Unitarian Universalism and Class:
A Faith for a Few?

2008 Lecture Series by Mark W. Harris

  • About Rev. Harris
  • Lectures 1-3
  • Lectures 4-5

About Rev. Harris

Mark W. Harris is the minister at the First Parish of Watertown. He is the author of the Historical Dictionary of Untarian Universalism and of the UUA pamphlet "UU Origins: Our Historic Faith." He is also an adjunct professor at Andover Newton Theological Seminary and Starr King School.






Rev. Harris Lectures 1-3


Lecture 1:  A Class-bound Faith?

This lecture will introduce the subject.  Why have Unitarian Universalists historically been associated with upper or upper middle classes?  Drawing on Richard Niebuhr’s The Social Sources of Denominationalism, we will examine the choice of religion as it pertains to class.  What is the relationship between economic success and salvation?  Which side did the liberals take in the Great Revival of the 1740s, and what does that have to do with maintaining the social order? This lecture will also look at different kinds of class, such as education and economic.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008, 7:00 pm
First Church Boston, 66 Marlborough St., Boston

Lecture 2:  Brahmin Culture for the Masses  

This lecture will look at the alliance of business, Harvard College, Brahmin culture, and liberal religion.  How did class determine our history and who became involved with the Unitarian movement?  We will also look at a few people who wanted to spread the Unitarian faith to the masses in more evangelical styles, including Margaret Fuller’s brother, Arthur.

Thursday, May 1, 2008, 7:00 p.m.

Harvard Divinity School, 45 Francis Ave., Cambridge

Lecture 3:   Universalist Piety and a Classless Heaven  

This lecture will examine the Universalist faith and its appeal to a broader number of classes in society through its message of equality.  If all are equal in heaven, then nobody is saved unless everybody is saved.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008, 7:00 pm
King's Chapel Parish House, 64 Beacon St., Boston

Rev. Harris Lectures 4-5

Lecture 4:  The Science of Salvation

This lecture will look at the relationship between liberal religion and the eugenics movement.  Did liberals believe they were a better class of people?  Were they the saved?  And if so, did they believe that inferior peoples should not reproduce?  What are the origins of the birth control movement?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008, 7:00 pm

First Parish of Watertown, 35 Church St., Watertown


Lecture 5:  A Faith for a Few?  

This lecture will ask,   what  are some of  the historical ramifications of our faith?  How is class reflected in our worship and our words?  Do we believe we are the best people, liberals who can save the world?  What has been our relationship to issues of race, and why have we been more successful with the gay and lesbian community in attracting newcomers?  What would an anti-classist UUA look like?

UUA General Assembly, June 25-29, 2008, Fort Lauderdale, Florida