March 12, 2017 Service about the ACLU
Today Gary Daniels, a representative from the ACLU, came to talk to us about the work of his organization. There was a lot to talk about.
Interestingly, he started off by saying there are two groups who are strong supporters of the ACLU and he didn't know which one was most dedicated. One was Librarians, and the other was Unitarian Universalists.
The big lesson for me was his explanation of the way the ACLU addresses religion and the constitution. The Constitution encourages the government to accommodate religious practices wherever practicable but it prohibits endorsement of a religion. This is a very difficult line to walk. The government should allow prayer, but never encourage or lead a prayer. Ironically, many of the protections for religious practice built into case law go back to a time when evangelical Christians were seeking protection (see Danbury Baptist Church letter from Thomas Jefferson.)
We also discussed a fair amount of the most recent bans on immigration from a list of middle eastern countries by executive order. He explained that even if the executive order didn't explicitly ban people of one religion, all the things that the President said on the campaign trail will be introduced as evidence of the true intent of the executive order. It will be up to the judge to determine whether those arguments are persuasive.
Terror has often been used as the underlying reason to suppress religious practices, especially in surveillance cases. He said the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) takes the lead in many of these cases when it comes to discrimination against Muslims.
If you are a strong believer in the mission of the ACLU, then you really should consider coming and hanging out with us next Sunday. (next Sunday we are going to have a service on Jobs, unemployment, and what the heck it has done to politics in this country.)
March 5, 2017 Service about US
This was a Sunday in which we try to come to an understanding of ourselves as a congregation. We are a small congregation, but we believe in ourselves and in establishing our sense of spiritual community where we take care of one another and we stand up for social justice in the world. We don't have a creed, but we have a sense of truth and our doctrine is truth and service. In any dispute, we stand on the side of love The great religions of the world agree with that.
Please come add your spiritual journey to ours. We respect the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. And so are you. Please come join us some Sunday.
Feb 26, 2017 Service about the first Universalist Congregation in Columbus
Our congregation is the founding congregation of Universalist in Columbus Ohio. Founded in 1844, we had a church building constructed at 186 S 3rd Street by 1847. Elisabeth gave us a taste our hour history in today's service.
We don't know a lot about what our spiritual ancesters thought and felt, but Elisabeth constructed an interesting narrative of what was going on in the nation in those years and interpreted that through a Universalist lens. Interestingly, a lot of issues that concern us today were issues that concerned people back in 1844. There were concerns over how far technology has gone, will the telegraph replace the Post office? Great leaps in transportation concerned them now that the steam engine tracks have reached Columbus, and transportation is accomplished with a mechanical steam engine? We were in the middle of a trade dispute with China (at the periphery of the opium wars.)
In politics, no one expected the election of James K Polk and a lot of people were upset about his policies of taking on new territories without a promise that the new territories will remain slave-free. We even had lying and fake news. A small booklet was published to let people know that the other guy, Henry Clay of Kentucky, "spends his days at the gaming table and his nights in a brothel." The Whig national convention in 1844 was held in Baltimore Md at the Universalist Church Building.
After the service, we had a sit-down discussion for those who wanted to stay about the issues raised by Elisabeth. The Universalists were among the first to start to wrestle with the idea that our wealth and our morality come in conflict and maybe we can live on less wealth in order to get more morality working for us.
We also discussed what is the purpose of a congregation? Why do we assemble here each week? One of the reasons is our collective belief in the inherent worth of fighting for social justice. If you are a like-minded individual, please come sit with us some Sunday. We don't bite.
Feb 19, 2017 Service about Peter H Clark - Black History Month
Today Madeline spoke to us Peter Clark (1829-1925) in honor of Black History Monty. Mr Clark was from Ohio and became a teacher in the black schools in Cincinnati when they first began in 1849. That is reason enough to honor him, but Mr Clark was a free thinker close to our own hearts. He didn't teach the bible lessons as part of history as was expected in those times. He pointed to Thomas Paine the firebrand founding father who was a product of the age of reason. The school board did not appreciate his views of the meaning of the life of Jesus, so he was let go.
Clark worked with Fredrick Douglas on the North Star and he was an avid speaker on the lecture circuit that was popular in those times. He was a good speaker and he was a pro-integration socialist abolitionist. In one debate, the segregationists were carrying the day and Mr Clark put himself at risk by going on the stage. It was a brave thing to do in front of a hostile audience, but his argument was so sincere that he calmed the situation down (and perhaps swayed a fer people as well.)
He worked tirelessly for the Republican party which was the party of the abolitionist movement. Later he became disillusioned and joined the Socialist Labor party which was then the Workingman's party.
We are proud to have him in our heritage.
If you are disillusioned with your spiritual home... or are just looking for a bunch of like-minded spiritual free-thinkers who will encourage you along on your particular spiritual journey... or are just looking for some people who like a good social justice bugle call, please give us a try on a Sunday morning.