God bless all the folks who have come out in support of the Catholic Church’s right not to subsidize sin. And God bless (with His rod) the folks who so don’t-get-it that they actually came out in support of the government in this matter. It’s pretty much the usual suspects, and there are all kinds of snark I could make on each one. But I’m going to concentrate on just one in this post: the Unitarian Universalist Association. They should know better, I will show that they do know better, and my wife had to set one of their congregants straight yesterday.
The Seven Principles of the U-U Church include “The inherent worth and dignity of every person” (unless they’re preborn, apparently) and “The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.” If this isn’t a matter of conscience, I don’t know what is. U-Us are in general so supportive of the right of conscience that you can believe pretty much anything and still be a U-U (excepting, again, the belief that abortion is murder). But if you want more clarity, here is a resolution from 1982:
Personal Religious Freedom
WHEREAS, the central issues for religion include the beginning, duration, nature and meaning of life, the extent to which individuals can be in control of their own lives and bodies, and the moral and ethical responsibility of individuals to the lives and bodies of others; and
WHEREAS, the 1982 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association reaffirms our heritage of personal religious freedom of belief and acknowledges as one of its tenets the right and responsibility of persons of all ages to decide and act upon these religious issues according to their own conscience and faith, without government interference or invasion of privacy;
BE IT RESOLVED: That the 1982 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association calls upon Unitarian Universalists and all individual groups, both religious and secular, of like mind to oppose attempts for legislative policy changes that would limit the free exercise of this, our religious heritage; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: That this Assembly calls upon the governments of the United States and Canada to oppose all attempts to legislate such limitations.
Now, the HHS contraceptive mandate quite clearly bears on “beginning… of life, the extent to which individuals can be in control of their own lives and bodies.” It could be that this was meant to be a weasel-word support of the right to abortion. But since they’d expressed that much more clearly 4 years previously, I have to take them at their word here. Neo-Catharism (not breeding) is apparently a tenet of Unitarianism. They are extremely pro-reproductive-freedom. But that doesn’t negate their conscience statement. Nor does this: “we believe that, regardless of income, every person has the right to all reproductive health information and basic services”. They may believe in the right to free birth control, but it doesn’t follow from that that any particular entity needs to provide it. Indeed, one might ask: if there are Catholic hospitals, where are the Unitarian free women’s clinics? Why haven’t they put their money where their mouths are?
But the Unitarians have been more than happy to have their freedom of religion protected by the government. In First Unitarian Church v. Los Angeles – 357 U.S. 545 (1958):
Solely because they refused to subscribe oaths that they do not advocate the overthrow of the Federal Government by force, violence or other unlawful means, or advocate the support of a foreign government against the United States in the event of hostilities, petitioners were denied tax exemptions provided by the California Constitution for real property and building used solely and exclusively for religious worship.
In my own back yard, we had Unitarian Universalist Church of Akron v. City of Fairlawn, Ohio, 2000-01. The city decided that the U-Us could not build a fellowship hall on their land (owned before a zoning change), and backed down under legal pressure.
But the religious liberty strain of classical liberalism, which was so much a part of their tradition for so long, seems to have fallen by the wayside. Of all the religious groups that filed amicus briefs in the recent case of Hosanna-Tabor v. EEOC (unanimously decided for plaintiff), the UUA was the only one to pick the losing side.
What makes this particularly odd is the the U-Us have become a haven for neo-pagans and Wiccans, who have a long history of religious persecution. They’re the growing edge of Unitarianism, since there’s no longer the pressure to “be something, and Unitarian is the least you could be” and religious atheists are in style and no longer need to blow off several hours a week not-worshipping their non-god. Pagans have benefitted directly in such cases as Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye, Inc. v. City of Hialeah 1993 508 U.S. 520. So why aren’t the pagan elements in the UUA fighting to keep the church on the side of freedom? I suspect that reproductive issues, being one thing that most U-Us can agree on, have become a defining doctrine of the faith. And Catholics stand against that. But there’s more than disagreement there. One step in my own conversion involved the observation of the visceral hatred many Pagans hold for Catholicism, way beyond any historical explanation (I’ll see your Burning Times and raise you a Coliseum.) I decided that fierce irrational Satanic hatred meant that there was a power in the Church worth paying attention to.
Anyway, while I don’t respect the U-Us, I respect their right to worship as they please, and to not be commanded at gunpoint to perform acts which they consider morally repugnant. I just wish they would give me the same respect.