AEU Condemns the Combined Threats of Systemic Racism and Militarized Policing in Communities of Color

March 21, 2023
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The death last month of Tyre Nichols at the hands of the Memphis Police is distinctive mainly because we know Tyre’s name and how he died. Tyre Nichols joined George Floyd, Michael Brown, 12-year-old Tamir Rice, and the relatively few other Black men whose deaths were reported in the media. The rest remain nameless and faceless, except to the people who loved them.  

The Ethical Humanist community is committed to creating a more humane environment and a culture of peace and justice for all people, including those who interact with law enforcement. Humane cultures and cultures of peace ascribe intrinsic worth to all  people and assume all equally deserve to be treated with dignity. Such cultures reject the use of inhumane procedures and tactics in law enforcement, especially when those established procedures lead to death.

We do not know how many people are killed by police in the United States each year. Local police departments are not required to report officer-involved deaths to the FBI or any other agency. The FBI maintains a database of National Use-of-Force, but the database relies on voluntary reporting from local police departments, many of which choose not to report these incidents. 

According to the information voluntarily submitted to the FBI, police kill about 1,000 people each year. However, an independent analysis by The Washington Post found that officer-involved shootings are probably significantly under-counted because of incomplete reporting. Black Americans, about 14% of the population, accounted for almost one-third of known fatal police encounters. Of that one-third, 17% of those killed were unarmed, as was Tyre Nichols at the time of his death. This is a higher rate than almost any other group and more than twice the rate of White Americans. 

The dangers of dehumanization 

In a culture of violence, the first step in attacking an opponent is to dehumanize your adversary. It is easier to kill an individual when you no longer see them as human. This dehumanization has many causes, not the least of which is systemic racism. Racism itself is an act of dehumanization. 

Dehumanization also occurs during police training. From the beginning of their careers, police officers are trained to have a warrior mindset in which the primary goal is to not be killed or seriously injured on the job. This stems from the very real threats faced by law enforcement every day. Police have a dangerous job with a significant risk of harm or even death. 

The warrior mindset training becomes a problem when it metastasizes into a mentality in which every individual, regardless of the actual threat, becomes an enemy to be met with deadly force. The militarization of civilian police includes more than just tanks and other military-grade equipment. It’s a mindset, an underlying philosophy of police work that pervades police departments across the United States. From this perspective, questions like “Why did you stop me?” are viewed as defiance. Every move, even when trying to obey conflicting commands from multiple officers, is seen by police as a threat. Fists, clubs, tasers, and guns are no longer defensive weapons but are instead used to punish individuals on the spot, even after they have been subdued and pose no threat. 

What to do:

  1. Demand humane treatment with zero tolerance for excessive force. While we recognize the unique self-defense needs of police, the attack on Tyre Nichols was not done in self-defense. 
  2. Ask local police departments to examine the use of Warrior Cop training and how that training affects the behavior of police in non-violent encounters. 
  3. Demand that police training includes conflict resolution and de-escalation skills. Pulling out a weapon should not be an officer’s first response in a non-threatening situation. 
  4. Stand by to witness and possibly record interactions between the police and individuals who might be at risk. Your presence alone may reduce the risk of police violence, although this is not guaranteed. Your testimony may lead to the conviction of police who abuse their position. 

A threat to one person’s humanity is a threat to the humanity of us all. 

In the Ethical tradition, we ascribe worth to every person. All people deserve justice. Police practices which see people, and especially people in marginalized communities, as “the enemy” inevitably result in police murders, disproportionately of Black people. They cannot produce a just society. We demand an end to police murders and the practices that encourage them.

Original post –

Supporting Survivors of Sexual Abuse & Violence

March 21, 2023
Category: ,

In February, Emily Stoinski, the Safe Connections Community Education Coordinator, shared the common signs of sexual violence and abuse across all ages and how abuse and violence can impact an individual. Also discussed was how to support survivor and how to create safety for survivors all ages.

Sunday School (SEEK) Director Search

March 13, 2023
Category: , , ,

Job description

Children in a classroom listening to a book being read.
Photo by CDC

The Ethical Society of St. Louis – a non-theistic Humanist congregation – is looking for a talented Sunday School Director to run our Sunday Ethical Education for Kids (SEEK) program. You will be responsible for creating comprehensive educational experiences for kids from K-12 in the furtherance of our congregation’s mission. We hope to raise children with positive ethical values, but we do not teach the beliefs of any traditional religion. This position is part time, 20 hours a week, with the requirement to work on Sundays, attend a weekly staff meeting, and maintain some agreed-upon hours at the Society. SEEK is active September-May, which will require weekly parent communication, data and scheduling management, with the goal to keep each Sunday running smoothly. Time in the summer months is to be used primarily for planning the upcoming year. 

As the SEEK Director, we expect you to have relevant experience in educational settings and a love of kids. This position requires excellent organizational skills, as you will manage the work of paid teachers and volunteers. You will be responsible for improving our curriculum, ensuring existing lessons are well-planned and connected to our congregation’s mission, and making sure the program runs smoothly and is amply promoted. 

Ultimately, you should be able to develop an exceptional Sunday School program which our kids love and which encourages parents to join our community. This position reports to the Ethical Society Leader and is supported by paid teachers and volunteers, as well as an advisory council.  


  • Hire and supervise preschool caregivers, elementary teachers, and upper grade advisors 
  • Develop, maintain, and promote Special Interest programs (10-11 am); including encouraging and scheduling member volunteers to assist and teach Special Interest programs and Sunday School classes, if needed
  • Submit a monthly report to the Board of Trustees 
  • Adapt,  maintain, and promote a relevant and engaging SEEK curriculum and lessons
  • If gaps in curriculum are observed, may also create original programming 
  • Prepare the annual budget with the support of staff and the SEEK Council
  • Develop policies to maintain orderly classrooms 
  • Prepare a weekly email for parents informing them of the upcoming Sunday activities 
  • Assure that students, parents, and newcomers are greeted and welcomed at SEEK and related events
  • Collect contact information from visitors and follow up with them within a week of their visit
  • Meet regularly with the Ethical Society Leader, staff, SEEK Council, students, Nursery School board, parents, and others as agreed to with Leader
  • Oversee planning of some congregational special events
  • Oversee summer childcare to allow parents to attend Platform while SEEK is on hiatus 
  • Assure classrooms and learning areas are properly stocked and prepared for each lesson/activity and cleaned up afterward
  • Acquire learning supplies/tools as needed, within budget
  • Work within a budget and track all expenses


  • Proven work in an educational setting (Sunday School or equivalent preferred)
  • Willingness to develop a working understanding and knowledge base of Humanist culture
  • Genuine love of children and ability to connect with kids and parents alike
  • Effective written and oral communication skills 
  • Excellent organizational and personal skills as well as long-range planning ability 
  • Ability to deliver creative educational content and opportunities 
  • Proactive desire to improve the Sunday School program experience 
  • Ability to work alongside staff and volunteers

Preferred Qualifications

  • BA in Education or relevant area; may be supplemented with relevant experience 

This is a great opportunity to join a passionate team seeking to improve the world through the creation of a vibrant, growing, justice-loving community. This flexible, part-time position is perfect for someone looking to develop more experience in this area while doing work they can believe in and which makes a difference.

The Ethical Society of St. Louis is committed to the celebration of diversity and to the creation of a welcoming community for all people. We encourage applications from minority and marginalized communities: people of color, LGBTQIA+ people, people with disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply.

Job Type: Part-time (20 hours/week) 

Pay: $20.00 per hour

If interested and a good fit, please send a letter of interest, a resume or CV, and three references to 

Applications are accepted until position is filled.

Opening Words from Sun. March 12 by Brian Vandenberg

March 12, 2023

I come to you this morning on behalf of the Membership Committee. I joined this Committee because this is one of the most important ones we have; it is the key to strengthening our community and ensuring our future. And our future is very much at stake in this turbulent time of transition. Covid has impacted our membership, our attendance, our budget, and our practices.


CAN! Homegrown National Park Movement

February 25, 2023

Famous ecologist E. O. Wilson proposed a collective action project he called “half-earth” in order to care for the planet and save the earth’s biodiversity. Wilson said, “…only by setting aside half the planet in reserve, or more, can we save the living part of the environment and achieve the stabilization required for our own survival.” The Homegrown National Park movement is, perhaps, the kind of collective action Wilson might have had in mind. Come hear Jean Ponzi describe the movement, provide examples right here in St. Louis, and tell you how you can be a part of this nature-saving movement, whether you have access to your own big backyard, a small patio, or an outdoor business or school space.

In addition to her work at the EarthWays Center, Jean is host of the long-running KDHX show and podcast, “Earthworms with Jean Ponzi”. She is also a frequent speaker and consultant on environmental topics connected to green living practices.


Jean Ponzi, Green Resources Manager, EarthWays Center of Missouri Botanical Garden

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • TBD

Related Links

  • TBD

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Climate Action Now! Clothing and Climate Change

February 24, 2023

The Environmental Implications of Your Fashion Choices

We’ve heard quite a bit about how what we eat impacts the climate. But have you stopped to
consider how what you wear might contribute to climate change and environmental

In her presentation, Dr. Ruppert-Stroescu talked about the significant impact of the textiles
industry on the environment, reminding us that textiles include not only clothing, but upholstery
on furniture and in cars, drapery, bedding, etc. Given the amount of water used in the
manufacture of these textiles and the shedding of harmful micro-particles when they are
laundered, Mary asserted that the fashion industry must change. Still, she recognized the
importance of fashion as a form of self-expression. Further, she is researching and developing
wearable technology, embedded in clothing, used to measure and address issues of health and

Mary introduced the idea of a “fashion detox”, in which you decide not to buy any new clothing
or apparel for a period of time (say 6 months), during which you might be more inclined to
creatively use the items already in drawers and closets. Mary also described a patented
process for reusing fabrics from used textiles to create new clothing without waste. Learn more
about this novel process, RECLÉM .


Dr. Mary Ruppert-Stroescu, Associate Professor and Fashion Design Area Coordinator,
Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University.

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Reduce, reuse, repair
  • Buy with intent
  • Buy quality (It last much longer than fast fashion.)
  • Swap, gift
  • Use old, worn out clothing for rags
  • Learn to sew
  • Turn defects into beauty (e.g. embroider over holes in fabric)
  • Donate used clothing to Dr. Ruppert-Stroescu for RECLEM
  • Investigate sustainable recyclers, like Charity Sharity (now merged with the City Sewing Room on Arsenal.)

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Protect transgender and nonbinary humans – Community Alert

February 23, 2023

There are a disturbingly large number of anti-trans and anti-gay bills in the Missouri legislature, as well as in other conservative states across the country. For example, there are more bills aimed at restricting trans-girls in sports than there are trans-girls in our state. The state of Missouri is leading the charge in attempting to dismantle the protections for gender-affirming healthcare in our state, particularly for young people, as well as make it a crime for kids to be read stories by drag queens. (Anyone who’s ever met a drag queen knows how absurd this is; Drag Queen Storytime is a blast for all ages and completely non-harmful to children.)

The Ethical Society affirms the right of all humans to live in alignment with their true selves, and we stand firmly by our transgender and nonbinary fellow humans. We affirm the right of all humans to practice self-determination and make the decisions that are correct for them.

We wholeheartedly reject the notion that anyone deserves less than equitable treatment under the law, and we welcome everyone through our doors. Contact your lawmakers and let them know you oppose these draconian bills. Specifically, you may contact Josh Hawley here and Eric Schmitt here.

Children’s Books

February 14, 2023
Photo of children's books in a rack

Reading to children is a wonderful experience for both reader and child. These books have been read during our Sunday Platform events and are well worth a look.

A is for Activist – Nagara, Innosanto 
Left Bank Books  County Library

All of Us – Berger, Carin 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Beautiful Oops! – Saltzberg, Barney 
Left Bank Books  County Library (NA)

From the Stars in the Sky to the Fish in the Sea – Thom, Kai Cheng 
Left Bank Books  County Library

I Like Me! – Carlson, Nancy 
Left Bank Books  County Library

I Like You – Warburg, Standol Stoddard 
Left Bank Books  County Library (NA)

Neither: A Story About Being Who You Are – Anderson, Airlie 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Nerdy Birdy – Reynolds, Aaron 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Oddbird – Desierto, Derek 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Plant a Kiss – Krouse Rosenthal, Amy 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Rock What Ya Got – Berger, Samantha 
Left Bank Books  County Library

Sometimes All I Need is Me – Perdomo, Juliana 
Left Bank Books  County Library

The Greedy Python – Buckley, Richard and Carle, Eric 
Left Bank Books  County Library

What If… – Berger, Samantha 
Left Bank Books  County Library

NOTE: The Ethical Society of St. Louis does not receive any promotional funding for these links.

Opening Words from Sun. February 12 by Jim & Aidan Jordan

February 12, 2023

Aidan Vocalization
Aidan loves that this month’s theme is the future of Arts as live performances of any kind is his go to since he doesn’t do technology or screens.

Aidan, what are your pronouns?
Aidan Vocalization – Dad what is a pronoun? Does Friend work?


Opening Words from Sun. February 5 by Maxine Stone

February 7, 2023

Hi everyone.

I have something special to tell you that will be happening at the Ethical Society. I don’t want to keep you in suspense, but actually I do want to keep you in suspense.


Opening Words from Sun. January 29 by Lance Finney

January 29, 2023

Good morning.

This month, we’ve been hearing about the Future of Money, with Platform addresses on the ethics of capitalism and cryptocurrency, and Amy will speak in a few minutes about money from several personal and institutional angles. And as soon as you saw the President of the Board of Trustees come up during “money month”, I’ll bet you knew what I was going to talk about.

That’s right, I’m here to talk about being a coin collector.


Art Show – Bob Charity

January 23, 2023

Bob’s photography will be up through February 26. He is a chemistry professor at Washington University and his photos are all from Missouri natural areas. 

This show will run from 26 February.

All art show posts.

Opening Words from Sun. January 22 by Trish Cowan-Williams

January 22, 2023

Good morning, I’m Trish Cowan-Williams and my pronouns are she/her. I’ve been a member of the Ethical Society for 17 years. My husband, Travis, and I are raising two teenagers and a six-year-old little guy with the support of you all. Travis, the kids, and I have each enjoyed the different ways to engage as members and supporters of the Ethical Society over the years. It’s brought us meaning, a sense of belonging, a way to commit to group projects and initiatives, and an extended family of true friends and loved ones.


Elicit the Best from Sun. January 15 by Kathy Ryan

January 16, 2023

Hi. My name is Kathy Ryan. I was lucky enough to fall in love with psychology almost 50 years ago. I believe that psychology can help to elicit our best.


Elicit the Best from Sun. January 9 by Norm Eisenberg

January 9, 2023

Good morning and happy new year. Welcome everybody!

This is a subject that I AM passionate about, so let’s just hope I can avoid any curse words.



Climate Action Now! EV and Electrification Advances

January 9, 2023

The electrical grid historically was a one-way transfer of electricity.  From major coal, nuclear, or gas fired plants to homes and offices.  Now, the grid is a two-lane highway of distributed energy, electric vehicles, demand shedding, and information.   Recent major investments in EV buses, commercial vehicles, and fleets will shift the energy use portfolio of the US and world.  Join Steve O’Rourke and Gordon Schweitzer to discuss the variety of items related to EV charging, grid electrification, and solar PV!


Gordon Schweitzer III and Steve O’Rourke

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Conduct a home energy audit
  • Implement energy efficiency measures, both low/no cost and those covered by the Inflation Reduction Act
  • Install solar PV or purchase renewable energy via a community solar program
  • Purchase an EV or hybrid, and do more to walk, bike and use mass transit
  • Contact elected officials to advocate for more competitive pricing on community solar, like in Illinois
  • Support climate change organizations

Related Links

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Elicit the Best from Sun. December 11 by Cathy Pickard

December 11, 2022

Good morning.

Almost forty years ago, my husband, Bob, and I were at the Repertory Theater of St. Louis, and we saw an ad in the play’s handbill. It read, “The Humanists will get you if you don’t watch out”, with a note in the corner that the ad was sponsored by the Ethical Society of St.Louis. Now it just so happened that we were, at that time, the parents of a pre-schooler and a toddler, and we were looking for a place for our kids to get a non-dogmatic religious education. We were intrigued! And so we visited the Society that weekend and regularly, thereafter, for a full year, before joining. We’ve been here ever since. In that nearly four decades, the Society has had six senior or solo leaders, three associate leaders, and three leader interns, counting James three times, as he served in all three capacities. These leaders have all been very different—or as the kids might say, “every one, important and unique”—with their own insights, interests, backgrounds, strengths, passions, causes, writing and speaking voices and leadership styles. I believe that, as individuals and as a Society, we were, in some way, enriched by every one of them.


Climate Action Now! Beyond Coal

December 7, 2022

The main objective of the Beyond Coal campaign is to replace dirty coal with clean energy by mobilizing grassroots activists in local communities, nationwide, to advocate for the retirement of old and outdated coal plants and to prevent new coal plants from being built.”  Join us to learn how you can contribute to the effort to transition to a clean energy future with renewables.


Brian Smith, organizing representative of the Eastern Missouri Group of the Sierra Club,

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Volunteer with and/or donate to the Missouri Chapter of the Sierra Club.
  • Write a letter to the editor of a local paper, encouraging Ameren to close its coal-fired plants and to invest in clean, renewable energy.
  • Sign and share this petition, opposing Ameren’s proposed rate hike.
  • Attend the Public Service Commission’s hearing on the rate increase. Details forthcoming, but save the date:  February 9, 2023.

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.

Elicit the Best from Sun. December 4 by Loren Kreher

December 4, 2022

Good morning!

Thank you for your time and for putting up with me instead of my husband, who was originally scheduled to speak this morning. Like roughly half of St. Louis at this point, the flu has ploughed through our house, and his voice is in a much rougher state than mine.


Please Join Us in Welcoming Interim Ministry Team Director Amy Miller

November 30, 2022
Amy L. Miller, MSW (she/they)

The Board is excited to announce that we have hired an Interim Ministry Team Director for the Ethical Society of St. Louis! Amy L. Miller will start as our Interim Ministry Team Director in January 2023, and she will serve in that role for 2 to 2.5 years.

Amy is a licensed clinical social worker who has worked as a therapist and consultant, counseling people and groups in managing stress, relationship issues, and family situations. More recently, she has been a life and relationship coach, which has included such functions as facilitating organizational development and change and leading group classes on healthy relationships and conflict resolution.

What we were seeking in an Interim Ministry Team Director is someone who would help our Society have the introspective conversations to decide what we want to be in the future with the next Leader. Though Amy does not come from a clergy background nor the Ethical Culture movement, her lived experience as a Humanist who helps individuals and organizations work together and deal with change makes her an ideal Interim Ministry Team Director for our current situation.

Amy will start in her role on January 1, 2023, and her first Platform as our Interim Ministry Team Director will be on January 8. However, that won’t be her first Platform overall for us; she gave a Platform on Love in February 2018, which was the basis of her book, Easyish: Keys To A (Relatively) Easy Relationship.

Amy and her family plan to attend Good Cheer on December 18. Please welcome her and them at Good Cheer and when she starts her role leading us next month.

Amy L. Miller, MSW (she/they) is a clinical social worker, author, life + relationship coach, and consultant with over a decade of experience teaching people how to be human together by building and sustaining healthy relationships. She is also trained as a mediator, and loves a win/win. She values creating comfort and skill-building around assertive communication, healthy boundaries, and the pro-active and nonviolent resolution of conflict in the interest of everyone having healthier, more peaceful lives. Amy cares a lot about racial justice, LGBTQIA+ rights, reproductive justice, and has a deep interest in tackling any and all issues and problems that cause people to have less joyful lives. She’s also the mom of a smart and hilarious six-year-old daughter (she/her) named Zoe and the spouse of a wonderful man named Rodney Prather (he/him). The Miller/Prather Family is so happy to be part of the Ethical Society. Amy especially looks forward to helping clarify the best path forward out of the dark pandemic period, and hopes to help us all learn how to People again and be together in real life.