of the AUC obviously can, and do, get involved in politics. But
the AUC corporately speaking will not do so (except in narrow
circumstances where religious practice is directly affected).
The United States is a democratic and pluralistic society in which
everyone is free to participate in the political process and where there
are many tens of thousands of political, trade association, labor, and
other organizations engaged in the business of influencing the political
process. There is no need to create another political organization.
Religious organizations should focus primarily on religion where they
presumably have something special to offer and where they bring special
competencies to bear.
Moreover, when religious organizations become inextricably intertwined
in the political life of the day, they become central players in
attacking the liberal principle of separation of church and state.
One need not look far to find examples of the suffering caused by
failure to adhere to that principle. When God is invoked in
political debate, compromise becomes difficult . Yet compromise is
an absolutely necessary part of a liberal democratic republic. War
and violence are, as often as not, the endgame of religion becoming too
central to a nation's political life.
Religious organizations are failing to achieve their purpose when,
as is the case with the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), the
political dominates and the religious is almost an afterthought.
Within the UUA, political action (also known as 'social witness')has
almost replaced the religion. The AUC is dedicated to the
proposition that there is much more to Unitarianism than that.
There are a myriad of outlets for individual or congregational impulses
to become engaged in politics. There are very few people or
organizations promoting the Unitarian religious tradition. Thus,
the AUC will do the work that others are not doing. Mem
In the context of a totalitarian state, and the carnage that they wreck
(whether in Germany, the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, Cuba, Taliban
Afghanistan or elsewhere), there is no doubt (at least in my mind) that
religious people and religious institutions in those countries should be
involved in the resistance. The wrongs being committed are simply
too great a violation of any reasonable religious principles. How
to best resist is a more difficult and nuanced question.
Naturally, reasonable people may differ over the most effective means of
But the bottom line is that we live in the United States, a country
blessed by the rule of law and unsurpassed freedom. The gap
between our two main politic parties is small when placed in either an
international or historical context. A commitment to preserve our basic
freedoms is shared by the vast majority of Americans.
The Unitarian religion simply does not dictate whether one should be a
Republican or a Democrat, a political conservative or a political
liberal. American Unitarianism should not be in the business of
trying to argue otherwise. To argue otherwise is to confuse
political convictions with religious convictions and to unnecessarily
limit the appeal of Unitarianism, the religion, to the broader public.
The central problem with Unitarian Universalism today is precisely the
lack of unifying religious
convictions within the UUA and many of its congregations. A
"religion" that attempts to serve the religious needs of
atheist humanists and theists (and pagan polytheists for that matter)
can not succeed in adequately serving the spiritual needs of any of
these groups. They simply do not share religious convictions.
Atheists and theists are, quite obviously, in diametrically opposed
having religious convictions as a unifying force, the UUA is thus forced
to find something to unify its people and that something has, in
practice, been left-wing political action. In the final analysis
however, neither God-believing people nor atheist humanists will feed
their spirit in an environment that necessarily suppresses their
religious or ethical voice in an attempt to avoid divisive religious
The UUA has, in effect, jettisoned its mission as the steward of the
Unitarian tradition. It has done so by choosing not to uphold the
core of that religious tradition very nearly since its inception in
1961. Now, a vast proportion, perhaps even a majority, of people
in UUA churches are avowedly hostile to the idea of God and virulently
hostile toward Christianity, even Unitarian Christianity.
The AUC will avoid this trap because our religious principles, while
broad and inclusive, are sufficiently substantive to serve as a religious
basis around which to unify. For that reason, the AUC can remain a
religious organization. We can find unity and fellowship in our
religious faith. We will not be compelled to avoid religion as divisive
and to seek solace someplace other than religion.
Most mature, broad-based religious organizations accommodate Republicans
and Democrats, Conservatives and Liberals, without implying that a
particular political party or political position (in the American
context) is a predicate to being a member in good
standing of the religion. The Methodists have President G.W. Bush
and Senator Hillary Clinton. The Catholics have Mayor Rudy Guliani and
Senator Pat Moynihan. The Baptists have former President Clinton
and Senate Minority Leader Trent Lott.
Although Unitarian Universalism is largely unable to do so, American
Unitarianism is able to accommodate Republicans and Democrats,
Conservatives and Liberals.