PB asked CC, given your recent call to disband the Washington office, how do you feel about the fact that most mainstream religious groups in America have an equivalent office?
I don't believe I've ever directly called for disbanding the Washington office. I do wish we could change its focus. Longtime readers know that the UUA Washington Office has pretty much been dead to me since they sent me an email telling me I should should rally to protect the filibuster because a filibuster was crucial in "protecting the rights of the minority to speak on issues that effect all Americans"*
At the very least anything written in our names should have a disclaimer that as we are non-creedal, we don't all necessarily agree. (I realize this sounds weak to some people, but it shouldn't. The ACLU includes that disclaimer on everything, and nobody accuses them of being shrinking violets.) No, thank you, putting that disclaimer on the version of the statement that goes to the congregations, but leaving it off the version that goes to the press and to Congress isn't good enough. (If you can't tell, these minor instances of weaselhood REALLY get to me. My thoughts on the subject tend to begin with "Where the hell do they get off thinking that they can pull crap like that…" and go on from there for quite awhile.)
When I read the question about the other mainstream religious groups, the first answer to pop into my head was "Well, the Southern Baptists are the largest protestant denomination so that must be mainstream, how do you think I feel about the fact that the Southern Baptist Convention has it's own Washington Office, working hard to quite effectively push issues politically that are pretty much the opposite of what I believe and paying no taxes for doing so?"
Seeing as how other religions' leaders rarely get themselves arrested, the only other denomination's Washington office I'm particularly aware of is, of course, the Presbyterian one. The rather earnest but much beloved Chalicerelative did work for them for a period of time, but even having lived with someone who'd worked there, my impression is that the political decrees the Presbyterian church puts out are on the whole cheerfully ignored by actual Presbyterians.
At least once, my family ate dinner at Taco Bell, then asked each other if we were supposed to all be boycotting Taco Bell because the presbytery had sent out an email to that effect. The PCUSA divesting from Israel was a tremendous shock to my parents, especially when it made actual newspapers. Didn't the newspapers know that nobody pays attention to the political stuff that the PCUSA puts out, even if it's voted on at the Presbyterian General Assembly?
Basically, other churches DO have such offices. But my impression has never been that other churches have UUism's impression that passing a resolution is actually DOING something. My fellow UUs seem to honestly believe that passing a resolution about global warming equates in some way making the global warming situation better.
With all apologies to Kim, whom y'all know I love, she wrote today that making sandwiches for the homeless is "putting out fires while not trying to find the arsonist."
This is the voice of someone whom I think actually believes that all these statements and protests and petitions we put out actually do something to end poverty.
I’m afraid the only solution to poverty I know is one sandwich, one set of new clothes, one job training program at a time.
ADDED LATER: Joel does believe in disbanding the UU Washington Office and defends the idea well in the comments to this post.
*Problems with them doing that:
-To say that filibustering is exercising free speech is at best stretching the truth, as anyone who had high school civics knows. (Did they really think a bunch of people in Washington DC wouldn't know what "filibuster" means?)
-When they sponsor a rally over a procedural vote, they are straight up carrying the water of the Democratic party.
-That situation was resolved by, not a bunch of hippies holding one more candelight vigil, but moderates in both parties being able to talk to each other and work out a deal.