a digital library of Unitarian Universalist biographies, history, books, and media
the digital library of Unitarian Universalism
Home » Congregational Polity » The Battle of Syracuse By Edward T. Atkinson

The Battle of Syracuse By Edward T. Atkinson

“The Battle of Syracuse”

by Edward T. Atkinson

in The Unitarian Christian, Vol. 20, no. 1

February, 1965

Ed Atkinson has been a UU minister since 1964, settled in 1969 at Cohasset, Massachusetts.

The full article deals with the recognition of Christianity in our by-laws. The excerpts here relate to the tension over a denominational creed.

The “Battle of Syracuse” raises the large issue of whether freedom of religion precludes any definitive statement of purpose, as more than vague declaration.

How the issue was ultimately “solved” in terms of denominational schisms was the liberty clause first adopted in 1868 and then later considerably widened in 1882.

How is the issue handled today is so that no UU congregation can be removed for heresy, and yet there are strong denominational policies which claim to be based on our purposes.

In the early 1990’s the issue takes such forms as: shall exclusively pagan groups be admitted to the UUA? Should churches be forced to consider a gay or lesbian minister? Should a certain number of seats on the UUA board be “reserved” for people of color?

The tension between freedom of belief and organizational power to implement policy is a continuing issue in UUism.

The question might even be raised, “should it be solved?” In any case, what principles can each side bring to the continuing discussion?

Download (PDF, 676KB)

Series Navigation<< “On the Alleged Unattractiveness of the Christian Pulpit” By Henry W. Bellows“A Voice Without a Hand” By Stow Persons >>

Notable in UU History
Jonathan Edwards

Edwards, Jonathan (1703-1758)

This unforgettable minister and philosophical theologian is best known for his single sermon describing God’s wrath: ... Read More
Jason Shelton

Shelton, Jason

Biographical Introduction The Reverend Jason Shelton is a composer, arranger, conductor, singer, multi-instrumentalist, workshop and retreat ... Read More
Department of National Defence, Canada.

Chisholm, Brock (1896-1971)

George Brock Chisholm, past moderator of the American Unitarian Association, was born on May 18, 1896 ... Read More
Abbot Lawrence Lowell President from 1909-1933

Lowell, Abbott Lawrence (1856-1943)

Biographical Introduction Attorney, educator and twenty-fourth president of Harvard University, Abbott Lawrence Lowell was born on ... Read More