The Church of Humanity Unchained was a religious group that formed during the early part of the 4th Century PD in the state of Idaho on Earth. It was founded and originally led by the Reverend Austin Grayson, who later took his followers on a colonial expedition to the planet Grayson.
The original Church believed that technology was the root of all evil and a dangerous force which aimed to dehumanize human beings. The Church advocated a return to "the way man was supposed to live". The exception to this was medical technology which was viewed as a gift by a loving God to His children. This doctrinal position changed somewhat after the death of Reverend Grayson, and as a result the Grayson colony managed to survive a dangerous planetary environment, albeit while losing much of the technological base it had available when it left Earth.
Schisms developed, and after the Civil War between the mainline Church and government and a fundamentalist segment of the Church, the winning side on Grayson regarded technology as an instrument which was not inherently evil, but subject to misuse and abuse. This position put the evil associated with technology in the person misusing it. The Masadan branch, which had lost the Civil War and was exiled to Masada, still maintained the original belief about the evils of technology (especially when it involved women) which were closer to the views of the original colonists. However, they reluctantly came to accept technology as a "necessary evil" when used to advance their version of faith, as for instance in invading and conquering Grayson, or conducting both a necessary amount of interstellar trade and piracy of selected merchant vessels.
The holy book of the Church of Humanity Unchained was the Bible, followed in importance by the Book of the New Way, a collection of teachings from and sayings of Reverend Grayson. The Book of the New Way was divided into numerous "books" in the manner of the Bible, among which were at least six books of Meditations.
At the core of the Church of Humanity Unchained's faith was the concept of the "Test of Life". Life itself, and the challenges found in every aspect of it, constituted a Test placed upon a person by God himself, also known on Grayson as "the Tester". Every person must, at one point or another in life, rise to meet his or her particular Test(s). Success was not required, only that everyone truly did their best to pass it. (HH2)
Status of women
The original Church tenets were determinedly patriarchal; Austin Grayson subscribed to the notion that "man is the head of the woman", and thus women's roles were limited to motherhood and marriage. After the Civil War, each branch of the Church modified its views of women's nature and roles. The Grayson branch adopted a somewhat gentler view; the Masadans increased their misogyny to extremes, blaming women for the fall of man, and in particular for their defeat during the Civil War.
Following the example set by Barbara Bancroft, wife of the rebel leader, the Grayson branch came to see women as givers of life to be preserved from any danger and risk, even if that meant women could not be allowed to pursue professional goals or any goal outside family life. This was done, ostensibly, to "protect" women, and even after the changes which came with the Alliance with Manticore and, especially, the example of Honor Harrington, automatic protection of women was a deep value of Grayson culture and society.
On Masada, however, women were collectively blamed for "the Fall of Man", and so they came to be viewed essentially as chattel, though some of the older cultural forms were retained, such as marriage. In fact, however, women had no rights whatsoever on Masada, belonging first to their fathers, and later to their husbands. Women were forced to wear veils, forbidden any access to education, required to obey men in all things, and forbidden from any influence over their children, the father having total control over them. The status of women during the Manticoran occupation of Masada was greatly improved in law, and some women took advantage of their new opportunities, but the culture was conservative, even after the fall of the theocratic government, and change was neither rapid nor uniform. After the defeat of the theocracy, there were many instances of murder of abusive husbands and of Church officials; this eventually subsided.
In both Churches, perhaps as a result of the Church's early view of women, it was common to refer to the Church of Humanity Unchained as "Father Church". (HH2)
The Church of Humanity Unchained was founded on Earth, specifically in the North West United States state of Idaho, by Reverend Austin Grayson -- known to future generations of Church members as Saint Austin -- in the 25th century AD (4th Century Post Diaspora). During this period, Earth's ecological problems were beginning to be resolved, but some groups decried the pervasive "dehumanization" caused by technology. Coupling charisma, determination and real ability to attract converts, Grayson managed to combine his back-to-the-Bible beliefs with the technophobic frenzy of the time.
Promising to lead his believers to a world which would be a New Zion free from technology, Grayson and the Church assembled enough funding for a cryogenic slowboat colony expedition which departed from Earth in the year 314 PD (2415 AD). After their arrival on a planet they named Grayson 670 years later, the new world's deadly environment threatened to doom the anti-technology colony, but two of the colony leaders, Oliver Mayhew and Hugh Yanakov, led something of a doctrinal revolution that changed the Church's beliefs in technology shortly after Austin Grayson's death. Technology became not necessarily evil per se, but its abuse and misuse remained so. Some were unwilling to go along with the change, but enough technology remained in use that the colony was able to establish a permanent foothold.
The Civil War between the "Moderates" and the "Faithful" during the 14th Century Post Diaspora resulted in a religious schism; the most reactionary elements attempted to seize control, and almost succeeded. After their defeat, they were removed from Grayson to the planet Masada, while the Moderates remained on Grayson. From that moment since, there existed two Churches of Humanity Unchained, each claiming to be the True Faith.
The Grayson branch of the Church remained active and influential on Grayson, and many of the changes and reforms which followed the last attempt by Masada to either capture or destroy Grayson were possible largely with the support of the Church. Still, conservative elements which opposed Benjamin IX's reforms, and Grayson's joining the Manticoran Alliance remained both resentful and active. (HH2)
The Grayson Church of Humanity Unchained was a Christian denomination; it recognized the Holy Trinity and used terms generally associated with the Christian faith ("Reverend", "Deacon", "Sacristy", etc.). The Church's expression for the Sign of the cross is "In the Name of the Tester, the Intercessor and the Comforter".
The Christian status of the Masadan branch of the Church was less clear. They believed that their church was the True Faith, and the Grayson church was the Apostate. They created the Doctrine of the Second Fall prior to the Civil War to denounce the New Testament of the Bible and show that the colonists sinned when they landed on Grayson. A common view is that, had Jesus saved humanity as held by Christians, technology would not exist.
Throughout its history, many groups have separated from the Grayson Church. After the Grayson Civil War, the Faithful of the Church of Humanity Unchained founded Masada. Other groups later separated from the Masadan Church, including the Pure in Faith and the Church of Humanity Unchained (Defiant).
The Jerimites later separated from the Grayson Church.
The Grayson branch of the Church had two official heads, one temporal and one spiritual. The Protector of Grayson serves ex officio as the temporal head of the Church. In fact, the Grayson state was considered to be the temporal arm of the Church, although the Church had striven since the Civil War to not interfere with the running of political affairs.
The spiritual head of the Church was the Reverend, a title given to the First Elder of the Church. The Reverend could, in consultation with the leadership of the Church, issue decrees regarding Church policy, doctrine, and internal affairs. By tradition, every week the Reverend celebrated a service in the cathedral of a Steading, cycling through Grayson's eighty-two Steadings and beginning again.
The Reverend presided over a Council of Elders, seconded by a Second Elder of the Church, who assumed the duties of Reverend and First Elder in the event of the Reverend's death or retirement. (HH5)
In turn, the Council of Elders was the leading organ of the Sacristy, as the ruling body of the Church was known. The Sacristy served as the Church's organizational and theological authority. Beneath the Sacristy, there was a distributed church organization corresponding to the Steadings, with a Brother serving as the local head of the Church for each Steading as well as the Steadholder's personal chaplain.
There were three levels of priesthood:
- Chief Elder
- Senior Elders
- Elders, whose Council, presided by the Reverend, led the Church
- Deacons, with an intermediate degree of authority within the Church's structure
- Brothers, who served as local priests
The organization of the Masadan branch prior to its defeat and occupation was more political and more theocratically absolute than on Grayson. There was also a Council of Elders led by a First Elder. Unlike Grayson, the Masadan Council of Elders was the ruling body of the Masadan theocratic government. (HH2)
Grayson Branch Leaders
Masadan Branch Leaders
References and notes
- Austin Grayson was revered as St. Austin by both branches of the church. (HH2)