“For 50 years the UUA has conducted a virtually unprecedented experiment: advancing a religion without doctrine, hoping that welcoming communities and shared political causes, not creeds, will draw people to their pews. Leaders say its no-religious-questions-asked style positions the UUA to capitalize on liberalizing trends in American religion. But as the UUA turns 50 this year, some members argue that a “midlife” identity crisis is hampering outreach and hindering growth. In trying to be all things to everyone, they say, the association risks becoming nothing to anybody.”
This has been my biggest criticism of the Unitarian Universalist. They take inspiration from other religions (read: appropriate material) and then run these spiritual borrowings through politically correct filters and water down the rest so as not to offend anyone. By believing in everything, they believe in nothing. What you end up is a group of people who not only don’t stand for anything, but can’t.
My other big complaint about the UU Church is that — in large due to the first point — their focus is far more political than religious. Without well-stated religious points to center themselves on, they cling to vague political concerns like “social justice.” (I’ve also found, annoyingly and hypocritically, that not sharing these political beliefs to the required degree is apparently what passes for a UU sin. I have been openly singled out for ridicule at UU meetings for not toeing to the political line.)
If it’s wrong for Jerry Falwell to blend politics and religion, it is just as wrong for Peter Morales to do so.
By I’m digressing. Jason’s concern has to do with the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans (CUUPS).
For many years the UUA has served as a haven and home for Pagans, especially in towns and cities that lack an established Pagan community. Many Pagans have fond feelings towards the UUA despite some institutionalbumps in the roadrecently, with some prominent Pagans, like Margot Adler and Isaac Bonewits, having played significant roles within the Unitarian-Universalist sphere. But if those predicting the disappearance of the UUA are correct, if the next 50 years will see their slow fade-out from American life, then modern Pagans invested in the benefits of this denominational body will have to tackle the question of what the UUA provides us, whether we can replicate it independently of the UUA if need be, and what role groups like CUUPs and independent UU Pagans will play in the near future.
The fact that you can be UU and pagan at the same time should say something about the religious principles the church represents — While acceptance and inclusiveness are virtuous qualities, I’m not sure how to wrap my brain around a Christian church that is so reticent to acknowledge its underlying Christianity that it has a pagan subset. That said, though, CUUPS has provided a means for pagans (of the appropriate political persuasions) a place to congregate and do community work. This has no doubt been invaluable to the pagan community at large.
So what happens if the UU Church diminishes?
Perhaps we should work on establishing more of our own community organizations instead of piggybacking our religion on another. Perhaps even an over-arching pagan organization that functions much the same way as the UUA does — ignoring creed and practice for the most part in favor of community and charity …