Have you seen the print version of the new UU World? The inside cover is a full-page ad for the Freedom From Religion Foundation. Does that not seem a bit odd – if not counterproductive – in a religious organization’s official magazine?
Now, just to be clear, I support FFRF’s work toward the separation of church and state. And I respect those whose free and responsible search for truth and meaning has led them to conclude that there is no God in any sense of the word.
But some of these quotes aren’t just supportive of free thought, they’re insulting to people of faith – whether that faith is theistic or non-theistic. Mark Twain: “Faith is believing what you know ain’t so.” Clarence Darrow: “I don’t believe in God because I don’t believe in Mother Goose.” They assume (or at least, strongly imply) that the God of orthodox Western religion is the only possible view of God there is, and that religion is all about accepting a series of supernatural propositions.
In fairness to the editors of UU World, I see some of this attitude in my own UU church and I read it online. There will be some UUs who will like this ad, and may even be encouraged by it.
In my limited experience, the real tension in Unitarian Universalism isn’t between theists and non-theists. It’s between those who find meaning and value in traditional religious language, stories, forms and practices and those who are so offended by their association with conservative religions that they don’t want anything to do with them.
I see this tension most clearly in discussions about Sunday worship services. The more our services follow a “generic Protestant” format (to say nothing of some of the Pagan-themed Sunday services I’ve led) the more I hear complaints from a vocal minority who want nothing to do with that. But the alternative of lectures and “programs” doesn’t feed my soul, nor does it satisfy what I think are the needs and desires of the clear majority at my congregation.
We can cooperate to build a better world, but we’ll never be able to build a cohesive religious community as long as we’re forced to design our services to the lowest common denominator.