a few days of grief, though, I shifted to incredible gratitude, excitement, and optimism. Fifteen years is a long tenure, especially for those in pastoral positions, and Kate has led the Ethical Society with passion, thoughtfulness, and empathy during that time. I am profoundly grateful for Kate’s leadership and service; I deeply appreciate the many ways in which she has made the Ethical Society a better and stronger community and a vibrant and joyous place. I personally feel so lucky to have worked closely with her over these past few years. As her friend, I am excited for her to step in a new direction and to grow in a new way of her choosing.
Transitions are challenging but they always provide an opportunity for reflection, redirection, and renewed purpose. Please trust that the Board will work in partnership with you, the membership, and with James through this Leader transition. We remain steadfast in striving to fulfill the Society’s mission and to achieve the vision the members have shared.
I ask that you join me in enthusiastically supporting Kate in these remaining 18 months, and I thank you for your continued support of the Ethical Society as we begin this new chapter together.
Good morning. It’s lovely to be up here, seeing your smiling faces, and enjoying the rocking tunes of the Ethical band! I’d like to extend a special welcome to the Interfaith Partnership. Thank you for being here with us today! (more…)
About 3 miles from here on the Bristol Elementary School playground, I learned a lot about social groups and values—mostly about how to think about Catholics and African Americans. In shop class in Junior High I learned about how men and women should relate. Almost all that I learned there was wrong.(more…)
The Tuesday Women’s Association of Ethical Society and the American Association of University Women present the 2019 International Relations Lecture Series.
Each meeting will begin promptly at 10:45 a.m. the second Tuesday of the month, January to April, in the upper auditorium. The public is cordially invited. There is no fee, but all contributions are greatly appreciated.
The 45-50 minute lecture will be followed by a question and answer period. Attendees are invited to bring lunch and to stay and discuss the day’s topic. In case of inclement weather, you may call 314-991-0955, ext. 224.
January 8, 2019 – A Specter Haunting Europe: Relative Deprivation and the Resurgence of Far-Right Extremism in Western Democracies, Speaker: Dr. Joyce Marie Mushaben
Joyce Marie Mushaben is a Curators’ Professor of Comparative Politics at UMSL. She is the author of many books and the recipient of many awards. Professor Mushaben will explore the causes of the resurgent ethno-nationalism across EU states, including the after-effects of the 2008/2009 global financial crisis and reactions to the 2015 refugee crisis. Dr. Mushaben will discuss forces driving “white nationalist” groups in the US, underscoring several curious gender twists. Focusing on Germany as a special case, she conclude with the ways right wing extremist currents have been shaped by eastern resentments dating back to misguided unification policies of the 1990s. Coordinator: Sharon Poe, Assistant Coordinator: Julie Triplett
February 12, 2019 – Fake News, Social Media and the Impact on Freedom of the Press, Speaker: Kevin Horrigan
Kevin Horrigan, a long time St. Louis journalist, recently retired as deputy editorial page editor and Sunday op ed columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, where he spent most of his 43-year professional career. In 1983 Mr. Horrigan joined the St. Louis Sun which failed after seven months. launching his 10-year career as a radio talk show host at KMOX and KTRS. He returned to the Post-Dispatch in 2000 as an editorial writer and columnist. Coordinator: Marcia Cline, Assistant Coordinator: Susan Teicher
March 12, 2019 – Dark Money and Plutocracy, Who’s Pulling the Strings? Speaker: Jeffrey A. Winters
Professor Winters is the Political Science department chair at Northwestern; and professor and Director, Equality Development and Globalization Studies (EDGS) Program. He specializes on oligarchs and elites spanning a range of historical and contemporary cases. His book Oligarchy (Cambridge 2011), won APSA’s 2012 Gregory M. Luebbert Award for Best Book in Comparative Politics. His research, publications, and teaching focus on the areas of comparative and political economy. In addition to oligarchy, important themes in his work include state-capital relations, capital mobility and the structural power of investors, the World Bank, human rights, authoritarianism, and democratic transitions in post-colonial states. He has conducted extensive research in the region of Southeast Asia. Coordinator: Deana Stevenson, Assistant Coordinator: Patricia Scott
April 9, 2019 – The Intersection of Religion and Politics, Speaker: Dr. Harvey R. Fields Jr.
Dr. Fields is the Assistant Dean of Student Success at Washington University. Coordinator: Vett Goods, Assistant Coordinator: Nancy Hutchins
The three year trial period for having two leaders at the Ethical Society of St. Louis is coming to an end in 2019, and we would like to know what you think. The two leader model evaluation task force held a forum on November 25 to discuss how the membership feels about having two leaders. At this meeting, we shared information regarding membership, visitor, financial, and outreach details to lead the discussion (see below handout). If you have thoughts you would like to share, please send them to Amanda Verbeck at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Ethical Society of St. Louis, Missouri TASH and the Special School District of St. Louis County will host a screening of the new documentary INTELLIGENT LIVES at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at 9001 Clayton Rd.
The film will be followed by a discussion with Micah Fialka-Feldman, who is featured in the documentary. The screening is free and open to the public. All are welcome.
“This conversation is important to me,” said Ethical Education Director Rachel Valenti. “My family and I so often find ourselves among people who have not thought much about the quality of the lives people around us who live with cognitive disabilities can access. Our exclusion is more common than our inclusion in schools, workplaces, clubs and service groups, and communities of faith.”
INTELLIGENT LIVES stars three pioneering young American adults with intellectual disabilities – Micah, Naieer and Naomie – who challenge perceptions of intelligence as they navigate high school, college and the workforce.
“People so commonly misunderstand what we can contribute to the community,” Valenti said. “We all deserve loving and supportive communities. I know we can do so much better. I hope folks will show up to watch this film together and talk about how we’ll keep creating the communities all of us deserve.”
Academy Award-winning actor and narrator Chris Cooper contextualizes the lives of the film’s central characters through the emotional story of his son Jesse, as the film unpacks the shameful and ongoing track record of intelligence testing in the U.S.
“People with intellectual disabilities are the most segregated of all Americans,” said New Hampshire-based filmmaker Dan Habib, the producer, director and cinematographer of INTELLIGENT LIVES. “Only 17 percent of students with intellectual disabilities are included in regular education. Just 40 percent will graduate from high school. And of the 6.5 million Americans with intellectual disability, barely 15 percent are employed.”
INTELLIGENT LIVES is a catalyst to transform the label of intellectual disability from a life sentence of isolation into a life of possibility for the most systematically segregated people in America.
Those with questions about the screening can contact Valenti at email@example.com.
The Ethical Society of St. Louis is a Humanist congregation where people come together to explore the biggest questions of life without reference to scripture, religion or God. To learn more, visit www.ethicalstl.org.
Missouri TASH advocates for human rights and inclusion for people with significant disabilities and support needs – those most vulnerable to segregation, abuse, neglect and institutionalization. To learn more, visit www.tash.org.
The Special School District of St. Louis County provides special education services and technical education. To learn more visit, www.ssdmo.org.
Good morning. My name is Arlene Nickels. Some years ago I was working as a secretary at Monsanto in the Department of Medicine and Environmental Health. One day at lunch, one of the Toxicologists, an Englishman named Peter, and I were having a philosophical discussion. Peter told me, with the way you think, you ought to be at the Ethical Society. I had never heard of the Ethical Society, but the next Sunday I visited. I was hooked. But I didn’t join right away. I wasn’t sure if this place was a “fit” for me. I was a divorced middle-aged woman with a flock of kids; not college educated. Didn’t have much money. Who would want this person?????
James Croft published an article “All hate crimes are political. Our response must be, too” on the St. Louis Post Dispatch Faith Perspectives page.
“..,Hate crimes affect more than just the individuals targeted: Because the crimes victimize people because of their membership in a group, and not for their individual actions, the actions attempt to demean and diminish the entire group….”
The Ethical Society will have an exhibit of the work of some of our talented members from December 16, 2018 through January 20, 2019. Members whose work is included in the show include Dreama Wolff, Judy Lazarus, Claireborne Handlemann, Toni and Ron Wirts, Brad Shutes, Steve Harris, Don Beere, Jim Rhodes, and Diana Bose, a member of our Arts Committee. The work includes photography, painting, and pottery.
There will be a reception for the artists on Sunday, December 16 at 3:00 pm in the Foyer. This is the same day as Good Cheer. So please come to talk to our artists and stay for Good Cheer!
James Croft, Outreach Director of the Ethical Society was extensively quoted in Aisha Sultan’s Post Dispatch article on Sunday 18-Nov-2018.
“The holidays are a time when many feel obligated to get together with family members with whom they disagree, while trying to avoid confrontation at all costs.,,,It’s sharpened the tension between who we love and what they believe. So, how best to navigate this?”
Listen to the Podcast of of the presentation.
The Ethical Society of St. Louis will be hosting our annual Thanksgiving potluck on Thursday Nov. 22, from 1-3 p.m., at 9001 Clayton Road. All are welcome. Following a tradition began in the 1980s, each individual or family is asked to bring the one dish without which it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving for them.
The potluck has generated a lot of press this week, with articles in the Riverfront Times, Patch St. Louis, and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In the latter two articles you can read our Outreach Director James Croft’s thoughts on civility around the Thanksgiving table and the meaning of Thanksgiving!
This month’s theme from our statement of purpose is ‘community.’ What motivated me to write these opening words in the first place was the fact that here in the U.S. we live in social worlds that are marinated in a culture of extreme individualism that makes building and belonging to real, enduring communities difficult or nearly impossible.
A couple of years ago I heard an interview on the radio about a new book called Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging. The author, Sebastian Junger, had spent several months living in a remote area of Afghanistan with an army special forces unit that was actively engaged in combat against Taliban forces. These soldiers had bonded into a tightly knit community, or tribe, and they experienced their return to the U.S. as a painful loss. Instead of a tribe of closely connected men, these returning veterans found themselves immersed in a sprawling and anonymous mess where people can (and do) get away with incredible levels of dishonesty without getting caught. Astronomically high rates of PTSD and suicide among vets reflect this unbridgeable divide between tribal community and contemporary U.S. society.
Junger’s argument struck a chord deep in my soul, not because I have served in the military in combat situations but on account of my experiences as a cultural anthropologist who lived intermittently during the 1980s and ‘90s in a tribal community of indigenous Amazonian peoples in Venezuela and Colombia. Many times I have experienced a ‘reverse culture shock’ upon returning from this tribal community in the Amazon to the hyper-individualism of the U.S.
I find it highly inaccurate, even offensive, to hear the words ‘tribal’ or ‘tribalism’ used to describe the hyper-partisanship that has afflicted our political system in recent decades. In fact, it is not tribalism that causes political polarization but self-interested office holders whose sole purposes are to stay in power at all costs and to raise as much money for themselves as possible. Such self-aggrandizement and enrichment at the expense of communal well-being would be severely punished in a tribal community. Are we the people really divided into warring ‘tribes’, red versus blue, straight versus gay, rural versus urban, and so forth? On the contrary, statistical studies show that there are important social issues that unite the vast majority of Americans. More than 97% of Americans, for example, believe we need to pass an effective federal background check for individuals buying firearms, yet we have no such federal protection even after an epidemic of mass murders that have one common denominator: firearms. Last April an ex-marine was acting violently and irrationally at his family home in southern California, and neither law enforcement nor mental health experts made any effort to deprive him of his firearms. Protection of his individual right of gun ownership set the stage for last week’s mass murder in Thousand Oaks. Can we even have viable religious, educational, or other communities when our collective right to public safety is so blatantly, frequently, repeatedly, and massively disregarded?
So please remember the next time you hear politicians or pundits blame our political dysfunctionality on ‘tribalism,’ they should really be pointing a finger at the broader culture of narcissistic individualism that is eroding our communal well-being, that has resulted in a narcissist-in-chief as leader of the ‘free world,’ and that has brought us to the brink of a constitutional crisis that makes Watergate look like a playground dispute among children.
NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.
The art exhibit now hanging in our galleries features portraits of young, happy faces captured on large, canvas quilts. Their striking eyes are what stand out. The portraits are even more powerful when you learn that all of these happy children died as the result of gun violence. There are eight portraits per quilt, representing the number of children who die of gun violence every day in America.
Christine Ilewski, an artist based in Alton, Ill., has dedicated her life to painting portraits of these children. Her project, “Faces Not Forgotten,” will be on display here for the next six weeks.
The not-for-profit organization “Faces Not Forgotten” has grown exponentially since Ilewski began painting the portraits nine years ago. In 2009, her friend, the Rev. Lorenzo Rosebaugh, was gunned down during a mission in Guatemala. It was not the first time Ilewski lost a loved one to gun violence — her father passed away 30 years earlier.
As Ilewski grieved, she turned to her art. She painted a portrait to celebrate Rosebaugh’s life but found herself drawn to the stories of young victims of gun violence — “I imagined the loss to the parents would be unbearable,” she says.
Then Ilewski began contacting families who lost children younger than 20 years old to gun violence, offering to paint a portrait of the child for free. In the first two years of the project, she completed more than 30 portraits, their features detailed in wildly colorful acrylic, and soft watercolors.
In the beginning, Ilewski painted all the portraits herself. “But I got overwhelmed — I even thought about stopping,” she recalls. “A friend stepped in and said, ‘You need help.’” So Ilewski got to work recruiting artists from across the country with the same request: to donate portraits to families of young gun violence victims. Now, “Faces Not Forgotten” has created more than 150 portraits of children from 12 states.
Each portrait takes weeks, sometimes months to complete. The originals are sent to the families, while a digital copy is superimposed onto a vintage handkerchief and printed onto the canvas. Ilewski uses the handkerchiefs — a myriad of bright, floral patterns from a vintage collection she owns — to represent grief. The flowers that surround each child’s head are meant to mimic the circular floral arrangements common to funerals.
The process of creating the portraits is an emotional experience for the artist and for the victim’s family. The main goal of “Faces Not Forgotten” is to provide comfort to victims’ families. They will not paint a portrait without the family’s permission, and if the family is unhappy with the results, the portrait is redone.
The portraits in our exhibit are of children from St Louis, Chicago, Texas, …
Following Platform today, we will have a reception in our Foyer. We hope you can join us. Families of the children portrayed in the quilts have been invited to be with us. Kate Lovelady and Christine Ilewski will speak about this project and you can meet some of the families of the children.
Faces Not Forgotten is a not-for-profit organization. If you would like to make a donation to support their work, you can make a donation at their website or contact me for information.
NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.
The Faces Not Forgotten Art Exhibit will hang at the Ethical Society from November 2 until December 10. This not-for-profit organization has artists paint pictures of children killed by gun violence. The paintings are given to the families of the children. Images of the paintings are put into quilts like the one shown here, and are exhibited. This is a nationwide program. The quilts in our exhibit will contain images of children from St Louis and Chicago.
Their reception will be Sunday, November 4, 12:30 to 2:30. Some of the families of the children represented will be at the reception and each child will be remembered at the Reception.
Artist Statement by Christine Ilewski, founder/director
“Shootings” take place daily in the US. We seem to accept them as a general public. Certainly we’re outraged when we hear the victims are children and young adults under 21. Then time passes. Can we remember the individual names of those children? Can we recall their faces?
I couldn’t. And then I suffered a personal loss to gun violence, A dear friend, Fr. Lorenzo Rosebaugh, OMI, was gunned down. His life had been devoted to the resistance of violence and injustice. He had just officiated at the funerals of two teen victims of gun violence. Over thirty years ago, I had lost my father to suicide by gun. All of my planned art work at that time came to a halt.
I began the “Faces Project,” painting the portraits of children, 20 and under, who have died as the result of gun violence. An artist friend, Jane Linders, got us organized as I was becoming overwhelmed by the numbers of local victims. Other
passionate artists joined us. We formed a board. And, thanks in part to receiving the 2013 Critical Mass Creative Stimulus grant and the devotion of these artists, we continue to put a Face to the youngest victims of gun violence.
Bill Burton, a young African American artist, gave us a new logo to go with a new name “Faces Not Forgotten”, which speaks more directly to the wishes of the families: that their children not be forgotten.
We paint a portrait, the “Face” of each child, which is then donated to the family. A jpeg. image of the original portrait is graphically superimposed over an image of a vintage handkerchief by Andrew Dobson and printed on 16×20” canvas
panels with grommets in the corners to create the “Faces”. These are tied together with black ribbon in sets of 9, 8 portraits for the 8 children that die each day from gun violence and 1 logo, to create our Faces Not Forgotten quilts.
We work with survivor networks, MOMS, Brady, St. Louis CVA, etc. to respectfully contact victims’ families for their permission to use these portraits in the fight against gun violence. We have exhibited them at Rutgers Univ., NJ;
Northeastern Univ., Chicago; The Vaughn Cultural Center, , the Univ. of MO-STL , Blackburn College, Soulard Art Market, the MO State Capitol, The Regional Arts Center, Christ Church Cathedral and have numerous future exhibits planned.
Jessica Meyers, director of CVA, said that one thing families say over and over is that they are afraid that their child will be forgotten. The Faces Not Forgotten Project attempts to keep their memory alive and to offer some small
comfort and support to the families. These children are not just numbers or statistics. Each one of them was a life ended. Each one has a Face.
For more information/ to make a donation: firstname.lastname@example.org
A special Platform presenting the 2018 Ethical Society of St. Louis Ethics in Action Award to Jorge Riopedre, president and CEO of Casa de Salud, a clinic providing high-quality, low-cost clinical and mental healthcare to the uninsured, focusing on the new immigrant community.
Jorge says, “The Internet and social media have made it easy to connect and given us a megaphone to express ourselves on every topic imaginable, and yet our isolation from each other has increased; we seem to be less willing or able to actually do something to drive change. Actions, not words, are what the world needs from us, and what we need for ourselves.”
Listen to Jorge’s acceptance speech.
After earning a degree in Broadcast Communications from Loyola University in New Orleans, Jorge launched a media production company specializing in the Hispanic market, which he successfully ran until becoming executive director of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan St. Louis in 2010, for which he also served as chairman and president from 2008 to 2009.
Jorge is a 2015 Eisenhower Fellow, having traveled to Germany and Mexico to study the healthcare systems of those countries, and is now president of the Eisenhower Fellowships St. Louis chapter. Jorge co-founded the St. Louis New American Alliance, which provides referral services to foreign-born individuals throughout the region. He serves on the University of Missouri-St. Louis Arts & Sciences Leadership Council, the Brown School of Social Work Advisory Committee, and the Mid-America Transplant Medical Advisory Board, as well as the community advisory boards for iHeart Media, the Nine Network, the Deaconess Foundation, and St. Louis Children’s Hospital.
The recognitions Jorge has received include the Diverse Business Leader Award from the St. Louis Business Journal, the Norman A. Stack Community Relations Award from the Jewish Community Relations Council, and the Michal J. Garanzini Award for Outstanding Community Service from Saint Louis University.
We are privileged.
Though it may be a bit presumptuous, I’m guessing most of us don’t struggle with having enough to eat …
whenever we want food
whenever we’re hungry.
This isn’t true for 126, 000 kids and teens in our region who face food insecurity. Not having enough to eat is a part of their daily life.
But there’s good news:
WE AT ETHICAL SOCIETY ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE for them!
In the last year, we’ve collected and donated nearly 800 lbs of food to Operation Food Search to fight local food insecurity.
That’s the weight of an average bison! (True..I looked it up!)
That’s valued at $1,326 and in one day could feed nearly 200 people.
For this generosity I thank you.
Operation Food Search helps many people:
3 years ago there were 173,000 food insecure kids and teens. Now? 126,000 That’s nearly 50,000 fewer struggling. That’s the difference we are making.
You might think OFS is just about food collections but they do so much more! They help in three major ways:
- Offer nutrition programs
- Partner with transitional/homeless housing non-profits
- Align with area pediatric hospitals and clinics, OB/GYN practices and clinics, educational
systems and facilitators
HOW DO WE KEEP HELPING AND MAKING A DIFFERENCE?
You bring non- perishable food to share and fill the blue barrel and I’ll deliver it to OFS. To help encourage everyone to give regularly, we’ll remind you at the beginning of each month when we enjoy our First Sunday Lunch. Come to the Sunday lunch, bring a food item for the barrel.
A CHALLENGE to you all:
In the coming year, let’s double our giving. Instead of one 800 pound bison of food, let’s give two. I believe we as a community can collect 1,600 pounds of food to help hungry kids and teens.
Who’s with me?
You’ll continue to find the blue barrel down stairs by the elevator.
NOTE: The ideas and opinions in this post do not necessarily express the thoughts or opinions of the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.
Good morning! Welcome to our welcoming home for Humanists.
So, are you a Humanist, or even a religious Humanist? Maybe you are here at least partly because you enjoy being with like-minded people. That’s what new members often tell us.
Our website, and that of our national American Ethical Union, says that, “Humanism is a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”
But surely, the St. Louis community includes many more people than our few hundred members, who share a humanistic outlook, but don’t belong to any congregation. Maybe just not interested, no matter what, but some others would thrive here if they just found us.
Our increased outreach lately has brought us new members and a larger profile in the St. Louis community, but in a couple of respects our membership look has not changed much.
That is, in spite of some trends to the contrary, we still look basically… kind of old… and kind of white.
Honestly, that’s not what most of us want. What can we do?
Looking for answers, we are making a new, focused effort to spread the welcome mat, especially to those who are now obviously underrepresented.
One part of this effort is our new “Diversity and Inclusion” committee.
This committee will:
- Recommend strategies and resources that encourage diversity and inclusion in the Society’s programming and operations;
- Monitor the Society’s progress toward achieving greater diversity and inclusion in our membership, programming, outreach, and participation in our various activities.
The committee chair is Scott Wright, with members Samantha White, Kristen Rosen, Chinn Zou, and me. If you are here, please stand.
So, how do we make it happen? I, for one, would like to ensure that we often have speakers for Platform and 9:45 Forum who would be of interest to that wider audience; and we should reflect these diversity objectives on our Website and the printed materials that we provide for visitors, especially those who come by for non-Sunday events.
But really, we need EVERYONE’S creativity to help us make it abundantly clear that we welcome enthusiastically anyone with Humanist leanings. Please, tell us your ideas, including people you know of who could enhance our programming.
Now, speaking at least for just myself, yes, I think that increased diversity would make the Society an even better place. But beyond that, I believe we actually have an obligation to get the word out that we are a singular community asset for Humanists, right here in the middle of the St. Louis area.
I fear that one reason we are not as race or ethnic, and age diverse as we could be is that some like-minded Humanists take a look at us, including our surroundings, and wrongly conclude that they would not really be welcome.
My friends, there should be NO doubt that we truly want to share our community and make it attractive to ANYONE who would appreciate a humanist home. In fact, the membership qualifications in our by-laws are pretty simple: Any person of reputable character and in sympathy with the general purposes, principles and aims of the Ethical Culture Movement…
So on behalf of our Committee, I ask again that ALL of us get creative and step up our game to ensure that we can make the missing connections to many more of those like-minded folks.