After reading this article from HuffingtonPost.com about the Unitarian Universalist Church, I have to question if the title shouldn’t have been can the church survive at all, instead of can it last another 50 years. This article begins with an apology from a lay minister that the word God had been removed from that Sunday’s program, supposedly so the humanists wouldn’t be offended. This sounds like the equivalent of doing something you know you shouldn’t, then asking for forgiveness later. It doesn’t change the fact that you shouldn’t have done it to begin with.
I am a member of a local UU congregation, and I have never noticed an intentional removal of God from the service or hymns. That’s not to say it hasn’t happened, but luckily I didn’t notice it. With this article in mind, I’m sure I will be watching for the intentional omission now. And I have to admit, if I notice this trend in my own congregation, I will be very disappointed, and ready to move on.
One of the things that originally drew me to the UU was the celebration of diversity. I am a very spiritual person, and God plays an important role in my life. But I am also the skittles of religion. This rainbow has all the flavors and colors of religion all rolled up in one package. I have studied and experienced Christianity, Judaism, Paganism, Buddhism, and occasionally take a peak at Hinduism. I am familiar with humanism, agnosticism, and atheism, and some days I think I fall in those categories as well. That’s a lot of ism’s. The beauty is I can be all of those things, and none of those things, at the UU.
If we start removing God from the program because it might offend someone, then we also have to remove god, goddess, Buddha, Vishnu, Kwan Yin, and on and on. What will we have left if we remove all these deities? What will we experience if we remove from every sermon, program, and hymn all those references that ‘might’ offend someone? We will have nothing. A blank, shallow, vanilla, one-size fits all service that has no spirit, no depth, no beginning, and no end. The best that one could hope for would be a jubilant coffee gathering after the service. And if that is all you have, or all you want, why not just skip church altogether and hit the Shoney’s breakfast bar. There’s more variety and you don’t have to cook.
I am never going to agree with every service or program in the UU church. Not everyone who speaks is going to believe the way that I do, and that is part of the beauty of attending. It is my obligation to respect what others believe, and it is their obligation to respect what I believe. As long as we have mutual respect for each other, and can listen and learn from each other, no one should be offended. And to be completely honest, if my and other’s beliefs offend you, and you don’t have the maturity to accept and evolve, you should probably just stay at home and keep the blinds closed.