Ethical Culture Is Not Atheism. But What Is It?

Atheism and secularism are coming into their own in American life. There has been a spate of books defending and promoting atheism, and secular organizations are proliferating.

Given the marginalization of non-believers in a religion-saturated society, much have this is has been to the good. In the face of Ethical Culture's isolation and small size, there is no doubt the impulse to jump on board. Perhaps there is even a tendency among some people to seamlessly identify ourselves with atheism and secularism.

Yet, Ethical Culture was not founded as such, and our Felix Adler who envisioned our movement declared "I never was an atheist." Moreover, our essential commitment to ameliorating the oppressions of the human condition tells us that our center of gravity lies elsewhere.

In my first address on the new season, I hope to describe where that center of gravity lies and why we need to hold on to a guiding intuition that is unique and precious and takes us beyond atheism.

Dr. Joseph Chuman has been the leader of The Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County for over 35 years.

He holds a Ph.D. in religion from Columbia University, where he is adjunct professor of religion and an academic advisor in the human rights curriculum.

Dr. Chuman lectures frequently to public audiences on philosophy, social issues and humanist thought.

Ethics-based Sunday school for children is offered simultaneously.

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