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Activity 2: Challenging Religious Authority in 16th century Poland

Activity time: 15 minutes

Materials for Activity

Preparation for Activity

  • Read Handout 1 and copy for all participants.
  • Optional: Prearrange with a volunteer to read Handout 1 aloud.

Description of Activity

Explain to participants that they will explore the relationship early Polish Unitarians had with power and authority. Distribute Handout 1, Socinianism. Give the group time to read the handout silently or invite a volunteer to read it aloud.

Lead a discussion, using these questions:

  • Those who formed the Minor Reformed Church in Poland refused to accept the authority of the Reformed Church orthodox. Who held the power to interpret matters of faith in the Minor Reformed Church? How is this stance echoed in contemporary Unitarian Universalism?
  • Bearing in mind that the Minor Reformed Church was disbanded when the power of the Catholic Church in Poland increased, do you think a movement like the Socinians could have developed in a country that had a closer relationship with international ecclesiastical authorities?
  • Socinian ideas were disseminated throughout Europe via written materials produced on a printing press. What does this say about the readiness of others to receive unorthodox ideas and/or about the power of those ideas? Do you believe that ideas can be effectively suppressed? Do people always find ways to claim their own power in matters of faith?

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