UU and atheism

February 27, 2005

We had a guest minister whose sermon annoyed me so much that I walked out. He said that we need to have a common theological basis for our opinions! It was interesting to talk about it with other people. One person said that we can have a language of spirituality in our church. But allowing a language of spirituality is very different than prescribing what people can base their ideas on.

I found the sermon frightening in it’s uninclusiveness. Luckily our usual minister, who is a theist of some kind or another, includes the atheists and agnostics. In that same conversation my friend, who I love anyway, said that she wishes that people would walk far enough along a spiritual path so they would not have a knee jerk reaction to hearing the word “God.” I think she was implying that I was having a knee jerk reaction to God and thus am not as spiritually mature as she is. But, I wasn’t talking about my own spirituality when I spoke about not liking the sermon. I was talking about not liking the sermon because it was narrowly prescribing what UUs can think. I would not have liked it any better if he had described my exact beliefs, and sources for those beliefs, as uniqely legitimate.

I like the variety and inclusiveness of the UU community. It is radical to have a strong community and allow freedom of thought and belief and expression in it. It’s actually quite amazing and rare. It would be a shame for our UU community to throw that out for any set theology or creed no matter how perfect or wonderful it might be.


5 Responses to “UU and atheism”

  1. Rieux Says:

    Very well put. Boy, do I ever hear you regarding the way your friend misinterpreted your objection. Join the club!

    For reasons you can probably guess, I’d really like to know where (if at all) the sermon you understandably found so “annoying” can be found on the Web.

    If it’s not available, then darn.

  2. Philocrites Says:

    I’d love to hear more about the sermon that frustrated you. What did the minister say that set you off?

  3. Braidwood Says:


    Mainly I didn’t like that he explicitly said that UUs shouldn’t just base their opinions on “conscience” or other things, but on our theological heritage. It offended my free thinking self.

    I listened to the sermon again. Now I don’t why I thought of this sermon in connection with atheism. I think it’s because I surfed to Dr. Rieux’s site and his concerm about UUism becoming narrow inspired me to write.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Of course in walking out of the sermon, you basically demonstrated your consumeristic approach to church life, which goes something like: “If I disagree with what I hear, I make it a special point to disrespect the freedom of the pulpit and abandon the community.”

    How does one person preaching about their hope that UUs find a common theological foundation threaten your “free thinkingness?”

    It sounds a lot like you were having an allergic reaction to the mere notion that there could be a theological foundation to Unitarian Universalism. But isn’t that the very definition of RELIGION (without getting into incredibly lengthy hair-splitting about the origins of the word, “religion”)???

    I suggest this because it doesn’t sound to me like the minister suggested any *one* particular theological perspective, just the idea of theology itself. And you found that so reprehensible that you walked out.

  5. Rieux Says:

    Anonymous wrote:
    It sounds a lot like you were having an allergic reaction to the mere notion that there could be a theological foundation to Unitarian Universalism.

    Having listened to the sermon in question on the Web, I can assure you that you’re entirely mistaken. Perhaps you should find out what the minister actually said before attacking Braidwood for reacting negatively to it?

    But isn’t that the very definition of RELIGION … ?


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