Probably the “best” explanation of Unitarian Universalism I have ever found:
Unitarian Universalism is a religious organization that tries to support whatever spiritual/religious path you choose to embark on. It’s no longer a Christian group (although there are some Unitarian Universalists who do consider themselves Christian) as many congregations may not place any more value on Christ or the Christian Bible than any other religious figure or book, and it sees all religions, and their corresponding sacred scriptures, as being equal in worth. Unitarian Universalist ministers will typically give you spiritual education regarding different religions to help you make your decision. There are, however, Unitarian Universalists who do not believe in God as God is traditionally conceived, and even doubt his or her existence, so you may feel at home there. In fact, a new splinter group, the American Unitarian Conference was apparently formed in response to growing numbers of atheists and secular humanists in the UUA.
What do you get when you take religion, and then rip out everything which makes it distinctly “religious”, such as:
- Obsessive (and exclusive) “reverence” for a specific “sacred” text
- Unthinking, reflexive obedience to clergy
- Relentless prosyletizing
- Punishing “heretics” (whether by wholesale slaughter, or simple emotional blackmail)
- The systematic indoctrination of children
- The threat of eternal torment
Well, you get “Unitarian Universalism”, that’s what!
Quite frankly, I have no idea what the “appeal” of this is supposed to be:
- I am fully capable of finding value (or extreme disvalue) in specific texts, on my own. I realize that many (most?) Christians are incapable of committing the “thoughtcrime” inherent in (say) reading the Tao Te Ching, Quran, Rig Veda etc. — let alone listening to (for example) the “Jewish counter-apologetics” put out bypeople like Michael Skobac, Tovia Singer etc. (for fear of being “tempted” to stray from their “faith”)…..but that is their failing. No amount of “liberal” religion/”Open-mindedness” is ever going to “ween” those who have already succumbed to “Fundie” weirdness.
- UUism prides itself on the “diversity” of its members’ “beliefs” — so much so that they appear to be unable to actually discuss of evaluate those “beliefs” among one another for fear of being “offensive”:
A recent Sunday service at the First Unitarian Church of Baltimore ended with an apology.
Laurel Mendes explained that religious doctrine had been duly scrubbed from the hymns in the congregation’s Sunday program.
But Mendes, a neo-pagan lay member who led the service, feared that a reference to God in “Once to Every Soul and Nation” might upset the humanists in the pews.
“I didn’t want to make anyone uncomfortable by reciting something that might be considered a profession of faith,” said Mendes, 52, after the service. “We did say ‘God,’ which you don’t often hear in our most politically correct hymns.”
In other words: UUism is too damnably gutless and lacking in “content” to ever lead to substantive “dialog” among it’s own members.
I “Get it”: some people become dissatisfied with the particular ethnoreligious “identity” perpetrated on them during childhood.
There are several alternative courses of action open to individuals in that situation:
- Figure out your religious “beliefs” (if any) on your own, via an autodidactic search. (the resources are available) — while keeping it to yourself. It IS possible to continue participating in a given religious “community” without “agreeing” 100% with their (current) dogma, or shoving your dissent in their faces as a matter of routine.
- If that isn’t possible, you can always “Convert” to a different Denomination within your current religious tradition, or even a different religion entirely. (I realize this take more effort, and carries a fairly substantive risk of “emotional blackmail” from those “closest” to you — but, as I’ve said other places in this blog, the value of any given “relationship” is inversely proportional to the amount of dishonesty required to sustain that “relationship”. So, THEY can either “get over it”, or STFU, quite frankly.
- If NO other religion is persuasive/helpful? Apatheism/Deism/Atheism etc.
At NO point is there any place for the notion of “Hey, I know! Let’s create a parody religion with no particular content — dogma/”Sacred” texts/metaphysical pretensions etc. — where “refugees” from other religious traditions can get together regularly, to lie to one another via omission!
What exactly is the point of an organization where Christians/Muslims/Jews/Wicca/Agnostics/Atheists can get together, for the specific purpose of not discussing/evaluating their disparate “beliefs”?
This strikes me as the “religious” equivalent of a methadone clinic: you can’t quite manage to go “cold turkey” – so you switch to something with less severe side-effects, while leaving the underlying “addiction” intact.
I mean, seriously: let’s assume an Ex-Fundie Protestant Christian and a non-Kashrut Jew happen to both be “members” of a UU congregation. How is that useful? Neither of them are particularly enthusiastic/obsessive about the “faith-tradition” perpetrated on them in childhood. BOTH of them have probably lost contact/given up active involvement with that subculture.
What’s the point, exactly? There are a plethora of other ways to get access to INOFFENSIVE SELF-HELP PABLUM.
The wonderful thing about living in a culture where “heretics” are no longer tortured to death/burned at the stake etc.: I KNOW that I am no longer beholden to mindlessly ape/parrot what my “significant others” want to think that I “believe”.
I can (and do) dissent — and can do so, without fear of being tortured to death, or burnt at the stake.
I don’t see any particular “need” for an organization which explicitly gives me “permission” to do what I’ve been doing as far back as I can remember.
There’s something implicitly grotesque about the notion of an “authority” permitting me to “think for myself”.
There’s also something (implicitly) grotesque and absurd about a gaggle of like-minded individuals not being able to give up on the warm fuzziness of “belonging” (IE: HERD CONFORMITY).