Tuesday, March 29, 2005

CC's beefs with UUs focussing too much on politics

A response to Left Coast Unitarian

1. For some people, politics IS UUism. These two somewhat annoying
people in my congregation are doing a project where they are taking
pictures of people and putting up little signs with the people's
pictures and the pictured person's idea of the "soul of the church."
(These folks qualify as somewhat annoying because they took CC's picture
after she repeatedly asked them not to as she wasn't wearing makeup. I'm sorry a guy has to be 31 Flavors of asshole to stand there taking pictures as someone says "Please don't take my picture. PLEASE don't take my picture...")
Anyway, so far like 50% of the little signs have the person saying the
soul of the church is social action, which beats the hell out of people
saying the soul of the church is, say, "not Catholicism," but I can't
say that it's a good answer either.

2. The more I know about the Federal Election commission, the more I
worry about the possibility of serious claims that we're the religious
wing of the Democratic party messing with our tax-exempt status. We don't have set belief system, kids. That we're a religion anyway is easy for someone to pretend not to understand.

3. We're too small to be doing any good on a national level, yet local
politics is often not glamorous enough for our taste. So we end up
making a bunch of sound and fury amongst ourselves signifying very little other that our own self-satisfaction.

My solution is that I don't believe in churches taking a stand on specific legislation or supporting groups lobbying for specific legislation. We can speak to the moral principles behind the specific legislation all we want and I think the intent will be clear. But keeping it to the moral principle behind the law keeps the focus on religion and keeps us out of murky legal waters.

And it reminds us that the principles we demand of the government are ones we should be living in our own lives.



jfield said...

I'm not sure that I disagree with you much here, although I am somewhat dismayed by your earlier post today.

As someone more on the far left side of the spectrum, I find a lot of what passes for UU political activism irritating. I am against the idolatry of electoral politics, and am willing to question the legitimacy of government institutions when necessary.

I am unfortunately intimately familiar with the legal definitions of restricted political activities. (I was the Graduate Student Association president when a lawsuit over what groups could be funded by student activity fees was decided: Smith vs. Regents of the University of California. Also as a union officer I am very familiar with Hudson vs. Chicago Teachers Union and Beck vs. Communication Workers of America) Because of our smallness, I am less worried about FEC problems.

I agree with focusing on principles rather than specific legislation. In general, I think we should make the moral arguments for our maximalist positions and let the politicians compromise for us. That is their job.

I quite like your closing paragraph. I am personally attached to the notion of "forming the structure of the new society within the shell of the old."

Ike said...

I agree with what you say. As a congregational President I am searching for something we can be known for and it's not politics.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure that I agree with you about social justice issues being a liability for the UUA. If half the people i n your church indentify that as the soul of the church, then it seems to be something that attracts people to UUism and keeps them involved. (I will agree that if this is the only thing that keeps people in a church, then it is sort of sad.)
The AUC agress with you about about politics being a disatvantage rather tahn an asset for the UUA but I haven't seen a groundswell of people joining the AUC.

Chalicechick said...

If people can't be attracted to and involved with UUism without political action, I don't want them here.


Our good members are the ones who are here because of their faith. The people who come because of politics and care about religion will just leave if they don't fit in theologically.

My concern is the ones who come who DON'T care about religion and are solely here for the politics. Seems to me such people will become a voting bloc and amass in greater and greater numbers.

The AUC is a whole 'nother kettle of fish.


Anonymous said...

I run into this all the time at my church. Everyone seems to be excessively political, even in the Joys and Concerns. We have started putting a thing in parenthesis in the order of service next to Joys and Concerns that says (Not to be Used for Political Discussions). Let's just say the note in the order of service hasn't really cut it down much at all. I am somewhat at odds political-wise with probably 95% of my congregation, being a libertarian and not a liberal democrat. Hell, they tried to do a viewing of the Motorcycle Diaries in our spiritual movie covenant group. I stood up against that, which had some sway and got them to not view it, but still, its a bit crazy with just one side being expressed and not any others.

I think we can still do things that aren't overly polticial and still be able to help people. We could grow a lot more in size and influence if we would quit using Bush or any other non-leftist as a butt of all jokes and criticism. If I was a Bush supporter or a Republican, I think I would have never came back to the church.

Maybe we should make something like the Friends Committee on National Legislation to vent out our politicial action stuff and leave the churches to actually deal with helping people grow more on their spiritual path.