Comte developed the religion of humanity for positivist societies in order to fulfill the cohesive function once held by traditional worship. The religion was developed after Comte's passionate platonic relationship with Clotilde de Vaux, whom he idealised after her death. He became convinced that feminine values embodied the triumph of sentiment and morality. In a future science-based Positivist society there should also be a religion that would have power by virtue of moral force alone. In 1849, he proposed a calendar reform called the "positivist calendar", in which months were named after history's greatest leaders, thinkers, and artists, and arranged in chronological order. Each day was dedicated to a thinker.
According to Tony Davies, Comte's secular and positive religion was "a complete system of belief and ritual, with liturgy and sacraments, priesthood and pontiff, all organized around the public veneration of Humanity", referred to as the Nouveau Grand-Être Suprême (New Supreme Great Being). "This was later to be supplemented in a positivist trinity by the Grand Fétish (the Earth) and the Grand Milieu (Cosmic Space)".
In Système de politique positive (1851–1854) Comte stated that the pillars of the religion are:
- altruism, leading to generosity and selfless dedication to others.
- order : Comte thought that after the French Revolution, society needed restoration of order.
- progress : the consequences of industrial and technical breakthroughs for human societies.
In Catéchisme positiviste (1851), Comte defined the Church of Humanity's seven sacraments:
- Introduction; (nomination and sponsoring)
- Admission; (end of education)
- Destination; (choice of a career)
- Retirement; (age 63),
- Separation; (social extreme unction),
- Incorporation; (absorption into history) - 3 years after death.