Todd’s Thoughts June 2019

In his 2013 book, Regaining Balance, Michael Werner, a Unitarian Universalist and past President of the American Humanist Association, writes, “Unitarian Universalism has been taken over by a narrow ideology of toleration, the historical focus on rational religion has been abandoned, and the lack of purpose and focus is resulting in a sharp decline in membership.” He further points out that in 1989, 73-percent of UUs considered themselves Humanists and atheists. Today it’s only 40 percent. As a Humanist and atheist, this drop doesn’t bother me as much as its associated loss of our commitment to reason does. No matter what we believe, I think it’s important we be thoughtful and treat each other reasonably. We should be able to support our beliefs with sound reason and objective evidence (which isn’t the same as rationalizing them), and object to beliefs that aren’t so supported without being called-out as intolerant. “Soothing words have replaced challenging thought,” Werner says, “Supportive words are prized over critical intelligence.” I have become increasingly troubled during the past few years about this and other trends in the Unitarian Universalist Association and intend to address some my concerns during the UUA General Assembly in Spokane later this month. I suspect these efforts will help others who have been feeling similarly but have been afraid, due to the suppressive technologies of PC, Safetyism, and Identity politics, to say anything. I’m also likely to evoke some hostility my direction from those who employ these same techniques to quiet dissenters. I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but the thought of not speaking up when I should have and could have feels even worse. 

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