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Monday, October 8, 2007

This week at Pete Stark's humanism.

Doug Muder attends a ceremony honoring Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) for acknowledging that he doesn't believe in God, but discovers that Stark can't understand what the fuss is about. Stark is one of two Unitarian Universalists currently serving in Congress. (Related from the UU World archives: Bill Murry on the emerging religious humanism and William F. Schulz on the history of humanism in the Unitarian Universalist tradition.)

In the news, Don Skinner reports that independent UU organizations are adapting and responding to the loss of affiliate status under new rules applied by the UUA Board earlier this year. Forty of 46 affiliates that applied to renew their status have been turned down; two applications will be reviewed at the board's October meeting. (Earlier coverage: "UUA board approves two affiliates," Tom Stites, 6.29.07.)

And Sonja Cohen rounds up another week of Unitarian Universalists in the media.

Copyright © 2007 by Philocrites | Posted 8 October 2007 at 8:19 AM

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Bill Baar:

October 8, 2007 10:14 AM | Permalink for this comment

I find atheists one of the most compelling cases for God's existence. I don't really feel the creator's hand at work in my life all that often, but then there are these folks who feel God's absence intensely, and they tell me about it, over and over like they've been jilted by a lover. There are plenty of other fish in the pond Pete, just keep trying.

Starks unbelief and Obama's Evangelicalism both seem dodges a politician prefers to ramble about instead of the hard business of issues and policy.

God judge what we do, and if Stark doubts God then he should be assured History will.


October 8, 2007 10:21 AM | Permalink for this comment

Bill, do you actually read articles before you come up with your responses?

Bill Baar:

October 8, 2007 10:39 AM | Permalink for this comment

Yep, I just don't care much for Politicans burdening me with their Theology.

My minister preachers don't tell me what you believe, tell me where you spend your money, and I'll tell you what you believe.

She makes sense. Same goes for Stark and Obama. Obama's having dinner with Rezko tells me what he believes. (And it's long established faith in Chicago politics!). They can both save their sermons.


October 8, 2007 10:52 AM | Permalink for this comment

Again, Bill, if you won't read the articles I link to, don't post your "response" on my blog.

As the article points out, Stark has never made an issue of his nontheism. A secularist group made an issue of it, and various humanist groups publicized it, and so — for the very first time in his 18 terms, Stark spoke about his theological views — in order to make his point that theology should not matter to politics.

Jeff W.:

October 8, 2007 11:04 AM | Permalink for this comment

I gotta agree with Chris on this one. No one who actually read the article at UU World would ever come away from it thinking about atheists who wear their unbelief on their sleeve. Stark only admitted to being a Humanist after a group sought him out and put the question to him directly, and he proceeded to tell a gathering of Humanists that unbelief was of little consequence to him--what matters is practical work to benefit people, something that can be done by believers or non-believers, in his opinion. It is pretty much the exact OPPOSITE of trying to burden someone with a politician's Theology.

Bill Baar:

October 8, 2007 05:25 PM | Permalink for this comment

Stark's been at this for years. This isn't knew unless you never new much about Stark. All of a sudden we get a lot of atheism books as best sellers and he starts riding the wave.

I remember meeting HHS Director Louis Sullivan in Chicago who's probably about the kindest, gentlist, most humane guy to ever hold a cabinent position in the US Gov.

Stark called him a disgrace to his race.

I have a long memory and don't believe much of anything Stark says. Stark could tell me Christ himself came down from the Mt Top to talk with thim and I'd still say Stark should go to heck.

Joe Stone:

October 8, 2007 07:41 PM | Permalink for this comment

Concerning the changes in affiliate status, I understand how groups are going to find difference with this ruling but I applaud the new discretion that is being exercised with groups wanting to moniker their causes under the UU banner.

Sometimes we UU's just have to say no. Novel idea huh? Bravo to the Board.

Bill Baar:

October 8, 2007 08:01 PM | Permalink for this comment

Re: Affiliates... I've been an often and on member of UU Churches since 1983 or so.. most of these affiliates I've never heard of. Perhaps losing the comfort of affiliation status will push these groups to reach out with maybe a clearer vision of what they're about. Considering anyone can publish now a days, the obstacles aren't big.

Re: theology should not matter to politics. Which is indeed a sort of theology in my book. As someone who feels closest to the humanist tradition withing UUism (I'm from Chicago and the home of Western Unitariansim and grew up listening to the old Corliss Lemont inspired folks from Hyde Park), I find Stark the absolete worse choice of vessels to convey that tradition.

Dudley Jones:

October 9, 2007 12:06 PM | Permalink for this comment

Speaking of atheism, I wonder why the UUA beats out the Ethical Culture folks in competing for their attention. Perhaps some sociologist of religion can enlighten me on this.


October 9, 2007 04:30 PM | Permalink for this comment

I agree with you that UUs need to learn better how to say "no". However, if you look at the list of groups that were denied affiliate status, it is groups like the UU Buddhist Fellowship, HUUmanist, Psy Symposium, CUUPs, UUs for Jewish Awareness and the UU Christian Fellowship.

Some of these groups are older than the UUA. Some of these groups are the UUA's connection to the wider religious world. What was the point in denying these groups?


October 10, 2007 08:28 PM | Permalink for this comment

New UUA trustee Linda Laskowski, who has set up a blog to help her communicate with the Pacific Central District she represents, writes about a recent visit to a Starr King School for the Ministry class on UU polity.

She says the students disagreed with the Board's new rules for independent affiliate organizations; they also talked about the changes to funding for theological education, but Laskowski doesn't say much about that.

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