The Atheist Church hubbub

There’s been a bit of agita in the Unitarian Universalist blogophere about the propagation of The Sunday Assembly, an atheist church (or church-like experience) that’s getting a lot of buzz.

I wrote about The Sunday Assembly in March, and don’t have more to say on the subject. But whiff of impinged ownership I hear from some Unitarian Universalists — that the Assembly should align with us, or that Assembly-goers should go to Unitarian Universalist congregations instead — makes me chuckle. As Unitarian Universalists, I’ve noticed that we lack the capacity to make a grand, new religious expression — Humanist, Christian, Plural, something else — and even create practical and ideological barriers to success, but then get bent out of shape when anyone else does what we could or should be doing. Or simply pretend that the other effort is a clone of what we do (or think we do.) The flourish of theological universalism among Christian Evangelicals comes to mind. So does alternate Unitarian and Universalist jurisdictions.

The Sunday Assembly will have its own problems. It lacks generations of accumulated wealth churches have. Lacks the experience of managing crisis, and developing leaders. And popular movements often rise and fall as fast as they rise. But what they do is their accomplishment or failure. Some Unitarian Universalists might offer help, but the Sunday Assembly is its own thing and displays of jealously don’t help.

About Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 45, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.

One thought on “The Atheist Church hubbub

  1. I think part of our problem is that there is a strain of UUism that believes it should unite all the variations of liberal religion (universalist Evangelicals, liberal Christians, Humanists, etc.) under one umbrella. When we fail to manifest as a grand, unifying movement (and instead manifest as a liberal sectarian movement), it poses a challenge to what some perceive as the true UU identity. Never mind that we struggle so deeply about our own identity. Ask 5 UU’s what UUism is, and you can easily wind up with 6 distinct and sometimes diverging answers.

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