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Memo to Executive Committee Regarding
Advertising Policy and Dogmatism
Meredith Sprunger

June, 1983

Memo to: The Executive Committee
From: Meredith Sprunger
Re: Brotherhood Policy Positions

I believe we are facing some critically determinative decisions in Urantia Brotherhood which are much more important than the publicity and advertising policy which is the focus of attention. Rather than take valuable Executive Committee meeting time, I will take this opportunity first to speak briefly to the publicity issue and then the more important "dogmatism" threat facing the Brotherhood. Because I see the possibility of serious polarization on the advertising issue, I am enclosing a "Statement of Principles" which speaks to polarization problems.

A study of all of the viable social and religious movements of history shows that they start by contacting, educating, and organizing individuals into small groups in local communities. The Urantia movement, therefore, can expect to become a transforming force in our society only through the leavening influence of thousands of study groups in local communities throughout the country and world. I personally am not afraid of any reactions which might be precipitated by mass media publicity. I simply am interested in lasting results and believe that, at best, advertising has only a peripheral contribution to make in establishing a solid grass roots foundation for the Urantia Movement. But, more importantly, we should not allow this issue to push us beyond officially establishing what the majority consider to be a wise policy into a position of setting up "dogmatic prohibitions" regarding outreach ministry or anything else.

It seems that religious institutions always have their pet dogmas. For fundamentalists it is the blood atonement doctrine; for mainline churches it is liberal social, economic and political policies; for Urantia Brotherhood it is the advertising policy. When rational arguments do not convince members of these institutions, leaders strive to make them feel guilty. Implications are made questioning their loyalty; strong emphasis is placed on unity when they actually mean uniformity in obedience to the key doctrine or policy; and finally they usually imply that anyone disagreeing with them is out of harmony with the will of God.

For one who has spent his entire life intimately associated with the church which has repeatedly committed the errors of dogmatism, authoritarianism, and coercion, it is sad to see Urantia Brotherhood on the threshold of falling into the same evil institutional trap. Those who would associate themselves with the religion of the spirit should have nothing to do with it.

For years I have been perplexed at the fear and anxiety exhibited by many leaders of Urantia Brotherhood. Are we afraid to trust our future in the hands of the God of truth, whose sons and daughters we are? Certainly there are uncertain and troublous times ahead; but let us not allow our fears to push us into the error of authoritarianism, dogmatism, and coercion with their guilt and loyalty manipulations.

It is our responsibility to formulate and communicate wise policies and allow our fellowmen to accept or reject them of their own free will. It is our responsibility to actualize these policies in all official activities of the Brotherhood; but it is not our responsibility to enforce these policies in the unofficial activities of Brotherhood members or students of The Urantia Book. Even if we should attempt to do so, it will fail.

Dr. Barbara Brown Zikmund, UCC minister and dean of the faculty at Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley takes a look at the future of Protestant ministry. She believes it will be characterized by:

  1. A new type of global awareness.
  2. Continuing ecumenical openness.
  3. Increased political marginality (personal religion) in our society.
  4. Influenced by the fact that our churches are declining and aging in membership.
  5. Pressure to move beyond the professional model of church leadership.
  6. A rethinking of ordination and its permanence.
  7. An enrichment through the contributions of women.
  8. The challenge to serve new forms of congregational and family life.

The Rev. Erwin R. Bode, Director of the Indiana Office of Campus Ministries, in a recent article predicts the following revolution of values:

  1. There is a de-emphasis on materialism: The Gross National Product has been laid to rest as the supreme goal in life.
  2. A voluntary simplicity ethic has emerged.
  3. Spirituality is on the rise, and persons are open to the learnings of both eastern and western religions.
  4. There is an international disarament commission with nations meeting regularly and with intention. Nuclear weapons are frozen.
  5. Third and fourth world nations are feeling a part of the world community and are respected by the U.S., U.S.S.R., Europeans, Japanese and the Chinese.
  6. The distribution of food and world hunger is creatively being addressed.
  7. A stewardship ethic prevails concerning the environment.
  8. Blacks, youths, Hispanics, women, handicapped -- are actively participating meaningfully in the whole American fabric.
  9. People again feel rooted in their primary community. Yet they have a vision and affirmation of the world community.
  10. There is excitement in anticipating the year 2000. And there is laughter again.

A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship