On Civil Disobedience
Sermon by Curtis Murphy, Summer Minister.
If you visit our congregation’s website, you’ll find a section labelled “Notable Unitarians,” with links to biographies of famous Unitarians throughout history. It’s quite an intriguing list, and is worth a look if you’ve never seen it before! One of the illustrious names on the list is Henry David Thoreau, who among other things was an author, philosopher, naturalist and abolitionist. In the 1840’s he wrote an essay - usually titled “On the Necessity of Civil Disobedience” - about his decision to refuse to pay his taxes in protest of the institution of slavery, and the consequences of this decision. The philosophy he developed in his essay came to serve as one of the primary inspirations for movements of civil resistance led by Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr, among others.
Thoreau was speaking to specific issues in his place and time, but his ideas are part of our intellectual and spiritual heritage as Unitarians, and they are alive in contemporary movements such as those for environmental justice and Black Lives Matter. This Sunday’s service will explore the ways contemporary Unitarians are interpreting and living out our heritage of principled civil disobedience.
Yours on the journey,