Atheism and Unitarian Universalism: An Interlude

Apropos of my recent posts on whether Unitarian Universalism is welcoming to atheists, I just got the winter 2011 issue of UU World magazine. And guess who wrote the blurb in this book ad I saw on the front page (click the image on the left to enlarge and read the whole thing). It says:"Secularists, individuals, please take note! Encounters and dialogue between religiously motivated radicals and more secular activists remain important. America, 'the nation with the soul of a church,' cannot … [Read more...]

Can an Atheist Be a Unitarian Universalist? (Part 3)

In my previous post in this series, I quoted a shockingly anti-atheist letter written by Rev. John Buehrens, former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association. This letter repeated all the worst falsehoods and prejudices of fundamentalist proselytizers: failing to draw any distinction between peaceful activism and violent coercion, accusing all outspoken atheists of collective guilt for the atrocities of totalitarian regimes while airily saying that "real" religion never commits evil … [Read more...]

Can an Atheist Be a Unitarian Universalist? (Part 2)

In my previous post, I quoted the letter I wrote to John Buehrens, Unitarian Universalist minister, to ask if he stood behind the anti-atheist denunciations in his book A Chosen Faith. The same evening I sent it, I got a response. I regret to report that not only did Buehrens not express regret for his language; he doubled down on it, with more insults and accusations even worse than what's in the book. His reply is reproduced in full below:Dear Adam, The relationship between religion and … [Read more...]

Can an Atheist Be a Unitarian Universalist? (Part 1)

As I've mentioned in the past, my wife and I have for several years been attending a Unitarian Universalist church in the New York area. Unitarian Universalism is officially a religion without faith or creed: its foundational seven principles are only about acting morally, and none of them specify belief in God as a requirement. By some estimates, as many as 46% of UUs are atheists, and the church as a whole supports marriage equality, secularism and other progressive causes, which makes it the … [Read more...]

Words Worth Reading: The Mother’s Day Proclamation

As you probably already know, today is Mother's Day. But I learned something very interesting about the holiday from a sermon today at the Unitarian Universalist church my wife and I attend, and I'd like to share it with you.Given how rampantly commercial Mother's Day has become, you might be forgiven for assuming, as I did, that it was dreamed up by the jewelry and greeting-card companies. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Although the holiday did become commercialized soon after … [Read more...]

Charity Yes, Interfaith No?

We atheists are nothing if not argumentative, and the latest argument is over whether an atheist can or should participate in "interfaith" charitable work. Chris Stedman, a member of the humanist chaplaincy at Harvard, asserts that "we must actualize our commitments to justice and compassion" by participating in interfaith projects as often as possible. Ophelia Benson and Jen McCreight were unimpressed, pointing out that there's something paradoxical in a nonbeliever participating in a movement … [Read more...]

Thoughts on the Occasion of My Marriage

If you're a regular reader, you probably know that I got married last month. Until now, I haven't said much about the event itself on Daylight Atheism. But now that I'm back from my honeymoon (slightly sunburned, but happy!) and I've had some time to reflect, I wanted to put into words some of my thoughts on what marriage means to me, as an atheist, and explain why I chose to enter into it.But first of all, let me address the most obvious question: Should an atheist even want to get married? … [Read more...]

Unitarian Universalism: A Matter of Definition

Both Greta and Hemant have commented on the full-page ad run by the Freedom from Religion Foundation in the latest issue of UU World, the magazine of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Since I have a copy of that issue, I thought I'd say some things about it as well.The FFRF ad that ran in the fall 2009 UU World. Click to enlarge.No one, of course, is denying that UU World would have been completely within its rights to reject the FFRF ad if they had chosen to. But that isn't what … [Read more...]

An Atheist in Church

This past Sunday, I went to church and had a wonderful time.No, I haven't converted, nor am I thinking of doing so. I was there to accompany my girlfriend, who's a lapsed Catholic and is seeking a new church to attend. We went to a Unitarian Universalist church on Long Island. That Sunday there was a relatively small congregation, I'd guess between thirty and fifty people. The church itself was a pleasant modern building with a high, sloping ceiling and tall picture windows in the back. There … [Read more...]

Golden Atheists

The popular aphorism "there are no atheists in foxholes" implies that people can only be atheists in times of comfort and security, and that if the end of life is in view, they will inevitably cry out to God to save them. I wish everyone who uses this thoughtless and insulting slur could meet Claire Hull:Claire Hull rarely misses a Sunday at church. That's remarkable for two reasons: She's a 91-year-old with a replacement hip, and she's an atheist.Yes, you heard right: Ms. Hull is a … [Read more...]


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