Co-Existing with Fundamentalist Religion [Tom Schade]

Last Sunday, as most of you know, Operation Save America disrupted the Sunday Service at the First Unitarian Church of New Orleans. It was not the first time that this group attempted to disrupt a UU church.  Here is their report of an 2006 attempt to do the same at the UU Church in Jackson, Mississippi. This time they gained entrance, interrupted the minister who was presiding over a moment of silence. They harangued the crowd, pressing them not only on our UU position on reproductive justice, but also about the content of our religious ideas. What creed did we follow? They accused us as being a "synagogue of Satan."

Why did they do it? Because they are religious fundamentalists, who believe that the world at large must be brought to the correct faith, and that it is their God-given duty to convert or confront all the non-beleivers. They reject the modern paradigm of secular states and pluralist cultures in which differing religions co-exist with each other in peace. 

There are other forms of intolerant religions in the world. There are intolerant branches of Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, and Buddhism.

The challenge of co-existing with intolerant religions is before all adherents of forms of liberal religion and holders of secular philosophies.

While responding with Love to hateful disruptive situations, it is always defensive.

So the question: 

Can the Tolerant and the Intolerant Co-exist? 

Yes, but only if the Tolerant have the power to preserve the structural arrangements which protect them. 

It is a question, ultimately, of power. 


  1. While I don't doubt that that day was upsetting for those in attendance, I wonder if, in a larger sense, it was a positive moment for liberal religion. From what I've read the leadership and congregants handled the disruption with grace. My suspicion is that anyone, with an even slightly open mind, who read about the incident would feel sympathy toward the congregants, not toward those who invaded the service.

  2. It just occurred to me that we've gotten quite a bit of publicity off of this. Perhaps getting the attention of the fundamentalists is a sign of our success?


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