Polemics & Exchanges

On America’s Wise Turks

Your December 2001 issue contains a number of articles attacking Unitarianism.  Frankly, as a Unitarian, upon reading Aaron D. Wolf’s piece decrying the unitarianization of Christmas, I was able to enjoy the holiday as seldom before.  But I am astonished and offended by Thomas Fleming’s line, “Better a foolish Turk . . . than a Unitarian with a Ph.D.”

While most Unitarians in the United States have been linked to the left, it is noteworthy that the founder of the Unitarian Church in Charleston, South Carolina, was John C. Calhoun.  He also established the Unitarian Church in Washington, D.C.  Admittedly, by the onset of the Civil War, Unitarianism had become so associated with abolitionism that the religion almost disappeared in the South during the conflict.  Indeed, only the Charleston and New Orleans churches survived.

While numerous reformers of the 19th century were either Unitarians or Quakers, the former religion was too individualistic to be restricted to the left.  Both John and John Quincy Adams were Unitarian, as was William Howard Taft.  In office, none were deemed radical Jacobins.

What makes Unitarians so contentious?  Their faith in reason.  Thomas Jefferson, whom Unitarians often claim, delved into the New Testament and deleted passages of miracles and other portions...

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