UUs and Free Speech

We are swiftly approaching the start of a new church year, and I am looking forward to participating in ever-better coping with COVID-19 and the political season.

I have been asked by the leaders of a dissident group of UU congregants and Ministers to write a cover letter to regional UU Ministers to accompany this group’s rebuttal to some decisions made by our Denomination and by the UU Minister’s Association; decisions that many see as undemocratic and illiberal. There is a push for conformity about the premises and truth of Critical Race Theory, which is becoming dogma. If we have dogma, then anyone who disagrees is a heretic.

UU dogma? UU heresy? Really?

The pushback is strengthening. Ministers are resigning from the UUMA. The name of one organized opposition is the UU Multiracial Unity Action Council, aka UUMUAC. In my letter, I will proclaim the centrality, the bedrock of free speech within Liberalism and in Liberal religion. My letter will be short, but it will include my favorite affirmation of the importance of free speech opposing pre-censorship of the press.

Give me the liberty to know, to utter, and to argue freely, according to conscience, above all liberties. And though all the winds of doctrine were let lose to play upon the earth, so [long as] truth be in the field, we do injuriously by licensing and prohibiting to misdoubt her strength. Let he and Falsehood grapple! Who ever know Truth put to the worse in a free and open encounter.

John Milton, 1644

I run the risk of being attacked, but I can handle that. It is a John Lewis style of “getting into good trouble.” I will make it clear that I am speaking for myself, of course, and not the congregation. It is likely that I will want to share with you more details about what I and others consider a threat to UUism.

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