The Ethical Culture movement was founded in 1876 by Felix Adler to focus on ethical action as a non-theist congregational alternative to traditional religion. Our movement established the country’s first Settlement Houses and the Visiting Nurses Association; helped initiate free legal aid for the poor; helped found the ACLU and the NAACP; advocated for civil rights; and more. The Philadelphia Ethical Society, founded in 1885, helped create our national organization, the American Ethical Union. Our guiding principle remains the primacy of ethics in daily life.
Ethical Humanists believe in living to honor the uniqueness, dignity and worth of every person. Our “golden rule” is that by bringing out the best in others, we bring out the best in ourselves.
Humankind is a part of nature. By paying respect to all that surrounds us, we create the feelings that some describe as religious and sacred. We understand that the welfare of the natural community depends upon responsible human effort.
Ethical Humanists have faith in the transformation of the human condition through personal and community effort. We strive to be more sensitive to the joy and suffering of others. Members join together in the struggle for social reform, a healthy environment, and peaceful world.
Ethical Humanists believe that meaning and purpose are found through the process of redefining values and through acts of loving kindness. Comfort, solace and support are ultimately found in community and on this planet.
Yes, but without formal ritual or creed. Some members consider Ethical Humanism their religion and others their philosophy of life. We encourage each other to develop personal ethical ideals and work in community to live up to them.
We share your search for a meaningful and ethical life. Our forums and classes encourage open, thoughtful discussion and provide the tools to make this a better world. Our road to happiness is one of honest involvement with those around us. We also enjoy many social events. Most activities take place at our spacious building on beautiful Rittenhouse Square. Camp Linden, by the Brandywine River in Chester County, is our country home for picnics, workshops, and programs for children. As a member, you will find new opportunities for fellowship, growth, and service.
The Society is a democratic, self-supporting community. Members are expected to contribute generously with time, talent and treasure as their situation allows. All contributions are tax-deductible. Members also volunteer on the Board of Trustees, on committees, and with social events, such as by providing food for our coffee hour after our Sunday program.
Get to know us. Come to our Sunday programs. Make new friends at the coffee hour. Learn about our history and philosophy by attending one of our Introductions to Ethical Humanism on the first Sunday of each month, September through June. When you are ready to join, complete an application and meet with our Leader Hugh Taft-Morales.
For weddings, commitment services, memorial services, baby namings (baby welcomings), and other such ceremonies, we have officiants available. Please use our Contact Us form or phone the office at (215) 735-3456 for further information.
Related or relevant organizations and web sites:
- American Ethical Union
The Philadelphia Society and 20+ other Ethical Societies and fellowships belong to the American Ethical Union, a federation of Ethical Societies.
- International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU)
International affiliation of the Ethical Society of Philadelphia, through the membership in the IHEU of the American Ethical Union (AEU).
- American Humanist Association
Find out more about humanism from this organization with some overlapping interests.
- Unitarian Universalist Association
Our religious “neighbors” though there are differences in emphasis and philosophy.