The Brooklyn Society for Ethical Culture is a humanistic, religious, and educational fellowship promoting the knowledge, love, and practice of ethics-centered living. As a diverse and welcoming community, we assist each other in developing ethical ideals, exploring choices, navigating our life journeys, and working to realize a more just and compassionate world.
Is the Ethical Society a religious society and is the Ethical Movement a religion?
Religion is interpreted as a sense of values to which human beings are committed and in terms of which they find a faith to live by. In terms of this faith they marry and bring their children into the world, raise their families and strive to achieve a better life for themselves, their neighbors and the human community as a whole. For those who hold this point of view Ethical Culture performs the functions and meets the needs of a religious life.
The great religious institutions originated in human history before the age of modern science and before the concept of democracy had taken effect in the world and before the development of the interdependent global relations of a world community. The Ethical Movement is an effort to help people achieve a reconstruction of their viewpoint, their values and faith consistent with the contributions which the knowledge and powers of science make available, which the democratic spirit and method and promise have brought to all people, and which the interdependent world community now makes necessary and possible.
How do Ethical Societies differ from churches, synagogues, and other religious institutions?
The Ethical Societies have no creed of theology or metaphysics, no set doctrines concerning the unknown mysteries of life. There is no claim to a belief in a supernatural universe or Supreme Being, or to a belief in any one scripture as the source of absolute truth or belief in an afterlife or another world. Nor is there any set ritual or form of worship.
The basic viewpoint is one of freedom for the individual to work out one’s own personal formulation of one’s attitude toward the unknown and the mysteries of life, such questions as the nature of ultimate reality and death.
Is Ethical Culture considered a religion by all its members?
Some members of the Ethical Movement to whom the word “religion” is association with creeds, rituals, super naturalism and sectarianism prefer not to use the word “religious” as descriptive of the Movement. They think of it as a fellowship based upon a philosophy of life, emphasizing education and growth, social service and social reconstruction with the purpose of helping people live better lives and thus fulfill the aims of democratic society and of peace between the nations. Since increasing numbers no longer believe and worship in traditional ways, the Ethical Movement performs an important function in offering fellowship for free thinkers.
What is the relationship of the Ethical Movement to the traditional religions?
The Ethical Movement is part of the long history of the effort of human beings to find meaning and purpose in life. It is part of a continuity with the past. Just as the great world religions grew out of the beliefs and practices of early tribal life and primitive cultures; just as Judaism grew out of the religions that came before it in Egypt and Babylonia and Assyria; and just as Christianity developed out of Judaism, and Protestantism out of Catholicism; and the Muslim faith out of both Judaism and Christianity; so the concept of an Ethical Faith developed from these forerunners in effort to transcend the dogmas of supernaturalism and the limitations of sectarianism.
The Ethical Movement shares the ethical heritage and ethical concern for people with the great ethical religions. It respects the fact that for many human beings an ethical faith without theology may be inadequate. But the members and Leaders of the Ethical Movement find a common ground for cooperative action on ethical problems with members of all faiths.
What is the attitude of the Ethical Movement toward religious freedom?
Religious freedom is humanity’s most precious freedom. Members of the Ethical Movement treasure religious freedom for all, and above all freedom of individual conscience. Religious freedom requires religious tolerance. The Ethical Movement believes that everyone has the right to worship according to conscience and the right not to worship at all. By refusing to formulate or require acceptance of a fixed and final doctrine, the Ethical Movement strives to keep open-ended the quest for truth.
Does the Ethical Society accept the idea of God?
The Ethical Society neither affirms nor denies a belief in God. Members are not committed to any theology or set metaphysics. The Ethical Society is non-theistic, neutral and humanist in emphasis. The affirmation or denial of theistic definition and faith is for each individual to make for himself or herself.
What do you call the leader of your congregation?
The Clergy Leader is the spiritual leader of the Society, who is called to nurture and administer to the congregation, deepen its understanding and practice of ethical and Ethical Culture values, advise, develop and support lay leadership, provide a public face for the Society and at times represent the Society within the Ethical Culture movement; and seek common cause with its membership to grow and strengthen the Society.