Read this, which I have edited for the sake of brevity:
We want religious believers to police their own.
We want religious believers to stop being silent about atrocities committed in the name of religion. …….And when they don’t, we call them hypocrites.
So why is it that when atheists speak out against screwed-up shit that other atheists are doing, it gets called “divisive”?
I have been hearing a lot of calls for unity in the atheist community. I have been hearing a lot of calls for an end to the debates, an end to the infighting. I have been hearing a lot of calls for atheists to stop focusing on our differences, and look at our common ground….But all too often, calling for unity equals silencing dissent. All too often, calling for unity equals a de facto defense of the status quo. All too often, calling for unity equals telling people who are speaking up for themselves to shut up.
I do not want to be in unity with atheists who [speak, write, or behave in misogynous ways]. And I do not want to be in unity with atheists who consistently rationalize this behavior, who trivialize it, who make excuses for it.
And I don’t think I should be expected to. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of me. I don’t think anyone in this movement should be asking that of anyone.
And when people, however well-meaning, make generic calls for unity — when they tell all of us to stop fighting and just get along — they’re basically telling those of us on the short ends of those sticks to shut up.
Quite simply, we as civilized people cannot unite around atheism. Atheism is merely rejection of theism, and lots of people who rejected theism in the past were part of governments that not only mistreated women, but mass murdered people outright.
So if you wish to profess atheism, go for it. But we cannot define ourselves only as atheists. Doing so is meaningless. The Atheist movement itself is meaningless.
Let us turn to this instead:
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
What Greta Christina wrote about on her own blog is exactly why I have fought with atheist fanatics and hypocrites on the internet. Being an atheist is not enough, and there is nothing wrong with someone choosing to believe in a god of some kind if he affirms the seven principles stated above.
We do not need atheism, nor do we need religious bigotry. We do need tolerance and a world embracing vision and thus we need firm principles, which we may find among Unitarian Universalists. Let it be so.
This has to be one of the most pathetic criticisms of the Atheist community I’ve ever seen. If it had been written by a Christian attacking Atheists, it could not have been worse.
Atheism is too often expensive.
Where are the picnics and hikes and movie screenings? We know that the demographics of the movement are diverse, and, therefore, it’s likely that the needs of the individuals are quite varied as well… so why is raising awareness about the historicity of Jesus (usually a ticketed event) always more important than delivering casseroles to the non-theist first-time parents? Where are the low-cost, easy-access events that tie us together as people, simply for us to get to know one another and organically create support networks?
We talk an awful big game about Christianity in particular, but ultimately religions have cornered the market on human emotional connection, and so far it seems that the atheist movement is content to ignore it altogether. A major reason it’s hard to leave the church is because of the wealth of social and emotional support you must leave behind. Learning about evolution and archeology are awesome, mind-opening opportunities that are great for everyone, but a lecture about evolution won’t pick your kids up from practice if your car breaks down. Or take you out for coffee if you’re having a rough week. Or play a pickup game of raquetball. Or come to your open mic night. Or whatever it is that you do. And the connections that make those interactions possible aren’t easy to create when you don’t have the money to join in.
I then commented there:
Indeed, that link should give a great solution to Amanda’s problem:
Atheism and Agnosticism: Theological Diversity in Unitarian Universalism
Atheists are people who do not believe in a god, while Agnostics are people who think that we cannot know whether a god exists. Both groups are welcome in Unitarian Universalism.
Today, a significant proportion of Unitarian Universalists do not believe in any type of god. Our congregations are theologically diverse places where people with many different understandings of the sacred can be in religious community together.
Another non-theistic tradition is Humanism, which focuses on human potential and emphasizes personal responsibility for ethical behavior.
Unless, of course, she is too bigoted to fellowship with anyone who is not an atheist. And that would only draw my contempt.
Is that a mosquito I hear?
Unitarian Universalists have recently started an effort to engage in the sort of civil disobedience that civil rights activists like Martin Luther King Jr and his followers did in the 1950s and 60s, and Mohandas Ghandi did in India a generation earlier.
Utah UU convicted for environmental activism
Federal jury faults Tim DeChristopher for blocking auction of oil and gases leases.
By Donald E. Skinner
Environmental activist Tim DeChristopher, a member of First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, was convicted Thursday of two felony counts of disrupting a federal auction of oil and gas leases more than two years ago. He faces up to ten years in prison.
DeChristopher made false bids of close to $1.8 million for more than a dozen properties in Utah during a Dec. 19, 2008, Bureau of Land Management auction, in an effort to block development near Arches and Canyonlands National Parks and bring attention to the global climate crisis.
The jury deliberated nearly five hours after the four-day trial. Sentencing is scheduled for June. Prosecutors said in a news conference they would not seek the maximum penalty.
DeChristopher’s supporters on Thursday worked to put the best possible face on the verdict. “This is a beginning, not the end,” said Joan Gregory, First Unitarian’s Environmental Ministry coordinator. “We are looking at this as a turning point in the fight for climate justice. This verdict will not stop us.”
After the verdict, DeChristopher told his supporters, “We know that now I’ll have to go to prison. We know now that’s the reality, but that’s just the job I have to do. And many before me have gone to jail . . . If we’re going to achieve our vision, many after me will have to join me as well.”
Said Gregory, “What Tim wants, what we all want, is for everyone, wherever they live, to feel the urgency and be empowered by Tim’s actions and take actions in their own communities. This may have been a guilty verdict, but we have a very positive message to send out into the world. We need to take responsibility for change.”
And it’s not just a few of the rank and file members doing this!
UUA President Responds to Sentence in Arizona Protest Trial
August 23, 2011
(Boston, MA) The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), was convicted August 5, 2011, on misdemeanor charges stemming from his nonviolent civil disobedience in Phoenix, Ariz., in July 2011.
Rev. Morales was arrested while protesting Arizona’s anti-immigrant legislation, SB 1070. Today, August 23, 2011, his sentence was announced in Maricopa County court. For his act of conscience, he received a sentence of one day in jail, with credit for the one day already served.
Rev. Morales released the following statement upon hearing of his sentence:
“While my trial has finally ended, my determination to oppose Arizona’s SB 1070 and the inhumane practices of Sheriff Joe Arpaio is stronger than ever.
“As people of faith, we are called to oppose injustice and help protect the most vulnerable among us. We cannot turn a blind eye to the inhumane immigration enforcement practices of Sheriff Arpaio, nor should we accept similar policies in other parts of our country.
“We Unitarian Universalists will continue to stand on the side of love against such legislation and the anti-immigrant sentiment it represents. We look forward to an opportunity to witness publicly against such injustices at our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix in 2012.”
The UUA is a faith community of more than 1,000 congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information, please visit our online press room.
And the movement is spreading like a virus!
Tar Sands Action inspired by a UU’s civil disobedience
A proposed pipeline could be ‘game over’ for climate change, say environmentalists.
By Donald E. Skinner
In late August, Barbara Ford will cross the country from her home in Portland, Ore., with several other members of that city’s First Unitarian Church. They’re headed for Washington, D.C., to participate in a large public witness event calling attention to the threat of global climate change.
Religious activists and organizations are gathering August 29 outside the White House as part of a two-week protest called Tar Sands Action, which is aimed at pressuring President Obama to reject a proposed oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf Coast. The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from clay and other materials in the tar sands region of Alberta. Environmental groups describe tar sands oil as one of the dirtiest fuels on earth, resulting in higher emissions during the refining process. Investing in tar sands oil will delay investment in clean and safe alternatives, environmentalists add.
Construction of the pipeline requires the signature of President Obama. The Tar Sands Action, which will extend from August 20 through September 3, is aimed at convincing him to not approve it.
“I’ve been feeling for the past five years that civil disobedience was going to be necessary in the climate movement,” said Ford, a former chair of the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, an independent organization that works closely with the Unitarian Universalist Association on environmental justice issues. “It seems clear we can’t count on our government to do the right thing without our influence. To me, we’re at a similar crossroads as the civil rights movement was in the 1960s. There is no choice but to step forth and work for justice. We all need to do something besides recycling. This is my opportunity.”
The Tar Sands Action is the latest in a series of public witness events that have grown, at least in part, out of the arrest and conviction of Unitarian Universalist Tim DeChristopher, a 29-year-old climate activist, for disrupting a Bureau of Land Management oil and gas lease auction in 2008 in Salt Lake City. Last month he was sentenced to two years in prison. DeChristopher’s actions have inspired UUs and many others across the country, and have caused them to take to the streets in pursuit of climate justice.
Five members of his congregation, First Unitarian Church of Salt Lake City, were arrested in Washington in April in a protest against energy policies as part of the Power Shift 2011 energy and climate conference. They went as part of a group DeChristopher formed, Peaceful Uprising. Other UUs took part in a march across West Virginia in June to raise awareness of mountaintop removal mining. They cited DeChristopher’s actions as a reason for their own. When DeChristopher was sentenced, 26 people were arrested outside the courthouse.
Tar Sands Action was organized by Peaceful Uprising. DeChristopher is in prison, but his impact is still being felt.
What’s going on? Why are UUs doing these things now? The answer, quite simply, is that in the face of the almost total corporate domination of our politics made possible by that contemptible Citizens United decision by the U S Supreme Court, rejecting and physically fighting back against unjust and dishonorable governmental and corporate policies that are not in the best interests of the people have become fashionable once more, just as they were 40 to 50 years ago. And a possible side effect of these efforts will be more people seeing the Unitarian Universalist Association and its churches as the organization to join for finding more progressive social and environmental activists. After all, if it had not been for those stupid Jim Crow racist policies of the southern states, would most of us even know who Martin Luther King Jr was? UUs marched alongside him too.
- Tim DeChristopher’s Court Speech: ‘This Is What Patriotism Looks Like’ (via Food Freedom) (wilderside.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (revolutionwithoutborder.org)
- The Sentencing of Tim DeChristopher Highlights the Conflict Between the People and Corporate-Government (susansayler.wordpress.com)
- Tim DeChristopher supporters issue oil protest ‘call to action’ (guardian.co.uk)
- 1 day in jail for Arizona immigration protesters (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
Universalism is the other half of the religious tradition known as Unitarian Universalism. I already dealt with the first half by denying the Trinity as a self-contradicting assertion:
It is understandable that some people want to feel like they are better than others or more loved by God than others, but that is an appeal to the human ego that is destructive to human spirituality. There is nothing more vile than the idea that God would condemn anyone to eternal damnation in hell for believing in the “wrong” dogmas. Such extreme punishment could only be justified if there was some empirical way to discover the truth in religion, thus making it beyond dispute. But if that was the case, it wouldn’t even be religion at all; it would be SCIENCE.
In the late 1980s, I was a Christian and I was perfectly sincere about it. Then at the turn of this Century, I was a Baha’i and just as zealous about that. And in both cases, I have turned away from those religions because I found them to be flawed and unworthy of my allegiance, perhaps even completely false, as many do believe. But if I had died at either time, would it have been fair for God to condemn me for following a false religion?
Even if Christianity was the only true religion, the fact that it has been divided into thousands of competing sects, despite the fact that Christians are supposed to believe in one God and one savior, is enough to show that there are no “true” Christians. No matter what position you take, you are part of a minority in the world; Christians only make up about 1/4 of the population of the world. Is it logical to assume that God would condemn the vast majority of the world for not being Christian, especially when there is so much evidence that it is defended by outright fraud?
1900 years ago, Christians and Jews were a tiny minority in the world. In places like India, China, Japan, and the American continents, there was virtually no chance for people living there to hear and accept the teaching of either Bible based religion, while there were religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, Shinto, or the various Pagan religions. Who could blame the people in those lands for following what they knew? It is easy to assume you have the only true faith when you have only that one faith in your community and do not know followers of other religions except through crude stereotypes. Once you get to know those followers as people, those stereotypes tend to break down. Exposure to those people breeds tolerance quite naturally.
Since there is no way to know what truth in religion is, there is no justification for the dogma that God damns anyone for what they believe or disbelieve. That claim is bigotry and thus is evil.
At first glance, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, aka the Mormon Church, seems highly successful. It was founded in the early 19th Century and has spread over the world. Somewhat.
The term ‘Mormons’ most often refers to a member of the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), which is commonly called the Mormon Church. According to Latter Day Saint belief, Mormon is the name of the prophet who compiled the book of scripture known as the Book of Mormon. Also included are over 90 schismatic bodies. The map is dominated by the Americas. (Information source: Wikipedia)
So in the 150 years that the Church has been spreading, it has done little to become a world faith. Why not?
I’ve seen these missionaries in my community. They stick out like sore thumbs with their outfits, and thus give the impression that their own faith makes them and potential converts to their faith the same way. That’s bound to turn people off! You’d think they would dress more like everyone else to blend in and thus put people at ease!
The fact that Mormon missionaries are not paid for their work also must limit the number who would be willing and able to serve. I guess the Mormon leadership is too stingy.
BTW, whoever made this video didn’t want feedback on it:
The city was founded in 1847 by Brigham Young and his Mormon followers, who extensively irrigated and cultivated the arid valley. Due to its proximity to the Great Salt Lake, the city was originally named “Great Salt Lake City” – the word “great” was dropped from the official name in 1868. Although Salt Lake City is still home to the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), less than half the population of Salt Lake City proper is Mormon today.
Less than 50% of Salt Lake City’s residents are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is a much lower proportion than in Utah’s more rural municipalities; altogether, LDS members make up about 62% of Utah’s population.
Salt Lake City has been considered one of the top 51 “gay-friendly places to live” in the U.S. The city is home to a large, business savvy, organized, and politically supported gay community. Leaders of the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Utah, as well as leaders of Utah’s largest Jewish congregation, the Salt Lake Kol Ami, along with three elected representatives of the city identify themselves as gay. These developments have attracted controversy from socially conservative officials representing other regions of the state. A 2006 study by UCLA estimates that approximately 7.6% of the city’s population, or almost 14,000 people, are openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual, compared to just 3.7%, or just over 60,000 people, for the metropolitan area as a whole.
Though I’ve never been a Mormon, as both an ex-Christian and an ex-Baha’i I can identify strongly with people like Emily Pearson. When you leave a religious community you have identified with for so long and given so much of your life too, its like ripping out your own liver. But the resulting freedom you gain from the choice you make helps you grow as a person and makes you stronger in the end.
I wonder how many members of these Unitarian Universalist churches in Utah are ex-Mormons:
|First Unitarian Church|
|Number of Members: 356|
|South Valley UU Society|
|Number of Members: 140|
|UU Church of Ogden|
|Number of Members: 112|
|Utah Valley UU Fellowship|
|Cache Valley UUs|
|Number of Members: 47|
I counted about 655 UUs in Utah! That’s a lot of UUs in a supposedly conservative state dominated by one religious group! Most UU churches are also “Welcoming Congregations” meaning they accept as equals gays, lesbians, bisexuals, and transgenders.
As the old saying goes, what comes around goes around, so maybe its time the Unitarian Universalist Association sent hundreds of “missionaries” to Utah to encourage more people who are Mormons but questioning their faith to look at UU churches. And PAY those missionaries too!
And maybe someday, the state’s name will be spelled UUtah!
Uh, just kidding!
- How does one resign from the Mormon Church (wiki.answers.com)
In the summer and fall of 2004, I gradually came to the conviction that the Baha’i Faith was no longer worthy of my allegiance. Realizing that I had to remove myself from that community outright as a matter of honor, I wrote the following letter:
To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States,
After years of investigation and soul-searching, I have finally come to the sad understanding that I can no longer bring myself to believe in Baha’u’llah or any of the institutions established in His name, including the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice. I am totally convinced that the Baha’i Faith is doomed to fail in its mission to bring peace, unity, and a Golden Age to humanity and I therefore resign from my past membership in the Faith. Goodbye.
Sometimes, I see a fellow blogger make a statement so simple and so brilliant that I have to make a note of it and adopt it for myself. That’s exactly what I saw on the Blag Hag blog, made by Jen McCreight.
Take a look at this latest message from the Universal House of Justice, the supreme governing body of the (Haifan) Baha’i Faith, addressed to the Baha’is of the world:
For the record, I am very critical of the Christian religion. But my slamming it ends when I am dealing with a Christian who is open-minded enough to befriend and respect me in spite of my hostility towards his religion. Such a person, in turn, earns my respect. I only do battle with bigots among the Christians, not Christians in general. If I hated all Christians, I wouldn’t be a Unitarian Universalist (UU). UUs, even those that reject Christianity, are still Protestants. If not for the Protestant movement in Christianity, UUs as a denomination wouldn’t exist.
I spent one Sunday talking with a young member of my UU church. She told me about how she visited a Baptist church while wearing a necklace with a rainbow on it, the rainbow being a symbol of gay rights. She was then confronted by the church’s pastor who demanded why she wore such a necklace. The girl then said that she liked other girls, which caused the pastor to give her a lengthy diatribe about how she was headed for hell for being gay.
Later, the UU girl brought to her church a Christian girl who was wearing a cross around her neck. The Christian was confronted by an old UU man who was quite hostile to her and an argument erupted. The UU girl was very embarrassed.
I think that old man should have faced some sort of punishment for his rude behavior. While many people, including myself, regard UU churches as a refuge from Christian fundamentalism, that does not mean we can lable all non-UU Christians as members of the “enemy”. Such an attitude never fails to disgust me. And when a UU teenager is smart enough to recognize the hypocrisy of one of her own elders, that actually gives me hope that the next generation of UUs will be more enlightened and pull UUs in general away from any form of fanaticism, including that of atheists and other anti-Christians. That simply has no place among the UUs!
Behold the latest sex scandal among Christians:
First, take a look at this video:
For more details, see here:
Over 30,000 divisions?! Remember this warning from Jesus himself: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.” (Matthew 12:25) If his word is true, then the Church is useless. It has been divided against itself since at least 1054 AD, when there was a schism between the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Churches. The leaders of the two factions actually excommunicated each other!
Christians, Baha’is and members of other religions are more than willing to thrust themselves into the marketplace of ideas, even in places where they may not be appreciated. Maybe its time Unitarian Universalists (UUs) also got a little militant, instead of just sitting in their churches and waiting for refugees broken and disillusioned from authoritarian religion to come to their churches. If lost souls learn about us faster, they can also heal faster.
We can start by buying and wearing things that proclaim our liberal religion to the masses. Look at this fine collection from Cafepress:
And how about this collection from Zazzle?
And these too:
Here are a few good examples from Northern Sun:
You can even custom design some items here:
We may occationally find a Gospel tract left in restrooms for complete strangers to pick up (and perhaps discard). How about giving UU pamplets to people that we have earned our trust instead?
Indeed, just as Baha’is may do “firesides” in members’ homes, so UUs often do “Dinners for Nine” in their homes as well. If non-church members were invited to these, then they would be a great way to share the faith in an relaxed, informal setting.
So how about it? Wouldn’t our world be better if there were as many UUs in it as there are Roman Catholics or Muslims now? I think so!
The simple fact that Jesus prayed to God (the Father) in many passages shows that they are two separate entities. The Christians of Gentile background were so immersed in Paganism that they understood Jesus’ claim to be the “Son of God” as also being God, so they invented the Trinity. Note that the Jews did not consider Moses to be equal to God, even though he spoke with as much divine authority as Jesus would 1500 years later. If the early Christians had been content with Jesus as a new version of Moses, then they would not have had to come up with the absurdity of the Trinity to account for what Jesus was like. But they had to make Jesus look even greater than Moses to make their own religion look greater than Judaism. Good for public relations, bad for intellectual honesty.
No doubt, ”orthodox” Christians will point to passages where Jesus appeared to do things only God could do (forgive sins, accept worship) and insist that the Holy Spirit was also a person within the Godhead, but that only illustrates how unreliable the scriptures (and those who interpret them) are. God may be unknowable, but he does not suffer from a multiple personality disorder. The Jews said their god was ONE God. Either that is true or it isn’t. There is NO Trinity.
A direct Bible reference in which Jesus denies being God or equal with God is:
A certain ruler asked him, “Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
“Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.
So here we see Jesus specifically denying that he was God by correcting someone who addressed him as “good”, stating that only God was good. If Jesus had been God, he would not have responded that way.
Vernon Lawson sent me this via e-mail, and it is one of the best statements about the Bahai Faith I’ve ever seen:
There are limits to the expansion of the Baha’i faith, as currently practiced, and arguments can be made that the administrative order is not appropriate. However, if the Baha’i faith is ever going to grow beyond its current numbers, it is Baha’u’llah, and not Abdu’l Baha, Shoghi Effendi or the Universal House of Justice, who will reach the majority of people that currently have no knowledge of the Baha’i faith. He will reach them through the current believers. Yes, the majority of the current believers have great loyalty to a particular administrative order. However, their approach to spreading the word has proven particularly ineffective. If those more open minded people, who recognize that Baha’u’llah’s message is the message for today, spread the word more effectively that their administrative oriented breathren, then some day, maybe soon, the majority of Baha’is will not have this loyalty, or any concern about administrative orders. The ancient beauty is what matters here, not anything else. If we can reach just .2% of the human race, not exactly a tall order, then two thirds of Baha’is will not follow the current administrative order, and there could be some major changes in the way things are done. At 150 years into Christianity, the word had not gone far, primarily because they had not learned how to effectively market the faith yet. There is still hope for a significant growth of the faith. Go to any bookstore, and you’ll see more space dedicated to “New Age” than all the other religions combined. What else you’ll notice is NO Baha’i literature. That’s because the boys in Haifa are determined to control this thing. Fine, they have complete control of an insanely small order. If, and when, we ever get entry by troops, it will be because we blow this thing wide open. Nobody controls who, how, what gets translated, nobody controls distribution of the word. The word is for everyone. That’s when things can and will change.
Over the past two decades, I have gone from being a member of a Unitarian Universalist church, to being a member of the Haifa based Baha’i Faith, to returning to the Unitarian Universalist church. Now, it seems there has been found a way to merge the two religions and to use the internet to break the power of the “mainstream” Baha’i Faith and allow religious freedom to be a genuine concept for Baha’is to embrace among themselves.
Introducing the Unitarian Baha’is:
Those who are truly enlightened, who see religion as neither a prison nor a sword, but a home to encourage rather than impede freedom of thought, need to unite as much as possible to take a stand together against those who have the opposite view, who make religion destructive.