Imagine there's no countriesYes, folks, WE ARE A RELIGION. And I am tired of UUs glorifying the notion of no religion at church. Yes, I like the song, too, and you all sing it beautifully, but it's time to own up to the fact that we are a religion. But just as I "let" the song be sung in church, I was not ready to write a protest letter about the ad in the UU World.
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Then I opened up the UU World as it arrived today. Oh. Now I get it.
The advertisement appears on the inside of the front cover. It's the first thing that you see when you open the magazine, and it's a full-page ad. It says "Are you looking for a sign? How about a bus sign? Definitely not a sign from above." This is mixed with six images of their bus sign campaign*:
It then has information on how what their agency is, "a 501(c)(3) non-prophet [sic] association of atheists and agnostics working since 1978 to keep state and church separate," and some information about where to get more information, and a membership form.
I am a humanist and an agnostic, but I could choose to talk about this as an example of the "New Atheism" which I have preached against. While this is an example of the sort of atheism which is a fundamentalist atheism intolerant of theism and theists (i.e. comparing a belief in God to nursery tales), and which, as such, I believe has no place in our churches where we embrace our theological diversity, this is not even what I find the most egregious about this advertisement and it's placement in our magazine. (And I do like Katharine Hepburn's statement a lot better among these bus signs--it's an "I statement" with a positive message about what we can do, despite their choosing to emphasize the first part of the statement over the second.)
The problem is that impact of this advertisement is that you open up our denomination's major publication, and what you see first is an advertisement that seems to be saying, "What are you doing being a Unitarian Universalist? We'd like to free you from that." It really does, after all, come down to the name of their organization, the comparing of religion to slavery, and the "non-prophet" quip. This flies in the face of our new UUA President's words, seven pages later, which say:
The message of the election is clear: We Unitarian Universalists want our movement to change. We want to embrace the possibilities inherent in these uncertain times. We are not reconciled to being a declining part of American religious life. We have too much to offer. The world needs our prophetic and compassionate voice.If we have a prophetic voice to share, if there's a purpose to being Unitarian Universalists, and we want to grow our faith, what are we doing putting an advertisement in the very front of our magazine that mocks exactly what Peter Morales is calling us to? Why do we begin by cutting ourselves down before we can even hear his words of prophecy and power? Advertising money? It's not a good enough reason to cut down our message so effectively.
*A note to readers of the blog on Facebook: Images and videos from this blog do not, Funfortunately, come with the blog post when it feeds into facebook. To view them, you'll need to go to the blog post itself at http://revcyn.blogspot.com. In this case, you can also go to FFRF's images at http://ffrf.org/news/2009/madison_buscampaign.php.