By Bob Gordon
The American Ethical Union is not news. Would you believe 1889? That’s when the AEU was established, although it did not get incorporated until 1947. For some time in the 1950s, the AEU Board’s membership had the sobriquet the Jersey Mafia because so many Bergen Society members sat on it.
We are 21 Societies strong, with one Circle and one Community, across 15 states (including Washington, DC). There are nascent groups hoping to be established in New Mexico and Georgia, and interest generated in Florida and Colorado. Further out in time, we have had an inquiry coming from Utah.
Why does the AEU exist? Obviously a combined voice has greater reach and impact as we aspire to create and nurture more Societies to inspire humanist communities to foster a world that is democratic, compassionate, just, and sustainable.
Helped establish ACLU and much more
The (partial) list of organizations that members founded includes: the Ethical Culture Fieldston School, the group that has become known as The Visiting Nurse Service, the U.S. Settlement House Movement, Encampment for Citizenship and the first free kindergarten.
Our members also helped establish the N.A.A.C.P., the ACLU, the International Humanist & Ethical Union, the National Urban League, the National Child labor commission, the Legal Aid Society, Planned Parenthood Clinics, and the New York Committee to Abolish the Death Penalty, among others.
The AEU Board represents Ethical Culture through resolutions and public amicus briefs, marches and rallies, social justice coalitions, the National Service (a United Nations Non-Governmental Organization), and national and international humanist organizations.
Providing ethical education and actions
We have a national leaders council, provide ethical education, create ethical actions, conduct conferences and workshops and encourage youth activities and growth through FES (Future of Ethical Societies) and YES (Youth of Ethical Societies).
The AEU has six staff positions, nine board members (no more than one from the same Society), plus two liaison board members, representing the National Leaders Council. We operate with 11 Committees, and all are volunteer positions. The board meets every other month; one of those meetings occurs at the annual national assembly. Some meetings are virtual to eliminate travel costs; others are at the New York Society for Ethical Culture; all are open to Ethical Culture members.
There is so much more information available on the AEU web site and that includes access to platform addresses, journal essays on a myriad of topics, and key dates and events. You would be surprised at the variety and depth of what’s available, from full-fledged education courses to officiant certification to webinars, and so much more
Bob Gordon is AEU Trustee, Vice President of the Ethical Culture Society of Bergen County and our Society’s liaison to the AEU Board.