Ethics in Action

NYSEC and its members support solution actions to many of the key social issues of our day through activism, community service, and financial support. Our Ethical Action Committee organizes advocacy and educational events in our building, marches and protests in the streets, letter-writing or petition-signing campaigns, and other ethical action projects.
The Social Service Board is another action arm of our Society, separately incorporated as a non-profit 501(c)3 organization. Find their many exciting projects here.

In response to ongoing issues in New York State facilities, the Society organized a Justice for Juveniles Coalition of concerned organizations and individuals to educate, advocate and effect change in our state's Juvenile Justice system.

Below are a list of position papers that have been ratified by the Board of Trustees and are the official stance of the New York Society for Ethical Culture on these issues:

The Society also participates in a number of coalitions and partnerships on different issues.  These include:

Periodically, the Society also honors notable individuals and institutions with the Ethical Humanist and Community Service awards.

Justice for Juveniles: A Call to Action

Today, right here in New York City and State, one of the greatest challenges we face is reforming a Juvenile Justice system that incarcerates more than 1,600 children - the overwhelming majority of color and from under-privileged families -  in facilities, often far away from their homes, at a cost of $240,000 per child per year.  At the same time, funds that could keep these children in alternative education programs are being slashed.  This is a social injustice that members of the New York Society for Ethical Culture are addressing.  On April 24, 2010, we hosted a conference of concerned organizations and individuals demanding immediate changes in the government agencies charged with caring for children in trouble.  Out of this conference was created the Justice for Juveniles Coalition (see sidebar for members). A follow-up conference was held at the Society on July 21, 2010 to promote an activist agenda that incorporates recommendations made by Governor David Paterson’s Task Force on Transforming Juvenile Justice, issued in December 2009.  The coalition will continue meeting periodically, offering opportunities for education, action and advocacy.

Supporters of reform in the juvenile justice system rejoiced on May 17 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in a 6 to 3 decision, that juveniles cannot be sentenced to life without parole for crimes other than murder.  Deeming such punishment “cruel and unusual,” the court gave hope to 129 people in 37 states serving life terms without parole for non-homicide crimes committed when they were under 18 years of age.  Much more remains to be done in every state to address the educational, physical and psychological needs of children in trouble.  New York State is harming its youth, wasting financial and human resources, and endangering its public by taking a punitive approach.  Incarceration must be the last resort, and alternatives already in place in local communities must be supported.

Join our mailing list to keep informed and to receive information about upcoming events.



Advocacy Forum

This series was begun in 2004 during the Bush administration, to provide ongoing educational and thought-provoking large forum discussions, tgiving voice to those who wished to question the actions of the government and to bring us back towards a democratic secularity and away from a theocratic concept of government. 

In 2009 the series was brought back to provide continued discussion of topics important to our democracy.  The Advocacy Forum offers not only an opportunity for intellectual discussion and education, but seeks to empower people to get involved and take action to effect change.

Recent topics have included:
Obama: Change We Can Still Believe In?
Health Care Reform: How Real and at What Cost?
The Battle for Real Financial Reform
Afghanistan and Pakistan: Why are we There?
Obama and the Future of the Imperial Presidency

Ideas in Brief

The Public Issues Committee began in February 2006 and its mission was to develop positions and take action on America's stance regarding war and peace, and the ethical questions at the frontiers of science, and family care, developing these ideas to influence the 2006 and 2008 National Elections. 
During the committee's tenure, PIC wrote positions that were ratified by the NYSEC Board and have become the Society's official stance on these issues. 
Videos of PIC Guest Speakers
After three years of work, the Public Issues Committee made the decision to end their endeavor, but have left behind a solid foundation and advocacy for important contemporary issues.  The work of PIC has now been folded into the concerns of the NYSEC Ethical Action committee.  Read PIC's final report.