Sunday, October 01, 2006

"Justice Sunday" started with us.



A few days ago, in the midst of the earlier discussion of the proper role the UUA should take in politics, a guy or girl named "UUWonk" put up a response to one of my other UUs in politics posts where he/she wrote:

The religious right loves UUs because they see us as proof that liberals don't really believe in separation of church and state.

For example, a while back a broad coalition of mainline church leaders criticized an anti-abortion event called "Justice Sunday" as mixing church and state. Family Research Council leader Tony Perkins issued a press release claiming that his group had gotten the idea and name for "Justice Sunday" from the UUs.

Perkins wrote supportively, "In fact, as far as we can determine, the Unitarian Church was the first to apply the term Justice Sunday to a public policy initiative discussed from pulpits on a designated day. No one involved in our Justice Sunday II objects to these efforts of liberal religious bodies, in principle."


UUwonk provided a link, but the link didn't work. At the time, I said to myself "Geez, I hope that isn't true, though admittedly 'Justice Sunday' sure as hell SOUNDS like something UUs would think of." Then I went back to studying for the LSAT.

Now, post-LSAT, I looked into it, and yes, a google cache of the page UUWonk linked to remains and is still here.

Here's the full paragraph UUWonk quoted from: The hypocritical concern is evident in the detailed public policy agenda of the religious bodies that have held press events to lambaste Justice Sunday II. The Interfaith Alliance and the Unitarian Universalist Association, to name just two of the activist critics, advocate, from a religious basis, a variety of public policy positions on everything from abortion, to human rights, to anti-poverty programs. In fact, as far as we can determine, the Unitarian Church was the first to apply the term Justice Sunday to a public policy initiative discussed from pulpits on a designated day. No one involved in our Justice Sunday II objects to these efforts of liberal religious bodies, in principle. Church bodies have a long history of engagement on moral and social questions. If disagreements exist, they flow from the substance of the policy positions, not the religious character of those who hold them.

Sigh.

Of course, both sides were 100 percent wrong to take a stand on this issue. Nothing says "We're the religious arm of the Democratic party" like holding a candlelight vigil over a PROCEDURAL ISSUE. I expect the religious right to be the Republican Party's bitch, but if the UUAWO is going to talk about politics and steamroll over any non-liberal UUs who disagree, can they at least confine themselves to talking about actual issues rather than a procedural vote?

A procedural vote that was ultimately unnecessary, of course, because moderates in both parties, came together and talked for the greater good.

I'll ask again, why couldn't we have been among the people asking for a moderate solution, rather than the people who encouraged our ministers to preach on judicial nominations and encouraged our congregations to pass resolutions?

At the time, I recall liberal UUs were all about calling Justice Sunday "Just Us Sunday" because they felt that the religious right was cloaking themselves in religion to win political advantage. I wish those liberal UUs understood that some of us see them the same way. I find myself thinking over and over of when Joel at CUUMBAYA wrote "I don’t believe that having no creeds means having no morals, but we’re afraid to have the debate for fear of offending members and having some leave. That’s a strange one to me, for we have no fear of offending people over political issues and driving them from the church."

When UUA President Sinkford wrote about Justice Sunday, he even put in his letter "Perhaps the filibuster rule should be changed some day, but not in this superheated atmosphere and not with a false and demagogic claim of anti-religious bias being used as the hammer to change the rule."

For those of you who aren't as used to polticians as I am, that means he is setting himself up to be able to non-hypocritically argue AGAINST the filibuster when the tables turn and the Republicans start using it on us.

I never said the UUA's political types were stupid.

CC

4 comments:

Bill Baar said...

I think the problem is UU's aren't doing the politics or the morality very well. We do morality well pastorally in Churches (at least the two UU Churches I've belonged too did), but we are not sensible political advocates, and simply ditch articulating moral values.

Examples: marriage equality Our sexual ethics allows same-sex marriage. We'll bless these unions and if the law changes will marry same-sex partners. So what's our UU ethics say on polygamous marriage? Will we (have we?) blessed multiple partners? We've got UU's out there advocating polyamory. So it's not a trival question or a red hearing to divert people away talking about Gay Marriage.

So we have a flakey political slogan which raises more questions than it answers, and we have an incomplete sexual ethic because as far as I can tell our leadership is silent on polygamy. (I think it by nature means subjugation of women but leave that for a differnt thread.)

I think Churches need to engage in political debates in the sense they often include moral issues. People need the persepctive. UUs do this well in our local Churches but we fall apart in the public square because we try and do politics and don't do the discussion of the wider issues. We pick a political point, a tactic, e.g. same sex marriage; but avoid the larger discussion of marriage and families.

In large part this is because we're such uniquely American faith and simply unaware of the rest of the world. Roman Catholics and Evangelicals growing in Africa and Asia compelled to address these realities in a way we're not.

For a faith calling itself Universalist were really locked into a uniquely American frame. A frame we don't even realize we're boxed into.

Bill Baar said...

Here's the UUA's position on UU Polyamory...

...I'll date myself here using a phrase from long ago: it's a copout.

Philocrites said...

Here's the Family Research Council document sans all the Google archiving stuff: http://www.frc.org/get.cfm?i=PV05H01

We had a lively conversation going about the reluctance of UU leaders to even talk about the polyamory slope two years ago, just in case anyone is looking for examples of UUs who oppose church support for polyamory.

Joel Monka said...

"For those of you who aren't as used to polticians as I am, that means he is setting himself up to be able to non-hypocritically argue AGAINST the filibuster when the tables turn and the Republicans start using it on us."

What works for a politician doesn't work for a theologian. Should Rev Sinkford reverse himself, it will be proof that his position is not based on principal, but mere partisan politics.I hope it doesn't come to that; I prefer to retain SOME illusions.