Here’s a paragraph in a stream of interesting thoughts (more on that later) by Doug Rogers and quoted by Paul Wilczynski:
An institution that is unable to re-formulate itself to become more attractive to potential members is not likely to endure. Religions tend to fade slowly, but they do disappear. Quakers were once a powerful part of the culture, now they are nearly gone. Methodists and Presbyterians are dying out. In the late 1800’s Unitarians and Universalists were about 10% of the US population, now we are 0.1% and holding.
There are at least two errors here:
- As United States confessional families (groups of closely related denominations; Unitarian Universalism is a blended family of one, unless you count the American Unitairan Conference) the Methodists and Presbyterians are large and growing. Looking at the largest mainline denominations (United Methodist Church and Presbyterian Church U.S.A.) is myopic, if for no other reason than it ignores smaller groups (many larger than the UUA) with ethnic-minority majorities.
- Collectively, Unitarianism and Universalism were never near 10% of the population. The “Universalists were the sixth largest” pseudofact is a product of period propaganda, enshrined for reasons I can only speculate about.
- Universalism, institutionally, peaked in the 1870s or 1880s when the numbers were in the 80,000s. I don’t have my best numbers at hand, so suffice it now to drop the poor-mouthing untruths.
After all, we have enough problems, right?