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Monday, May 5, 2003

Dogmatism watch.

Here's something refreshing: some sharp candor about the dogmatism that lurks in Unitarian Universalist circles. Eric Johnson, a seminarian and Army chaplain, not only points out the pervasive ideological conformity within liberal religious communities, but has some really interesting things to say about it — on the UUA's Web site!

The most appalling thing that I have witnessed in this war was not the violations of our first principle against Iraqis. The fact is that there has never been a war where more attention was paid to avoiding civilian casualties and suffering. The Iraqi people were thought of, worried about, prayed over, and supported far more by the people of the United States than they ever were under the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein. Well before the fighting began and all through the actual conflict, I never heard one negative word said against the Iraqi people. Contrast that with WWII where Japanese Americans were thrown into internment camps. Think of all the slang words for the "enemies" of the United States in past wars, "kraut", "jap", "gook", and as recently as the first Gulf war, "ragheads."
No, the ugliness, the violations of our first principle that I personally experienced were from Unitarian Universalists against others. Prime amongst the targets is the President of the United States and members of his administration. This is not so surprising since the vast majority of Unitarian Universalists are politically liberal. This war, however, has revealed something that has been lurking in our churches for a long time — that Unitarian Universalism is no longer, in my opinion, a creedless faith. Liberal political beliefs have so infused our liberal religious beliefs that there is a very real doctrinal test for inclusion and acceptance in many, if not most, of our congregations — you must be politically liberal.

I've also pointed to the danger of political orthodoxy among religious liberals. And shortly after 9/11 John Buehrens urged UUs to avoid a bitter fight over U.S. military action in UU World: "Unitarian Universalism can be a healing presence in society to the extent that we model listening patiently to one another's perspectives, speaking temperately, and respecting one another's ministries and rights of conscience." I hope a lot of Unitarian Universalist leaders read Johnson's essay.

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 5 May 2003 at 5:39 PM

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