To the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray,
Congratulations on your election to the leadership of the most liberal religious group in the world descended from Christianity. After the embarrassing end to the last Presidency several months ago, the slate has been wiped clean for you to add your own accomplishments, and perhaps mistakes, to it.
The most important thing I think you need to do in order to revitalize the UUA as a religious organization is to confront and completely dismantle deeply entrenched anti-Christian bigotry in it. As long as people outside the UUA see it as a place for atheists, pagans, and left-wing extremists, but not for Christians, the UUA will never be seen as a viable choice for those of Christian background who want to abandon and reject fundamentalist bigotry but still feel a spiritual orientation to the religion they knew as children and still have love for. Not everyone benefits from having their faith destroyed. As long as it is modified to be more realistic and inclusive for others, that should be enough.
Even though you are white, your being a woman should give you some idea of how you and others around the world may be discriminated against. Keep in mind that while black men got the right to vote in the USA after the Civil War, it was not until 1920 that women of all colors were also granted the right to vote as well. We must always strive to LEAVE NO ONE BEHIND including transgender people! I was deeply disappointed to learn that white men were still treated with favoritism in the UUA and am more than happy to see that the process of confronting unthinking racial biases among us is happening at last. It was indeed long overdue!
We must work harder over the next several decades to make Unitarian Universalism the next great world religion and that can happen when we speak out loudly about it. No longer must we think of ourselves as an “American” religion, but we must try to build up Unitarian bodies in other areas, including places where it was popular before. You should certainly endorse as much as possible the Church of the Larger Fellowship, using it a a vehicle for global UU evangelism, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, which actually does good works in the world. The UUSC is the closest thing we have to missionary work and we need more of that!
As I see it, the version of the Baha’i Faith led by the Universal House of Justice in Haifa, Israel is the UUA’s most direct rival, having some values in common, but also some critical differences that make it necessary to draw clear distinctions between the two religions. Baha’i values were similar to those of the Unitarians and Universalists about a century ago, but since then it has degenerated into a cult of extreme dogmatism that makes it a threat to unsuspecting souls looking for a new spiritual home after leaving one they no longer feel comfortable in. The best way to counter the Haifan Baha’is is to establish or at least officially endorse a sub-division within the UUA for Baha’is who wish to think for themselves instead of being mentally enslaved to a body consisting literally of nine old men. There is already such a small community that the internet has made possible, it just needs some support. For more details, see: http://unitarianbahai.angelfire.com/ and also:
With the election last year of the worst President the USA has ever had, we as UUs have a moral obligation to revive the spirit of civil disobedience pioneered by civil rights protesters in the past. Unless and until we are willing to be imprisoned for our ideals, they mean nothing. Together, we can change things for the better and in the process gain many new converts who want a refuge from the madness of right-wing politics. Even in “red” states like Oklahoma and Texas, UU churches thrive.
Please consider creating a cable TV channel devoted to Unitarian Universalist programming. We already have a strong presence on YouTube, so such a channel is the next logical step. For ideas on what content we can make for it, look at the example of Democracy Now. Of course, that is liberal politics, but where is a channel for liberal RELIGION?
The UUA must look into forming strong alliances with other liberal religious groups, and not just the United Church of Christ, the UUA’s closest spiritual relative. Also join with non-religious groups like the American Humanist Association that are not so infested with anti-religious extremism and other forms of bigotry that they are a disgrace to humanity. Many feminists and non-white people that may be attracted to atheism find themselves repulsed by bigots who are also well-known atheists in social media. We can provide them an alternative.
I wish you the best of luck over the next six years.
Dale Husband, the Honorable Skeptic
After turning away from fundamentalist Protestantism a few decades ago, I was attracted to Unitarianism because of what I had read about the historic teachings of Liberal Religion. I did not know any Unitarians at that time, and had not been to a Unitarian church. Some time later, I located a Unitarian fellowship in my area and became active in it. I soon found out that it was largely about liberal-left wing political advocacy, and little (if any) about the actual liberal religious teachings that I was looking for. Nobody ever explained to me what the necessary connection was between liberal religion and left wing politics (and so far, nobody ever has). This supposed connection was just presented to me as “given,” something to be taken at face value. IMHO, it also contradicted the UUA’s claim to be a “creedless religion.” After a couple of years of UUA activity, and getting thoroughly disenchanted with their political advocacy, I resigned from the board of trustees of the local fellowship and pretty well “dumped” religion entirely.
Thank you for your testimony. I personally thought the connection between liberal religion and liberal politics was obvious (a religious community that does not try to make society better is useless), but I understand those who do not want to be political/social activists and simply want fellowship with like-minded spiritual people.
What is your Spiritual Orientation? Find out by reading these essays I have written:
Not all UU churches and fellowships are the same. There may be some that are not so politically active and there is nothing in the UUA by-laws that says you MUST be a left-winger. It is just that the majority are like that and have been for as long as the UUA has existed.
P.S. I have also read and studied about the Baha’i faith over the past few decades. I’m not a Baha’i,. and wasn’t interested in joining it, but it has been enjoyable getting to know several of them and seeing what they had to say for themselves..
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