Heart and Mind - August 2019
Heart and Mind - Dr. Lou Yock
In doing some research recently, I came across the life and work of John Haynes Holmes (1879-1964), a famous Unitarian minister who is a co-founder of the NAACP and the ACLU.
He attended Harvard Divinity School and became a Unitarian minister, serving in Massachusetts, and then New York City. While in New York City, as a pacifist, he opposed the United States participation in World War I, which put him at odds with the U.S. Government and the American Unitarian Association (AUA). He left the AUA and did not rejoin until shortly before the merger which formed the Unitarian Universalist Association, soon after which he died, in 1964. Despite his not being a member of the AUA, he did retain positions as senior minister in Unitarian churches.
In addition to his work with the NAACP and ACLU, he was at the front of many social and political movements, including popularizing Mahatma Gandhi in the United States and advocating for Jewish emigration to Israel. He was a popular media who could be called upon to give a solid presentation for the sometimes less than popular view.
As he always attracted publicity, one episode put him into a public fight with Theodore Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss. Geisel had made a cartoon of him during World War II, mocking his pacifism, yet another episode which put him at odds with the AUA. In another of his stances that might cause us to question Rev. Holmes were his views on eugenics. If you remember, I had mentioned in a sermon how Unitarians were advocates of eugenics programs before the rise of Nazism. In hindsight, Holmes might appear harsh to us today, knowing all we know about the abuses of eugenics.