Politically Conservative Religious Liberals

Being here in Texas I have had the opportunity to meet politically conservative Unitarian Universalists.  Anyone who know me or who reads the Sunflower Chalice knows or infers my both political and religious world view.  I have been reminded in the last few days of Jack Mendelsohn’s lesson from Why I am a Unitarian Universalist that ” great congregations and effective, dedicated ministers…create one another.”  Such has been the case for me over the last few days.

I am fascinated by how religion, politics and culture weave themselves into each other in American society.  I also hold with Gandhi that one can’t separate these these things into neat and tidy little boxes, but I believe and I am learning more about how the tight weave of religion, politics and culture can use different threads and brings us to the same place.

It is possible to weave a UU liberal religious thread, a politically conservative thread and bring it together in community with a UU liberal religious thread and a politically liberal thread.  It just weaves a different pattern and the weavers need to talk to each other.

There are some resources on the Net for politically conservative UU’s.

The Conservative Forum for Unitarian Universalists seems to not have been updated recently (last update I noted was 2004).

Some current and up to date blogs by Conservative UU’s include:

CUUMBAYA

I enjoyed Cuumbaya’s blog-opening post from 2006 titled “I call myself conservative and UU”

Baar’s West Side is another blog by a conservative UU, but is mostly a political blog, but one written by a UU.   The authors writes another blog,  Pfarrer Streccius – A blog on Liberal Religion and Pajama Theology that discusses religion.

A wonderful read for me last night was a 2006 sermon by my colleague The Rev. James Kubal-Komoto.  The sermon is titled Politically Conservative Religious Liberals and was preached at Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church in Des Moines, Washington on January 15, 2006.  The entire text is available online here.  I want to highlight some important passages that really grabbed me:

Here’s what one person who is a member of this church told me: “I did not join the Unitarian Universalist religion to become steeply involved in political action causes.  I joined because I love the freedom of being able to worship according to my own conscience, and not be told how to think or believe. I whole-heartedly accept the [social] principals of Unitarian Universalism. Yet, I reserve the right to believe in some politically conservative positions.”

How is this possible? Here’s my answer.   As Unitarian Universalists, we are committed to creating a more compassionate and just world for us all. More specifically, we are committed to creating a world that is more respectful of all people, that is freer, more egalitarian, more democratic, more peaceful, and more respectful of the natural world to which we all belong.       Yet these are all ends, and while we may agree on the ends, we may honestly disagree about the best means to attain them.

William Schulz, former president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and now the executive director of Amnesty International USA once said, “Political conservative Unitarian Universalists must recognize that they may well be in a minority on some issues. But politically liberal Unitarian Universalists must recognize that how they treat people in the minority is a reflection of their religious values.”
“of three Unitarian Universalists now serving in the U.S. Congress, one of them, Representative Nancy Johnson of Connecticut , is a Republican, and that the last Unitarian Universalist to serve in a U.S. president’s cabinet was William Cohen, who was Secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration, but was a Republican Senator from Maine before that.”

(my note Rep. Johnson lost to Rep. Chris Murphy D-CT in 2006.   Rep Johnson served from 1983-2007.  We’re down one UU in Congress!)

It upsets me that in looking for a religious home, some people might have to choose between feeling at home theologically or politically, between choosing a church where people proclaim a savior who walks on the water is the only way and a church where people proclaim a savior who windsurfs on the water is the only
way.

Here I find the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. again to be instructive. King said the role of the church is not to be the master of the state or the servant of the state but the conscience of the state. Similarly, I believe that any church should not try to be the master of any political party, or the servant of any political party, but the conscience of any and all political parties.

Well done Rev. Kubal-Komoto, you do our ministry proud.

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2 thoughts on “Politically Conservative Religious Liberals

  1. Nice post. I quite agree that one can be politically conservative (though, perhaps, not extremely so) and religiously liberal (in a UCC sort of way) snce both rely on the concept of personal freedom and personal responsibility. I suppose I have to agree with Plato who argued that we should live our lives in moderation. Extremes in any direction can only lead us to greed, gluttoney and intolerance.

  2. I was interested in UU’ism for a while, as I affirm Enlightenment-era Deism, Transcendentalism, and Comparative Religion as precious and valuable academic and intellectual-religious outlooks on life, as well as ideologies central to Americanism. However, like many others, what I did find was a heavy emphasis on what the denomination believes to be “social justice.” All people have always had an innate drive to make the world a better place, but I feel that in the Marxist-oriented realm of social justice/liberation theology predomenent within the UUA, those who believe in the power of the individual as opposed to the collectivist whole and those who believe in Free Market economics are villified, scorned, marginalized, derided, and silenced all too often.
    Spiritual liberty and full political/social liberty are not incompatible.

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