The New York Society for Ethical Culture (NYSEC/Ethical NYC) is the cornerstone of the Ethical Movement, founded in 1876 by Dr. Felix Adler. Throughout our history we have helped create significant community institutions that have had a long-lasting effect in promoting civil society.

What We Believe

Ethical Culture is a religion centered on ethics, not theology, whose mission is to encourage respect for humanity and nature and to create a better world. Members are committed to personal ethical development in their relationships with others and in activities involving social justice and environmental stewardship.

We believe all individuals have inherent worth and dignity, the potential to grow and change, a responsibility to strive for ethical growth, and a responsibility to create a better world.

As an Ethical Community we are all part of something that transcends the individual experience and are enriched through our relationships with others.  As such, we have responsibilities to each other, to the Society, and to the community.

American Ethical Union

Established in 1893, the American Ethical Union (AEU) is the overarching organization of the Ethical Culture Movement, a federation of Ethical Societies that creates, nurtures, and inspires ethical humanist communities to foster a world that is democratic, compassionate, just, and sustainable. Ethical Action is an expression of our core commitments to honor the worth of all people, cultivate relationships, and build justice. We work together to bring out the best in others and ourselves, enhancing everyone’s unique capability and responsibility to contribute to a more humane world. AEU is headquartered at NYSEC, on our fourth floor.

AEU programs include the National Ethical Service (NES) at the United Nations, Youth of Ethical Societies (YES)Future of Ethical Societies (FES), and the Encampment for Citizenship.

Humanist Allies

Humanists International
Formerly the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), Humanists International is an umbrella organization of humanist, atheist, rationalist, secular, skeptic, freethought and Ethical Culture organizations throughout the world (currently 125 member organizations from 47 countries), founded in 1952. HI works to build and represent the global Ethical Humanist movement that defends human rights and promotes Humanist values worldwide.

American Humanist Association
Ethical Humanist Chaplaincy at Columbia University
Ethical Humanist Chaplaincy at New York University
The Humanist Institute


Empire State Pride Agenda/Pride in the Pulpit

Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
National Religious Campaign Against Torture
NYC Justice for Juveniles Coalition
NYC Grassroots Alliance<
NYS Interfaith Network for Immigration Reform
Police Reform Organizing Project (PROP)
Reasonable New York

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Ethical Culture a religion?

For those who view religion as a set of values to which people are committed and in terms of which they find a faith to live by, Ethical Culture is considered a religion.

Is Ethical Culture considered a religion by all its members?

Some members associate the word “religion” with creeds and sectarianism. For them, Ethical Culture is a fellowship based upon a philosophy of life, emphasizing education, growth, and social service with the purpose of helping people live better lives.

Does Ethical Culture accept the idea of god?

Ethical Culture is nontheistic and humanist in emphasis and members are not committed to any theology. We leave belief in a deity up to the individual.