35 Years Ago in Free Inquiry

“Socrates argued in Plato’s Euthyphro that justice precedes piety; merely to pray to the Gods is no guarantee that an act done in obedience to what the gods dictate is any more moral than one done in the light of reflective examination of the merits of the case and in terms of the ethical principles that one has developed. The entire philosophical tradition has supported that focus. Religious zealots surely do not have an exclusive monopoly on moral virtue. They have a short supply of ethical wisdom. America will not decline in morality or decency if prayer is not enforced among the young. Far better to allow the free mind to discover its own dimension of moral insight and truth untrammeled by various forms of doctrinaire religious orthodoxy.”

—Paul Kurtz, “Is Prayer Essential to Morality?”
Free Inquiry, Volume 4, No. 3 (Summer 1984)

Editor’s Note: Paul Kurtz was the founding editor of Free Inquiry and the founder of the Council for Secular Humanism and the Center for Inquiry.


“Socrates argued in Plato’s Euthyphro that justice precedes piety; merely to pray to the Gods is no guarantee that an act done in obedience to what the gods dictate is any more moral than one done in the light of reflective examination of the merits of the case and in terms of the ethical principles …

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