It is no secret that the Unitarian and Universalist movements, which have merged in the United States into the Unitarian Universalist Association, had their origins in Christianity. Therefore, people who are inclined to reject Christianity will often reject the UUA too, without considering that non-Christians have been welcome in it since it was founded in 1961. Continue reading
Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:
We want religious believers to police their own.
We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.
So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?
I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.
I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.
And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.
And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.
Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.
So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.
Let us turn to this instead:
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.
We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.
This has to be one of the most pathetic criticisms of the Atheist community I’ve ever seen. If it had been written by a Christian attacking Atheists, it could not have been worse.
Atheism is too often expensive.
Where are the picnics and hikes and movie screenings? We know that the demographics of the movement are diverse, and, therefore, it’s likely that the needs of the individuals are quite varied as well… so why is raising awareness about the historicity of Jesus (usually a ticketed event) always more important than delivering casseroles to the non-theist first-time parents? Where are the low-cost, easy-access events that tie us together as people, simply for us to get to know one another and organically create support networks?
We talk an awful big game about Christianity in particular, but ultimately religions have cornered the market on human emotional connection, and so far it seems that the atheist movement is content to ignore it altogether. A major reason it’s hard to leave the church is because of the wealth of social and emotional support you must leave behind. Learning about evolution and archeology are awesome, mind-opening opportunities that are great for everyone, but a lecture about evolution won’t pick your kids up from practice if your car breaks down. Or take you out for coffee if you’re having a rough week. Or play a pickup game of raquetball. Or come to your open mic night. Or whatever it is that you do. And the connections that make those interactions possible aren’t easy to create when you don’t have the money to join in.
I then commented there:
Indeed, that link should give a great solution to Amanda’s problem:
Atheism and Agnosticism: Theological Diversity in Unitarian Universalism
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.
Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.
Another non-theistic tradition is Humanism, which focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior.
Unless, of course, she is too bigoted to fellowship with anyone who is not an atheist. And that would only draw my contempt.
Is that a mosquito I hear?
Unitarian Universalists have recently started an effort to engage in the sort of civil disobedience that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr and his followers did in the 1950s and 60s, and Mohandas Ghandi did in India a generation earlier.
Utah UU convicted for environmental activism
Federal jury faults Tim DeChristopher for blocking auction of oil and gases leases.
By Donald E. Skinner
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, a member of First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, was convicted Thursday of two felony counts of disrupting a federal auction of oil and gas leases more than two years ago. He faces up to ten years in prison.
DeChristopher made false bids of close to $1.8 million for more than a dozen properties in Utah during a Dec. 19, 2008, Bureau of Land Management auction, in an effort to block development near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and bring attention to the global climate crisis.
The jury deliberated nearly five hours after the four-day trial. Sentencing is scheduled for June. Prosecutors said in a news conference they would not seek the maximum penalty.
DeChristopher’s supporters on Thursday worked to put the best possible face on the verdict. “This is a beginning, not the end,” said Joan Gregory, First Unitarian’s Environmental Ministry coordinator. “We are looking at this as a turning point in the fight for climate justice. This verdict will not stop us.”
After the verdict, DeChristopher told his supporters, “We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know now that’s the reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. And many before me have gone to jail . . . If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well.”
Said Gregory, “What Tim wants, what we all want, is for everyone, wherever they live, to feel the urgency and be empowered by Tim’s actions and take actions in their own communities. This may have been a guilty verdict, but we have a very positive message to send out into the world. We need to take responsibility for change.”
And it’s not just a few of the rank and file members doing this!
UUA President Responds to Sentence in Arizona Protest Trial
August 23, 2011
(Boston, MA) The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was convicted August 5, 2011, on misdemeanor charges stemming from his nonviolent civil disobedience in Phoenix, Ariz., in July 2011.
Rev. Morales was arrested while protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Today, August 23, 2011, his sentence was announced in Maricopa County court. For his act of conscience, he received a sentence of one day in jail, with credit for the one day already served.
Rev. Morales released the following statement upon hearing of his sentence:
“While my trial has finally ended, my determination to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and the inhumane practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is stronger than ever.
“As people of faith, we are called to oppose injustice and help protect the most vulnerable among us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the inhumane immigration enforcement practices of Sheriff Arpaio, nor should we accept similar policies in other parts of our country.
“We Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love against such legislation and the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents. We look forward to an opportunity to witness publicly against such injustices at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012.”
The UUA is a faith community of more than 1,000 congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information, please visit our online press room.
And the movement is spreading like a virus!
Tar Sands Action inspired by a UU’s civil disobedience
A proposed pipeline could be ‘game over’ for climate change, say environmentalists.
By Donald E. Skinner
In late August, Barbara Ford will cross the country from her home in Portland, Ore., with several other members of that city’s First Unitarian Church. They’re headed for Washington, D.C., to participate in a large public witness event calling attention to the threat of global climate change.
Religious activists and organizations are gathering August 29 outside the White House as part of a two-week protest called Tar Sands Action, which is aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from clay and other materials in the tar sands region of Alberta. Environmental groups describe tar sands oil as one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, resulting in higher emissions during the refining process. Investing in tar sands oil will delay investment in clean and safe alternatives, environmentalists add.
Construction of the pipeline requires the signature of President Obama. The Tar Sands Action, which will extend from August 20 through September 3, is aimed at convincing him to not approve it.
“I’ve been feeling for the past five years that civil disobedience was going to be necessary in the climate movement,” said Ford, a former chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, an independent organization that works closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association on environmental justice issues. “It seems clear we can’t count on our government to do the right thing without our influence. To me, we’re at a similar crossroads as the civil rights movement was in the 1960s. There is no choice but to step forth and work for justice. We all need to do something besides recycling. This is my opportunity.”
The Tar Sands Action is the latest in a series of public witness events that have grown, at least in part, out of the arrest and conviction of Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher, a 29-year-old climate activist, for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2008 in Salt Lake City. Last month he was sentenced to two years in prison. DeChristopher’s actions have inspired UUs and many others across the country, and have caused them to take to the streets in pursuit of climate justice.
Five members of his congregation, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, were arrested in Washington in April in a protest against energy policies as part of the Power Shift 2011 energy and climate conference. They went as part of a group DeChristopher formed, Peaceful Uprising. Other UUs took part in a march across West Virginia in June to raise awareness of mountaintop removal mining. They cited DeChristopher’s actions as a reason for their own. When DeChristopher was sentenced, 26 people were arrested outside the courthouse.
Tar Sands Action was organized by Peaceful Uprising. DeChristopher is in prison, but his impact is still being felt.
What’s going on? Why are UUs doing these things now? The answer, quite simply, is that in the face of the almost total corporate domination of our politics made possible by that contemptible Citizens United decision by the U S Supreme Court, rejecting and physically fighting back against unjust and dishonorable governmental and corporate policies that are not in the best interests of the people have become fashionable once more, just as they were 40 to 50 years ago. And a possible side effect of these efforts will be more people seeing the Unitarian Universalist Association and its churches as the organization to join for finding more progressive social and environmental activists. After all, if it had not been for those stupid Jim Crow racist policies of the southern states, would most of us even know who Martin Luther King Jr was? UUs marched alongside him too.
- Tim DeChristopher’s Court Speech: ‘This Is What Patriotism Looks Like’ (via Food Freedom) (wilderside.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (revolutionwithoutborder.org)
- The Sentencing of Tim DeChristopher Highlights the Conflict Between the People and Corporate-Government (susansayler.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (guardian.co.uk)
- 1 day in jail for Arizona immigration protesters (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:
It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.
In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?
Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?
1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.
Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.
At first glance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormon Church, seems highly successful. It was founded in the early 19th Century and has spread over the world. Somewhat. Continue reading
In the summer and fall of 2004, I gradually came to the conviction that the Baha’i Faith was no longer worthy of my allegiance. Realizing that I had to remove myself from that community outright as a matter of honor, I wrote the following letter:
To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States,
After years of investigation and soul-searching, I have finally come to the sad understanding that I can no longer bring myself to believe in Baha’u’llah or any of the institutions established in His name, including the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. I am totally convinced that the Baha’i Faith is doomed to fail in its mission to bring peace, unity, and a Golden Age to humanity and I therefore resign from my past membership in the Faith. Goodbye.