There was a Great Reformation of Unitarian Universalism beginning in the early 1970's. In my previous post, I ascribed this to the empowerment of women as both professional religious leaders and in lay leadership in congregations. I think that my view would be widely supported.
I want to complicate the question from three directions.
One is to ask about the relationship between that development and the Black Empowerment Controversy that preceded it in time.
Looking back to this history through the lens of intersectionality, we should not so easily separate the black rebellion against white racism in the UUA from the women's rebellion against patriarchy in the UUA. These may look like two different movements but they were struggling against a single entity, a white supremacist patriarchy, the generations of white men who owned and controlled the institutions of liberal religion. Who were the black women in those struggles and how did they see the UUA at the time? How would our…
Women. Women remade Unitarian Universalism from the early 70's on. That process is still going on. I can't recount that history; I just want to more accurately frame it. The transformation has been so big, so comprehensive, that it is hard to see. Like the weather and climate: people see the blizzards, the drought and the storms, but can't see the magnitude of the ongoing change.
Women were marginalized in Unitarian Universalism before the 70's. They contributed most of the volunteer labor that sustained the congregations, and all the denominational structures. UUism was no different, in that regard, from most religious denominations. But women were not the ministers, and not at the highest level of denominational leadership. But in process that took decades, women rose to leadership. Not just in the professional ministry, but in lay leadership of local congregations.
Unitarian Universalist theology, liturgy and hymnody were radically changed:
Whereas the main themes of …
We are talking about the historical context of the 1940's and 1950's Liberal Religion. The first factor was the Cold War; the second factor was Suburbanization, and the third was the emergence of integrationist Civil Rights Movement, mostly in the South: Brown vs. Board of Education in 1954, and the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Unitarians and Universalists were largely sympathetic to the Civil Rights movement. In this, they were moving in that direction with a larger force of white liberals. The question that I have is "how did those U/U's see the theological justification for that alliance?"
In 1946, in the immediate aftermath of the war, A. Powell Davies proclaimed in: ‘A Faith of an Unrepentant Liberal”: calling Unitarianism “the faith that begins in individual freedom of belief and goes to the limitless, building throughout the world the Free and Universal Church." Davies was centering a universal movement toward freedom in…
I wonder if the UUA's stuckness on race isn't built into our DNA, established at the time of merger. As I have mentioned before, our formation came in a particular time of history (1961) and at a particular time in the development of liberal religion.
Religious liberals were polarized between theists and humanists, and as a consequence turned toward public ministry as a way to unify.
At that point in time, the early 1960's, Racial Liberalism was the prevailing social vision. (Racial Liberalism can be defined as Integration and the minimization of racial difference. Color-blindness as a goal.)
In the absence of deeper theological unity, Racial Liberalism became the practical embodiment of Universalism, what we understood ourselves to be. Not just what we believed, but what we were.
You can see it in the shocked white response to the formation of black-only UU organizations in the late 1960's. Race-based caucusing was seen to a violation of something fundamental about…
New England's UU leaders (if that is what the District boards of the Region are) are getting excited about a vision: a Great Awakening of the Liberal Spirit here in New England.
It is an eye-rollingly audacious vision. Absolutely ridiculous. Embarrassingly naive.
But, why not?
After all, the region has been becoming more liberal politically and socially and culturally for a while. 40 years of national conservative cultural dominance have left the least scars on this region. For a while, it was the only region with marriage equality.
Religiously, Roman Catholics are the plurality of the religiously affiliated. But the Roman Catholic hierarchy have forfeited much of their authority on social or cultural matters. A mostly-male, celibate, priesthood, mired in a scandal about the sexual abuse of children and youth throws its weight behind the lost cause of "traditional" marriage: what are they thinking?
Religious unaffiliation in non-Massachusetts New England is at W…