Unitarian Universalism aka The Tiny Declining Fringe Religion™ Is NOT *Really* Growing In America. . .
This is because Bob Smietana claims that -
"The denomination grew nationally by 15.8 percent from 2000 to 2010, according to the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies."
Apparently Bob Smietana is blissfully unaware of famous Unitarian Samuel Clemens' pithy saying to the effect that,
"There are liars, damned liars, and statisticians."
Or something like that. . .
It seems that the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies aka ASARB believes that Unitarian Universalism aka The Uncommonly Small Denomination aka The Tiny Declining Fringe Religion™ is made up of every Tom, Dick and Harry who self-identifies as an U*U in US census data. These questionable ASARB statistics for the "religious body" known as "Corpse-Cold Unitarianism" by my good friend Ralph Waldo Emerson contrast significantly with official UUA "church" membership statistics, which I will assume are not "damned lies" as Mark Twain (or Benjamin Disraeli for that matter) would have U*Us believe. If we are to place some Big Fat U*U Faith in official UUA reports, The Uncommonly Small Denomination *really* grew nationally by 3.1 percent over the last decade or so. Not all that impressive eh?
The same Bob Smietana article, which is a classic "puff piece" that reads like a paid "advertorial" for Unitarian Universalism, was just republished in The Washington Post under the somewhat more Truthful and realistic headline -
Unitarian Universalists see chance for growth in growth of secularism
The key word here being "chance". . .
I can and will say more about this rather misleading article about alleged U*U growth, especially if or when it is republished in other newspapers and magazines, but, for the time being. . . I will ever so greenly recycle the fairly lengthy comment that I just posted in response to The Washington Post website which is itself a synthesized recycling of several comments that I had previously posted in response to the USA Today article -
This article about the alleged growth of Unitarian Universalism in America is highly misleading. Membership in the Unitarian Universalist Association has actually been quite stagnant since the merger of the Unitarians and Universalists in 1961 and, when seen as a percentage of the overall population, Unitarian Universalism is actually losing ground on the membership front. Most ironically, current UUA President Rev. Peter Morales quite truthfully and accurately described Unitarian Universalism as "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" is* his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy for president of the UUA in 2008. Sadly, U*Uism is every bit as much "a tiny, declining, fringe religion" today as it was four years ago when Rev. Morales uttered that unflattering but realistic assessment of what some U*Us call "The U*U Movement".
How can The Washington Post claim that the "Number of Unitarian Universalists grew nationally by 15.8% from 2000 to 2010" when official UUA statistics claim a total of 216,931 UUs in 2000 and 221,367 in 2009? It should be noted that those UUA membership figures include RE enrollments aka "UU Sunday School" children. Adult UU membership was just under 165,000 in 2009. UUA RE enrollments show a steady decline since the 2002-2003 "church year", going from a high of 63,080 in 2003 to 56,683 in 2009. A loss of over 6000 children attending UU RE.
In fact these official UUA membership statistics contain the "sad but True" revelation that, in terms of "Membership & RE Enrollments Combined", there are actually fewer Unitarian Universalists today than there were over 50 years ago in 1961 when the American Unitarian Association merged with the Universalist Church. . .
As they say, "read 'em and weep" for UUA President Rev. Peter Morales' "tiny, declining, fringe religion."
1961 - Adult members: 151,557 RE enrollments: 77,546 Combined: 229,103
2009 - Adult members: 164,684 RE enrollments: 56,683 Combined: 221,367
Yes, over a period of 48 years, between 1961 and 2009, Unitarian Universalism "grew" by a whopping 13,000 adult members, a "less than impressive" growth rate that averages out at only 271 additional adult U*Us per annum. Yet, during the same 48 years, "UU Sunday School" enrollments declined by almost 21,000 children. What do these “discouraging" UUA statistics bode for the future of the Unitarian Universalist "fringe religion" in America? So much for this misleading article's greatly exaggerated rumors about the all but non-existent "growth" of Unitarian Universalism.
* Typo correction: In the context of this particular sentence the meaning of the word "is" should be "in".