Search Our Site

Page Navigation

Section Banner

Introduction, Workshop 5: Just War, Pacifism, and Peacemaking

In "Resistance and Transformation," a Tapestry of Faith program

...the citizen, before fighting, is bound to inquire into the justice of the cause which he is called to maintain with blood, and bound to withhold his hand if his conscience condemn the cause. — William Ellery Channing

This workshop explores a range of stances Unitarian Universalists have taken in response to war. Unitarian Universalism has never been a "peace church." Our tradition has embraced advocates for the use of military power in international disputes, proponents of just war theory, pacifists, and those who hold a variety of positions in between. This workshop presents these different positions, and through them, helps participants answer the question: How does our religious tradition call us to respond to war?

After guiding participants through discussions of just war and pacifist theory, the workshop examines a time when Unitarians disagreed publicly about how best to respond to war. During World War I, Unitarian minister John Haynes Holmes and William Howard Taft, former President of the United States and president of the General Conference of Unitarians and Other Christian Churches clashed over Unitarian support for the United States war effort. Holmes adhered to a pacifist position while Taft believed that Unitarians must support their government during a time of war. Taft won the debate. Subsequently, the American Unitarian Association decided to deny aid to congregations with pacifist ministers, causing most pacifist ministers to lose their pulpits.

The workshop concludes with an exploration of the theories of peacemaking, peacekeeping and peacebuilding currently being developed by Unitarian Universalist ethicist Sharon Welch and theologian Paul Rasor.

To ensure you can help adults of all ages, stages, and learning styles participate fully in this workshop, review these sections of the program Introduction: "Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters" in the Integrating All Participants section, and "Strategies for Effective Group Facilitation" and "Strategies for Brainstorming" in the Leader Guidelines section.

For more information contact web @

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

Sidebar Content, Page Navigation


Updated and Popular

Recently Updated

For Newcomers

Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.

Page Navigation