Here at the I Am UU project, we believe that the best way to ensure things like compassion, justice, and the democratic process are affirmed and promoted in the world is to build up institutions to make it happen. Those institutions pool the resources of many and put them to their best use (we hope), so that everyone’s own best is utilized in fulfilling the shared vision.
The institution we give most of our attention to is Unitarian Universalism. We believe strongly in the power of people covenanted together into congregations and in congregations covenanted together in several different ways. We believe this is important because Liberal Religion fulfills a set of needs in the world. Liberal Religion is needed in the world today.
There are institutions opposed to our liberal ideals; institutions that believe in restricting access to ideas and information. Fundamentalist, authoritarian, and regressive forces in the world want to keep people in line through intimidation, ignorance, and/or division. They draw power from fear, or misinformation, or from telling their members that membership makes them superior.
Our religion teaches that no one is useless, no one is hopeless, and no one is beyond rehabilitation. It teaches that we can use compassion and restorative justice to heal some of the most grievous emotional and cultural wounds. It teaches that goodness prevails over hate and fear by being the better option. We look at the history of the world and see that people have always worked for more justice and inclusion. That gives us hope, and hope is powerful.
Our hope is for everyone. That is not a true of every religion, much less secular institutions.
Unitarian Universalism is a religion, and any authority, or stability it has is rooted in this designation. We can stand against the worst parts of fundamentalism, no matter what source. To do so, we must not surrender religion to the fundamentalists. We keep them from consolidating that power; having religious terms and concepts to themselves. The strange thing about fundamentalism and liberalism in religion is that liberal use of that language and those ideas weakens fundamentalists, but their use only hurts us if we allow them to control the definitions –
We are not hurt at all by sharing.
This project promotes liberal religion in all its power and glory. Moreover, it promotes religion in liberals in whatever forms they can get something out of. Unitarian Universalism doesn’t demand that they be Christian or Buddhist, or even theists. We also don’t demand that anyone give up those traditions and practices if they are served by them. The Liberally Religious don’t need to agree on all the details, because sharing those ideas does not hurt us. Liberal Religion can afford to share, and is strengthened by cooperation. We encourage the use of religious language because it strengthens our institutions and helps promote our values and principles.
So, we discuss liberal religion in religious terms, because it is a form of resistance against the rise of fundamentalism and authoritarianism. It allows us to work with others and to build relationships. It helps us strengthen institutions that effect the kinds of change we believe in.
If that’s not for you, that’s ok. We’re fine with you following along for whatever does move you. We are ok with you ignoring whatever you find no value in. We will not stop doing all of the above, in spite of the people who would like liberal religion to surrender our language or our concepts. We will continue to resist with all the tools we have available.
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