Reflection on Merger (Dialectical Theology Part 8 of many)

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 Unitarian Universalism. That shocked reaction was definitely the case when the Black Affairs Council was formed in the later 60's. It still shows up in some people's response to the formation of BLUU sixty years later.

You can see it in the idealistic universality of the first principle. Compare it to the proposed eighth principle, which specifies the systems of oppression that the first principle only vaguely hints at.

You can see it still today in the assumption of many older and white UU's that the goal of all this talk about race is the integration of our congregations. As though that was the only way that religious denominations can serve people of different races and cultures.


  1. What I think it means that racial liberalism in our DNA.... A being does not 'evolve' away from its DNA. At least, not without very conscious effort. When external conditions change, a being will respond in accordance with its DNA, not change its DNA. Black people have radically revised the the terms and conditions of their struggle in the USA since the days when racial liberalism was an appropriate response among whites. The UUA is predisposed to be a racially liberal faith in an environment in which that is no longer adaptive. Things that can't adapt to their environment don't thrive, but die.

    What has to die is the idea, deeply held in our basic identity, that a single, color-blind, faith can serve the needs of universal humanity.


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