Liberal Religion in the Public Square

For all that is our life! by Rev. Andrew Clive Millard

“Ways of life we are all enmeshed in — economic systems, our whole patterns of living, our whole established world — are not adequate for the quality of life we know we ourselves capable of and that we want for the Earth’s people.  We must become capable of offering religious leadership to a society called to change its fundamental ways of living.”
— Rebecca Parker, “Rising to the Challenge of Our Times” (1997)

For the last few years, Unitarian Universalists everywhere have been invited to read and discuss a book selected as a “Common Read”.  As such, it “can build community in our congregations and our movement by giving diverse people a shared experience, shared language, and a basis for deep, meaningful conversations.”  Recent Common Read books include Margaret Regan’s The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona Borderlands, Eboo Patel’s Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation, Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness, and Saru Jayaraman’s Behind the Kitchen Door on the lives of restaurant workers in America.  Selected according to certain criteria, including relevance to Unitarian Universalism and the options for deeper engagement, it’s notable that each of these books is about that part of our covenanted responsibility that is, in the words of UU theologian James Luther Adams, “especially directed toward the deprived, whether these be people suffering from neglect and injustice or those who are caught in the system that suppresses their own self-determination.”  (“From Cage to Covenant”, 1976)

Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square

This year’s Common Read is Paul Rasor’s Reclaiming Prophetic Witness: Liberal Religion in the Public Square, which debunks the idea that the only source of religious perspectives on social matters can come from conservative religion and calls on Unitarian Universalists to claim our voice in bringing liberal religion to bear on public morality.  Drawing upon the rich heritage of our tradition in such areas as the abolition of slavery, women’s suffrage, civil rights, feminism, LGBTQ rights and environmentalism, Rasor makes a strong case for more visible engagement in matters of social justice.  In this short video posted by the UUA, Rasor provides an overview of the case that he makes in the book about how religious voices are part of the public discussion of ethics and social policies:

I invite you to take part in this Common Read, allowing us to discuss Rasor’s ideas in the light of our own knowledge and experience, to share our own stories and understandings, and to explore some ways in which we might strengthen the Fellowship’s own work on social justice issues.

As the slideshow below indicates, the Fellowship had a good year in 2014 for public witness and advocacy on issues including healthcare, marriage equality, voting rights, environmental sustainability and livable wages, raising awareness of systems of oppression including racism, sexism, homophobia and classism.  Let’s make our voices heard even more in 2015!

Slideshow picture credits include Joanne Dingus, Lauren Furey,
Brad Garbus, Rayven Holmes and Andrew Millard.

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About acmillard

Andrew serves as minister to the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of the Peninsula in Newport News, Virginia.
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