The Rev. Tom Goldsmith has served the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake since 1987. He has been widely published, including a piece in God and Country: Politics in Utah.
Christians and Jews celebrate Easter and Passover this week. What do Unitarians think about this time of year?
Even Unitarians have faith in hope and the need to celebrate it. Going back to the 16th century, Unitarianism is rooted in the Judeo-Christian tradition. Although we take neither Passover nor Easter literally, the symbols of hope and liberation speak to us profoundly.
How do you feel about the newly discovered Book of Judas and the idea that Jesus may have asked Judas to betray him?
I love the gospel’s discovery. It recalls an echo from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess: It ain’t necessarily so. I’m not out to prove anybody “wrong.” The Gnostic gospel shows the infinite interpretations of Jesus’ ministry, and what ended up in the canon was purely arbitrary.
Why did the First Unitarian Church in Salt Lake City drop its six-year lawsuit against city hall and the LDS Church over the church’s control of Main Street plaza?
We never “dropped” the lawsuit per se. Many don’t understand that the ACLU (God bless them) won the first Main Street suit. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear the LDS arguments, thus the appellate court decision stood. After that short-lived victory when the easement was given back to the LDS Church in exchange for two acres on the west side, a second lawsuit was filed. The ACLU was not as successful with this one. After losing the appeal, we decided not to continue to the Supreme Court. The long struggle had fractured the community. This was never a battle about religion but about the Constitution. Nobody was “against” the LDS church; it focused on First Amendment rights.
Do Easter eggs have religious significance, and if so, are the Unitarians hunting for eggs this year?
Of course we’re having an egg hunt. The kids would rebel otherwise. It’s a great symbol of new life beginning … and also a lot of fun.