On the Ethical and Spiritual Wisdom of
Controlling the Urantia Book Service Marks
Meredith J. Sprunger
The Urantia Book has been given to our planet as the Fifth Epochal Revelation. The Urantia Foundation is charged with the responsibility of publishing the book and protecting the original authenticity of the text. Some twenty years after The Urantia Book was published the term "Urantia" and the concentric circles symbol were registered as service marks by the Urantia Foundation. This enabled the Foundation to exercise legal control over individuals and groups who use these marks.
I think it is time for the Urantia movement to seriously evaluate the ethical and spiritual wisdom of this legal control. Most members of the Fifth Epochal Fellowship probably approve of legal means to prevent a tavern or some other socially questionable group or activity to use the term "Urantia." But we must consider the broader implications of such legal control. Does any individual or group have the spiritual right or authority to control the use of the key word associated with the Fifth Epochal Revelation and the emblem of Trinity government? I'm sure there are officials in established Christian denominations who would love to refuse the use of the term "Christian" and the cross symbol to certain individuals and groups who are using them. This kind of spiritual authoritarianism, in my judgment, is not wise nor in harmony with the highest principles of spiritual freedom.
Urantia Foundation's greatest potential in fulfilling their obligation outlined in the Declaration of Trust is in becoming a more effective service organization. If the millstone of the registered marks could be lifted from the Foundation's neck, they would be free to pursue their true spiritual service. Although we must be vigilant regarding the authenticity of the text of The Urantia Book, the 200,000 copies of the book now in circulation fairly well assures that there will never be a legitimate scholarly question regarding the original published text. Our greater focus now needs to be on translations, study aids, and outreach service.
I am personally not interested in political or legal activities; but there are those in the Fifth Epochal Fellowship who feel called to use these human channels in the service of the Fifth Epochal Revelation. They inform me that the best legal counsel questions the legal validity of the registered marks. I have always advised that, in addition to spiritual wisdom, we need to know what is legal in our organizational activities. The only way to get such a determination is a test case. If the majority of the General Council is in favor of such clarifying action, it could serve as a significant service to both the Foundation and the Fellowship. In any case, we would know if the registered marks are legal.
In conclusion, it is my conviction that the Fifth Epochal Revelation will make its way in our culture, if necessary, in spite of what we do. I do not believe the use of the registered marks are germane to an effective service and outreach program. But it appears to me that it would be helpful to both the Foundation and the Fellowship if the authoritarian millstone of the registered marks could he removed from our collective necks.
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship