The Unitarian-Universalists are undergoing new divisions about the church’s pluralistic and non-dogmatic teachings, but it appears that politics is also playing a large role in the conflict.
A small group of dissidents who recently planned to start a rival Unitarian-Universalist society in order to restore a more central place for God in the religion received wide media coverage. The effort of David Burton to form the American Unitarian Association also ignited a legal battle when the Unitarian-Universalist Association sought to sue the upstarts for stealing their name.
The Washington Times (June 18) reports that when Burton converted to the church he found that liberal politics mattered more than faith and spirituality in its pulpits and sought to start a parallel organization (rather than a new denomination) in Virginia.
For their part, Unitarian leaders argue that politics is driving Burton’s campaign. He belongs to a Unitarian-Universalists conservative forum and has been a Republican activist. [Burton’s claim that spirituality is neglected in UU churches may have been true 20 years ago, but there has since been a growing trend toward spiritual practices and even “God talk” in the denomination. The new spiritual thrust is often linked to liberal political views and is eclectic, embracing Christian as well as Neopagan caucuses, but atheism seems to be passé among most UU churches.]