July 18, 2008

There is a God

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 6:38 pm by Rev. Thomas Perchlik

The few responses to my recent posts have mostly about UU lack of, or antagonism toward, God, monotheism, and the Christian faith.  It seems a little troubling that after centuries of theistic tradition, and three decades of worshipping ‘The Goddess,’ goddesses, and almost constantly using the word “spirit” and all its variations in worship what we are still most known for is atheism (meaning literally not-god-ism). 

Just the other day my Mormon neighbor, while she was weeding with her daughter on one side of the fence and I was putting away garden tools on my side, suddenly called out “Thomas, does your church believe in the Bible?”  My immediate response was my usual response to such questions with uncertain agendas, “Yes… in a sense.”  After a little conversation about this she said, “I ask because a friend at my church said that there were atheists in your church.”  I pointed out that there were many different variations of theism there too, and that even many of the so-called atheists in our church believe very deeply in the power of goodness, even if they don’t call it ‘God.’  “What matters is how we treat one another and making the world a better place,” I said, “Don’t you think so?” and she agreed wholeheartedly. 

I am sad, and I apologize, that some people have been hurt by angry atheists and frightened or self-righetous existential humanists in UU churches; but the domination of some parts of our culture by a particular philosophical and cultural thread is only one small part of our story.  Both atheists and theists have been hurt and divided for too long by small definitions of the word “god.”  Our power lies in our openness to the radical and transforming truth, known in all cultures and times and places and by many names.  What we embody, at our best, is that aspect of reality which leads to a renewal of the human spirit and a vibrant alliance with all that creates and upholds peace and justice in life.


  1. Robin Edgar said,

    Thank you for this sincere and forthright post Rev. Perchlik. As much as I appreciate your public offer of an apology I must respectfully decline it since, in my opinion, it is not up to you to apologize for the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry of some “angry atheists” and “frightened or self-righteous” “Humanists” in UU churches. The people who must apologize for these injustices and abuses are the people who perpetrated these offenses or those U*Us in positions of authority and responsibility who allowed them to do so with complete impunity. In my case the people who must apologize are the angry, frightened, and indeed remarkably self-righteous fundamentalist atheist “Humanist” U*Us who insulted and defamed me to the point of making it difficult to impossible for me to freely express my monotheistic religious beliefs and engage in theistic religious practices. The UUA, its very aptly named Ministerial Fellowship Committee, and the U*U minister(s) and church in question are the ones who owe me an apology and I do expect to receive one one of these days. The sooner the better for all concerned.

    You are certainly very much on the right track when you say, “What matters is how we treat one another and making the world a better place.” Quite regrettably the U*Us most responsible for the unacceptable situation that I find myself in have repeatedly proven themselves to be chronically unready, obstinately unwilling, and pathologically unable to do what is necessary to responsibly acknowledge and adequately redress the injustices and abuses that they are responsible for directly perpetrating or indirectly perpetuating. To be honest I have never encountered a group of people who are so stubbornly resistant to acknowledging wrongdoing and then attempting to make amends for their “sins”. The U*U World would be a much better place for me and other people if U*Us were more willing to properly acknowledge internal injustices and abuses, accept personal responsibility for their offenses or hold offenders accountable for their actions, and work to provide genuine restorative justice to victims of all manner of U*U injustices and abuses.

    Most of the U*Us that I know are far from open to radical and transforming truth, particularly if that truth is about U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. Indeed U*Us have worked hard to censor, suppress and outright silence readily verifiable truths that they just do not want to hear.and respond to. I and other victims of various U*U injustices and abuses, including victims of clergy sexual misconduct, are still waiting for some genuine restorative justice from U*Us and until such justice is responsibly provided by U*Us there will be no genuine peace in the U*U World. It is high time that the UUA and individual U*U congregations gathered up the moral courage and human decency necessary to responsibly acknowledge the injustices and abuses that they are responsible for either directly perpetrating or indirectly perpetuating through negligent and complicit responses to complaints, victim blaming, and institutional stonewalling and denial etc. Until they do the U*U “covenants” of the Seven Principles will remain broken. I look forward to the day when U*Us in positions of authority and responsibility in the UUA and those U*U congregations where diverse injustices and abuses have been perpetrated begin to sincerely and genuinely practice what U*Uism preaches, rather than repeatedly making a total mockery of U*U principles and ideals.

    I invite you, other concerned U*U clergy, and concerned lay U*Us to do what you can to ensure that internal injustices and abuses of all kinds are properly investigated, responsibly acknowledged, and justly redressed so that genuine justice may be both created and upheld within the U*U World. Where there is no genuine justice there can be no genuine peace.

  2. Roger said,


    While I can’t comment on Robin Edgar’s experiences, I can say that as a humanist I have not witnessed a hostility towards theists in my UU church. I have to say, Rev. Perchlik, that I find it interesting that you refer to atheists as the “so-called atheists.” Now, there is an example of disrepect for a philosophical viewpoint. Consider if you had written the “so-called Christians” in the UU church.

    Something I have found interesting in my experience of Unitarian Universalism is the claim that this faith is about seeking truth and is a friend of science, and yet if a humanist points out that evidence shows, for example, that Jesus was not an historical person but rather a mythological figure based on previous myths that we are somehow attacking or disrespectful of others. Isn’t an honest search for truth part of the UU heritage?

  3. Thomas Perchlik said,

    Sorry Roger,

    For accuracy I should have written “SOME so-called atheists.”

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