The True Believers: By David Cycleback

Unitarian Universalism is in Danger of Becoming Just Another Church

( David Cycleback Ph.D. (ברוך בן אברהם ושרה) is a cognitive scientist and philosopher specializing in brain function and its relationship to knowledge, beliefs, and behavior. He is Director of Center for Artifact Studies, a member of the British Royal Institute of Philosophy, and the author of ten university textbooks including Cognitive Science of Religion and Belief Systems, and Philosophy of Artificial Intelligence. His 2021 book Brain Function and Religion was a Montaigne Medal Honoree recognizing “the most thought-provoking books that either illuminate, progress, or redirect thought.” He writes the substack blog Big Ideas.)

My late mother, who died in a car accident in 2022, was a longtime civil rights activist and Title IX gender equity law pioneer. An independent thinker and politically left rabble-rouser, she joined the local Unitarian Universalist congregation after reading UU’s Principles and learning that it accepted atheists. With its welcoming of viewpoint diversity and freedom of belief, she said UU was the only church to which she could belong. She valued and was active in the congregation’s social justice work which included gay and lesbian civil rights, immigrant, and American Indian justice, and supporting the neighborhood’s poor.

She quit her congregation and Unitarian Universalism in 2019 after seeing the increasing intolerance, dogmatism, and authoritarianism in the national Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Those were things UUs were supposed to stand up against. She was appalled at the censorship and that ministers were punished for expressing unapproved opinions. She explained, “UU is no longer UU. It has become like other religions. I don’t like how the UUA tries to control what are supposed to be independent congregations, and I don’t go for dogma. UU has also become mean.” She compared the UUA’s new Robin DiAngelo-inspired ideology to Calvinism.

She was not the only member of her congregation to express these sentiments, nor the only member to quit the congregation due to the UUA. Another member who quit called the current UUA “a cult.” At another congregation, lifelong UU Chris Brimmer, said in his farewell ‘Why I Resigned’ sermon: “The Church writ large has become a labyrinth of language traps, purity tests, and half-baked ideas that have become sacred cows that are above critical examination. I cannot be the member of a church that is now just like any other church, with dogma above questioning and a hierarchy that conducts heresy trials.”

Background on the current UUA

If you are not up to speed about what’s going on in the UUA in Boston, I recommend you listen to the following Blocked and Reported podcast episode:
“How the Unitarian Universalist Church Melted Down”

I also recommend you read UU Minister Rev. Munro Sickafoose’s critique of the UUA and UU Seminaries, “Standing on the Side of Power.”

Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer

My mother said that everyone in the current UUA should read Eric Hoffer’s The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements. A landmark study of fanatical political, social, and religious movements, The True Believer is one of the twentieth century’s most important and influential social psychology books, as relevant today as when it was published in 1951.

And my mother was correct. My work involves studying the world’s religions and belief systems, and the national UUA has transformed into a textbook example of an authoritarian, dogmatic organization. A congregant who quit said that the UUA leaders aren’t revolutionaries as they describe themselves, but “reactionaries,” trying to return the church to Puritanism.

One does not have to be a theist to exhibit religious-like thinking. Political columnist Andrew Sullivan writes that “everyone has a religion.” Islamic studies professor Shadi Hamid writes, “American faith, it turns out, is as fervent as ever; it’s just that what was once religious belief has now been channeled into political belief.”

Everyone has their necessarily imperfect ideology and subjective way of viewing the world. The problem is when it is presented as dogma. People and groups who think they’ve discovered “the one true universal truth” and “the one correct way of viewing the world” and that everyone must follow it are tragic stories as old as humankind. Sadly, as it is an innate trait in human psychology, such fanaticism is found within every new generation. We see it within today’s Unitarian Universalism.

Fanatical, dogmatic behavior, such as exhibited within the current UUA, exists in both the extreme political left and right and is a matter of psychology not politics. An Emory University study showed that far-left authoritarians share key personality traits with the far-right. A University of Montana study showed that leftists are just as likely to be dogmatic authoritarians as those on the right. Hoffer wrote that fanatical movements are in many ways interchangeable and that fanatical people usually belong to multiple fanatical movements throughout their lives.

Hoffer wrote: “Though they seem to be at opposite poles, fanatics of all kinds are actually crowded together at one end. It is the fanatic and the moderate who are poles apart and never meet. The fanatics of various hues eye each other with suspicion and are ready to fly at each other’s throat. But they are neighbors and almost of one family. They hate each other with the hatred of brothers.”

Hoffer wrote that the movements tend to attract the same types of people. These include the frustrated, misfits, outcasts, and those unfulfilled with their lives and searching for a higher cause. Movements offer them a sense of belonging, purpose, and identity that they lack. It also attracts the greedy who take advantage for their own gain.

Hoffer wrote that the members of mass movements must be given something to believe wholeheartedly, that will subsume them, and that seems to give an answer explaining the whole of society and world. This can include the Bible, Quran, liberty, communism, one’s country, or, as in UU, a socio-political ideology.

The UUA has adopted a remarkably Abrahamic-style ideology

The Unitarian Universalist Association has adopted as dogma an extreme, rigid version of critical theory that resembles a fundamentalist Evangelical religion. The ideology is full of Abrahamic ideas of original sin (white people are described as inherently racist), spiritual awakening (“woke”), blasphemy, thought and expression control, suspension of disbelief, believers versus unbelievers, moral versus immoral, repentance, admission of sin, submission to authority, binary thinking, and calling those who do not fully subscribe to their theories immoral. The UUA publications, UU leaders and ministers, the ministers often dressed up remarkably like Christian Priests in robes and clerical collars, regularly describe it in Christian terms, calling their work “liberation theology.”

Former Unitarian Universalist Sasha Kwapinski wrote, “The comparison with religious fundamentalism is spot on. I turned away from fundamentalist Christianity decades ago largely due to their hammering about how we are (supposedly) collectively guilty or culpable due to Adam’s transgression in the Garden of Eden. Collective ‘white guilt’ is little more than an updated, politically correct remake of the same fictional concept.” Clinical psychologist and ex-Evangelical Christian Valerie Tarico Ph.D. wrote that the social justice ideology the UUA uses is remarkably like the Evangelical Christianity she left. She wrote, “To a former Evangelical, something feels too familiar—or better said, a bunch of somethings feel too familiar.”

Further Reading:

Extreme Social Justice Activism as a Religion

The Righteous and the Woke – Why Evangelicals and Social Justice Warriors Trigger Me in the Same Way by Valerie Terico

Organizational capture of the church

Unitarian Universalism has been a liberal church premised on independent and self-determining congregations, bottom-up governance, and democratic processes. However, the UUA has recently been organizationally captured by a small group of activists who wish to transform UU into a top-down dogmatic religion and has worked to dismantle democratic processes.

In “How the UUA Manufactures Consent,” UU Minister Rev. Gary Kowalski details how power was consolidated in the Board of Trustees, making the UUA centrally controlled by a small, insular group. Kowalski writes, “The switch to policy governance ended by making our Association less democratic, less diverse and more centrally controlled,” “General Assembly is largely a spectacle where delegates wave their yellow ballots on cue,” and “When given unchecked authority, automatic ascent to electoral victory, and the power to judge, punish, and control the livelihoods of others who stand in their way, while cloaking themselves in a mantle of moral purity, even the best human beings succumb to their worst instincts.”

Rev. Sickafoose writes, “They abuse power to serve their vision. A noble vision in many ways. But abusing power is abusing power, no matter who does it. It isn’t different this time, and it isn’t different because of who is abusing power.” Miles Fidelman, a professional policy analyst and systems architect, said, “Nothing new here, for any student of history and organizational dynamics. Pretty standard practice for any cabal. What’s worse, is they generally think they’re doing the right thing, for the right reasons. Also, not at all surprising is how easily folks go along with it. Google ‘useful idiots.’”

Further Reading:

How The UUA Manufactures Consent by Rev. Gary Kowalski (link not found )
How the Unitarian Universalist Association Became an Illiberal Democracy ( link not found )

Attempts to Control Members

Dogmatic churches work to create conformity in their members. They use a variety of hard and soft methods including punishment, propaganda, and social pressure. The UUA controls information to laity and congregations. UU World removed letters to the editor and has stated that it will only publish articles that support the UUA’s new ideology. Ministers who have spoken out in dissent have been censured or removed from positions.

The two UU seminaries have become dogmatic, teaching seminary students what to think rather than how to think. The Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA) exerts firm ideological control over ministers. A minister wrote, “I think the biggest danger to local congregations is the takeover of seminaries and the credentialing of clergy. Newly minted clergy are overwhelmingly indoctrinated and, if they aren’t, they will have a hard time being accepted as UU clergy.”

Following the new UUA orthodoxy, many newly ordained ministers work to stifle dissent in congregations. They often platform only the UUA-approved agenda and censor, punish, and even expel dissenting congregants. A few ministers have promoted the idea that dissenting congregants should be re-educated or asked to leave.

The General Assembly has banned dissenting groups and kicked out voting delegates from discussions. In an open letter to the UUA Co-moderator, Retired UU minister Denise Tracy wrote, “The entire meeting felt like a giant manipulation. One aim: convince (or intimidate) attendees to accept this new (or expanded) point of view,” and “People were afraid to speak up because of how they were feeling and how others were being treated. If love is supposedly at the center of this new Article II, it was not evident. In fact, the entire meeting felt unloving, unsafe, and bordered on an abusive environment.”

Video: A UU Minister’s Warning to a UU Congregation – YouTube

Undermining Reason, Critical Thinking, and Individualism

Fundamentalist religions work to produce mass thought conformity by preventing independent thinking and requiring irrational leaps of faith. UU author Jim Aikin wrote, “It is a common characteristic of religious cults, as well as ideological ones, that individuality and critical thinking must be suppressed. Individuality and critical thinking are threats to the obedience required of devotees.” Hoffer wrote, “Mass movements aggressively promote the use of doctrines that elevate faith over reason and serve as fact-proof screens between the faithful and the realities of the world. The doctrine of the mass movement must not be questioned under any circumstances.”

Current UUA leaders and ministers have worked to suppress and demean individualism, freedom of belief, and speech. UUA activists argue that reason and logic are harmful and that freedom of speech and belief are oppressive. White UUs have been told they must automatically accept the subjective expressions of UUs of color, and that questioning these expressions and even asking for evidence is harmful and racist. Two UUA leaders stated that the central UU tenet of freedom of belief is a “throwback.” Aikin wrote, “Our national organization, the UUA, has been taken over by a group who are not committed in any way to individual liberty. They feel it’s old-fashioned.”

Ideological language

Authoritarian political, social, and religious movements enforce the strict use of ideological jargon to try to create ideological and political conformity. Tarico writes that the jargon the UUA and ministers use is remarkably similar in nature and purpose to the insider jargon of Christian Evangelicals: “Like many other groups, the saved and the Woke signal insider status by using special language. An Evangelical immediately recognizes a fellow tribe member when he or she hears phrases like Praise the Lord, born again, backsliding, stumbling block, give a testimony, a harvest of souls, or It’s not a religion; it’s a relationship. The Woke signal their wokeness with words like intersectionality, cultural appropriation, trigger warning, microaggression, privilege, fragility, problematic, or decolonization.

The language of the Woke may have more meaningful real-world referents than that of Evangelicals, but in both cases, jargon isn’t merely a tool for efficient or precise communication as it is in many professions—it is a sign of belonging and moral virtue.”

In her essay “Language as an Instrument of Totalitarianism,” Alexandra Kapelos-Peters writes, “In order to maintain its power, George Orwell claims, a political regime uses language to produce a reduced state of individual consciousness in its residents. As it structures and places limits on ideas that an individual is capable of forming, language is established as a type of mind-control for the masses. The primary purpose of political language is to eliminate individual thought and expression.” A church that speaks in this jargon is speaking in an ideology. Those who expect you to use their ideological language are trying to create ideological conformity.

Further reading:

Language as an Ideological Tool
Othering, Defaming, and Shaming “Unbelievers”

Punishing, publicly shaming, and defaming perceived wrong thinkers, such as what happens these days within UU, is a hallmark of fundamentalist religions and authoritarian political and social movements. Hoffer observed that fanatical movements identify a common enemy. Directing hatred and aggression towards this target, the movement strengthens its internal cohesion and provides a sense of purpose for its members. He wrote, “Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a god, but never without a belief in a devil.”

UUA leaders and zealous ministers have publicly ad hominem attacked outspoken ministers and laity who have spoken out against the new dogma and intolerance. Longtime social and racial justice activists and scholars who disagree with the UUA’s approach have been smeared as racists, transphobes and upholders of white supremacy. Politically left UUs who dissent have been falsely characterized as alt-right MAGA supporters and compared to white nationalists. The very idea that UU would have alt-right members is ludicrous. UU would be the last church the alt-right would want to join.

In a 2017 open letter to UUs, former UUA President Rev. Peter Morales wrote, “This is what an inquisition looks like. A rigid ideology takes hold and any dissent is seen as disloyalty and collusion with the forces of evil. People are removed from their positions. People are shunned. Many are intimidated into silence.”

In his essay “The UU Inquisition,” UU Jim Anderson wrote, “The point is not to burn heretics, it is to create a climate of fear by burning heretics. Fear is the preferred tool of authoritarians everywhere; it creates an environment where everyone, at bare minimum, is compelled to put on at least a facade of obedience.”

Some members of my mother’s congregation said they were scared to express their views for fear of being called racists. A member of another congregation wrote, “My beloved UU Church has become a cult. People are emotionally and verbally abusing other people who question and disagree with them.”

Tarico writes: “Shaming and shunning have ancient roots as tools of social control, and they elevate the status of the person or group doing the shaming. Maoist struggle sessions (forced public confessions) and Soviet self-criticism are examples of extreme shaming in social-critical movements seeking to upend traditional power structures. So, it should be no surprise that some of the Woke show little hesitation when call-out opportunities present themselves—nor that some remain unrelentingly righteous even when those call-outs leave a life or a family in ruins.”

Further reading:

The Dangers of Demonizing Opponents
Logical Fallacies: What they are and why people use them

Echo chambers

Dissent and heterodoxy are essential for all organizations, from businesses to academic fields. Echo chambers are dangerous, leading to bigotry and intolerance, self-righteous arrogance, and false beliefs. Communities where members feel unable to express their truths are unhealthy and dysfunctional. Social psychologist Jonathan Haidt says that organizations and areas that stifle dissent and heterodoxy will assuredly make bad choices.

UU used to have a wider and healthier political diversity and included police officers, blue-collar workers, soldiers, and Republicans. However, over the years, UUs have become politically narrow, with most UUs being politically progressive. UU spaces are often political and ideological bubbles. Sasha Kwapinski wrote, “I left Unitarian Universalism when I came to realize that it is little more than a left-wing political advocacy group masquerading as a religion,” and “They talk a lot about tolerance and diversity—until you disagree with them.” Someone who quit my mother’s congregation said, “I thought UUs were different, but they can be as self-righteous as Mormons.”

Educational psychologist Patricia Mohr Ph.D. wrote, “All humans are susceptible to groupthink, echo chambers, and simple lazy thinking. UUs are no exception. That’s what enlightened thinking is supposed to guard against. Reason, science, tolerance, avoiding logical fallacies, and the demand for evidence are critical thinking faculties. When they are demeaned, you get bad decisions—and that’s where we’re going in the UUA!” Retired UU Minister Rev. Dr. Davidson Loehr and Jim Aikin have written that UU is susceptible to falling for political dogmatism because of the political homogeneity and that it has no core theological belief.

Further reading:

Echo Chambers and Epistemic Bubbles

A psychologist compares the current UUA to a cult

Julie H. Hotard Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and disinformation expert who follows Unitarian Universalism. While I was working on this essay, she wrote me the following:

“The White Supremacy Culture ideologues who are now leading UUA show characteristics of a cult. Their actions fit into renowned cult expert Steve Hassan’s BITE model, which describes how cults do destructive mind control. Cult leaders use strategies to control Behavior, Information, Thoughts and Emotions. “Reports from the 2023 UU General Assembly show how UUA leaders shamed, blamed, censored and scapegoated those who disagreed–for example, by calling people racist and sexist who objected to the anti-democratic nature of the one-candidate election for UUA president.

“Here is how this fits into the BITE model. Cult leaders change Behavior so that dissenters don’t speak up–by reprimanding attendees for disagreeing and by throwing people out of chat groups. UUA leaders also restrict Information–for example, information given to congregations about the Article 2 Revision. “UUA leaders also distort Information–for example, by claiming that the GA vote to approve the language of the A2R was just a vote to ‘continue discussion.’

“These strategies of shaming, blaming, censoring, scapegoating and restricting information had a big impact on GA attendees–and also at local congregations where they are used. Applying the BITE model, one can see how these strategies affected GA attendees–in ways that affected their Behavior, Information access, Thoughts and Emotions. That gave UUA leaders a large amount of power.”

UU laity

Most UU laity are not ideological zealots or political extremists. Most believe in religious liberalism and its tenants of freedom of belief and expression. However, most laity in congregations across the country are apathetic about UUA politics and ignorant of its potentially significant impact on not only UU but their congregations.

While UUs like to think of themselves as independent thinkers and open-minded, I find them to be as much of group thinkers and crowd followers as in any religious denomination. At both General Assembly and in congregations’ annual meetings, UU laity are notorious rubber stampers, normally approving whatever is presented to them. One congregant told me that about forty percent of his congregation is ignorant about the UUA, and the other sixty percent go along with whatever the UUA tells them.

My mother was appalled by the apathy of so many congregants about their own church. Some congregations do not send delegates to the General Assembly, and some do not seriously consider how their delegates are picked. This contributes to the undemocratic and non-representational nature of General Assemblies.

UUs tend to be introverted, conflict-avoidant, and go along to get along. Many treat their congregations as social clubs with community peace as the primary goal. Combined with their apathy and ignorance about the UUA topics, this makes them ripe for manipulation and UU ripe for organizational capture by small groups. Indifferent, uninformed masses can not only be unwittingly swept-up in but enable fanatical movements. Ministers can be as much crowd followers and group thinkers as laity. Retired minister, professor, and UU historian Rev. Richard Trudeau said, “(T)here are lots of ministers who don’t agree with what the UUA is pushing but they don’t want to get in trouble with the UUA. There’s a lot of problems of integrity.”
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Unitarian Universalism has been a rare if not unique church. It has eschewed dogma and creeds and promoted itself as a place of people with different beliefs coming together and learning from one another. Many UUs rejected the dogmatic, controlling churches of their youth, and my mother was not the only one to say UU was the only church to which she could belong. Why some would want to transform UU into just another dogmatic, controlling church is beyond me.

Hoffer cautioned against the dangers of blind allegiance and wrote that people must maintain a sense of autonomy, and use critical thinking to avoid being drawn into fanatical movements.
Critical thinking and freedom of belief and expression are essential for healthy democracies, organizations, communities, and societies. UUs should unapologetically stand up against UU leaders and ministers who demean freedom of speech and freedom of belief, and who teach that reason, logic, and individualism are bad. Laity should unapologetically stand up against leaders and ministers who are trying to turn a liberal church back to the religious dark ages of dogmatism and enforced mass conformity.

UU Minister Rev. Rick Davis wrote, “In founding our two traditions our Universalist and Unitarian forebears sought to create a religious refuge from the oppressive attitudes and practices engendered by ideological, dogmatic thinking.”

Recommended Further Reading:

The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements by Eric Hoffer
Why the UUA is Doomed to Fail at Its Goals

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Mark Perloe
Mark Perloe
8 months ago

Great post David. You clearly put 8nto words what so many of us are thinking.

larry lunt
larry lunt
8 months ago

Interesting podcast thank you. Filled in some gaps for me.

Mark Reimers
Mark Reimers
8 months ago

David,
This is a nicely comprehensive overview of the distressing changes in our organization over the past decades.
You mention ‘institutional capture’ by a small faction within UU. As you note, this is fairly common across organizations. WB Yeats said it well: “The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” 

PS
I found one of your missing references:
How The UUA Manufactures Consent
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1CM7jlpXTCQUdGfC_y5n4NXWRCQ01LvsJqueZNmDxyfc/edit?pli=1

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
8 months ago

David’s article, for me, covers most of the issues that have been of personal concern because for me, my UU faith has been central to who I am and what I try to do. I worry then about what we are becoming. And of course I fear the potential loss of my faith that I wish to uphold proudly as I have done for decades. And I fear the loss for persons who will need our faith in the future. I realise how indebted I am to David and so many others who , in my opinion, are speaking truth… Read more »

Barbara Keating
Barbara Keating
8 months ago

Than you for sharing this cogent analysis. I was so proud to be UU for almost 30 years. The five years starting in 2017 were full of disillusionments, disappointments, discouragements, and dismay (I call them “The D’s”) as I not only noticed the UUA fall into autocracy but experienced my (former) congregation do the same as a newly-ordained problematic minister took over, recruited the latent bullies to her committees, etc. until many of us gave up. What does it say about a congregation when former members say things like (quoting), “That place is just for the elites,” or “That place… Read more »

Margot Haynes
Margot Haynes
8 months ago

The virtual environment feeds into authoritarian control. I can hardly believe that discussion and vote to jettison the 7 Principles will be available ONLY online next year!!!!!!!

Terry Anderson
Terry Anderson
8 months ago
Reply to  Margot Haynes

Actually Margot I think being fully online allows us to gather more delegates (no travel costs) to defeat the proposed Article Amendments. It is obvious from Portland and Pittsburgh, that the UUA establishment has large control over face-to-face votes.

Barbara Kidney
Barbara Kidney
8 months ago
Reply to  Terry Anderson

I agree with you, Terry. A GA over Zoom prevents the in-person rah-rah hypnosis phenomenon from happening quite as readily. Interestingly, Sofia Betancourt did not want the 2024 GA to be digital only, and was over-ruled by UUA Board vote on that matter. UU still faces the issue of ministers not being elected delegates and still having votes, and the UU ministers being selected to be adherents of the anti-democratic, anti-free-thinking oligarchic cult.

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
8 months ago

In my opinion, the reference in this discussion on ” how the UUA manufactures consent is valuable. The study is brilliant, and should be read and kept for use as a classic case study on democracy in UU governance at all levels.
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Steve
Steve
8 months ago

Something historically wicked happened at the 2023 General Assembly: a deeper dive into toxicity. But first, some background: Last November, the PSC broke Bylaws and Rules Section 9.5 (a): “The Presidential Search Committee shall submit no fewer than two nominations for the office of President for an election …” After one unnamed, potential candidate allegedly withdrew, the PSC opted to submit only one nomination:  Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt. During a March forum in Arlington, she was asked, “Can you speak to the value of democracy and the reality of being a single candidate?”  She replied, in part, “I think it’s fair… Read more »

John Stephen Shea
John Stephen Shea
8 months ago
Reply to  Steve

There are three possible interpretations of Rev. Matthew Johnson’s comment at GA. One is that he believes that people would not have raised objections to a one-candidate election had the candidate been white and/or male. I think this assertion is transparently false and I suspect that this is not what Rev. Johnson meant. Another is just that this was a flippant comment–“if you say something that I don’t like then I will call you a racist and a sexist.” Although it does sometimes seem that true believers of Critical Social Justice Theory automatically invoke racism/sexism/homophobia whenever they encounter dissent, I… Read more »

Stephen Polmar
Stephen Polmar
8 months ago

I believe that David Cycleback’s statement is correct, namely that “UUs tend to be introverted, conflict-avoidant, and go along to get along. Many treat their congregations as social clubs with community peace as the primary goal. Combined with their apathy and ignorance about the UUA topics, this makes them ripe for manipulation and UU ripe for organizational capture by small groups.” This plus that fact that vast majority of UU ministers are, for various reasons, going along with the direction the UUA leadership is taking, is it realistic to think that reform of the denomination is possible from within? I… Read more »

Tim Bartik
8 months ago

David’s post does an excellent job of summarizing many of the concerns about the current direction of UUism. One aspect I want to highlight in David’s essay is his note that many UUs are apathetic about the issue of the current direction of UUism I agree with David that this does not reflect that UUs necessarily strongly endorse the current UUA direction. But, on the other hand, they do not necessarily strongly object to the current UUA direction. They are content with their congregation as a “social [club] with community peace as the primary goal.” But in my view, this… Read more »

larry lunt
larry lunt
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

“Because UU churches only at best had a commitment to liberalism in a weak form, they were unable to resist stronger ideologies,…
Can you give an example of “stronger ideologies” ?

Tim Bartik
8 months ago
Reply to  larry lunt

“Stronger ideologies”= the particular ideology of anti-racism, anti-oppression that is currently prevalent in the UUA, and at many UU churches.

Barbara Kidney
Barbara Kidney
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I would just add to what Tim Bartak writes, that the ideologies are of a particular type of alleged anti-oppression that are in fact actually oppressive. There certainly are real-deal versions of anti-oppression ideologies that are based on egalitarianism. The UUA versions are intrinsically flamingly hypocritical, as they promote oligarchy, persecute democracy, and engage in lies. One such whopper being that to object to the travesty of one candidate for president is to be anti-Black and whatever other form of bigotry. No, it’s just to be anti-oligarchic and pro-democratic. UUA versions of alleged anti-oppression are also flamingly anti-POC racist, as… Read more »

Jim
Jim
8 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I’ve been chewing over this essay by David Loehr for awhile now. “Why UUism is Dying” https://files.meadville.edu/files/resources/why-unitarian-universalism-is-dying.pdf He make many provocative points. I don’t agree with his dismissal of the 7 Principles but there are many things in that essay directly relevant to your point about the social club situation. I hope my rule-breaking about using my own words is allowed through here. I’m going to put an extensive quote from the essay here: … politics replaced religion as the shared center of Unitarians and Universalists in the mid-20th century, and remains their shared center today. If this is seldom mentioned,… Read more »

larry lunt
larry lunt
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Thank you.

John Stephen Shea
John Stephen Shea
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Continuing in the spirit of the above quote from David Loehr: once the old liberal salvation story was dead, a new liberal salvation story needed to be created. Critical social justice theory is the new salvation story. The people who need to be saved are now cishet old white people, who need to be saved from their own racism and homophobia by submitting themselves to the superior moral authority of marginalized people (or who need to be cast aside if they refuse salvation).

Barbara Kidney
Barbara Kidney
8 months ago

RE this thought of David Cycleback’s: “Fanatical, dogmatic behavior, such as exhibited within the current UUA, exists in both the extreme political left and right and is a matter of psychology not politics.” I would add that such behavior is matter of cognitive process, rather than content. I find scholar Jane Loevinger’s model of cognitive development to be useful here. One can be a conformist, meaning a person who goes along with what the Important People are promulgating, in order to be part of the in-crowd, rather than be someone who assesses thoughts for intrinsic wisdom. Of course, the irony… Read more »

Samuel Cox
Samuel Cox
8 months ago

As usual David Cycle back is worse than swallowing vomit.

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