Urantia Foundation Threatens to Delicense
Urantia Brotherhood if Marketing Study is Implemented
July 28, 1987
Mr. David Elders, President Urantia Brotherhood Urantia Brotherhood Corporation 533 Diversey Parkway Chicago, Illinois 60614
The Trustees have now had an opportunity carefully to consider over a sufficiently lengthy period of time a number of matters of common interest, including several proposals brought to the attention of the Trustees by the General Council and the Executive Committee of Urantia Brotherhood.
These matters of course include with respect to The Urantia Book, marketing/pricing and dust jacket considerations, as well as other concerns. The Trustees propose to deal herein with the marketing/pricing matter and proposals concerning the dust jacket of The Urantia Book. and will reserve comment on other important matters for other communications presently under consideration by the Trustees. We ask that this letter be read in conjunction with our letter of July 27, 1987, in order to provide a broader and fuller appreciation of the thinking and position of the Trustees of Urantia Foundation as they pertain to the present and future course of Urantia Brotherhood and the perceptions and hopes of the Trustecs as related thereto.
In connection with the foregoing matters the Trustees have undertaken a lengthy review of: (a) the Trustees' responsibilities with respect to The Urantia Book; (b) the Trustees' position as licensor of Urantia Brotherhood and Urantia Brotherhood Corporation for the use of the Foundation's registered marks in conjunction with certain specified services; and (c) the Trustees' responsibilities as Principal and that of Urantia Brotherhood Corporation as Agent with respect to the distribution of The Urantia Book.
It is clear that much time and effort went into the preparation of the marketing/pricing study as was proposed to the Trustees of Urantia Foundation by the General Council of Urantia Brotherhood. Nevertheless, as to the proposed marketing/pricing study, including related dust jacket considerations, it is the considered conclusion of the Trustees of Urantia Foundation that such a study is not appropriate. Furthermore, were the study desirable or should it ever become desirable in the judgment of the Trustees, it shall be initiated by the Trustees of Urantia Foundation. Moreover, the Trustees believe that it is inappropriate for any of its licensees to engage in this type of study or further to concern themselves officially with related matters such as dust jacket considerations, unless specifically requested by the Trustees.
The marketing. pricing and distribution of The Urantia Book--including dust jacket considerations--are and will remain the sole prerogative of the Trustees of Urantia Foundation.
David, the Trustees wish to emphasize their firm resolve in the foregoing conclusions.
Nevertheless, the Trustees wish to offer the following discussion so as to give you, other members of the General Council and other interested readers, an insight into some of the considerations which have led to the foregoing firm conclusions of the Trustees of Urantia Foundation.
The Trustees of Urantia Foundation believe that for our day and age a thorough appreciation of the meaning of the distinction made between the distribution of The Urantia Book and the dissemination of its teachings is just as important as an appreciation of the distinction drawn between the teachings about Jesus and the teachings f Jesus.
The Trustees of Urantia Foundation believe, and have so far recognized Urantia Brotherhood as its sister organization because, Urantia Brotherhood is to be an organization for the enhancement of the personal religious experience of the individual, avoiding to the greatest extent possible organizational pressures on and interference with the individual's inner life. Urantia Brotherhood's focus was from the beginning decidedly social, fraternal and non-coercive.
Urantia Brotherhood was not envisioned as a commercial nor even as a particularly evangelical organization, even though it was organized in a business-like way, and even though it was committed to the dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book.
Urantia Brotherhood is often described as a fraternal organization with a religious objective. As such it is not per se a religion, nor is it a sect. It is doubtful that anyone would seriously assert that it is a commercial organization.
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the governing councils of Urantia Brotherhood are hearing a great deal now about subjects traditionally associated with business organizations, that is, organizations founded for the maximization of profit through the sale of goods and/or services, employing mass marketing techniques. Especially as concerns the marketing/pricing of The Urantia Book, Urantia Brotherhood is being urged by a few to adopt new practices and policies consistent with these commercial methods and then in turn to propose these policies for adoption to the Trustees of Urantia Foundation.
The Trustees believe that there is legitimate and compelling reason to question whether the methods of such commercial organizations are directly applicable to, and promising of, the achievement of the goals and purposes of a social and fraternal organization with a religious objective such as Urantia Brotherhood.
In the view of the Trustees, a great deal of emphasis is being laid on book distribution, apparently at the expense of the dissemination of the teachings thereof.
The Trustees believe that one should more actively encourage the study of the teachings of The Urantia Book with a minimum of organizational involvement and a de-emphasis of book sales, as it is reasonable to expect that book sales will follow legitimate and genuine interest in the teachings. Moreover, it will in the final analysis be the living spiritual fragrance of religionists themselves which will be the guarantor of the successful-effective spread of the teachings of The Urantia Book.
Indeed, if a personal approach is to prevail as such, should not the spread of The Urantia Book be as free from commercial coercion and compulsion--both real and perceived--as we have wanted its readers to be free from authoritarian, organizational control and creedal enfetterment?
Not only must The Urantia Book NOT be mandatory to our ministry, but also we must NOT be perceived as requiring it as a part of that ministry.
This is not to say that there is not a place for a sound book distribution program--for indeed there is such a reasonable need, but it should--must--be a program consistent with our larger goals and purposes.
The Trustees recognize that Urantia Brotherhood is indeed something very special and unique in all of the evolutionary history of such organizations on this planet. In that light the Trustees hold that Urantia Brotherhood has a much more meaningful purpose than that of a mere book distributor, an aggressive commercializer of The Urantia Book.
Urantia Brotherhood is a fellowship, not a business, though the Trustees hope Urantia Brotherhood shall always conduct its earthly affairs in an uncomplicated but business-like way.
From an epochal perspective, it would seem that Urantia Brotherhood has unlimited possibilities in reaching out to humankind with the teachings OF Jesus and in unselfishly SERVING as a dynamic force living and wisely assisting in the dissemination of the teachings OF The Urantia Book. It is the Trustees' view that Urantia Brotherhood's real purpose is wisely, patiently and lovingly to spread the teachings of The Urantia Book and to serve as a living matrix for, and a benign coordinator of complementary efforts in support of, an inexorably developing world-wide personal spiritual awakening. From a universe perspective the course of events in which we are now participating will be Supremely satisfying, Ultimately successful and Absolutely assured of final completion--though in its own time, not ours.
In closing, the Trustees wish once again to emphasize their firm resolve in the foregoing conclusions with respect to the marketing/pricing study and dust jacket considerations. Such activity is not permitted within the scope of the licensing agreement. In the event any licensee or agent of Urantia Foundation should undertake, sponsor, or induce another to undertake or sponsor such a study or activity, the Trustees will consider such undertaking as grounds for appropriate action including but not limited to the revocation of the license authorizing the use of the Foundation's registered marks, the word "Urantia," and the Concentric Circles Symbol in conjunction with the authorized activities of the licensee. It will also be grounds for the revocation of the Agency Agreement whereby Urantia Brotherhood Corporation acts as agent of Urantia Foundation in the distribution of The Urantia Book.
In any event, the Trustees sincerely thank all those whose interest and hard work were involved in formulating and presenting the marketing/pricing proposal to the Trustees for consideration. It is obvious that there is a great deal of ability, energy and talent on the General Council.
Urantia Brotherhood and its design teams have done and continue to do promising and creative work. The Trustees express appreciation for the many examples of united effort which in a number of areas have been sensitive to Urantia Foundation policies so as to enhance the goodwill associated with the registered marks and with Urantia Foundation and The Urantia Book.
We appreciate the opportunity this matter has given us to review, re-examine and ultimately to reaffirm the appropriateness of the Trustees' historical approach of encouraging the quiet person-to-person, evolutionary spread of the teachings of The Urantia Book. We believe that by so proceeding, both Urantia Brotherhood and Urantia Foundation will provide a greater opportunity for the ultimate success of the dissemination of the teachings of The Urantia Book and the ultimate realization of a planet successfully settled in the enthralling but challenging ages of Light and Life.
The Trustees of Urantia Foundation wish to extend to you, David, and to all sincere servers in the kingdom of heaven no matter what our differences may be, our very best fraternal greetings.
Martin W. Myers President
A Service of
The Urantia Book Fellowship