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Blog roundup, Winter 2009

Online responses to UU World.
By Kenneth Sutton
Winter 2009 11.1.09

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Many people discuss Unitarian Universalism and UU World stories on blogs. Keep up with the online conversation: Read uuworld.org’s blog, “The Interdependent Web,” which highlights the best blog commentary each week.

The Rev. Tony Lorenzen at “Sunflower Chalice” thought everyone should be exposed to the story of “The Gospel of Inclusion,” our Fall cover story. “The first lesson is that of Universalism. It’s a grand lesson to revisit for Unitarian Universalists and a great idea for non-UUs to be introduced to for the first time. A loving God doesn’t send people to hell. . . . The second is the point made by Rev. [Rosemary Bray] McNatt at the Berry Street Lecture (and I paraphrase): UU Culture is keeping us from being multicultural.” (September 8)

UU Dave Belden, meanwhile, praised the story on the Tikkun magazine blog. (September 13)

Many bloggers weighed in on the Freedom From Religion Foundation ad on the inside front cover of the Fall issue. Ministers were very quick to take to their blogs. “Berry’s Mom,” a UU minister, was the first to post: “I am stunned, appalled, and very disappointed.” (September 2)

The Rev. Cynthia Landrum critiqued the impact of the ad: “[Y]ou open up our denomination’s major publication, and what you see first is an advertisement that seems to be saying, ‘What are you doing being a Unitarian Universalist? We’d like to free you from that.’” (September 4)

Recently fellowshiped minister “Earthbound Spirit” gives the ad credit: “I’m not surprised the FFRF uses clever and provocative quotes for bus sign advertising—and you’ve got to admit, they’re catchy.” (September 4)

A number of UU bloggers saw the uproar and the subsequent statement by UU World business manager Scott Ullrich as rejections of their own religious identity. Jacqueline Wolven of “Moxie Life” wrote, “I am disgusted. No, disheartened. No, just plain frustrated with people. Yep, most people. Why do a few squeaky wheels get what they want?” (September 12)

JohnFranc at “Under the Ancient Oaks” thinks “the real tension in Unitarian Universalism isn’t between theists and non-theists. It’s between those who find meaning and value in traditional religious language, stories, forms and practices and those who are so offended by their association with conservative religions that they don’t want anything to do with them.” (September 5)

“Chalicechick” wrote about the diversity within atheism: “We all get that there are a billion types of theists, but that there’s quite a lot of theological diversity within atheism too seems to elude people.” (September 17)

A number of non-UU atheist bloggers noted the controversy. A September 10 post by Hemant Mehta at “Friendly Atheist” is notable primarily for the comments it generated.

Greta Christina defended the decision not to run the ad in future issues. “Would it be reasonable for the magazine of an atheist organization . . . to reject an ad saying, ‘Atheism is immoral, atheists will be condemned to hell if they don’t repent, the only true path is the path of Jesus’?” (September 14)

Timothy Mills, an atheist and Unitarian, agrees. “After all, despite what some thin-skinned atheists . . . are claiming, the ads do attack religious belief.” (“Friendly Humanist,” October 2)

Mills’s post generated a reply by Annie Laurie Gaylor, co-president of the FFRF: “Our ad was not an attack on the UUA, it was an espousal of the views of most Unitarians! Perhaps the infiltration of the UUA by new members who are not freethinking, who do not really understand its creedless position, accounts for this mind-boggling reaction.”

See sidebar for links to related resources, including a summary of letters to the editor (“Mailbox”) and UU World business manager Scott Ullrich's updated statement about the controversial ad.

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