David Soliday spoke to us about Liberation Theology. The basic tenant is that the essence of sin is when the religious body turns its back on the poor. Sin is when god is evoked to oppress the poor and to harm the ecology of the earth. Its practitioners tried to show people that liberation theology was simply a new interpretation of the same biblical themes that already exist in the bible. They placed emphasis on the risen Christ instead of the Crucifix for example. They tried to remind people that Jesus was a servant of the poor and had concern for the poor. (Ed.Note: This idea of the people being paramount and the church be the servant of the people is the opposite of traditional Roman Catholic theology wherein the church is paramount and people are to be put to the service of the church. Traditionally, any individual (particularly a poor person) acting in any way that is contradictory to the needs of the church is declared a heretic and condemned to death.)
Liberation Theology rose out of the oppressed societies of South America and Central America in the 1960’s. Organization of the poor into ecclesiastical communities lead to new forms of theological expression. These new ways of thinking threatened the governments of the countries in which it was taking hold and it threatened the Roman Catholic hierarchy. Governments and the Catholic church persecuted the priests that taught liberation theology. Today it is condemned as “Marxist” which is a code word for anything that is assumed to be bad and does not warrant further investigation. Political leaders have managed to characterize it as “outdated” which is thought to be a sure way of getting the young people to ignore it.
Strictly interpreted, liberation theology is problematic for Unitarian Universalists because theology presupposes a theos… that is to say arguing which side god is on presupposes a god. But we UU’s honor each other’s perspective, we have concern for justice, we have concern for the earth. A liberation vision is within the grasp of every UU congregation.