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Believe or disbelieve as you want. We shall at all times honor every honest conviction, but be one with us where there is nothing to divide; in action.

Diversity in the creed, unanimity in the deed. This is that practical religion from which none can dissent.

This is that platform broad enough and strong enough for the worshipper and for the infidel. This is that common ground where we may clasp hands as brothers and sisters united in humanity’s common cause.

Dr. Felix AdlerFounding Address

Who We Are

Founded in 1876 by philosopher and educator Dr. Felix Adler, The New York Society for Ethical Culture is a non-theistic, Humanist community dedicated to ethical relationships, social justice, and democracy.

As the founding institution of the Ethical Movement and a cornerstone of Progressivism in New York City, the Society’s members put deed before creed and ethics in action to educate, advocate, organize, and build coalitions to end racism, poverty, and war; abolish the death penalty and mass incarceration; guarantee reproductive freedom; welcome refugees and immigrants; fight climate change and pollution; and more.

What Is Ethical Culture?

Ethical Culture is a Humanist religion to some, and philosophy to others, 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 pursuing social justice, environmental stewardship, and engaging in democratic citizenship.

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

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?

No, since some members associate the word “religion” with creeds, doctrines, sectarianism, and the supernatural. For them, Ethical Culture is a fellowship or life-stance based upon a philosophy of living, emphasizing education, growth, and social service with the purpose of helping people live better lives.

Does Ethical Culture accept the idea of a god?

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

I am a member of a religious group. May I still become a member of Ethical Culture?

Absolutely! Many Society Members are also members of religious congregations and are comfortable being part of both. We eagerly build bonds between congregations and work to take action together in pursuit of our shared values.

Our Affiliations

Established in 1893, the American Ethical Union (AEU) is a federation of Ethical Societies that creates, nurtures, and inspires Ethical Humanist communities to foster a world that is democratic, compassionate, just, and sustainable. Taking 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 capabilities and responsibility to contribute to a more humane world. AEU is headquartered at the New York Society’s meeting house, 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.

Click Here to Find Your Nearest Ethical Society

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.

Our Allies

The Society supports and often enters into formal arrangements with organizations or groups that have a common mission, values, or purpose and where there is mutual regard and a desire to support one another and strategize together in work that our committees and Leaders are engaging in to advance our ethical mission. These organizations identify with our commitment to education, advocacy, and action in the pursuit of social justice and environmental stewardship. We make these relationships known in our literature and on this website, thus increasing awareness and the Society’s voice in the city, further opening our door to attendance and membership.

The Society’s committees and Leaders are always open to member suggestions that could lead to fresh affiliations. These often arise when, in engaging with a particular group, there is prospect for joint programming or a sharing of space for talks or events. It can also arise and become nurtured as a result of ‘Ethics in Action’ initiatives undertaken by the Society. The Society also responds to a particular group’s need for a safe environment in which to gather. Each of our affinity groups are subject to periodic review.

Social Justice

  • American Indian Community House
  • Amnesty International
  • Feminist Freethinkers
  • League of Women Voters
  • Police Reform Organizing Project


  • 350NYC
  • Beyond Plastics
  • Climate Reality Project
  • Drawdown NYC
  • Food & Water Watch

Other Partners

  • American Slavery Project
  • The Emergency Shelter Network of Faith-Based and Community Organizations
  • Interfaith Center of New York
  • Partnership for the Homeless
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