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Joe Chuman: “I’m ‘Spiritual but Not Religious.’ What on Earth Does That Mean?”

By November 21, 2021 No Comments

It is now found that almost 25 percent of Americans now are unaffiliated with a religion. For younger generations, this number climbs to at least 30 percent. This means that, if the so-called “nones” were a denomination, they would comprise the largest in the the United States, more numerous than Catholics or evangelicals.

It is assumed that of this cohort about ten percent are atheists and agnostics. If so, the majority are either religiously totally indifferent or proclaim some free-lance belief, hence “spiritual but not religious.”

But what could this possibly mean? I hope to provide a possible answer – which is also a personal confession.

Dr. Joe Chuman recently retired as the Leader of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County, a community he served since 1974. Since 2008, he has been a Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture. As an activist, Dr. Chuman has worked on behalf of human rights and civil liberties and in opposition to the death penalty, as well as on many other progressive causes. He founded the Northern New Jersey group of Amnesty International in 1974, and currently serves as president of the Bergen County Sanctuary for Asylum Seekers, founded by the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County. This coalition of religious and human rights organizations provides services for asylum seekers released from federal detention.

Shared Charity: Women for Afghan Women


Sunday Platform is our most important and long-standing community event. These gatherings educate, stimulate personal growth, inspire reflection and action, and strengthen our community. Sunday meetings usually begin with music, followed by greetings and a talk given by a Society Leader, member, or guest.  Platforms cover a variety of topics that reflect current events, pressing social issues, and Ethical Culture philosophy. A collection basket is passed and money is shared between the Society and a charity selected for that day.  While contributions are always appreciated, Sunday meetings are free and open to the public.  Each Sunday meeting is followed by a luncheon and social hour.

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