The Emerson Avenger

The Emerson Avenger is a "memory hole" free blog where censorship is scorned. This blog will "guard the right to know" about any injustices and abuses that corrupt Unitarian Universalism. Posters may speak and argue freely, according to conscience, about any injustices and abuses, or indeed hypocrisy, that they may know about so that the Avenger, in the form of justice and redress, may come surely and swiftly. . . "Slowly, slowly the Avenger comes, but comes surely." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

In 1992 I underwent a profound revelatory experience of God which revealed that the total solar eclipse "Eye of God" is a "Sign in the Heavens" that symbolizes God's divine omniscience. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan of the Unitarian Church of Montreal contemptuously dismissed as my "psychotic experience" here: - This revelatory religious experience inspired me to propose an inter-religious celebration of Creation that would take place whenever a total solar eclipse took place over our planet. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan and other leading members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal falsely and maliciously labeled as a "cult" here: - I am now an excommunicated Unitarian whose "alternative spiritual practice" includes publicly exposing and denouncing Unitarian*Universalist injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy. The Emerson Avenger blog will serve that purpose for me and hopefully others will share their concerns here. Dee Miller's term DIM Thinking is used frequently and appropriately on this blog. You may read more about what DIM Thinking is here -

Monday, March 10, 2008

Where's The Welcoming In "Welcoming Congregations"?

An alternative title for this Emerson Avenger blog post could be 'U*U World Or Potemkin Village?' but I think that I will reserve that particular title for another TEA blog post about more generalized* Unitarian*Universalist hypocrisy. This blog post reproduces my response to a blog post titled 'Where's the B and the T in LGBT?' on Rev. Debra Haffner's 'Sexuality and Religion: What's the Connection?' blog. Rev. Haffner, who besides being a community minister with the Unitarian Church in Westport Connecticut, is also the director of the Religious Institute on Sexual Morality, Justice, and Healing, has been pretty good about posting my critical comments submitted to her blog, even some comments that are openly critical of some of her posts, albeit in a reasonably friendly way. I think that there is a pretty good chance that Rev. Debra Haffner will see fit to post my latest critical comment to her moderated 'Sexuality and Religion' blog but it may be just a bit *too* hot for her to handle so I will not be all that surprised if she chooses to suppress it instead. I am giving Rev. Haffner the benefit of my comparatively small doubt that she will post my critical comment but I am none-the-less cross-posting that comment about less than genuinely welcoming Unitarian*Universalist "Welcoming Congregations" to The Emerson Avenger blog in order to increase the number of people, Unitarian*Universalist U*Us or otherwise, who will find it and read it.

I have in the past pointed out how some if not many so-called "Welcoming Congregations" of the Unitarian*Universalist Association of Congregations are anything but genuinely welcoming to all kinds of people, including gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people who are Christian oriented or otherwise believe in God. I have on occasion also pointed out how some if not many U*U "Welcoming Congregations" aren't really all that welcoming of GBLT people more generally unless they "look straight" or are otherwise somewhat closeted. Rev. Debra Haffner's 'Where's the B and the T in LGBT?' blog post, and the first comment posted to it by an anonymous closeted bisexual Unitarian*Universalist, goes a long way to confirming some of the things that I have been saying about the UUA's Welcoming Congregations program for some time now. Rev. Debra Haffner concluded her post about how many Unitarian*Universalist congregations that are *officially* designated as "Welcoming Congregations" "fall far short" when it comes to welcoming "the B and the T of LGBT" by saying, "It's time to stop just saying saying LGBT, and pay attention to what those letters mean."

Herewith, typos and all, is my response to Rev. Debra Haffner's post:

It's time for U*Us to stop just saying saying we affirm and promote the inherent woth and dignity of every person, and pay attention to what those words mean. . . The same can be said about most of the other Seven Principles of U*Uism. The second and third principles of U*Uism come into play here as does the Seventh Principle. Sometimes I wonder if U*Us even know the meaning of the word compassion. . .

Your post here, and the sole follow-up comment so far. . . reveals some of the flaws of the UUA's "Welcoming Congregation" program but by no means all of them.

:Our policies, our membership materials, and our web site all affirm our welcome to LGBT persons.

What about the people? How do the members of your congregation actually welcome to LGBT persons? Indeed how do they welcome people more generally? I know of plenty of so-called "Welcoming Congregations" that are far from genuinely welcoming to people who walk through their doors on any given Sunday, regardless of their sexual orientation. How are visible minorities, or not so visible minorities. . . welcomed? Not to put too fine a point on it I know of so called "Welcoming Congregations" where LGBT persons find themselves to be less than genuinely welcome because of their religious orientation. Yes, God believing LGBT people have been made to feel unwelcome because of their Christian or otherwise theistic religious beliefs rather than their sexual orientation.

:But like most of the congregations I work with we fall far short on the B and the T of LGBT.

I am not the least bit surprised to hear you say this. As will become clear from subsequent comments.

:We are just taking baby steps to look at how we can be welcoming of transgender persons; a workshop I led in the fall on transgender has started to focus attention.

15 years down the road from *officially* becoming a "Welcoming Congregation". . . This is by no means the only way that U*U congregations fall far short of what their *official* policies, membership materials (aka marketing materials and U*U "church" propaganda), and web sites claim.

:When I suggested at this meeting that we also need to become more welcoming of people who are bisexual, I was taken aback by some of the comments. Several people mentioned bisexuals as "promiscuous", confusing having attractions to people of both sexes with wanting to have sex with multiple partners.

Forgive me for being a bit waggish here but if a bisexual person acts upon their attractions to people of both sexes it means that they will have sex with at least two different partners. . . There is no confusion there. The real question is what actually constitutes being promiscuous. But that raises another question that harks back to my initial comments. Why should promiscuous people be shunned by U*Us if U*Us affirm and promote the inherent woth and dignity of *every* person? Allow me to play Devil's Advocate here and suggest that maybe U*Us need to add a P to the B and the T in LGBT, maybe an H or an S wouldn't hurt either. . .

:(I thought to myself, but didn't mention Kinsey's definition of promiscuous: anyone who is having more sex than you are.)

Surely, in this context, you mean anyone who is having more sex than U*Us are. ;-)

:Others mentioned that bisexuals can choose to live as heterosexual and therefore don't have the same issues as gays and lesbians.

That's a good one. . . Why didn't these "others" mention that gays and lesbians can "choose to live as heterosexual" as it were? There is this thing known as the closet. . .

:But naming is so important -- as is breaking the silence about the range of sexual orientations and gender identities.

To say nothing of breaking the silence about U*U hypocrisy about sexual orientations and gender identities.

:I think it's fair to assume that there are signficant numbers of people in my home congregation (and in your's) who are bisexual, who have questions about their erotic attractions and interests, and who need our support.

I guess that would depend on what the term "significant numbers" means. . . If one reviews official UUA membership statistics it becomes clear that many U*U congregations have fewer than 50 members and many more have fewer than 100 members. One has to wonder just how many LGBT members such small U*U congregations may actually have, even when they go out of their way to pretend to be welcoming to LGBT people.

:Anonymous said... I am a UU who is bisexual, but in a committed long-term heterosexual relationship for the last six years. I am about as far in the closet as you can be in my church, because if I am perceived as straight but allied I am much better accepted then I would be as a bisexual in a monogamous heterosexual relationship.

It's a sad day in the U*U World when a bisexual U*U, possibly even a member of a so-called "Welcoming Congregation". . . admits to being all but completely closeted because if they are open about being "bisexual in a monogamous heterosexual relationship" they will be less accepted than if they keep up the sham of being "straight but allied". Indeed this bisexual U*U is so closeted for fear of a negative reaction to their bisexuality that they feel compelled to post anonymously. Oh well, so much for the Third Principle of U*Uism that calls for "acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations". . .

Dare I once again point out that many gay and lesbian U*Us do their darndest to be perceived as "straight" as possible in some if not many U*U "Welcoming Congregations"? Which brings us full circle to how transgendered people, perhaps especially those who cross-dress before successful completion of a sex change operation, are not really all that welcome in many U*U "Welcoming Congregations".

:You are right... I dont have the same issues... but that does not mean that there are no issues at all for me. One of those issues is that I have never felt welcome to share this aspect of myself in church.

Which really does beg the question as to whether or not the U*U congregation that this anonymous closeted "straight but allied" bisexual U*U belongs to is *officially* a "Welcoming Congregation" and affirms its welcome to LGBT persons in its policies, its membership materials, and its web site etc. There are times when I can't help but wonder if the so-called U*U World isn't the Potemkin Village of religions and this post about far from genuinely welcoming "Welcoming Congregations" is certainly one of them. . . I dare say that a good number of *officially* "Welcoming Congregations" in the U*U World would be rather more appropriately decribed as being "Unwelcoming Congregations", and not just in terms of how they fail to be genuinely welcoming to LGBT people.

*pun intended

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