Wednesday, May 11, 2005

We're next

Ok, I’m not sure about this.

I am normally a big fan of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. But what they’ve done here makes me nervous.

Do I want those punks in Waynesville busted by the FEC for politicking from the pulpit?

Oh yeah.

But I don’t like this.

If it had come down from the FEC, that would be one thing.

But having liberal groups calling for the FEC to bust these guys is asking for conservative groups to come after liberal churches.

That would be us.

Said it before, saying it now. We need to talk about moral principles and let people apply those principles to politics themselves.

Or the next church politics bloggers are mocking will be ours.

----Added the following morning in response to Steve Caldwell's response----

Those rules are for religions.

Not all UUs worship God.

We don't have a single source of authority that everyone goes by, other than one's own experience.

We don't have a creed.

That means that if people want to pretend they don't understand that we are a religion, that's easy to do.

Not having a creed also means that UUism is not in itself in favor of reproductive choice. If most UUs are, fine, but I think the mere fact that almost everyone even WITHIN the religion forgets this distinction speaks to my point.

I think we need to hold ourselves to a higher standard.

Long-term, I'm not sure there is an upside to using liberal politics as a recruiting tool. Even if it increases our sheer numbers, which I don't think it always does as I've observed that activist types usually leave the moment the church stops making their pet issue a main focus, as congregational decisions are made by majority vote, recruiting people who are here for the politics rather than being here for the religion can only serve to dilute the religion as those people who came for the politics vote to put more and more congregational resources toward politics. Eventually, the people who really want religion may leave.

And our pulpits are partisan at times. I've been in services where the sermon complained about the Republicans in Congress. Joel has been in one where the minister said that if you thought someone could be a good person and a Republican, you were wrong.

People don't know what the rules are and they break them all the time. But we should be holding ourselves to an even tighter standard than the rules.

From an FEC standpoint, from a recruiting standpoint and from a creating a worship service that doesn't have a "Gee, people who think exactly like me sure are nifty" sort of tone standpoint, political issues from the pulpit is a terrible idea.

UUs are smart. Talk about the moral issue and we will get the idea. If you can't frame the question as a moral issue, why are you talking about it in church?



Anonymous said...

This question is now moot, as the Pastor has fallen on his sword:

If the link doesn't work, it's a story about the Pastor resigning.

That having been said, I do think people need to think about the Pandora's box they could be opening if they give the opposition nothing to lose. There's not a denomination in existence immune to an attack from this direction, from the Maryknoll Seminary to the inner city Black churches who openly campaign from the pulpit with (up until someone dares file a complaint) complete immunity. You just THINK politics are nasty now... wait until you feed the Christian Right's persecution complex by attacking an actual congregation. Nobody really cried when the Moral majority got busted- not even Pat Robertson could pretend they were apolitical- but to bust an actual sing-hymns-on-Sunday-send-missionaries-conduct-weddings type church... well, I'm not one to quote the Bible, but there is a verse about reaping the whirlwind.

Joel Monka

Steve Caldwell said...

ChaliceChick wrote the following two quotes:

"But having liberal groups calling for the FEC to bust these guys is asking for conservative groups to come after liberal churches."

"We need to talk about moral principles and let people apply those principles to politics themselves."

Actually, the current tax law allows for churches to speak out on issues without it being considered a partisan political message ... one has to do something blatantly partisan to risk losing tax-exempt status (the NC Baptist minister who expelled congregants for voting against Bush is an excellent example of this).

However, supporting same-sex marriage isn't a partisan political position.

Being in favor of reproductive choice isn't a partisan political position either.

That's what the tax laws currently say and most Unitarian Universalist churches stay inside these legal boundaries. Even if the views proclaimed in our pulpits are often "liberal," the important thing from a legal perspective is the views in our pulpits aren't "partisan."

Anonymous said...

I'm with steve on this one. This is an important law to uphold; it is one of the most direct lines between religion and politics. I don't think UUs come anywhere near violating that line or have anything at all to worry about; even if there was legal action taken, I am reasonably certain we would come out on top. This now-fallen Pastor's actions actively equate a religious view with a partisan one, and that is and should be an illegal abuse of the power granted to him by his status at the head of a governmentally-recognized religous institution (his church).

Chalicechick said...

Would you say that claiming a Republican cannot be a good person equates a partisan view wiht a religious one?

I would. And that makes us no less guilty.

I've already said we are technically within the rules. I think we need to keep ourselves fully within the spirit of the rules.

So far, I'm not seeing an argument against what I'm actually saying:

1. The way the right will go after us is to claim we're not a religion, thus making the argument that we are within the rules irrelevent.

2. That we don't gain much, if anything, by approaching these issues from a political ather than a moral standpoint.


Steve Caldwell said...

Chalicechick wrote:
" Would you say that claiming a Republican cannot be a good person equates a partisan view wiht a religious one?

I would. And that makes us no less guilty."

It all depends on the Unitarian Universalist context that the comment "A Republican cannot be a good person" was made.

Was it made by a rude UU minister or layperson during a worship service? That would then be a violation of current tax-exempt restrictions on partisan politics in churches.

Was it made by a rude UU person during a coffee hour conversation after worship? That would not be a violation of tax-exempt restrictions but rather a private conversation happening on church property.

Was it made by an insensitive UU blogger in a circumstance totally removed from a congregation? That also would not be a violation of tax-exempt restrictions.

For what it's worth, I approach my UU involvement and non-UU activism from a moral and not political perspective.

Providing accurate and comprehensive sexuality education in our communities is a moral issue to me.

Allowing for reproductive choice and full access to all reproductive health care options is a moral issue to me.

Ensuring that same sex couples have the same right to civil marriage that I've enjoyed is a moral issue to me.

I don't see these issues as "political" or "partisan" even though it's likely that more Democrats than Republicans would find common ground with my morals.

There's one fundamental difference between UUA denominational stands on moral issues and some other religious denominations (e.g. Roman Catholic Church).

Our process for discerning our denominational positions may be flawed but at least it attempts to be an open and democratic process that (in theory) could be more responsive to congregational leadership.

Who is responsible for the fact that most congregations don't select and send their elected leadership to GA Plenary Sessions? That sounds like a congregational failing to me rather than a systemic failing.

In any case, we don't have a "monarch" or other "pope" figure telling what our official social justice views are. They are developed by us through a flawed yet open and democratic process.

And that is a fundamental difference between our religious statements on social justice issues and those coming from authoritarian non-democratic religious traditions.

Chalicechick said...

Yes, Steve, as I said in my post to the blog, it happened during the service, from the pulpit, from a minister.

I know very well that a UU blogger's personal opinion is a different deal from what is said in church. (I mean, duh.,,)

Having a tiny but of respect for my intelligence would be appreciated, especially whan you would have had the answer to your question if you read my post carefully.

"Pass Proposition 17!" "Republicans are evil!" and "sign my petition" ae political, not moral approaches to issues.

If all these sexuality issues are your favorite moral issues, talk about human sexualty, talk about freeedom, talk about mankind's historically weird relationship to our own bodies. Just don't end your sermon with "and that's why the interstate abortion notification act has to go." Though I think it does, too.

How we pick the issues we go after is not relevant to any argument I've made.

I will note that this year's study/action issues are:

1. Women's rights worldwide
2. the safety of all children
3. Peacemaking
4. The need for affordable housing.
5. Moral values for a pluralistic society.

Which of these is a reasonable goal? I see 4.

If all of our churches got together and worked really hard on the problem of affordable housing within their own community, (talking to local politicians, educating ourselves on Habitat, starting a group within the chuch to renovate condemned living spaces or raise money for those who do) we could do some actual good, quite possibly a lot of actual good.

For my money, affordable housing won't be glamorous enough for us. We will decide that as the mighty UUs, we must repair the rights of women worldwide! Then we will talk about it endlessly, write a bunch of reports, sign some petitions that will be ignored and all go home, pleased with ourselves that we're saving the world with our good intentions..

That's another reason I don't like politics within UUism. We set ourselves up to fail and it is mostly a pointless exercise in self-congratulation.


Anonymous said...

Actually, I once raised Hell at a UU churchw hen they were distributing campaing literature for Democratic candidates. (This was years ago, and pretty much an isolated incident, though, and it wasn't really done with anyones approval. Some guy just took it upon himself to do so.)
I am still not clear on the difference between political and moral issues. And I am not certain that I would want to be involved in a denomination that stayed on the sidelines during key issues of the times.

Anonymous said...

>Steve Caldwell: The anti-Republican statement CC is referring to was made from the pulpit of All Souls UU Church in Indianapolis, during the Sunday morning service by a guest minister- but one picked for his views. I wrote it down immediately, although it's not something I would have easily forgotten. He said "To be Republican is to be racist, sexist, and homophobic. If there are any Republicans present, don't come to me after the service and say they're not all like that, because you'll be lying, if only to yourself." He then went on in this vein for another 45 minutes.

You want other examples? Check out the official websites of UU churches at random. Here's the words of Rev.Dave Weissbard, of the UU Church of Rockford Illinois, before the last election: "I believe that regime change is essential. I believe that we are being led today by psychopaths who have no moral compass – or if they do, it is skewed by the magnetic attraction of lining the pockets of those who put them into power. In the best of all possible worlds, regime change would be followed by handing over Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz and their cronies to the International Court of Justice for trial for the war crimes they have committed." This is from a sermon in which he repeats the even-then discredited claim that Bush started the War against Afghanistan because they refused Cheney permission to build an oil pipeline. Now, it is true that he doesn't formally ask that you vote a certain way in the next election, but I think a careful reading between the lines will reveal his opinion. After the election, he says "Immediately after the presidential election, the worst fears of liberal and progressive people of both political parties were confirmed: George Bush had been reelected in a landslide by an outpouring of support by people on the religious right - an event which had been orchestrated by the brilliant, if evil, Karl Rove." Not only were these things- and many, many others- said from the pulpit, they are proudly archived in the Churches website. And these are Midwest churches, not East or West coast congregations!

We wouldn't have an easy time of it with the "congregational polity" argument, either. I suggest you acquaint yourself with the official UUA Washington Advocacy Office. They have been sending letters to every member of Congress for years, with every letter beginning "On behalf of the more than 1,000 member congregations of the UUA, ..." The law recognizes the difference between de facto and de jeure sometimes, and we risk some judge saying that if we act as if we're an organized religion, we can be treated as one. No, I don't think all UU congregations are immune to an attack from the political activism/tax exemption status direction. This is not a war we want to fire the first shot in.

Joel Monka

Chalicechick said...


((((I am still not clear on the difference between political and moral issues. )))

I don’t know if “political” and “moral” are two categories of issue so much as they are approaches to the same issues.

You can make a political speech about abortion rights, or you can thoughtfully and spiritually approach the question of life and our relationship to our bodies.

((((And I am not certain that I would want to be involved in a denomination that stayed on the sidelines during key issues of the times.)))

Sigh. I feel like I’m repeating things I’ve said in previous conversations with you, but to talk about things from a moral perspective is not to stay on the sidelines.

Assume you’re a pro-choice minister who feels strongly enough to want to give a service on it. If someone is pro-life, a pro-choice political speech will not change their minds, it will just make them feel unwelcome. A reasoned look at why people are pro-life and pro-choice, cast as a philosophical, spiritual examination of the roots of the issues, might at least have the pro-life person thinking about why they feel the way they do and if they are basing their ideas on correct assumptions.

If people want to join a liberal organization, they can, it’s easy.

I think they come to church for something else.

Joel: If it's any comfort, my experience has been that midwestern churches are the worst about this.

My test is bringing up Nancy Johnson. In Washington, the response one gets is something like "Oh, a UU Republican. That's sorta weird."

In my least favorite UU church, which is in the midwest, the response is more like "A REPUBLICAN UU? You CAN'T be serious."


Anonymous said...

Actually, although there are some exceptions, nowadays, even in the Midwest most UU churches seem to be apathetic. (Not quite so lame that they are afraid to come out and support abortion rights, but they are almost there.)

If one want to navel gaze, there are always Buddhist monastaries.

Chalicechick said...

Uh... I'm not touching the Buddhism comment.

The midwestern UU churches may not DO much politically, but my experience is they sure do bitch about politics.


Anonymous said...

If you wish, we can just agree to disagree on this topic, but you stand on this issue seems totally inconsistent withs ome of your other comments, trashing, say, the vapid concept of diversity.
THe way you would have UU churches deal with abortion sort of reminds me of the joke about the UU Sunday school teacher who was asked by her class what cannibalism was. She said, "Well, some people think it is wrong to eat other people, and some people think it is all right to eat other people. And some day you'll have to make up your own mind about it."
Also, as one who often describes herself as a "humanist" (not sure if you still do) you must be aware that the sort of detached, drawing-room discussion that you advocate is strongly at odds with the sort of collective social reconstruction that was envisioned by the signers of the Humanist Manifestoes. (Granted, the second and third ones read too much like a political laundry list, but the approach, and general principles of the first one don't endorse political quietism.
On a [personal level, I think the problem with UUism is precisely its lack of a clear identity. To jiettison the denopminations commitment to social justice (something that has been part of the denom for over a hundred years) doesn't seem to me to be a good way to redress this topic.

Chalicechick said...

Do you really think the average UU needs political issues that everyone knows about anyway spelled out in the sort of excruciating detail that the average political sermon uses?

I mean, come on, can you really imagine a political sermon about abortion that actually told you something you didn't know? I can easily imagine my sermon on a moral look at the body and at life having ideas I haven't thought of.

I've never said we should get rid of social justice, though this is about the billionth time you've put that idea in my mouth. I said we should approach it differently. If you don't think that people can take a sermon on the nature of life and our relationship to our bodies and draw conclusions about abortion, your opinion of UUs is very low.

And since you're bringing up UU history, do you really think historical UUs went about social justice work the way modern UUs do? Do you think they passed around "Votes for Women in Saginaw County" petitions at coffee hour and used joys and concerns to bitch about the incompetance and warlike nature of Theodore Roosevelt and formed committees to work for Proposition 14, which would limit ""buy one slave, get one free" sales at the local slave market to biannually?

Um... No.

Yes, Unitarian Ministers spoke about what they believed, but they did it working through moral justifications and sometimes *gasp* biblical justification, and not necessarily political ones.

I didn't sign the Humanist manifesto, so assuming it is my creed is not reasonable. And I don't see where it says anything about complaining that Republicans are evil from the pulpit.

I've never said that UUs have to be politically quiet AS INDIVIDUALS, and wouldn't agree with anyone who did say that. But as an organization, we don't need a political platform.

My position is pretty nuanced, I'll admit. But I really do think it is the only way to go.

If people want a liberal political organization where they can just be with people who agree with them and not worry about these messy drawing room morality questions putting shades of gray around their opinions, there are tons of places they can go, after all.


fausto said...

Sounds like the UU Republicaphobes need to spend more time in New England. Around here, there are lots of UU Republicans. In fact, I'd bet that a significant percentage of the small GOP that Massachusetts has is UU. They're the descendants of the Unitarians who helped organize the party in the first place, around the principles of Freedom and Union.

All those UU Presidents on the Famous UU Lists? 4 out of 5 were Republican (or Whig, the GOP's predecessor party). And the 5th, Jefferson, the only Democrat, was actually Episcopalian, not Unitarian.

Is it possible that the reason UUs are so politically ineffective despite being so politically engaged is that they've drifted away from their political, as well as theological, fundations? Is it possible that at least part of the reason the GOP has drifted so far to the right is that UUs abandoned their traditional leadership role within the party?

I think I understand the distinction CC is trying to make. Saying from the pulpit, "Abortion under any circumstances is an unconscionable assault on human life and forbidden by Scripture," is a very different proposition from saying, "Joe, Fred, and Sally, you voted for the Democratic candidate and/or belong to the Democratic party, which supports abortion rights among many other positions, and that is enough to make you a vile sinner, even though you may have never committed abortion yourselves, and unless you repent and register Republican and vote only for Republicans we have no choice but to banish you from our fellowship of saints." Similarly, saying from the pulpit, "The principles of compassion and human dignity that we UUs uphold, just as Jesus once did, require us to accept those who are different from us as equals and defend their equality, and require us to give comfort and support rather than condemnation and scorn to rape and incest victims, and to demand that the broader society do the same," is a very different proposition from saying, "To be Republican is to be racist, sexist, and homophobic. If there are any Republicans present, don't come to me."

However, I don't buy CC's argument that we shouldn't support enforcement of the tax laws against the right because the right might also try to enforce the tax laws against us, or the argument that the question is moot now that Pastor Chan resigned his pulpit. Those Baptists have congregational polity just as we do. Even though Pastor Chan has left his church, it was the church that voted the Dems out of the fellowship, not the pastor acting alone. If that church were to lose its tax-exempt status, it might have quite a healthy effect on the rest of the Southern Baptist Convention. Likewise, if the Indianapolis or Rockford church's tax-exempt status were revoked, it might also have quite a healthy effect on the rest of the UUA.

Chalicechick said...

I'm not saying we shouldn't support it.

Hell, I support it.

I just think there's a big difference between supporting it when it happens (which it would have if the pastor hadn't resigned) and calling for it openly against conservative chuches we we know that we ourselves are guilty of the same thing at times.

I say we be smart about it and pick now to spank the UU churches who break these rules. It's time for some mutual support and admonishment, kids.


Anonymous said...

Re: Putting words in mouths.
I have said umpteen times that we should not get involved in partisan poltiics. By that, I mean supporting particular parties, and endorsing candidates from the pulpit.
I probably differ with you in that I think it is all right for the denomination to take positions on political issues, bills before congress, etc. There needs to be a way to do this, and a way to let out conservative minority know they have a place at the table *without* letting them shut down our social justice concerns.
And, it seems to me that the UU Republicans, who were generally liberal to moderate Republican, didn't abandon the party. They were more or less driven from it. Trust me on this. As a former member of the Ripon Society, I was there. I saw it.

Anonymous said...

Are you sure of that? Go on the UU COnservative Forum, the AUC and even the late, lamted b'net board. Most of them think that the UUA shouldn't be invovled in political or social issues at all.
Look, I feel the same way about UU Christians. THey complain that they feel they aren't partof the denom. They need to feel that they are, but they also need to understand that the majority of the denom is non-Christian, and that, for example, most UU churches won't close every service by saying the Lord's prayer, that that National Council of Churches is justified in exluding us, etc, that the Bible won't be the exlcusive point of reference for all of our services, or for the UUA's statements, etc.
ANd, judging from the comments on the Uu Christian Fellowship mailing list, a lot of them, regrettably, don't seem to understand that either.

Anonymous said...

I think there have been a lot of unwarranted assumptions made in this discussion, and the discussion referrenced. For example, there seems to be an automatic assumption that those who complain about feeling left out because they believe in God they are Christians, and want a baptismal font in the lobby. I, for one, have been one of the most vocal in the forums about theists being mistreated- and I am not, repeat NOT a Christian. I don't want to end services with the Lord's Prayer; I just don't want to be told from the pulpit that there is no possibility of the Divine, nor have it implied (and sometimes said outright) that belief in the supernatural is a symptom of psychosis. And then being told from the same pulpit *I'm* the one being intolerant because I'm Republican!

Nor do I want to undo the social justice programs- not even the few I disagree with. What I want stopped is *MY* Congressman and *MY* Senator receiving letters from Boston telling them that *I* believe this and that- whether I do or not! I think it's the height of hypocrisy to write a letter saying "ON behalf of the more than 1,000 member congregations of the UUA, we feel that H.R. Blahblah is deeply immoral, and ask that you vote against it"... and then say "Those Baptists over there are being political- shut them down!"

Joel Monka

Anonymous said...

If it is any reassurance, I would probably bet that theists will be the majority faction in UUsim shortly. (Individual congregations might differ, but most of the humanist congregations seem to be old and declining, the theists congregation seem to be young and growing.

Re politics, we seem to hae been running together a numbner of different issues,

1. Political comments by people in coffee hour.
2. Social justice program in individual congregations
3. Political lobbying by the UUA.

1. We can't do anythinmg about, since a certain percentage of unitarians are going to be assholes as long as a certain percentage of the human race consists of assholes.
2. I agree. The fact that it is done at the congregational level makes sure everyone has some input, even if it is just the right to be the only person in a church who votes no on a given issue.
3. THis is what bothers most people. Hmm...I'd like to see if there is something that the conservatives coulod live with while still allowing the UUA to have some presence nationally. Not sure what that would be. SPeaking out on fewer issues? Changing the process? Simply changing the way that Sinkford and the gang present their positions on issue. (Even just saying as an aside, "of course, people of all political viewpoints are repsrsented in our congregations.")

Chalicechick said...

My only issues are with 2 + 3.

2. If by social justice programs you mean "Hey, let's get the social justice committe to meet on Wednesday to organize a trip to the abortion march" I can handle that. I hope you're doing something for the poor, too. But I', basically fine with it.

If you mean "For today's sermon, I'm going to talk about what's going on the pro-choice movement and what you can do about it," I'm not.

As for "3," do you honestly think we have a national presence? Do you honestly think any elected official in the last 50 years has said to themselves "Gee, the UUA is against this. Maybe we should rethink our position."

If not, we don't have a national presence and we would be better off devoting our resources to building one than sending stack after stack of form letters to our eolected officials claiming to have a consensus that the UUA doesn't really have.


Anonymous said...

Re 2. We have always had a tradition of the free pulpit. In my favroite UU church, in Brooklyn, a minister was made to leave because he opposed World War One, but later realized this wqas un-Unitarian.
What is wrong with a minsiter speaking from a pulpit and, say, saying that the Gulf War was a bad idea, (or that it was a good idea.) People are free to disagree. I think youa re just plain wrong on this one, CC.
3. Combined with other religious bodies, we do have a presence. I think it is more important than ever that we maintain and strengthen that presence, with those on the right pretending that they speak for "people of faith." It is important that nationally, the awareness sink in that "people of faith" are not monolithically conservative. ANd I think that it this historical moment, it is more important than ever.

Chalicechick said...

I don't recall saying anything about limiting the free pulpit or firing people or barring people from speaking. I believe my verb was "admonish."

Yes, if a minister wants to talk about the war in Iraq they can.

I can envision this going two ways:

1. Minister: "I'm against the war in Iraq"
People think: "Well, duh. Us, too. We’re UUs after all."
Minister:"For the following reasons… blah, blah, blah, oil, blah, blah, Bush. Blah, blah, blah and Micheal Moore says, blah, blah blah, etc, etc, evil rich people blah, blah and soforth whatever, benediction.

2. Minister: "I'm against war. I bet you are too. In fact, if you ask 100 people in the street, I bet they'd all say they were against war. So why does humanity have them? And what can we do about it? Is kneejerk pacifism always the answer? Are some things worth dying for? These aren’t easy questions,. But I've been thinking about them, and I've come up with some answers that at least partially satisfy me…"

My thinking is, if you want to see sermon number one, rent Farenheit 911. If you preach sermon number one, you probably deserve a talking to because the nature of politics is to act like you have all the answers and UUs are ideally not supposed to do that in the pulpit.

(((It is important that nationally, the awareness sink in that "people of faith" are not monolithically conservative)))

Yet, ironically, to do this we must pretend that UUs are monolithically liberal. But that's ok. Because liberals are the good guys, and anyone who doesn't want the UUA speaking for them is secretly palnning to derail social justice entirely.


Anonymous said...

That is what I am trying to figure out. How to weigh in on the liberal side of an issue while still respecting our conservative minority.
Joel, as the token conservative in this discussion, (if you are still there) how would this wrok? I know you favor limits on abortion in some cases. Would it be enough if say, our Presdient (whoever it may be) were to say UU veiws on this issue run the gamut, but as a denomination we are pro-choice."
Or is that still not enough?

Anonymous said...

I was pleased that the pastor lost his position, and if any UU ministers demand that congregants vote for a specific Democratic candidate, from the pulpit, they should be out too. What the minister in Indy said was way over the line. It's not too hard to follow the law. Churches can advocate positions, but not candidates.

That minister sounded young and immature. That's the sort of language to drive people away, not to persuade them.

Chalicechick said...

Well, Art, how would you be if UUism were predominantly conservative?

Would "UU veiws on this issue run the gamut, but as a denomination we are pro-life." be good enough for you?

I sure hate the sound of it.

As a denomination we aren't anything political because politics is about black and white and dumbing questions down and UUism is about shades of gray and looking at the real complexities of the issue.

As an individual, you can be a political liberal. You can convince your family to be political liberals, you can go work for a politically liberal company, you can move to a politically liberal state, you can paint yourself blue for all I care.

But can't there be one aspect of life where we assume things aren't as simple as red and blue? Can't religion, of all places, try to take the long view and look at issues from different perspectives rather than just taking a side and being one more voice yelling into the fray?


Anonymous said...

Sounds fine to me. Heck, one of the most activist churches in Chicago is Fourth Presbyterian, which has a number, perhaos a majority of Republican members (including Doanld Rumsfeld.) They somehow managed to join in the opposition to the war and to somehow make their conservative members feel like their opinions were respected. Why si suck a move probloematic for UUs.
FWIW, if you will recall, my political views were much more moderate when I was yopunger than they are now. I can think of stands that the UUA took in the nineites that I didn't agree with. I was able to live with it.

Anonymous said...

>Art, how's this for a sample sermon on abortion: In the Roe vs Wade decision, the Supreme Court ruled on the law, and on the Constitution... which is what they were supposed to do. But what the people wanted, and never got, were the deeper questions, the principals that would have helped both sides understand and accept a compromise on issues of life and death- not just abortion, but the death penalty, right to die, and the like. Just what is human life? When does it start? When does it end? Is it ever right to take a life? What obligation does a caregiver owe to a dependent- when does the caregiver's needs dominate?

Don't you find yourself wanting to hear the rest of that sermon? Wouldn't your life be enriched, even if you disagreed, just by getting the synapses firing? Wouldn't this sermon even be more likely to inspire you to vote than yet another Bush=Hitler screed? That would have been a truly spiritual sermon, worthy of a liberal religion, likely to inspire social action... and within both the letter and the spirit of the law.

Joel Monka

Chalicechick said...

I feel like this isn't going much of anywhere, Art.

You some uninterested in the point that moral conversations are about complexiites while political ones are about oversimplifying things.

If you're tying to convince me that I should be OK with being spoken for politically by my religion, whether I agree or not, that's not going to happen.

Hell, the CSO won't become a UU for exactly this reason.


Ps. You know I agree, Joel

Anonymous said...

Joel and CC,
Yes,I would enjoy hearing a sermon like that. I am sorry if I gave the impression that I didn't. But there are times when we can't just go splitting infinite hairs, and where action does need to be taken.

Chalicechick said...

Why must you be SO black-and-white on this issue?

How is it that not taking a position on specific legislation is defined as "splitting infinate hairs?"

What's wrong with having a policy of not being for or against specific legislation that will encourage us to look at moral issues in a non-polarized manner. Rather than just picking our side and starting to yell?

Have you ever come up with an advantage to taking a position on specific legislation that wasn't basically related to our egos and making us feel like we were doing something, without having to get off our duffs and actually do it?

This entire conversation, you've been talking like we have real power to do something about social issues as a church. I agree, but when we're working on them, not yakking on about how the government should be working on them. You give people the right sermon about mankind's duty to take care of one another, they will go out and feed the homeless. You give people a sermon about how the govenment should be doing more for the homeless and they will smile and nod and maybe email their senator but mostly forget about it. After all, it's not their fault the government's not doing its job.

I mean, people's primary objection to Bush is that he sucks on domestic issues. He doesn't take care of the poor. You think anybody who heard any of the anti-Bush sermons went home and did something for the poor THEMSELVES as a result?

Hell, no.

We all know that the nature of politics discusssions is that having an opinion and broadcasting it to as many people as possible is the way to save the world. Not, actually, you know, doing anything.


Anonymous said...

I don't think I am being black and white on this issue. It is just that I am right, and you are wrong. And you won't admit it. (I ahve this problem with other people when I get into arguments. It just shows how stubborn other people can be.)

Let see, by acting in concert with other denoms, the UUA did play a role in passing civil rights and voting rights legislation in the 1960s. THe denomination as a whole also gave support to freedom riders.
The fact that we were out front on allowing gay people to marry,a nd on gay rights in general can, arguably, be said to have made it marginally easier to be gay in America nd might have speeded up the acceptance of gays in America.

I ahve picked these two because they are preety mjuch common sense positions nowadays. But they were "Ambiguous" at the time.

Part of the problem is that I realize how un-UU I am at this point in my walk. I could probably discuss the evolution of the social gospel in AMerica from Rauschenbush to Cone, and point out some of the inherent difficulties and ambiguities that Neibuhr discussed in his voluminous writings. But, of course, this tradition has minimal relevance in a nonChristian denomination.
Before, one could at least say that, whatever their shortcoming, Unitarians were better at putting the gospel in action. These days, they seem to have lost their steam, and (at least around here) it is the Protestant congregations who are say, gearing up to provuide draft counsling should the draft be reinstated, oprganizing group to advise immigrants of their rights and to prevent them from being exploited, etc.
We need to update an old joke:
There is a work i9n the road. One sign says "This way to work at building the kingdom on Earth." The other says, "This way to the discussion about building the kingdom."
And the Unitarians, as always, would rather go to the discussion.
And that fine, but that isn't where I am coming from these days.

Chalicechick said...

Clearly not. The moral and spiritual questions are totally uninteresting to you and you've already made up your mind that you're on the side of the angels politically.

Any dissent to your view is really just people trying to derail you.

By all means, don't go to a UU church, I can't imagine why you would.

And good luck finding a Sunday morning MoveOn meeting.


fausto said...

I'm not following you, Art. Are you saying that UUs have forsaken religious concerns for social and political ones, and that's good? Or that they have done so, and that's bad? Or are you saying that they have forsaken not only religious, but also social and political engagement, at least in comparison to other liberal denominations, and that's bad? (But if you're saying that, why are you defending their political activism?)

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