A tradition that is frequently overlooked

James Croft writes – in a guest post at Friendly Atheist – about atheism and humanism and

  1. their failure to do enough about racism
  2. what some humanists have been doing about racism

He thinks they should be doing more, and that what the humanists are doing is important.

I stress our engagement because it is representative of a long tradition of Humanist passion for social justice — a tradition that is frequently overlooked even by Humanists themselves. While many of us can reel off the names of a few prominent individual activists who have been Humanists, few know that there is a history of organized social justice work that is explicitly Humanist, motivated by Humanist values and supported by Humanist organizations.

This tradition is particularly strong within Ethical Culture. Our founder, Felix Adler, was a member of the Civil Liberties Bureau, which eventually became the ACLU — so he played a part in the founding of one of this country’s most significant civil rights organizations. Ethical Humanists played a pivotal role in founding the NAACP: Henry Moskowitz, then an Associate Leader of the New York Society for Ethical Culture, was a founding member alongside W. E. B. Du Bois. It was the Ethical Movement that created the Encampment for Citizenship, a prominent interracial summer camp dedicated to training young people in the skills to be effective civic activists, an operation supported by Eleanor Roosevelt and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

It’s worth knowing about this tradition.


  1. paulhavlak says

    The difference between humanists taking constructive action on social justice vs. just talking about it shouldn’t be surprising, just think on what “Ethical Culture” is: a movement to build humanist communities.
    It’s not so intimidating to try to make a difference when you have like-minded friends, and conventions just aren’t the same as more frequent local meetings for building strong connections and taking on hard challenges.

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