All of the following material was gleaned from comparatively recent posts to the Unitarian*Universalist sections of Beliefnet. It looks like not much has changed since I was permanently banned from Beliefnet for posting similar criticism of obvious problems within the Unitarian*Universalist religious community. Anyway I am glad to see that there are other people who are exposing and denouncing the same U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy that I was exposing and denouncing years ago. . . It is quite gratifying, and even vindicating, to see U*Us validate what I have been saying for well over a decade.
I'm having a little problem recently with my UU church (I have been a member for 4 months so far)...I feel they are, as a whole, too humanist/secular. Which is fine, I respect that, but it gets kind of annoying to me...I really need something more spirituality based.
I'm a member of a small UU congregation that is having trouble growing and thereby never has enough money. . . Where I live there's a limited number of atheists/agnostics/humanists who will go to church and I suggested that making our 'presence' more religious could attract naturalists, mystics, and liberal theists into the building. When I said religious two of the Board members almost fainted expounding on their way down that they refused to be Christian. I tried to explain that being religious was different than being Christian but to no avail. I'm on the Sunday Services Committee and have written and presented many services. Over the past year several rather intolerant atheists/agnostics/humanists have told me that if I continue to use Bible verses and God in my presentations that they'll quit. I responded by referring to the third principle, again to no avail.
Personally, I think we're not just shooting ourselves in our collective feet but blowing away those appendages entirely.
Thank you for sharing your experience on presenting Channing. Last summer I presented a service where I abstracted the Channing, Emerson, and Parker sermons and was told at the end that it was nice but that "we" don't need this stuff. When I said that it's good to know the teachings of the religion that you belong to I was told "we're UUs, we don't need to know anything". I must say they're doing a good job of that.
Last month the chairperson of the Sunday Services Committee that I'm on, who is also a ministry student at Meadville Lombard, wrote a newsletter article that included the statement "Sunday worship service must provide for whoever may come through the church doors with whatever joy or burden they carry.” Several of the intolerant atheist/agnostic/humanist members of the congregation complained that the statement restricted their ability to “express” themselves regardless of what the community is looking for in a service. I told them that when I participated in a service I felt responsible to serve the community and at this moment they considered me a fool.
At the last Board meeting the President related a comment that the congregation does not appear to like poor people and said that she/he liked poor people but not a lot at the same time. I should have walked out of the meeting but didn't, so now I've violated what C.S Lewis referred to as our "moral conscience".
Quote: Is there hope or are we barking up the wrong tree?
I can give you only a "I'd like to think there's hope, but after nearly 30 years of association with Unitarian Universalism, I'd have to express it as 'Well,....ummm...maybe.' The denomination as a whole after all these years is still predominantly white, highly educated and relatively affluent overall. While I can't speak with any authority about this, in each of the two UU churches I've belonged to, the majority of the members were atheists, agnostics and humanists as well as being generally the most affluent members, providing the majority of the church's income. . . We're kidding ourselves if we think that doesn't still mean, even with our UU Principles supposedly guiding our actions, that the majority calls the shots as to what will or will not be presented in services.
I really don't think that much of anything will shake the UU hierarchy from its cushy-comfy position. I'd like to be wrong but after so long with the denomination, I've heard lots of lip service and heard of a few congregations who seem to me to be striving toward what the UU Principles are about...but not very many.
I'm tired of it all and am preparing to go back to being a solitary Unitarian again. UU's on the whole are smugly self-satisfied and far more intolerant of diverse beliefs than they wish to think they are. I've had enough.
My perception of my church is that it's primarily a social club. Services are very generic-UU ordinarily. At first, I attributed that to the fact that the worship committee was burnt out on planning varied service themes since they'd done so for a year until we got an interim minister recently. However, considering the criticisms of his sermons that I've overheard, I think the problem is that a good many members don't want anything especially challenging or substantive.
As for diversity of beliefs being reflected in service content, there really isn't much. The church does sponsor a Pagan group that holds rituals and various holiday celebrations, but all of these are entirely separate from regular services. To all intents and purposes, it might as well meet elsewhere as there's no overlap whatsoever with more usual church activities and events that I've noted in my year's membership. . . Diversity? Yeah, riiiight. And unfortunately, the only other UU group nearby is a just-launched fellowship an hour's drive from my home. . . I'm considering my options and will most likely go back to being a solitary Unitarian.
It's still going on. Turn over in UU churches is so high there's no "institutional knowledge". . . As to diversity of beliefs, with no institutional knowledge on UU history, teachings, and practices congregations reflect beliefs of the most recent membership (i.e., the new folk to replace the members we lost last year). Gosh help you if you joined UU awhile ago as a liberal mystic and the new members are intolerant atheists, agnostics, and humanists.
I think the "UNITY" is the most important part. It's great to be 'diverse', but are we all one, are we all together? The unity is what is most important.
Very well stated. Recently I've been "whacked' for not being a strict humanist and for believing in something beyond humankind. I relate to what Albert Einstein wrote:
"Then there are the fanatical atheists whose intolerance is of the same kind as the intolerance of the religious fanatics...They are creatures who - in their grudge against the traditional 'opium for the people' - cannot bear the music of the spheres."
I feel a bit disunited from my congregation and may soon pursue other spiritual options. Hence the importance of unity.
This is truly sad, Jamlawken, but unfortunately, happens more often in UU churches than I like to think. That "majority rules" in some churches not just in congregational governance but also in how congregants treat each other is most unfortunate, IMO.
We talk a good talk, but sometimes I wonder just how many UU's take our Principles seriously, particularly the one about encouraging and supporting each other in our individual searches for truth. The UUA emphasizes that the Principles are simply guidelines and not a creed. I'm not so sure but what that works to our detriment too many times, seeming to permit disregarding any or all of the Principles as desired or convenient.
It appears that UUA may not be maintaining balance. UU membership has been limited because one group is always being served at the expense of others. My congregation has a definite humanist viewpoint which has driven away naturalists, mystics, and theists.
"I read somewhere that something like 49% of UUs are humanists...So how common is humanism/atheism within the UU church as you all have experienced it?"
The humanist percentage may be from from the UUA web site (http://uua.org/visitors/beliefswithin/6642.shtml). The congregations I've been associated with are very humanist, which is OK except that the humanists I've known tend to be a bit intolerant of non-humanists.
In my experience humanists tend to be inwardly rather than outwardly focused which gives the UU congregations I've belonged to more of a "club" feel and less of a "church" feel (i.e., serving the greater community with a vision).
I recently realized that my large metropolitan church is humanist. However our minister is somewhere between humanism and theism; he mentions God sometimes in his sermons and prayers.
I am not a Christian nor a theist. I have not decided what I really believe or am. I may never. However I choose to personify the unseen energy, life force as Goddess, female divinity, because I need to.
My church is very intellectual. It's dominant culture and power base is 51% humanist which is very entrenched and resistent to innovation and some change. There is little will to do experiment. This makes me very sad.
Resistance to change and entrenched traditions are unfortunately, IMO, hallmarks of too many UU church groups.
It didn't take me long to discover that my recent former church was extremely resistant to newcomers' ideas for change. . . . I know that I definitely will be much more wary of joining another UU church too soon and will give myself probably several months of determining if it's a good fit before I become a member, if I ever again do so.
Our UU church is addressing this currently. We're in a shift from the "old guard" humanists who founded our congregation to younger families with children who are more open to spirituality. The pastor does his best to accommodate both and has cautioned us that we may be humanist, agnostic, or atheist, but "anti-theist" can cross the line into uncivil behavior.
I believe that we UU's on the whole are much too nonchalant about living our Principles, and that's a substantial contributing factor in the lack of spirituality in our denomination, IMO. I've overheard members of my church referring to them as "organic mulch," to say it more nicely. I'm tempted to ask somewhat testily, "So, what is this for you then? Just Sunday social club?"