Below is a sermon preached by Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Spokane, Washington, on December 4, 2022. The sermon is entitled “The End of an Era: The Dismantling of Unitarian Universalism by the Illiberal Left.” You may share this video on your social media. You are also invited to download the sermon.
Rev. Eklof traces the many changes within Unitarian Universalism, indicating how the denomination is no longer anchored to its historic liberal religious foundation. He offers that it is now time to consider a new approach for the organization of North America’s liberal religious communities.
We assume there are many opinions, observations, and questions. We ask that you use the Comment section below to support a healthy conversation. We are also sponsoring another Fifth Principle Discussion Forum with Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof.
The Discussion Forum with Rev. Eklof is scheduled for Thursday, December 15 at 8:00 PM Eastern for 90 minutes.
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Follow this Pre-registration link to obtain the Zoom link to this Discussion Forum on December 15, 2022, from 8:00 to 9:30 PM Eastern (7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific).
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Hope about the future of liberal religion would be good. It’s an insane world when the Catholic Church seems to be the most liberal organized religion around. Sigh.
My greatest concern is whether the UUA will allow the new association access to its resources. Will there be a way for us to train and credential ministers on our own? Of course this will come into play if we feel that ministers should be trained differently than they are currently being trained in the 2 existing seminaries.
While the NAUA will be encouraging UU congregations and individuals to maintain their affiliation with the UUA, I feel certain that the UUA will not be pleased that the NAUA has been formed. I suspect the UUA will do what it can to impede anything the NAUA does.
How about the NAUUA? There are many Universalist (Unitarians) who, for reasons of historical merge in 1961, want to stay engaged.
I am disappointed but not surprised that Universalists are being left out. Eklof was not supportive of Universalism in Gadfly. That said, UUA trademarked “Unitarian Universalist”, although not until 2010, and it was renewed last year. It seems to me trademarking the association name, not the generic term, would have been more appropriate.
But I would far rather see congregations and ministers stay and resolve the differences, rather than split. Why should liberals abandon the heritage?
While Ekloff did promote the separation of Unitarians from Universalists in “The Gadfly Papers,” Universalists and other liberal religions or liberal (classical not political) individuals are going to be encouraged to join NAUA
About twenty years ago, an alternative organization was formed entitled the American Unitarian Conference (AUC). I recall that they were active for a while,but I haven’t heard from them in several years. They had a website available until recently (tried to reach it today but wasn’t able to do so). They do have a facebook page, and a short wikipedia article. I’m wondering if anybody else here has heard of this organization or knows about it.
I used to be very active in the AUC and it had a presence for about 10+ years but is slowly died and control passed to on minister who IMHO drove it into the ground. I left UUism a long time ago as it moved way too Left and intolerant.
I am pleased that Reverend Eklof has formed the association.
I have not yet listened so I can’t comment on the sermon, but I wish all sides of the issues would not see this as a liberal vs. left debate. I see it as a debate between mainstream liberalism, which is not anticapitalist, and an antidemocratic elitist tendency in academia that views justice only in terms of how various forms of identity relate to power. While the latter is not typical liberalism and it occasionally it claims to be anti-capitalist, it has no class analysis or willingness to engage social justice in a way that the voices of non-academics or… Read more »
Even though I agree that the conflict is not between Leftists and Liberals, but between mainstream liberals and elitist academic liberals, I would still argue that Rev. Eklof’s language is good enough, as he is speaking of a cultural liberalism rather than the economic form. Within that context, one can speak of “liberal” and “illiberal” policies, praxis, behavior, and tendencies. And one can see motley mixes and strange bedfellows on both sides of the line. You can have economic conservatives and socialists on one side, and lifestyle anarchists and corporatists on the other.
And truth becomes irrelevant. Power tends to have a hostile relationship with the truth – things are as they command them to be seen. And identitarians are all about lived experience where facts and evidence are micro-aggressions and epistemic oppressions. So it becomes a post-truth power struggle and everyone loses.
Exactly. The illiberal people with identities expect us to replace our logic for their illogical experience.
Thank you. Well put. I have been thinking for some years now that framing every issue in terms of power is exactly what we shouldn’t be doing.
Thank you, Rev. Eklof for both your hopeful sermon and helping to form the NAUA. After grieving for months for the loss of my former congregation (that parallels UUA dogmatism and bullying), the UUA and my UU identity, I had given up. Watching this sermon, reading the transcript and posting it onto my Facebook page generated the first “maybe all is not lost” hope in 16 months.
I would be interested in seeing a transcript of this sermon. Can you point me to where I could find that online?
John, go to the top of this discussion. See the hyperlinked text to download the sermon.
Thank you for your efforts to promote viewpoint diversity
How may we join or otherwise support the North American Unitarian Association?
Barbara, more information will be available in the January/ February time frame. Updates will be posted to this site
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