The General Conference of Unitarian and Other Christian Churches
held at Montreal. Canada. September 25 – 28. 1917
“Report of the Council” by Rev. John Haynes Holmes, pp. 51 – 64
“Report of the Proceedings,” pp. 3-14
Annual Report. 1935 – 36, American Unitarian Association, pp. 74 – 5
The report by John Haynes Holmes suggests four different Unitarian attitudes toward the war. The minutes of the meeting tell what happened afterwards and of the overwhelming wholehearted endorsement of the war by the Association. Later in 1918, the Association denied financial aid to any minister who was not an “earnest and outspoken” supporter of the war. At the annual meeting in 1936, the AUA in the “Pinkham Resolution” repudiated the 1918 resolution and made a pledge to the future about the use of economic power.
These items are included within a polity course because they impinge on the power of the wider Association and its sometime effort to enforce conformity within the Unitarian world. Such efforts are recurrent and the one included here provides a particularly apt case example.
- Does the Association have a right to restrict the use of its funds to promote its policies? For example, should the Association make a building loan to a church which publicly states it will not admit gays and lesbians into membership?
- Is there an important distinction between the denial of certain privileges (e.g. a loan) and the determined effort to destroy dissent (e.g. cutting off fund support already provided for to a pacifist)?
[***Page 51 / 000860 starts]
The General Conference
REPORT OF THE COUNCIL.
Rev. John Haynes Holmes, Chairman.
Our General Conference meets to-day under conditions unprecedented not only in its own half-century of history, but in the annals of two thousand years of Christian civilization. That we assemble for the first time outside the borders of the United States, that we participate in the seventy-fifth anniversary of the founding of this church, the oldest and largest Unitarian society in the Dominion, that we contemplate and gratefully acclaim the happy completion of one hundred years of peace between the United States and Canada,—these would be noteworthy events at any ordinary time, and would alone suffice to make this gathering conspicuous upon our records. But to-day they are insignificant. For three years and more we have been living in a world convulsed by the- shock of the greatest war mankind has ever known. This war has centred in Europe, but has reached out its dreadful influences to the five continents and seven seas of the inhabited world. It involves all the great nations of Christendom—those which have accumulated wealth, developed art, literature, and culture, achieved prodigies of scientific research arid mechanical achievement, boasted codes of law and standards of idealism; and to these has added the lesser peoples of Europe, the swarming tribes of Asia, and the black barbarians, of Africa and. the archipelagoes. It has let loose such forces of destruction and terror as were never imagined, much less experienced, in any previous age. It has driven men to the bowels of the earth, the depths of the sea, the vast spaces of the air, for combat. It has marshalled whole populations in the work of death. Billions of dollars have been expended, and property of inconceivable value annihilated. Millions of men are dead on the battlefield or in the hospital, more millions are wounded, maimed, blinded, or diseased, other millions including unnumbered women and children are in all parts of the world the nameless victims of famine, pestilence, and butchery. And still the fight goes on with a determination as wonderful as its cost is frightful. To what end all this is taking us no man can tell and few dare even to imagine. At the best we may see our civilization humbled, disciplined, purified, but [***Page 51 / 000861 starts] prostrated to a degree which will inhibit recovery within the lifetime of ourselves and of our children; at the worst we shall behold the overthrow of all that we hold precious, and like the exiles of Israel weep by the waters of our Babylon.
At such a crisis this report can concern itself with no ordinary matters. Even though we were witnesses of the struggle merely, we could think of nothing else. But we are more than witnesses, we are participants. Throughout the entire period of the war Canada has held her place upon the battlefront of the British Empire. Without hope of gain, in no lust of glory, she leaped in answer to the mother’s cry in 1914, and gladly pledged both blood and treasure to her cause. What were the sacrifices of the Dominion before a year was done, more particularly as shared by our own household of faith, was witnessed in compassion, by the members of our pilgrim band in the journey westward to the last meeting of this Conference in San Francisco, and, at their suggestion, was generously succored by our American churches. Now, at the beginning of the fourth year of the most costly international struggle the world has known, Canada girds herself to new endeavor with a courage and cheer of which no nobler evidence can be imagined than our presence here in this historic city at the invitation, and largely at the expense, of our comrades of the Church of the Messiah. And the Americans among us come to this war-stricken people from a nation how allied “with them in a common task of arms. After two years and a half of waiting, the United States joined her flag to the ensigns of England, France, and Russia, and is now preparing the awful’ sacrifices of men and money which can alone sustain it. For good or ill, our two nations are united, and therefore the liberal churches of these nations more closely bound than ever before in a hundred years of history. Our bond is that of blood, our hazard is that of death. What wonder that your Council presents a report which considers the Great War to the exclusion of all other topics, and asks you to ponder the welfare of our churches singly in the shadow of this darkness?
No statement on this occasion would be useful, much less generous or just, which did not at least attempt an adequate interpretation of the varying attitudes maintained by Unitarians toward this war. Our brethren of all shades of opinion may rightly claim the privilege of being heard before they are either instructed or advised. [***Page 52 / 000862 starts]
Numerous among us, in England, Canada, and the United States alike, are those who hold with President Wilson that the Allies are battling in the present struggle to “make the world safe for democracy.” They see in Central Europe a great people who have builded an empire by the power of the sword, and out of this experience developed a philosophy of force which supersedes all hitherto accepted standards of righteousness and good-will. They see this people preparing through a period of forty years, with unprecedented thoroughness and skill, a vast armament for the conquest of the world and its subjection to an unmoral, if not immoral, Kultur. They see this armament launched at, an unexpected moment upon unoffending nations which claimed no other privilege than that of independent life, and sought no other goal than that of peace; and this armament driven with a ferocity of violence unknown since the days of savagery. This war reveals the Germans as a pariah race which recognizes no law, respects no covenants, bows before no right save that of might. To humble this race is the condition of world freedom. To render impotent a people who have, deliberately chosen the philosophy and practice of war as a means to their own advancement and greater happiness is the first duty of mankind. And for such a work on such an empire no weapon is fit except the sword. The Germans can be separated from war only by the results of war. Not since the Huns of Attila or the Saracen host of Abderrahman swept down in awful torrent upon Western Europe has humanity encountered such a menace to its security.. Only by a new Châlons, or a second Tours can the world be saved. To such a battlefield of freedom are our people called again, and woe be unto us and our posterity if we, do not heed!
No less fixed in support of the war, is a second group of Unitarians whose attitude is determined by various motives. Some are convinced that the Germans were the aggressors in the Great War, remember that the Germans have conducted hostilities with indescribable disregard of justice and pity, and are certain that, their defeat is a necessary condition of the re-establishment of peace; ‘but they cannot forget President Wilson’s noble distinction between the German Government and the German people, and believe, that this people, chastened and repentant, must some day be welcomed back into the family of nations. Others in this group are inclined to believe that responsibility for the [***Page 53 / 000863starts] war must be somewhat widely distributed among the European Powers; but they think it to the permanent advantage of the world for the Allies to win, and at any rate affirm it the first principle of loyalty for citizens, to sustain their governments amid the vicissitudes and perils of armed conflict. Still others do not hesitate to condemn this war, more especially the entry of the United States therein; but they recognize their share of social responsibility for the disaster, and refuse to evade the misery and sin which the common will of men has brought upon the world. All of this group are lovers of peace, and have long served its interests; but they do not see how the present conflict could have been avoided, and now that it has come, see no way out but to fight it through. All hate war, and are not indifferent to its evils; but they believe that even war has its benefits, and by the creative power of the consecrated human will can be made to yield much good. Already, before the war is done, do we see Russia liberated, English-speaking peoples the world around joined in bonds of amity never to be severed, religious differences forgotten in common humanitarian service, woman suffrage promised or already granted, the liquor traffic abolished or condemned to death, governments socialized beyond the wildest dreams of contemporary radicalism, and at the end the fair promise of a world set free from war. To do what has to be done, to make the best even of the worst, to join common cause for good or ill with humanity as it is,—this is the attitude of many of those who sit in’ this Conference and hold membership in our churches.
Very different is the attitude of a third and not inconsiderable group of Unitarians. These see the war as the consequence not so much of specific national aggression as of a general condition of international anarchy. They see this condition not only accepted but fostered by the nations as furnishing an open field for the political rivalry, economic competition, and imperialistic ambition by which the autocratic classes in control of all modern countries prosper in wealth and power at the expense of the people. They see this field of struggle deliberately set free from those accepted moral standards which control men in their individual relations: diplomats have been relieved of the obligation of truth, foreign secretaries dowered with the privilege of loosing the pledged word or the plighted troth, industrial magnates granted opportunity for economic exploitation abroad as pitiless [***Page 54 / 000864 starts] as that at home. And always, as the one stable element ‘ in the existing anarchy, they see war recognized as a just weapon to be employed for redress of grievances, and therefore prepared for on a colossal scale by all nations, as sooner or later certain. Out of such a condition of political and moral anarchy, as out of the seed of dragons’ teeth, but one result could come—the universal cataclysm which broke upon the world in July, 1914. Which country struck the match that kindled the conflagration is scientifically insignificant, although historically interesting. The piling of the combustibles by all European countries through a generation of selfish imperialistic struggle is the single important fact. With feverish precipitancy the nations leaped into a fray expected, prepared for, not undesired, and for the three most dreadful years in history have there remained, indifferent to the basic interests of civilization, hostile to every ‘ plea for peace, obsessed-with victory or revenge. These Unitarians recognize that idealistic claims have not been lacking. The German appeal to self-defence has been matched by the Allies’ cry of democracy and freedom, but both claims seem to them to be afterthoughts, the latter “as obviously unreal as the’ former. The international history of the Allies shows no love of freedom inconsistent with national prestige and power. The public leaders who shout loudest of democracy are with few exceptions the ones who have spent their lives in fighting democratic movements in their own countries. . The work for peace is seriously complicated by claims for indemnities or territorial acquisitions which are alien to the task of liberty. Only Russia of the original belligerents has cast aside all thought of recompense or conquest, and the failure of her allies to comprehend the will of the Russian people is the final and perfect indictment of their idealism. In such a war this group of Unitarians can have no interest save to bring it to an end. That end they regard as the condition of all good. They therefore seek it now on any terms of “peace without victory,” for to them no conceivable outcome of the struggle can be so costly to human welfare as its continuance, and no victory on either side so wholesome as defeat on both.
A fourth group of Unitarians is composed of those who are concerned with the problem not of this war in particular, but of war in general. These are the non-resistants, who classify war with cannibalism, infanticide, and slavery, as one of the supreme abominations of history. [***Page 55 / 000865 starts] These brethren of ours are unmoved by a plea for war on grounds of self-defence, liberty, or honor. They know that it is a stupid king or president who cannot find high moral grounds for even the basest war, and remember that the German war to the German people is a battle for the defence of the Fatherland. They are not persuaded by the argument that war may be justified as a necessary means to the accomplishment of a great end. They reject for free men the law of necessity, refuse to recognize the proposition that the end justifies the means, and beg to submit that not only war but every horror can be justified on this sophistical ground, as witness Plato’s justification of infanticide as a necessary means to the end of social progress. These non-resistants’ are indifferent to the assertion that there are things worse than war. They would like to see these things named, and specifications given as to their excess of material and moral evil. They are not even moved by the slander that they are unwilling to sacrifice their lives for a great cause, and point by way of refutation to those non-resistants in all countries to-day who have gladly faced and in some cases suffered death rather than take up arms against their fellows. To these Unitarians war presents itself as nothing more than an agreement among men that under certain conditions all accepted standards of moral idealism may be suspended— that theft, falsehood, arson, violence, and murder may be made right, honorable, and of good report. Such a miracle of change, they assert, is impossible. The law of love can no more be repealed than the law of gravitation. The will, of God can neither be amended nor abrogated by the passion of men. We may choose the bad, if this be our unholy purpose. We may say with Milton’s Satan, “Evil, be thou my good.” But evil still remains evil, and war, as a great religious denomination has put it, “irrational, inhuman, and unchristian.”
Among these four distinct types Unitarians like other people are divided. Such division in such democratic countries as the United States and Canada is to be expected. It is peculiarly characteristic of our body. Equally characteristic must be our recognition that, whatever these differences, nothing is more important at this time than opportunity for full, free, and fair statement of all points of view on this momentous event, and for honest service of the social ends deter- mined by these points of view. In saying this the Council abates not one jot or tittle of its majority opinion [***Page 56 / 000866 starts] that this war is, or may be made, a just and righteous conflict. But it holds that, in the scales of human destiny, ‘”; the vindication of majority opinion, however right, weighs far less than -the vindication of the liberty of minority opinion, however wrong-headed and perverse. Especially is this the case with a religious body which constitutes in the Christian world a minority” so insignificant in numbers and of theological opinion so unpopular that the pacifists and. non-resistants in our ranks are by comparison of a prodigious impressiveness both from the statistical and ethical; viewpoint. Certainly it would be difficult to name, our reason for being if the privilege of non-conformity were denied or even threatened among, us. By tradition and by practice we are dissenters. The cause of all dissent is our cause. No violence has ever robbed us of this high calling, no seduction should now tempt us to betray it. What if the objectors be few in number? “If all mankind minus one,” writes Lord Stuart Mill, “were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.” What if the cause of the objector be alien to all accepted knowledge and sentiment? “In the formation of an opinion,” writes Lord Morley, “as to the abstract preferableness of one course of action over another, or as to the truth or falsehood or right significance of a proposition, the fact that the majority of one’s contemporaries lean in the other direction is naught and no more than dust in the balance.” What if war be raging, and the nation faced with the grave peril of hostile arms? “The cry has been that war is declared, and all opposition should therefore be hushed,” speaks William Ellery Charming in the days of war against Great Britain in 1812. “A sentiment more unworthy of a free country,” he continues, “can hardly be propagated. Admit this doctrine, let rulers once know that by placing this country in a state of war they place themselves be- yond the only power they dread the power of free discussion-—and we may expect war without end. Our peace and all our interests require that a different sentiment should prevail. We should teach our present and all future rulers that there is no measure for which they must render so solemn an account to their constituents as for a declaration of war, that no measure will be so freely, so fully discussed, and that no administration can succeed in persuading this people to exhaust their treasure and [***Page 57 / 000867 starts] blood in supporting war unless it be palpably necessary and just. In war, then, as in peace, assert the freedom of speech. Cling to this as the bulwark of all your rights and privileges.”
Such is the law of liberty which we have long since adopted as our own. The stress and strain of war places this law in peril among us, as among all peoples everywhere. Hence the appeal of your Council, divided in opinion but united in the love of this ideal, that Unitarians guard for themselves and their fellows everywhere, as a priceless heritage from the past, and an indispensable condition of happiness in the future, the right in war and peace alike of freedom.
To some of us a definite reaffirmation of allegiance to this cause would be a source of almost infinite consolation and strength. We should feel that life is still livable, and the world not altogether unsafe for democracy. But to these, as to all others here present, such action could only be introductory to other and greater things. For freedom, after all, is not a goal, but an open road. Thus is it literally unthinkable that this biennial Conference can assemble, deliberate, and adjourn in the midst of such a crisis of human affairs as now confronts us and do nothing which shall have specific and direct bearing upon the problem of war and its outcome. A desperate world cries out for leadership, and woe unto any responsible man or institution which does not at least attempt to give answer to this cry! Nor may this answer, if it is to be useful, partake of the trite, traditional, or merely popular. All of us are unquestionably agreed that our churches must sustain the work of healing on battlefield and in hospital; maintain the moral standards of our young men who, snatched from the safeguards and refinements of ordered life, are hurled into the chaos of military campaigning; and give abundant ministration to the myriads of the sorrowful arid heavy-laden at home. But in a world perpetually afflicted with pain, maladjustment, and death these are primary duties which are only extended and magnified, not changed, by war conditions. Many of us would be happy if this Conference gave blessing, to the present conflict and urged its support to the bitter end, just as others would welcome a formal condemnation of all war in general and this war in particular. In either case, however, such action would be nothing more than an endorsement of a certain type of contemporary judgment on the causes and motives of the struggle, and a recorded [***Page 58 / 000868 starts] determination to fulfil the logic of this judgment. If the war were a merely passing and superficial phenomenon, we might be satisfied with such” performances of conventional duty and such echoing of current political opinion; but the struggle in which we are now caught is a fundamental, cataclysmic thing. The fountains of the great deep are broken up. The earth is shaken to its foundations. Our old, familiar, much-loved world is gone, » never to return. If ordered life is to continue or to advance, a new world must be constructed. This means that builders of patience,, imagination, and herculean strength must be promptly mobilized; and first among such builders should be the church. Above the battle, beyond the good and evil of this present struggle, is our post. We are soldiers not of to-day, but of the new day. As we meet not the sin of the past nor the horror of the present, but the expectation of the future, shall we, as ministers of Christ, be justified.
If we analyze this “expectation of the future,” which holds the secret of our highest duty, we shall’ find that it resolves itself into a single element, and that an element not irreconcilable with any one of the several opinions of this war to which we are variously committed. All minds ‘ are now agreed that one result must come out of this war,— a durable peace, as a rock on which, by the healing of time and the understanding of men, may be constructed the fabric of a permanently united humanity. If, when the struggle is finished, another war, at however remote an epoch, is possible, then will life be not worth the living. Nay more; so destructive is the modern enginery of battle, we may almost affirm that in such a contingency the very continuance of life upon this planet will be jeopardized. If, on the other hand, this war is made to be the war that ends war, and thus ushers in, as the night the day, the promised brotherhood of man, then for such a x blessed consummation even the present incalculable loss of blood and tears may be not too great a price to pay. This is the one achievement which may justify this war, • or at’ least rescue it from utter condemnation. Indemnities, reparations, restorations, annexations, rights of nationalities, adjustments of races—all may be desirable or important, but they are as so much stubble when placed in the balance with a peace that shall endure. National ambition, honor, prestige, security—all may be precious to the hearts of men, but they are as so much dross when weighed with the pure gold of international concord. [***Page 59 / 000869 starts] One task is before us in this dread hour,—the permanent social organization of good-will.
Now it is the achievement of this great end which belongs uniquely to the churches. Just as it was the business of the churches before the war to prevent war, so it is the business of the churches, now that war has come, to end it evermore. And yet with the churches, as with every other social institution to-day, the successful prosecution of the war seems so terrible a necessity that the high end of it all seems well-nigh to be forgotten. It may be true, as the majority of your Council feels, that this very prosecution of the war is the one means to the sure and swift accomplishment of the end of a durable peace. The chairman of the Council, with certain of his associates, would dispute this assertion, holding that the prosecution of the war to final success on either side is the one certain means of defeating this high purpose. But our division of opinion upon this point only unites us the more heartily and firmly in the judgment that, above and beyond this horrid business of warfare, there are other tasks to be achieved if peace is to be established, and that these tasks belong distinctively to the churches. What they are, may be briefly stated.
First is what may be called the ministry of reconciliation. In a time of raging passion, the churches must keep alive that spirit of good-will toward men through which alone peace on earth may some day be secured. What the military necessities of this war may be, we do not know. It may be imperative that the German Government be overthrown, the German territory invaded and ravaged, the German people beaten to their knees. The sword may have to do its worst, but with this worst its work must end. Beyond this fell area of bloodshed it cannot go, and yet it is just in this beyond that the achievement of enduring and beneficent victory must be found. For it is by our hearts and not by our swords that men are conquered. It is by forgiveness, compassion, pity, that enemies may be, first subdued and then changed into friends. This is what Jesus saw with so divine an understanding of human nature when he said, “Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you and persecute you.” If we rely exclusively upon the sword, we may make a desert, but it will not be peace. By the power of armies and navies we may overthrow our foes, but it will not be victory. After all the bloodshed [***Page 60 / 000870 starts] and destruction there will remain the work of the forgiving and understanding heart, else will discord never be transfigured into brotherhood, nor war into abiding peace. Hence the need, even today while the sword is still sheathed hot with blood, of a ministry of reconciliation! And what institution among us is so divinely appointed to this task as the church of God. Other men and other institutions will do the work of war. This would be carried through to the crudest end, though there were no churches. But this other and higher work will not be done if the churches fail. Hence the futility, the absurdity of churches devoting themselves to the work of war departments and military staffs. While the war rages on, the churches must banish distrust, vindictiveness, and fear wherever found, keep men’s hearts sweet, wholesome, and compassionate, open up the choked and defiled channels of understanding, sympathy, and divine accord. This is the chosen duty of the churches today, if ever through their aid a durable peace is to be won.
Secondly, our churches, without delay and without regard for the fortunes of any particular belligerent, must enter upon the definite “preparation of the gospel of peace.” A durable peace means an arrangement by which Germans and English, Russians and Turks, may end the present struggle and undertake again to live side by side in a common world, engage in the interchange of business, learning, and decent courtesy which make up ordered life, and co-operate in the common service of the common interests of our one humanity. This necessity of living together cannot be escaped. Germans, even though conquered, cannot be exterminated in a universal massacre. Englishmen, even though defeated, cannot flee to Saturn, Mars, or Jupiter, and colonize new planets as they have ‘ in other ages colonized new continents. For better or for worse, this earth must be the single abode of all these scattered tribes and hostile peoples. This is what peace means! And such peace, after such a war, needs preparation. Hence the necessity of initiating the work of preparation without delay. It is the business of our churches to discover terms of reconciliation, to work out methods of fraternal adjustment, to draw the blue-prints of the new kingdom of brotherhood. It is the business of our churches to vindicate and utilize the essentially inter- national character stamped upon them by the one universal and holy spirit, by keeping up communication with their brethren of other and even hostile lands, arranging [***Page 61 / 000871 starts] meetings and conferences to which, ambassadors of Christ shall be delegated in God’s name, and thus be-‘ ginning, while wounds still bleed, that work of healing which must in the end be achieved as a miracle of, Christ. More than this, it is the business of the churches to formulate and propose terms for immediate peace, or negotiations for peace, and mobilize in their support such forces of public sentiment as will make, necessary their acceptance by reluctant governments. Here is a prodigious task—as prodigious as it is beneficent. But it is the unescapable task of Christian statesmanship.
Again, the churches must expose, isolate, and destroy those latent forces of disintegration and enmity which in one or many nations, overcame the forces of good-will in 1914, and thus precipitated the present catastrophe. This war is no flaming horror cast from another planet. It is not a monster born without cause or circumstance. This war is a part of our world. It belongs to our breed. Its kin are commercialism, competitive industry, private profits, the protective tariff, child labor, prostitution, drink, sweated labor, poverty, wealth, and crime. The war of the battlefield is only the magnified reflection of- the war of the .factory, -the slum, and the foreign market. The massacres of the trenches are only more dramatic, but not more terrible, than the massacres of the saloon, the tenement, and the prison. All these together, when viewed apart from personal or national interest, are so many social crimes. They are the work of motives which have no place in the human heart, of ideas which win no recognition from the open mind, of institutions that are a mockery of Good’s kingdom. All these must the churches root out and destroy? Every influence that tends to separate men into conflicting groups, every philosophy which is consistent with competitive greed, every social institution which permits one man to live at the expense or by the labor of another man, must be banished in the name and by the power of religion. The task of the churches is to construct, by heroic spiritual prophecy, a system of ideas which will lead men, in industry as in politics, in national as in international relations, to co-operation; and, by enlightened spiritual statesmanship, a type of social institution which shall be at once the. instrument and bulwark of good-will. War, in other words, in its larger aspects, is a part of the social problem; and peace, a department of social justice.
Lastly, the churches must restore to new authority those [***Page 62 / 000872 starts] august ideals of the spirit which this war has so grossly outraged and defied. Worse than the material devastation of conquered lands in this great conflict is the moral devastation of men’s souls. Not alone cathedrals, but the spiritual dreams which these shrines- have sacredly embodied, have been given over to ruin. These it is the business of the churches to restore, for only through the new and joyous recognition of these ideals can the peace that shall last be established. Again must the churches proclaim that regnant authority which is the will of God. Again must the churches impose upon men’s hearts those laws of love which transcend all earthly codes, because of the spirit of the Most High. Again must the churches affirm that conception of universal brotherhood with which war is forever irreconcilable. Long enough-have the churches been apologetic, acquiescent, servile; it is time that they laid hold upon the seats of power. Princes and potentates of earth have had their little and most fearful day. Now must come the day of the Lord, the rule of ‘”God the Invisible King.” He admits no divided control of the world he claims. He concedes nothing to Caesar. Whatever claim Caesar may make to rule men’s lives and direct their destinies outside the will of God is a usurpation. No king nor Caesar has any right to tax or to service or to tolerance except he claims as one who holds for and under God. And he must make good his claim. Such is the God of Christ! This God, dethroned, insulted, and defied, the churches must restore to glory; for this God, and none other, is the God of peace, and through obedience to him can peace alone be found.
Such is the business to which your Council commends this Conference and the churches which it represents— the ministry of reconciliation, the preparation of peace, the establishment of social justice, the proclamation of God’s law. This business, we believe, is the Father’s business. It is inconsistent neither with support of nor opposition to the war, but is supplementary to both. It is the way to enduring peace, the path to spiritual restoration. The struggle which now darkens our whole horizon, cannot go on forever. Some day the bugles must sing truce across the fields of battle, tired warriors ground arms, and statesmen sit in guarded council halls to make an -end of strife. This moment will mark the supreme crisis of this modern age. What then is done will make or un- make our civilization forever; and what then is done may [***Page 63 / 000873 starts] be determined in no small measure by what the Christian mind says today, and will say at this later and most awful hour. In us, therefore, as Christians, even in us as Unitarians who are so small a folk, there rest the hopes of men. Hearts everywhere cry out for succor, hands grope for guidance, eyes stare in darkness for the light. At such a moment shall we not put by the divisions that so easily beset us—our passions as men, our prejudices as Unitarians, our viewpoints as Americans or Canadians— and, rising to the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, give ourselves with mind and heart and soul and strength to that pure and perfect work which is of God? [***Page 1 / 000874 starts]
TWENTY-SEVENTH GENERAL CONFERENCE
OF UNITARIAN AND OTHER CHRISTIAN
Report of the Proceedings
The twenty-seventh meeting of the General Conference of Unitarian and Other Christian Churches was held at Montreal, Province of Quebec, Canada, Sept. 25- 28, 1917. The headquarters of the Conference were at the Hotel Windsor.
Tuesday Evening, September 25.
Services of worship were held in the St. James Methodist Episcopal Church, Sherbrooke Street, at 8.15 P.M. A devotional service, prepared for the occasion by Rev. Frederick R. Griffin of Montreal, Canada, was conducted by Mr. Griffin and Rev. Sydney B. Snow of Boston. Rev. Caleb S. S. Dutton of San Francisco, Cal., preached the Conference sermon.
Wednesday Morning, September 26.
Morning prayers at Windsor Hall were conducted by Rev. Minot Simons of Cleveland, Ohio.
The General Conference met at 9.30. The invocation was by Rev. George Gilmour:—
Most holy and eternal God, we bow before Thee with, reverent hearts and thoughtful minds. Thou art our God. Thou art the God of all nations. Thou art the God of this nation. Thou hast been the God of our fathers. Thou hast been our guide in times of peace and [***Page 2/ 000875 starts] amity and in the perplexities of war. Thou hast given us freedom, liberty, boundless opportunity, and blessing. The immediate interests which have brought us together here are related to the aims of this religious body, yet we would not forget the warring and suffering nations of the earth of which we are a part. Out of the throes of war do Thou bring us to peace, God, to a righteous peace and a righteous adjustment. We bow before Thee and ask Thy blessing upon the deliberations of this hour. As Thou dost order the affairs of men, so frame the doings of this General Conference, great in its aims. Save us from all hasty and ill-spoken words; guide us in all our judgments, purposes, plans, resolutions, and thoughts, that all may have Thy pure mind of wisdom and strength. May the purposes of Thy choice be our choice, and may motive, method, and result centre in Thy sure laws of right, and in Thy lasting principles of truth and righteousness. So would we live that day by day we may make this earthly existence, both in our personal lives and in our social institutions one with the life everlasting. Grant us so to do. Amen.
Hon. William H. Taft, president of the General Conference, gave the opening address (page 47).
Rev. Walter F. Greenman, secretary* presented the following resolutions :—
Voted, That the programme be amended by providing opportunity for the introduction of a report from Charles E. Ware, chairman of the committee which raised the money for the Canadian churches in accordance with a vote taken at the last meeting of the General Conference.
Voted, That Miss Florence Fisher be appointed official stenographer for the Conference.
Voted, That resolutions offered be turned over to the Business Committee for consideration and presentation at a later meeting.
Voted, That a Committee on Business of seven members and a Committee on Nominations of seven and a Committee of Registration of four be appointed by the chair.
Voted, That the collection always taken during the Conference be taken this evening,.
The following committees were appointed:— Committee on Business: Mr. Alexander Falconer, Que- bec; Mrs. Christopher R. Eliot, Massachusetts; Rev. Horace Westwood, Manitoba; Mr. E. H. Letchworth, New York; Rev. E. R. Shippen, Michigan; Rev. Harry Lutz, Massachusetts; Mrs. Whitman Cross, Washington, D. C.
[***Page 3 / 000876 starts]
Committee on Nominations: Rev. Robert F. Leavens, Nebraska; Mrs. Mary Hall Chapin, Illinois; Rev. S. R. Maxwell, Massachusetts; Miss Emma Low, New York; Mr. Jonathan Smith, Massachusetts; Mr. M. T. Garvin, Pennsylvania; Mrs. John W. Loud, Quebec.
Committee on Registration: Mr. John W. Lord, Quebec; Mrs. Latham, Quebec; Mr. Edwin J. Lewis, Massachusetts; Rev. H. Sumner Mitchell, New Hampshire.
The Report of the Council was read by Rev. John Haynes Holmes, chairman (page 51).
The president, Mr. Taft, asked the secretary to take the chair and moved the suspension of the rules that he might make a further motion. The motion was carried.
Mr. Taft.—As a literary effort this paper is beautiful. As describing the functions of the church and the churches in the next century as we struggle on to better things, it is admirable; but as the expression of this body at this time, when our nation is in danger, when the war must be carried on in order to have world peace, it is an insid- ious document. Are we, as Unitarians, in favor of winning this war, or are we not? Are we going to set out before the world, as Unitarians, four different views on this war, the last one argued with more emphasis and force than any of the others?—that is the question. Now, I would like to have it determined in this Conference where we stand, and I make this motion:—
Resolved, That it is the sense of this Unitarian Conference that this war must be carried to a successful issue to stamp out militarism in the world; that ,we, as the Unitarian body, approve the measures of President Wilson and Congress to carry on this war, restrictive as they may be; and that these resolutions be sent to President Wilson, as expressive of the sentiment of this body.
Rev. Walter F. Greenman.—A time is provided for precisely such resolutions as our president has offered. The Conference is at liberty to change its order of programme, with the consent of the Business Committee. You have voted to follow a certain order. If there is no objection I shall have ‘this resolution come at the regular ‘time.
Rev. Richard W. Boynton.—As a member of the Council and in a degree responsible for the utterance of its chair- man, I wish not to debate this motion, to which I wholly assent, personally, but to make a brief explanation. Two [***Page 4 / 000877 starts] years ago, at the Conference in San Francisco, the Council, by a majority vote, chose as its chairman, to present the report, Mr. Holmes of New York. At that moment I was opposed to the choice of Mr. Holmes, and sought to further another candidate. Nevertheless, the Council, choosing him for that office, gave him the initiative at this hour. His was to be the leading voice. During recent weeks and during most of yesterday, in a committee room of this building, the Council has been considering this report, with two things in mind: that we, the committee, ourselves, by a majority vote, agreed to give Mr. Holmes the initiative; and that Mr. Holmes did not represent in himself more than small minority of Unitarians, as against the majority—with whom I have stood from the outset, in regard to this war, as my people here know. Mr. Taft has expressed my opinion, and his speech and his resolution will go out as the majority opinion of this Unitarian Conference here assembled. But I assent, and I believe you do in your calmer moments, to the fundamental idea, not only of democracy, but peculiarly of the liberal faith, that while minorities may be outvoted they shall not by any process of violence be suppressed.
Now I have this to say. I personally assent to what Mr. Taft said earlier; I am willing personally to make sacrifice of my freedom of speech, and I do not assent to the idea that this is a practical time to assert that freedom. If I had been writing this report I should not have written it in this way, but while I am willing to see this motion passed and shall vote for it, let it be understood that this Conference through its regular mode of procedure and in due form committed this word today to Mr. Holmes; and, while Mr. Taft expresses and has received in return a support from this audience which shows the feeling of the Conference, let us proceed in, such, manner that it may be said that somewhere in Christendom there is a religious denomination, not great in numbers but high in influence, which is willing, as you have, been willing today, to listen with appreciation and with honor to the fearless voice of its smallest minority. I would not belong to this body if any motion passed should carry with it the implication of the suppression not so much of freedom of speech as of freedom of thought and, as John Stuart Mill put it, of “the inalienable right of 6ne soul to stand against the universe solidified against it.” [***Page 5 / 000878 starts]
Dr. S. A. Eliot moved that the order of the day be suspended, and that Mr. Taft’s resolution be taken up.
By request of the secretary, Mr. Adelbert Moot, vice-president of the Conference, took the chair, the motion was put, and by a standing vote showed in the affirmative 161, negative 74.
Rev. R. W. Boynton moved that the regular programme for the morning go over to Thursday afternoon, at the Church of the Messiah. Carried.
The chairman declared the motion of Mr. Taft before the Conference for consideration and discussion.
Mr. Percy A. Atherton.—I desire to give a little explanation of the function of the Council. Your Council, which consists of twelve members, is elected at one Conference to look out for the next Conference, the chairman to take the lead in drafting the annual report of the Council. Mr. Holmes submitted this report to the other members for criticism. Yesterday, full opportunity for deliberation was given. The session continued through the greater part of the day.
From the’ outset I opposed the report, other members of the Council did the same, and the report as read is much softened from what it was originally. I deliberated with myself at great length through the day and into the night, whether it was my duty to present a minority report. I conferred with various wise delegates present, and concluded to leave it with the statement that I would not assent to or sign it.
Liberty of speech is precious to a democracy, but I conceive that even liberty of speech must have its limi- tations in time of great national disaster. I honor and I love the chairman of our Council. I have worked with him from the days of college debates twenty years ago, and I respect his insight and his sincerity, but it is untimely at this great moment of catastrophe to present such statements as the view of this body.
Rev. John H. Lathrop.—Friends, it seems to me, as a member of the Council, obliged to study the report pretty carefully, three or four times alone, and in council yesterday all day, that you have missed the point entirely. I do not care which side of the general discussion you are on; I see no relation in this discussion to the main contention of the paper-. The paper’s effort is just to recog- [***Page 6 / 000879 starts] nize the fact that we are not all of one mind, and, recognizing that fact, to try and find out whether there is something that we all, divided as we may be in opinion, can nevertheless do as a religious organization. None of you, by anything you vote at this hour, can obliterate the fact that we are not all of one mind; and is it not worthwhile to find out what we can do together as one religious organization at a time like this? That is the whole effort of the report of the Council, over which the Council was divided in opinion, as you are. We commend our chairman’s effort to find one great common religious. Christian task for men and women who are not in absolute agreement on the present situation. In other words, I ask, have we a religious purpose that, gives us a common task for building the future world, whether we agree as to the war or not? It seems to me that your chairman, Mr. Holmes, undertook an important effort, and carried it out successfully. The particular point of view, to which I myself would naturally agree, was as well presented as the one which I happen to know he himself agrees with, and you must have felt that each point of view was stated fairly and with conviction, but it is not a question of points of view, but of finding some common religious Christian task in which all can share.
Rev. George Kent.—As a representative of the Southern churches, I protest against the acceptance of this report. I object to it because it is self-contradictory. In the course of the report it was set forth that a large majority of our people, believe that the influences of this war, as we are determined to carry it through should be emancipating, should be unifying, should bring about the brotherhood of the human face; and yet, after setting forth such a thought as that, the only word used to describe the influences of this war was “dreadful.” Again, it was set forth that the results of this war as we are determined to carry it through should achieve the democratization of a great people, should humanize, and make peace permanent, should put an end to war; and yet one of the opening phrases described the war as leaving us, at, its best, with civilization prostrated beyond the hope of recovery for an entire generation. The whole report sounds as if it were dominated by one gifted, colossally gifted, with power of specious phraseology, mildly, I will not say feebly, criticised by a majority [***Page 7 / 000880 starts] thinking otherwise; and I cannot, as a delegate, responsible to my people, leave without protest against this eloquent but self-contradictory report.
Mr. William R. Billings.—The last speaker has missed part of the point of this situation. As I under- stand, the acceptance of a’ report of this kind does not commit this body to any of its theories. We—I speak as a modest, unimportant member of the Council— authorized the chairman of the Council to make this report, and I am glad he did it. I do not agree with him; I agree with President Taft. I think he was right in saying what he did; he has had his right of free speech, and I should have been ashamed if he had not had that accorded to him. He has had it; now, having heard him, let us vote him down!
Rev. Minot Simmons.—I am in sympathy with Mr. Taft’s resolution and shall vote for it, but I feel he made one unjust reference to the setting forth of the different points of view by the chairman of the Council.
Mr. Taft (interrupting).—My inference came from the judicial habit. The court states the conclusion that it favors, last.
Rev. Minot Simmons (continuing).—I don’t know where the judicial habit lands one. We want to be as just as we can. I think these points of view were set forth as fairly as it is humanly possible for any man to do such a thing, but I recognize another thing, which I think led up to this endeavor of the chairman of the Council to plead for liberty in the Unitarian pulpit and at this Unitarian Conference, for what he .conceives to be freedom of speech. I wrote him that I could not be committeed to the support of any resolution for further freedom, of speech in the pulpit. Personally I have all the freedom I can use, but it seemed to me just that he should set forth this opinion, if he chose to make his plea for what he felt was necessary. In justice to Mr. Holmes this should be said.
The Chairman, Mr. moot.—I am much pleased with the beautiful spirit in which this discussion on a warm subject is carried on; and I hope this spirit will continue [***Page 8 / 000881 starts] to the end, that all may know that even in a time like this we can talk as Christians should talk in a Conference like this. That spirit could not be better exemplified than in the case of the last speaker, whose sympathies I happen to know to be very warm, for he has his own son getting ready to do his bit at the front, and a captain in his own family.
Rev. Oscar B. Hawes.—As I understand it, the motion before the meeting deals entirely with our attitude in regard to the great war; but the discussion seems to turn on the appropriateness of the report of our Council. These are different and distinct things. Some of us have positive, opinions in regard to this great war, and it is fitting we should express them, but the matter of opinion as to the report is a different thing. I wish these two things could be separated.
The Chairman.—The sole question is the approval or disapproval of the resolution of Mr. Taft, but discussion on that and necessarily on the Report of the Council’ must take a somewhat broad view, and therefore I shall rule somewhat broadly in entertaining the discussion.
In response to a request the resolution was re-read.
Mr. Bates of Austin, Tex.—I am absolutely in favor of this motion. I enjoyed every word of the report, and admired the courage of a man who dared to make such a statement when he knew the opinion of this body. The best answer, perhaps, is in a cartoon, a picture of Uncle Sam in a field, cleaning his old flintlock, with a little figure standing by reading “Altruism and Good Will, and the Philosophy of Non-Resistance.” Uncle Sam sees a mad bull coming over the field, with head down and fire shooting from his nostrils, and he says to the little man, “Yes, I understand you, but tell it to him!” Everybody believes in peace. No one denies that war is the sum of all iniquity; and it is the duty of every American citizen to stop this war. It is not England, or Canada, or France, or the United States that has shot defenceless women or sent women and children to the bottom of the ocean, torn up treaties, or sent diplomats back with safeguard and found bombs on him for neutral ships. A report that cannot distinguish between the [***Page 9 / 000882 starts] kind of diplomacy in Germany to-day and that illustrated in the state, papers of our President is not a report to adopt, but we are not Unitarians or Christians if we refuse to any one the opportunity to be heard, if it takes all day or all night!
Rev. Frederic Gill suggested as an amendment that this resolution be sent to the Governor General and to the Prime Minister of Canada.
This amendment was accepted by the mover and seconder of the resolution, and as amended it stood:—
Resolved, That it is the sense of the General Conference that this war must be carried to a successful issue to stamp out militarism in the world; that we as the Unitarian body approve the measures of President Wilson and Congress to carry on this war, restrictive as they may be; and, that these resolutions be sent to President Wilson, to the Governor General of Canada, and to the Prime Minister of Canada as expressive of the sentiment of this body.
Rev. john Haynes Holmes,—Of course I am disappointed and deeply grieved at the way this report has been received, not because I criticise you ‘or bear any grudge against whatever you may do, but .simply because I failed in what I tried to undertake; and it is never pleasant to fail. I succeeded yesterday with the Council after hours of discussion, and it was my prayer last night and this morning that I might succeed with you, and, whatever may happen in the next half-hour, I shall go on with perfectly good cheer, though I have been wounded in my sense of honor as a man, as well as disappointed. I did not endeavor to use any Machiavellian effort in this report. It did not seem to me strange that the war should be described as “dreadful.” I suppose my friend who makes that criticism believes I should have said something else about the war; I think I did, and my good brother Kent, if he will study the report, will find it so.
What did I try to do? What was the task with which I was confronted as chairman of your Council? This report is not mine. It is the report of the Council, and the Council, including my beloved brother Atherton, shares with me the responsibility. I do not desire to shift my burden; I am ready to carry my burden any day, God helping me. I am a pacifist, I am a non- resistant, I hate war, and I hate this war; and so long [***Page 10 / 000883 starts] as I live and breathe I will have nothing to do with this or any war, so help me God.
Have I any right to give that as your opinion in addition to my own? None whatever; and I did not exercise such a right. Had I been writing my own report or speech, it would have been a different report. It would have been on the foundation of the doctrine of non-resistance, Christianity as I understand it, and I beg, in all good spirit and in no censorious spirit, to say .that this report is not and was not a vindication or interpretation of the pacifist position. Mr. Taft intended nothing unfair, I know. His public career is an unbroken testimony to that. If I have ever tried in my life to interpret the position of those who differed from me fairly, squarely, and honestly, I tried in this report. If I failed, Mr. President, I failed, and I do not know that failure can be counted as sin.
Putting by the statement of the pacifist position as one that I had no right to force upon you, putting by all of what might be called the position of militarism;—an inaccurate word,—I tried to give honest expression to the various feelings we have about this war, and, on the basis of these ideas, to try in the name of the religion of the free spirit, to find a common ground upon which you and I, not as Americans, not as Canadians, not even as Unitarians, denominationally speaking, but as men and women gathered together jn a conference of religion, could agree. If that religion has anticipated events in the history of the world by centuries, the crime is not mine, but religion’s. Religion breathes of the kingdom of God. I shall not live to see that kingdom established, but as long as I do live I shall talk about the kingdom of God, and my dream and understanding of it, and shall try to unite men and women of different opinions on contemporary events in their love and loyalty to the dream of the Spirit of God fulfilled in His world.
I wrote this report. I sent it to every member of the Council except one, and that was Mr. Atherton. Every member accepted the report, with varied degrees of criticism. Some of the criticisms were on detail; others touched the construction. I ask my brothers of the Council if it be not true that I accepted every criticism that was made, .to the limit of my ability as a man; I tried to meet every objection; and that report was accepted yesterday by the Council, and I was authorized to read it. [***Page 11 / 000884 starts]
With these ten or eleven men I succeeded in the effort to unite them on the tablelands of the spirit, where we could see the horizons of God and catch a little light amid the darkness of the world.
I knew if we wanted to adopt such resolutions as have been presented the time would come, but I felt that in the report I must deal with other views’ and matters. I suppose I succeeded yesterday because we talked as man to man. That cannot be done in an audience of a thousand people. There is something very deep ‘in the meaning of those words, “Where two or three are gathered together.” We are many here, and in the hot feeling of excitement and bitter war it is difficult to bring out what I wanted to do, but I tried, and I would rather fail in making that attempt than to have won your unanimous plaudits in presenting here a report which would have grieved some here as a statement in adverse opinion under pressure.
I accept my failure. I offer no opposition to anything you wish to do. This is what I tried to do, let us go on together to the next thing.
The Chairman.—I will say as one of those who did not agree with President Wilson for a long time, and now does, agree with him, that I am not so sure that the chairman of, the Council has failed in what he undertook; not so sure that, when you have passed Mr. Taft’s resolutions, which you evidently intend to do, you will not find some way of convincing the chairman of the Council, that, looking to the future and stating the religious spirit of the Conference, he has not wholly failed in anything he undertook.
Rev. Christopher Eliot.—I want to ask whether those who vote in favor of carrying on this war to a successful result are necessarily voting for absolutely military victory; also whether our endorsement of President Wilson’s policies would be voting to uphold the restriction of free speech when it was not definitely disloyal?
The Chairman.—These question are helpful, but the Chair believes that President Taft, with his large experience, will answer, as fairly as the Chair believes Mr. Holmes has tried to state, the conglomerate opinion of the Council. [***Page 12 / 000885 starts]
Mr. Taft.—A resolution passed, a report made, may mean one thing at one time, and another thing at another time. The Government of the United States and the people of the United States have determined to send to Europe, to France, two millions of men if need be, and to expend billions of dollars, in an issue that we may properly assume the people of the United States believe to be vital to world civilization. Now when you carry on righteous war, you must win; and it is not a time for a great body like this Unitarian Conference to permit its appointed committee, called a Council, to send out to the world a declaration that means nothing in the way of decisiveness as to the policy to be pursued in this war.
It is not a question of the personal feeling that Mr. Holmes brought in trying to state impartially four different opinions on the war. It is not to be expected of any man, even a judge, that he should be able to state all views impartially. There is always an unconscious pressing on the last conclusion, that is to be his. It is not a question of Mr. Holmes’s personal feeling. It is a question of our unity as Americans, as Canadians, as citizens of the world, to stamp out the evil that everyone recognizes. It is not a question whether a hundred years hence we may hope that things may- be better through the inspiration of the action of the churches. We all believe that. But we have two millions of men, our own boys, preparing to .go to France to fight for something—and are we Unitarians in this country to say now through our Council that we do not know whether they are fighting for anything that is good or not? It is beyond everything personal, beyond every- thing theoretical, beyond everything hopeful of the millennium. We are in a war that is- fierce, a war in which our enemies, have used the highest known discoveries of science in support of principles that would almost disgrace a Hun, and »yet how we are to stand before the world impartially, and appear as if we were judges above all of them, and felt no call to respond to the necessities of civilization? Our house is afire and we must put it out, and it is no time for considering whether the firemen are using the best kind of water-.
I have no doubt Mr. Holmes tried to be fair, but he wrote the report, and we have the testimony of the Council that they took the report and cut it down, and [***Page 13 / 000886 starts] then one of them was not satisfied; and Mr. Holmes is the minority member on that report. Now an opinion that did not concur with the judgment of the court is likely, just from human nature, not to state strongly the conclusion of the majority.
We represent not a large body, but a very important body, of Americans and Canadians. The question is now whether, when there are four hundred thousand Canadians on the front being killed and wounded and captured, and suffering in a cause that the great majority of both countries believes to be. just, believes to be necessary in order to stamp out the evil of militarism, in order to stamp down a militaristic dynasty that looks forward to conquering the destinies of the world—the question is, I say, whether we, as Americans, are to divide ourselves into four different parts on this report and say some of us believe this or that or the other or the last part, or whether we are going to act like Americans and Canadians, responding to the demands of the great issue that is being fought for, for which the blood of our dearest is being shed or to be shed, or are we going to occupy a high transcendental position of not deciding anything? That is the question.
If those gentlemen who subscribe to the report think it can be reconciled with the. resolutions I have .moved, then it does not reflect on the report, but as a Unitarian. I want no doubt about, it. I am not a pacifist. I have struggled during my career to do as much for international peace as I could, but the way to international peace now is to win this war. Therefore we must not be behind the ranks, behind the trenches, behind our guns, saying to the boys who are shedding their blood and giving up their lives, “We do not know whether you are right or not; we are divided into four parts.”
That is the issue, and I say that, without dealing with what the report may mean if you go through it with a microscope, we ought to vote for a positive, a patriotic, a world-saving resolution that this Unitarian church is back of the fight in which millions of lives are likely to be lost for a righteous cause and for which millions of lives, have already been lost. We represent as high an average of the intelligence of the country as any church—I could go further, but I won’t! But let us stand up. If our character and our intelligence does not give us the conviction that that country that is fighting for the [***Page 14 / 000887 starts] right will win, then let us go in and go back of the line that is fighting, whether to win or not, for the highest cause that was ever fought for.
With reference to the question raised by Mr. Christopher Eliot: I had no intention of referring to anything other than existing legislation; I am not engaged in a general guarantee of all legislation!
Rev. Alson H. Robinson.—I move an amendment to this resolution to the effect that the words “to justify by measures however restrictive” shall be eliminated.
This amendment was voted down.
The motion as to the acceptance of Mr. Taft’s resolution was put, delegates alone voting, and carried by a majority of 227; 236 in favor, 9 opposed.
The question was again put, giving those present not delegates an opportunity to vote, and the motion was carried, three opposing.
The Chair now resigned the gavel to the president.
Rev. E. J. Coil offered a resolution to the effect that this Conference, though not endorsing all the ideas of the chairman of the Council, endorses the manly spirit, courage, and prophetic vision of Mr. Holmes. The motion was put and carried.
Mr. Charles A. Ware read the report of the Committee on the Canadian Churches (see page 212), and offered a resolution concerning the continuance of the committee. Resolutions were also offered by Rev. C. T. Billings on religious education in the home; Rev. Sydney B. Snow on behalf of the United States Food Commission, by the Fellowship Committee, already in print; by Dr. S. A. Eliot in-regard to the Tercentenary of the Landing of the Pilgrims; by Mr, Boynton calling for the appointment of a commission to investigate the Canadian situation; and by Mr. Holmes touching an amendment to the By-laws.
The Conference adjourned. [***Page ?? / 000888 starts]
The Pinkham Resolution
WHEREAS the” board of directors of the American Unitarian Association, at its meeting of April 9, 1918, passed the following vote:
“That any society which employs a minister who is not a willing, earnest and outspoken supporter of the United States in the vigorous and resolute prosecution of the war cannot be considered eligible for aid from the Association.”
Now, therefore, the American Unitarian Association regrets the action of the board as contrary to the fundamental Unitarian principle of freedom of thought and conscience, and insists that never in future shall the economic power of the organization be used to influence the opinion of conduct of any minister or society.
Unitarian Conscientious Objectors
RESOLVED to authorize the American Unitarian Association to petition the proper governmental authorities to grant to Unitarian conscientious objectors the same status as is granted to the members of the Society of Friends, and other religious bodies under the Selective Act of May 18, 1917.