July 11, 2008

Phew!

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 9:48 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

The wonderful thing about the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey results is that they proclaim for all to see that we are not that special.  Our attitude of tolerance as one religion among many for example: 70% of all respondents, and 57% of Evangelical Christians (!) say that there is more than one path to “eternal life.”  Now maybe some of those evangelicals were saying that eternal life means eternal damnation and suffering, but I think it means that most are open to the idea that there are many paths to God and Heaven.  Nationally most people have accepted that there are many ways to interpret their own religions.  So diversity and inclusively are everywhere.

What I have long maintained is that we UUs are wrong when we make no distinction between UUism and liberal religion in general.  “We” talk as if our commitment to “freedom, reason and tolerance” are “so unique,” and we do come up some 20 or more percentage points above everyone else on most liberal religious questions.  But we are not liberal religion, it is everywhere.

Now we can keep pretending that we are the “one true” expression of liberal religion, or we can continue the work we have begun of shaping ourselves into a faith, rather than the anteroom to faith.  We must struggle with these questions: “What is different about us?”   “What do we keep of our Channing and Murray roots and what have we given up?”  “What practices and rituals are truly ours and no longer mere liberal reinterpretations and borrowings from Protestantism (or Native American traditions, etc.)?”  What is the difference between a UU Buddhist and just a Buddhist, what is the difference between a UU Pagan and a Pagan, or a UU Christian and all other Xians?” And above all we should answer “Why should anyone be active in a UU church?” Since answering that question will answer why those 200,000 who say they are UU but aren’t in our churches, should be.

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1 Comment »

  1. Robin Edgar said,

    Good post Rev. Perchlik. I have had similar thoughts for some time now. For example, there is nothing particularly unique about the Seven Principles of U*Uism. Most people in Western society already hold to those principles in one form or another. So the whole idea that people are “already U*Us but just don’t know it yet” becomes pretty meaningless. I still think that a good number of those people who consider themselves to be U*Us but do not attend U*U “churches” do so because they have already attended a U*U “church” only to find that they are far from genuinely welcome as either visitors or members. Yes, I am talking about God believing people who have encountered anti-Christian or more broadly anti-religious intolerance and even outright hostility in U*U “Welcoming Congregations”. Heck I even know of tolerant non-theists who have visited U*U “churches” and have been “shocked and appalled” by the anti-religious intolerance they have witnessed in them.


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