The UUA poll

Oh dear, another UUA poll. Another frickin’ unscientific, self-selecting poll that nevertheless will be used to justify a course of action.

PeaceBang brought it up, but by coincidence I ran across it when plumbing for new resources at the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association website (to again try to justify membership; I really am trying.)

I was actively discouraging people from participating in the last pseudo-scientific poll and people are still quoting its results. (A kicker in that one is that there was no option “to worship God” in a question asking why one went to worship.) This time vote your hearts out. And remember the need for new churches. But watch out for the unvarnished appeal to use military chaplains to evangelize for Unitarian Universalism. Isn’t that the bad thing that Air Force evangelicals were just accused of?

So you can link from her blog or the UUMA. Or here.

But take that poll.

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. “But watch out for the unvarnished appeal to use military chaplains to evangelize for Unitarian Universalism. Isn’t that the bad thing that Air Force evangelicals were just accused of?”


    The suggestion that we make Unitarian Universalism available for young adults serving in the military isn’t the same as what happened at the Air Force Academy. At the Air Force Academy, one segment of the Christian population at the Academy was treating non-Christian cadets as second-class citizens. A Christian Air Force Chaplain who spoke out against the anti-Semitism and other religious bias was fired:

    Air Force Academy chaplain says she was fired for speaking up

    I don’t think we are in immediate danger of having Unitarian Universalist military members engaging in religious oppression of other military members (speaking on the basis of 20+ years activity duty service in the Air Force plus 1 1/2 years working as a civilian contractor for the Air Force).

  2. But let’s wait a moment . . . the purpose of ministers coming from denominations isn’t to evangelize anyone in the Armed Forces, but to provide a representative and proportional sample of religious professionals from the groups that the service member themselves come from. It is a question of boundaries. The First Amendment permits military chaplains because without command religious programs Americans in uniform would have inadequate access to the resources by which they could practice their religion. Unless that boundary — in the form of sectarian neutrality — is maintained, any evangelizing denomination would be guilty of violating the relationship that makes the chaplain’s corps possible.

    There’s a difference between overzealous cadets — who also violated a boundary; indeed, the mirror value that values citizenship over sect — and the Evangelical chaplains that cultivated the attitude, and it is adopting the latter value that I cannot accept from the Unitarian Universalist Association, however distant or unlikely a parallel action.

  3. Since most present-day Unitarian Universalist evangelism consists of simply being present and waiting for folks to find us and not overt proseletizing, I doubt that any vigorous efforts from the UUA would violate sectarian neutrality as it’s currently understood by the US military.

    Simply being visible and present in the military world would be a very understated form of “implicit evangelism” for many folks looking for alternatives to traditional Christianity, being unchurched, etc.

  4. Sorry, but I’m not buying that analysis. It doesn’t fit with the other funding priorities — like funding internship sites and new churches — on the poll list. Those are substantive programs proposed, not attitute priorities.

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