Tensions Within The Liberal Religious Community.

There are tensions in parts of U. S. society that are on the liberal religious or skeptical end  of the scale.  There always has been some of this.

I’ve attended and spoken at several Unitarian Universalist churches.  Each had a different personality.  Some I could see myself joining, others less likely.

One of the dilemmas of UU is the role of spirituality.  According to the attached, the denomination had its roots in a past when across the country there were fights over religious dogma.  The UU (or its predecessors) found a nitch in having a church where all of these concepts of Christianity were welcome.

As time went on, Humanist roots took hold.  That is, the concept that humans are a source of good and can be thus be relied upon to work out society’s problems and rules of conduct.

Then, the view that UU should be inclusive of other explanations in addition to humanism returned.  Thus, the nitch of UU was to not be judgemental about most spiritual or nonspiritual views.

Now, the growing popularity of rationalism in the form of  Humanism is again challenging the UU.  To embrace many varieties of spiritualism is contrary to the core of Humanism.  Thus, not only individual congregations, but the denomination as a whole is debating whether to go the direction of identifying as spiritally open or enthusiastically rational.

In spite of this unresolved direction, the Unitarian Universalist church is doing well.


3 Responses

  1. Brad

    I think the debate and discussion within the liberal spiritual community is healthy. I think it will lead to further evolving of the UU and other liberal religious groups.

    I was involved in a small group of people who formed a “Progressive Faith Network” which was started by a UCC pastor. Each person who attended had a slightly different take on God and spirituality. There were a few who showed up from the Bahai faith, and I had never met anyone from that faith, in fact I had never even heard of it.

    I would like to see a larger united progressive faith body, but I think the nature of liberalism (open, free thinking, lack of conformity) doesn’t lend itself as well to a united “lock step” group like the right wing churches do. There is a lot more discipline and rituals and indoctrination.

    1. Brad 2:43 re Progressive Faith Network

      There is a local fellow who is working on a project like that. When I was a Mayor, I had 8-10 books representing faiths just here in little Fargo. I was in Los Angeles a few years ago at a meeting about voting procedures. There are something like 70-80 languages in LA County. Think of all the religions there must be.

      There has been a Bahai group here for 50 years or so. I hung out as a young man with Bahais in Puerto Rico.

  2. Michael Ross

    “Now, the growing popularity of rationalism in the form of Humanism is again challenging the UU. To embrace many varieties of spiritualism is contrary to the core of Humanism. ”

    Jon, the other day you made the comment (which I appreciate), that except for my religious beliefs I was a very rational. To me my Christian faith is why I am rational. I see Christianity as a rational and practical religion. In fact, I believe it is the only practical religion or world view. I part company with many Christians on that count. Many Christians emphasize the spiritual realm to the exclusion of the practical. If Christians are going to be off in the spiritual world all the time we willnever have answers for the here and now. The best example of this disconnect is foreign wars. We claim to worship the Prince of Peace but are constantly supporting our country’s idiotic wars. Bloodshed, war, conquest, plunder, and enslavement is the sorry history of humankind. Many Christians support this for the purpose of some greater spiritual good. This is an “ends justifies the means” ideology. The Bible does not support this thinking. The apostle Paul declared: “Why not say–as some slanderously claim that we say–“Let us do evil that good may result”? Their condemnation is just!” (Romans 3:8) If Christianity does not have answers for this problem that plaques humankind in the real world today, how can we claim to have eternal (spiritual) answers? I would wish that atheists, humanists, UU’s or whatever would oppose Christians on this issue instead of going after unborn babies and gay “marriage”.

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