Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The old misconception still misconceived

It's an undeniable fact that political conservatives are frequently uncomfortable in UU churches and congregations.  They feel their minority status.  People express liberal and radical views with complete assurance.  Conservatives feel marginalized and even mocked.  I know that this is true because they have told me.  They say things like "UU's welcome everyone except Republicans."

What are we to do about it?

The misconception is that this situation reveals something wrong about Unitarian Universalism.  We are failing to meet our aspirations.  We should be a community where all political views are made comfortable, and we are not.

It is the same misconception that says that Unitarian Universalism is the religion that lets you believe whatever you want.  And that you should be affirmed in whatever beliefs you may have.  It is a misconception that Unitarian Universalism is really only an experiment in building a completely diverse community, that we are just a protocol, and have no particular content.

Our consensus around politics, economics and social values is sign that we take our religious values seriously. We have discerned a substance in them that has real consequences for our public life. The truths about human beings, about social relationships, about morals and ethics, make demands on us, and we are trying to embody our faith in the real world.  If that were not so, our religion would be trivial.

Of course, there are great disagreements.   We should be arguing and disputing and searching for the meaning that makes demands on us.  Our religion should not be sterile.

And of course, there should be no religious, or political tests for membership in our congregations.

But there will be people who find that they are uncomfortable with the consensus that is growing.  Their political views and the public ministry of their religion are diverging and that is uncomfortable.

But that is not a shortcoming of Unitarian Universalism.  It is a sign of our growing maturity and deepening substance.  They have choices to make.

It is OK that Unitarian Universalism makes political conservatives uncomfortable.  We should not be apologizing for it, nor should we be promising to try harder in the future.



1 comment:

John A Arkansawyer said...

All true. I'd rather we were polite about it, though. Sometimes we aren't.