I’ll admit it:
At one point, “Unitarian Universalism” intrigued me — in passing.
For one thing, the notion of a “religion” which pretended to be “inclusive” (such that self-designated Jews/Christians/agnostics/atheists/”humanists”/wiccans, etc.) could form a “community” appeared intriguing — until I actually started doing some research.
That was when I discovered the fact that what “Unitarian Universalism” is trying to be is both impossible and redundant.
First, the “impossible” part of it.
Essentially, the article is about the fact that a Unitarian Universalist “church” was experiencing tensions, because one of their “clergy” had (inadvertently?) failed at making the songs used during theier “worship” as bland, contentless, and inoffensive as possible:
BALTIMORE (RNS) 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.”
Now, let’s think about that for a moment, shall we?
The only way “Unitarian Universalism” can even PRETEND to be an “inclusive” community is by resorting to what the wider culture would (correctly) describe as “political correctness”. (Wouldn’t it just be easier if they prefaced any of that pesky “god-talk” with some sort of TRIGGER WARNING?)
But hey, it’s not like “political correctness” doesn’t infest the wider culture, right? So maybe they should get a pass.
Except….not so much.
If you dig even a little deeper, you can’t help but stumble across two other things:
- What UU-fans call the “revolving door syndrome”
- The fact that they barely have any membership other than the “revolving door” folksThese two facts would be both surprising and (for UU-folks) depressing — UNTIL you grasp the fact that they are both two aspects of the same underlying issue:
“Unitarian Universalism” is a “religion” for those who don’t actually want to “do” religion.
For whatever reason, they don’t “buy into” the theological claims (and resultant lifestyle) of whatever ethnoreligious subculture was perpetrated on them during childhood. (This is one reason why UUism is a “chosen faith”: the vast majority of them are basically refugees from something else.
At any rate, by their own admission, UUism tends to serve as the religious equivalent of the “Island of misfit toys”.
Then you dig a little bit deeper, and you stumble across the “Humanist/Theist” split.
This basically boils down to: Agnostics/atheists who are too damned gutless to actually “come out” openly, vs. “everybody else”.
So, there you have it: “Unitarian Universalism” is basically the (nearly) empty husks of TWO (only partially-compatible) “Liberal Christian” denominations, cobbled together into an “umbrella” organization, which is itself inhabited mostly by “defectors” form other religions (or atheism?) — who can’t quite bring themselves to CONVERT – or simply drop out.
The other major “motivator” for involvement in Unitarian Universalism, appears — by their own admission — to mostly be people who think that their children should be subjected to some form of “religious instruction” (even if they themselves don’t “buy” it) — on the premise that it would be “good for the kids”.
Then, they usually drop out when their kids stop bothering to attend.
Predictably, that “religious instruction” tends to be about other religions. Thus — more of the “revolving-door” thing, as they eventually “sift” out into actually getting involved with a “religion” which has content of its own, or simply abandon the whole “religion” exercise as pointless (apatheism/humanism/atheism — that whole spectrum).
Meanwhile, the “services” appear to consist mostly of a sort of dumbed-down self-help pablum, overlaid with a big ol’ mess of SJW butthurt.
So, here’s the thing:
What exactly does UUism “offer?”
- I already know that I don’t need “permission” to engage in a “free and responsible search for truth”.
- I already spend fairly-large amounts of my time interacting with people, at least some of whom who have a “diversity of beliefs” (read: religion and politics) — which we don’t discuss with one another, for fear of “offending” one another.
(that whole “don’t discuss religion and politics in ‘polite’ company’ bromide.)
So, what do get, exactly?
3. touchy-feely “Self-help” bullshit is easily available, as well.
6. 101-level “introductions” to world religions are, likewise, easily available.
7. Both “political correctness” and “safe-space” culture are also readily-available (if you’re thin-skinned enough to actually “need” such things).
So — what would I “gain” from Unitarian Universalism, again?
The chance to “participate” in a “religion” which can only survive at all because there happens to be a steady stream of malcontents defecting from OTHER religions.
As one commentator (who I think is actually some sort of UU clergy-type?, put it:
What I’m trying to get at here is the sad fact that the humanist/theist battle at mid-century stopped theological development in UU congregations in both the Christian and humanist traditions. There have been exceptions—Forrest Church, for instance—but you see my point. The battles did not serve either camp well. So, at present we have a humanism that is as antiquated as tail fins on cars and a theism that’s mostly muddled Methodism.