Did Rev. Peter Morales "Mess Up" His UUA Presidential Campaign "Stump Speech"?
I am reasonably confident that Rev. Peter Morales has the personal integrity not to "memory hole" my critical comment on his blog but I do believe that it is worthwhile cross-posting it here in any case.
Although my comment covers a variety of topics, it is the first time that I have directly and publicly confronted Rev. Morales about some rather questionable aka problematic public statements that he made about unspecified "obsolete religions" in his "stump speech" that announced his candidacy for UUA President. Although these allegedly "obsolete" religions that Rev. Peter Morales suggested "lead to tribalism, violence, suspicion, hatred, and oppression" and "contribute to the darkness" of "hatred, injustice, prejudice, ignorance" were not expressly named in the same breath as that dismissive, if not contemptuous, swipe at them; it is quite evident from the full context of his "stump speech" that, at minimum. . .
Rev. Morales was speaking about the three "Abrahamic religions"
(i.e. Judaism, Christianity and Islam), if not other religions that he apparently considers to be "obsolete". In fact, in that Rev. Morales did not specifically identify those "old religions" that he considers to be "obsolete religions, created for another time" one can readily assume that he was being *inclusive* of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zoroastrianism and any number of other "old religions" that were created some time ago. . . Indeed one might even reasonably presume that Rev. Morales meant most other "old religions" with the exception of that "tiny, declining, fringe religion" known as U*Uism aka Unitarian*Universalism. I look forward to Rev. Peter Morales' responses to the various questions I posed and the legitimate criticism that I expressed in this comment. I will add appropriate embedded links to the comment soon -
"The people I am talking to feel that we should be a movement that is much larger, much more a force for good in the world. I am convinced that this is a healthy frustration—a frustration that can motivate action."
One would hope so. . . Paradoxically, if U*Uism was "much more a force for good in the world" than it currently is within the limitations of its "tiny" current membership levels, U*Uism would almost certainly become movement that is much larger. In other words, if U*Us tried a bit harder to actually do more good in the world (including within the microcosm of the U*U World itself) than they currently do, more people might be interested in joining the U*U religious community. Actions speak louder than words and, from what I have seen over more than a decade now, U*Us are no better at practicing the principles and ideals that they preach than other "obsolete religions" as you have put it Rev. Morales. In fact, in my experience and observation, U*Us may well be considerably more lax in living up to the letter and spirit of their claimed principles and ideals than the members of those so-called "obsolete religions".
How much respect for the inherent worth and dignity of *every* person do U*Us really practice on an ongoing basis?
How much genuine justice, equity and compassion is there in human relations between U*Us themselves, to say nothing of between U*Us and non-U*Us?
How much genuine *acceptance* of "other" U*Us is there? Do U*Us really encourage *spiritual* growth in U*U congregations? From what I have experienced and seen spirituality, and indeed *religion*, are actively discouraged in some "Humanist" dominated U*U congregations. No shortage of U*U "Welcoming Congregations" are anything but genuinely welcoming to God believing people in general and Christians in particular. If U*Us want to repel fewer visitors, and indeed new members, U*Us would be very well advised to take steps to ensure that theists and liberal Christians are not treated as second class citizens in the U*U World.
Do U*Us really engage in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning or do they all too often turn a blind eye to unpleasant truths that they do not want to acknowledge and responsibly deal with?
Just how democratic is the "democratic process" within the U*U World? From what I have seen it can be considerably less democratic than questionably democratic municipal, state, and national politics. Indeed I have seen plenty of cynical manipulation of the democratic process within the U*U World and even outright anti-democratic behaviour that is symptomatic of tin-pot totalitarianism and despotism.
Just how hard do U*Us work towards the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for *all* within the microcosm of the U*U World itself? Not very. . . in terms of what I have personally experienced or observed over the years. Indeed I have seen outrageously hypocritical U*Us work quite hard to suppress liberty, perpetuate injustices, and make "war" on people and groups that they are hostile towards.
Sometimes I even wonder if U*Us understand the truth and meaning of the term "interdependent web of all existence" let alone respect it. . .
These "humanist principles" that "promise freedom, equality, mutual respect, community and striving for peace" are nothing but empty promises, and indeed broken covenants. . . when U*Us disregard them, compromise them, deny them, or violate them. Martin Voelker's optimistic (some would say naïve) faith that -
"Once people see that they truly have a choice they're bound to chose with reason."
is quite demonstrably Humanist "blind faith" thanks to the readily observable, and highly verifiable, fact that plenty of U*Us who have freely chosen their "faith" and its "Humanist creed" quite unreasonably, quite consistently, and even quite obstinately, refuse to actually practice the principles and ideals that their "Humanist creed" preaches. Most people can see religious hypocrisy a mile away and, unlike some "obsolete religions", there is virtually nothing compelling them to join the Unitarian*Universalist "religious community" or remain a member of it when they encounter hypocrisy, to say nothing of injustices and abuses. If U*Uism does not want to remain the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" of "the rotating door" Unitarian*Universalists will have to try a little harder to actually practice what they preach.
Martin Voelker rightly points out that "the humanist creed" of the ostensibly (but in my view questionably) "creedless religion" does not carry "poisonous elements that lead to dogmatism and religious war". Unfortunately however, as I have already pointed out, plenty of U*Us blithely disregard, or even outright violate, the "covenants" that are expressed in that "Humanist Creed" aka The Seven Principles. There is in fact dogmatism of various kinds and even "religious war" within the U*U World itself; but some U*Us also inflict their dogmatism (Humanist dogmatism or otherwise) on the outside world and even wage "religious war" with so-called "obsolete religions" such as Christianity, Judaism and Islam etc. In fact the simple act of dismissively, if not quite derisively and contemptuously, describing these major world religions as "obsolete religions, created for another time" is something of a cheap shot in that ongoing religious war of words. Of course I have seen rather worse war words than that rather gratuitous insult come forth from the mouths of U*Us. I do however take note of the fact that Rev. Peter Morales' quite regrettably, but also quite consistently, belittled and maligned Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (to say nothing of other unspecified "obsolete religions") in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for President of the UUA in order to bolster his rather questionable claim that U*Uism can become "the religion of our time."
I find it quite ironic that Rev. Morales admits that, "I mess up all the time"' in his campaign "stump speech" and then goes on to "mess up" by being consistently negative about most if not all of the world's major monotheistic religions. Even going so far as to write them off as "old religions" that "lead to tribalism, violence, suspicion, hatred, and oppression" and "obsolete religions created for another time" that "contribute to the darkness" of "injustice, prejudice, ignorance." Dare I point out that Unitarian*Universalism suffers from most of these things itself? Dare I suggest that if there was rather less suspicion, prejudice, ignorance, indeed hatred and oppression, and yes. . . even violence and *tribalism* within the U*U World itself that more people might be interested in actually selecting Unitarian*Universalism as their chosen faith? I call upon Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Laurel Hallman, and all other U*Us to responsibly acknowledge that all of these evils and "sins" exist in varying forms, and to varying degrees, within the U*U World itself. I urge Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Laurel Hallman, and all other U*Us to commit themselves to confronting these evils and sins that corrupt the U*U World and genuinely strive towards creating a U*U World *community* that genuinely and consistently honors and upholds its claimed principles and ideals.