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What is Ethical Humanism?

“Ethical Humanism” (also sometimes called “Ethical Culture”) is the name of an evolving body of ideas that inspires Ethical Societies. Unlike traditional religious congregations, which come together to follow a scripture or the wisdom of a great religious teacher, Ethical Societies are guided by the best human thinking in the areas of ethics, science, and well-being. “Humanism” is the collective name for all that human wisdom, which we seek to use to transform ourselves and our world.

What do Ethical Humanists Believe?

Our core belief is that every person is worthy and should be treated with dignity. We fight against all forms of oppression which strip the dignity from people, seeking always to view people as beings worthy of respect. This is why we have consistently championed the rights of women, people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, economically disadvantaged people, and all people suffering from oppression.

Does Ethical Humanism Teach Belief in God?

No. As a nontheistic organization, we foster free religious thought, and our mission is to help answer the ultimate questions, “How can we create meaningfulness in this life?” and “How should we treat each other?” without reference to god or the supernatural. Our members are free to believe what they like about god and the supernatural, and we do not talk about god or gods on Sundays.

Is Ethical Humanism a Religion?

Yes and no. Some of our members consider Humanism to be their religion, while others consider themselves non-religious. The founder of Ethical Humanism, Felix Adler, said “[Ethical Humanism] is religious to those who are religiously minded, and merely ethical to those who are not so minded.”

The American Ethical Union

The American Ethical Union (AEU) is the umbrella body which connects and represents all Ethical Societies in the USA. The AEU trains Ethical Society Leaders (our word for clergy); provides resources for Ethical Societies around the country; and organizes an Annual Assembly where members of Ethical Societies join together to discuss the great ethical challenges of the day. You can find their website here.

The American Humanist Association

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is an affiliate of the American Humanist Association (AHA). The AHA provides a great set of resources about humanism.

Best of Ethical Humanism Podcasts

Check out our “Best of” podcast list. Over the years, we’ve had some great podcasts that explain: