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Joe Chuman: Religion’s Expanding Turf and the Fate of Democracy

By October 16, 2022 No Comments

Conservative religious forces have become more politically powerful since the late 1790s. That increasing power has led to the dismantling of the wall of separation of church and state and the steady incursion of religion into the public square. Since religion is a major driver of culture, with politically empowered religion has come an assault on democratic values and individual rights, an ominous move sustained by  the supreme court. This address will provide a history and analysis of this political development.

Dr. Joe Chuman started on his road to Ethical Leadership as a leader-in-Training here at the New York Society in 1969 and continued his training at the Bergen Society, after which he became Leader of the Essex County Society before returning to the Bergen Society, where he served as leader for 46 years, retiring in January 2021. Joe has been a leader at the New York Society Since 2008.

During his long career, Joe has worked as an academic, a social justice activist, a speaker, and a writer. He has been teaching human rights in the Graduate School at Columbia University for more than 20 years, teaches human rights at Hunter College, and has taught at the U. N. University for Peace in Costa Rica and at other colleges.

As an activist, Joe has advocated for civil liberties, human rights, and other progressive causes and has frequently testified before the New Jersey legislature on such issues as religious freedom, gun violence prevention, death penalty opposition, and immigrant rights. He founded the Northern New Jersey Coalition for Asylum Seekers 20 years ago and still serves as its president. Joe has written numerous book chapters, encyclopedia entrees, scores of Op-eds, and is the author of “Speaking of Ethics,” a compilation of essays on Ethical Culture. Currently, he writes articles on political and socio-political issues on Substack and other social media outlets.


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