FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

How did Ethical Culture begin?

Felix Adler started the Ethical Culture movement in 1876 in New York City. The movement was instrumental in the establishment of the Visiting Nurses Association and the country’s first Settlement Houses . During World War II, the Ethical Society came to the aid of European refugees. Today there are more than twenty Ethical Societies around the United States.

What are the core tenets of Ethical Humanism?

We believe in the dignity of each person. Each of has a unique set of characteristics from which we derive our worth.

We spring from nature. We acknowledge the sanctity of the natural world, of which we are in awe. Our welfare and our future depend on responsible stewardship by human society.

We believe that social change comes about through concerted action. Ethical Humansim values an acute sensitivity to the joy and suffering of others. Engagement in efforts to make a more just and peaceful world is a key component of our beliefs.

See also: The Eight Commitments of Ethical Culture.

Is Ethical Culture a religion?

If you define religion as a philosophy oriented around revealed truth and the worship of a transcendent being, then the answer is no. If you define religion as a fellowship of people organized to seek meaning and make a better world, then the answer is yes.

See also: religious naturalism

Does Ethical Culture deny the existence of God?

Ethical Culture does not concern itself with the existence or non-existence of a supernatural deity. It is closely allied with humanist philosophy, which focuses on the potentials of human life and society in the here and now rather than on metaphysical questions or religious tradition.

Does Ethical Culture assume a particular political stance?

Ethical Culture has always been concerned with working for economic, political, and social justice. Its history includes the promotion of public housing, visiting nurse associations, and kindergartens. Ethical Culture strongly supports civil and human rights for all. However, our political viewpoint is pragmatic. We support causes that align with our core values.

Are non-members welcome at Sunday meetings?

Yes, definitely. Coming to the Sunday lecture and musical performance is the best way to learn about the organization and how it functions.

Who can become a member of the Ethical Society of Boston?

After you’ve developed some familiarity with the organization, you may decide you would like to become a member. We ask that you affirm that you agree with the basic principles of Ethical Culture. We also rely on our members for financial support, although there is no schedule of dues.

How is the Ethical Society of Boston governed?

The membership annually elects a Board of Trustees.

What about weddings and ceremonies?

The Ethical Society of Boston has officiant who can perform weddings and other ceremonies.

What is the “Book of Ethical Wisdom”

The Book of Ethical Wisdom is a wonderful collection of essays and quotations assembled by ESB member Stanley Wayne. You can download by clicking here (2.87 MB PDF)

What is the American Ethical Union?

The Ethical Society of Boston and over twenty other Ethical Societies and fellowships belong to the American Ethical Union, a federation of Ethical Societies. Their FAQ is here.