New post GA issue of the UnderWorld

The UU Underworld – A Newsletter for Unitarian Universalist FreeThinkers is a new occasional periodical edited by John Griffin Miller. This 25 page, 2024 Post GA issue of the Underworld, contains  a summary of the activities and results of the recent General Assembly as well as their potential impact on UU Congregations . It includes a checklist of things for a congregation to deal with if they decide to leave the UUA.. These are followed by three longer essays:

  • The 2 Cultures of Unitarian-Universalism by GEORGE Q TYREBYTER
  • How The UUA Manufactures Consent Reverend Gary Kowalski
  • Why Anti-Racism Will Fail By Thandeka,

The newsletter is a useful summary fo the past and a road map for a future for Unitarians that includes the NAUA.

 

 

UUA Delegates Vote to Eliminate Principles and Sources

The voting delegates to the 2024 UUA General Assembly voted 80.2% to amend Article 2 of their bylaws to remove the 7 Principles and the Sources and to replace them with a set of values with ‘love’ at their centre.  

Amendments to add “Reason” and “Peace” to the list of guiding values were defeated by the delegates. The resulting JET PIG diagram (at left) has become a visual image of these new values and the direction the Unitarian Universalist denomination in now headed. You will note that “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning;” and ” The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregation” are absent from these values.

These results end a multi year battle to retain the liberal Principles that have guided Unitarian Congregations since 1980’s. One long term member expresses his reaction to this vote below:

 

 

Eulogy to Unitarian Universalist Liberalism

By Mark Perloe – June 2024
 

Unitarian Universalism taught us that the sacred tapestry of life is woven from threads of many colors and textures. It showed us the beauty of a pluralistic vision, where each unique strand was integral to the whole. It was a tradition that found strength in its openness, its commitment to democratic principles, and its unyielding belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Yet, there came a time when the winds of change shifted, and with heavy hearts, we witnessed a narrowing of that once-expansive horizon. The celebration of diversity gave way to a singular focus, and the chorus of many voices fell silent before a dominant creed. The garden of free thought, once lush with varied blooms, began to fade, as only certain flowers were tended to.

Today, we honor the legacy of what Unitarian Universalism once was—a sanctuary for free spirits, a school for thought, and a community bound by love and respect. We cherish the memories of its vibrant days and hold close the lessons it imparted upon us. May the spirit of true inclusivity and open-hearted dialogue live on in each of us, as we carry forward the flame of compassion and justice in our own ways.

In its essence, Unitarian Universalism reminded us that we are all part of an interconnected web of existence, and it is in this spirit that we say farewell. May its memory inspire us to build bridges where walls have risen and to light the way for a future where every voice can once again find its song.

Rest in peace, dear friend. Your vision of a world united in diversity will not be forgotten.

You may wish to reflect on these momentous changes as you listen to the “saddest song ever”  from Barber’s Adagio.

The NAUA aspires to support liberal religion despite this set back in our hopes and ideals.

Please share your reaction to this development on our X or Facebook groups.

Bob Simoni’s Letter to the Editor

Dear Editor:

It’s now been 5 years since Rev. Todd Eklof published his book The Gadfly Papers and distributed it freely at the UUA General Assembly in Spokane in July 2019. Like the ceremonial nailing of the 95 Theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg by Martin Luther in 1517, it has led to major changes in the trajectory of Unitarian Universalism. First and foremost was the launching of the independent North American Unitarian Association. And just as Martin Luther was branded a heretic by the Catholic Church four years later, Rev. Todd has been disfellowshipped from the UUA. But unlike the Catholic Church, which later underwent a Counter-Reformation to try to correct some of the abuses that Luther noted, there is no sign of the UUA leadership’s willingness to remedy theirs. 

On the occasion of this memorable anniversary, I thought it would be appropriate to point out some of the most pertinent parts of The Gadfly Papers, especially those that were particularly prescient. 

From the Preface: These are not easy matters to write about, having witnessed the vitriol directed at well meaning individuals who get off script, and knowing that some of it is now sure to come my way … But, in fighting for what we believe in, we cannot allow ourselves to become what we disbelieve in, nor achieve our goals by adopting the cruelties of those we oppose. The end matters, but so do the means. I, for one, cannot continue traveling along a path with those who no longer respect the minds and voices of their fellow sojourners. 

From the Afterword: 

Either we reconnect with our historic roots, dealing, at last, with our theological and class conflicts, so we can return to and fulfill our promise of establishing a universal nonsectarian religion of humanity, or we allow a misguided identitarian philosophy to continue segregating us from each other until all that remains necessary for the dissolution of our denomination is mere formality. I hope it doesn’t come to this, but if it’s the only way to remember and recommit to our once cherished principles of reason, freedom of conscience, and common humanity, we may have no other choice. 

Bob Simoni 

Hayward, CA 

Darwin’s Birthday

Today, Feb. 12, marks the 215 anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin.- 1809 – 19 April 1882

I celebrate this day because of the tremendous, work, insight and ethical wisdom of this great British scientist.  His discovery of evolutionary theory first published in the Origin of Species in 1859  solved many problems for his contemporaries. In addition it  blazed a path of discovery for all of us immersed in the interdependent web of life.

Prior to Darwin, it was hardly conceivable to image life on Earth without the omnipotent hand of a divine being to which Creation could be ascribed. Scientists then, as today, find inspiration, wonder and awe at the interdependent complexities of life on Earth. But how could a system of such complexity have arisen without a Creator?

Thus, it wasn’t logical nor technically (much less politically) possible to be atheist. Someone, or something, must have been the original creator of such a complex system. This quandary led to the rise to Deism, a belief that there was/is a Creator, but that Creator is either too busy or unwilling to interfere in human and indeed all earthly activities. Thus, petitionary prayers or adorations are both unnecessary and unfruitful.

However, with the understanding that over very long periods of time, natural selection, fuelled by environmental change, epigenetic forces and the survival of the fittest led to the evolution of life from  single celled organisms to all living things on earth today.

Darwin’s insights did not come from a single eureka moment, but rather evolved through his research, study and correspondence. He did not publish the Origin of Species until 1836 – 23 years after returning from his five year fact gathering excursions in the Southern hemisphere.  There are likely many reasons for his delay in publication. But one of these was his insight that accepting life on earth as a product of evolution and not a theist creation would be profoundly disruptive. Those who would find this challenging included his church-going wife and many in the rural community in which he lived. I think Darwin had no great desire to undermine anyone’s faith – a characteristic of Unitarians to this day. He wrote  “though I am a strong advocate for free thought on all subjects, yet it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against Christianity & theism produce hardly any effect on the public; … It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion, & I have confined myself to science. I may, however, have been unduly biased by the pain which it would give some members of my family, if I aided in any way direct attacks on religion.”

Darwin was able to change the deepest understandings of the nature of life but not through revelation, prayer or mysticism. Only through science, study and contemplation can we be “brought somewhat near to that great fact—that mystery of mysteries—the first appearance of new beings on this earth.” —Charles Darwin, Journal of Researches, 1845 

Darwin bravely shared in 1859 an enlightening but challenging truth that many object to – even in 2024.

Happy Birthday and thanks, Charles!

A Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

A Remembrance of Rev. Dr. Finley C. Campbell

By Dick Burkhart, PhD

Many in the Unitarian community will have heard of and been inspired by the tireless fight for racial harmony led by the Rev. Finley Campbell. In this tribute (reprinted here from the January 2024 Liberal Beacon, Unitarian activist Dick Burkhart shares his memories of the late Dr. Finley Campbell.

I was at a plenary session of the 2017 General Assembly of the UUA in New Orleans when Finley Campbell got up to speak in protest against how former UUA President Rev. Peter Morales had been treated by the UUA Board and others in leadership after a so-called “hiring controversy”.

I too had great respect for Peter Morales from my years of justice advocacy with UUs for a Just Economic Community, and I was trying to figure out what the hell had happened and why. So when this principled black man of obvious courage spoke, defying attempts by the Moderator to shut him up, I took notice.

At the conclusion of his short speech, Finley invited attendees to join him that evening to ride with him on a New Orleans streetcar. Why? I wondered, but I was intrigued, so I took him up on that offer. Turned out that I was the only newcomer to his little group, showing that the resignation of Rev Morales wasn’t actually about the claims of racism in the hiring process, but that a powerful and ruthless faction had captured the UUA, a faction that few dared to question.

In fact, this was my first exposure to cancel culture. It turned out that Finley’s streetcar ride was just to demonstrate how much progress there had been on racial issues since the Civil Rights era of the 1960s. Namely, the streetcar was integrated – the era of Jim Crow segregation was long past, contrary to the astounding claims of this faction that little or no progress had been made. After that ride, we all went out to dinner together. That’s when Finley explained the divisions in the black leadership and I decided to join his team,

I read book after book, learning that Finley’s “multiracial unity” was deeply grounded in our UU principles, whereas the faction in power was strong, but stealthy, hiding its anti-UU ideology. Finley had not studied Critical Race Theory, but he had this faction all figured out, particularly the anti-white dogma at the heart of its supposed anti-racism.

Finley’s great strength was his eagerness to find common ground with others and to organize to defend our UU principles. He became a beacon for those had been cancelled or oppressed by what today are called woke ideologies, such as the neo-racism that was his focus.

Finley described himself as a Marxist/Christian UU, but he was fine with non-Marxists and non-Christians, showing what is today a rare strength of character. As such he became a mentor to me and many others.

We will carry forward his mission to all humanity in a time of increasing societal turmoil, propelled by escalating inequality nationally and by the surging forces of ecological and civilization collapse globally. May Finley Campbell not rest-in-peace but forever in the uplifting activism for the beloved community that he so cherished.