Friday, September 19, 2008


Amongst my activist friends I am often thought of as the "religious one." I have not gone to some events because they came out on Jewish holidays, for example. Yet quite a number of my friends are involved with the Unitarians. In Edmonton, there are two Unitarian churches, one on the north side, and one on the south side. Most of them go to the north side one.

The Unitarian church has intrigued me for quite a while. I am totally in love with its commitment to social justice, something which I think is lacking in evangelical churches today. There is a focus on people's sexual behaviour, but on little else. I commented to a friend of mine last evening that I would like to see someone put on congregational discipline because they do not support the poor. She felt that was not Biblical. "Well," I said, "We're supposed to help the widows and orphans." (James 1:27) To me, that implies the poor and needy. It's an extension of that verse, the same way many of the verses that touch upon sexual behaviour are open to broader interpretation. She suggested I take this up with our pastor. I think I will.

The main criticism of Unitarianism that me and my friend discussed, was that it takes the best of all faiths and puts them together under its own banner. There is nothing at all wrong with learning from other faith traditions. But when you pick and choose what you want, you end up with "everything and nothing" as far as a faith system goes. Yes, there are certain principles for ethical living that Unitarians follow, which are great, but they have little, if anything, to do with G-d -- and I am not just talking about the G-d of the Bible, lest anyone say I am lording (pardon the pun) my Judeo-Christian chauvinism over anyone. I am talking about G-d as a concept in general. And I am someone who holds following G-d and the Bible in high esteem.

Otherwise, Unitarians carry out their lives like any other church-going folk. They fellowship regularly. They make offerings. They sing hymns. They listen to sermons. The "sacred" in Unitarianism, seems to be social justice. Being good stewards of the environment, being critical of the government and its decisions, and treating everyone with dignity and respect. And with those principles, I cannot disagree.

Now, if only other churches got on board with those practices, we may see a radical demographic shift in church-goers!

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