One of the first things I did on my epic quest for wordlessness and spirituality was to take a quiz to see where I landed on the religion spectrum. The quiz asked a bunch of questions that I mostly didn't understand (god, heaven, hell, sin, multiple deities are not part of my regular vocabulary), but the result was entertaining.
I scored 100% Secular Humanist with a 95% match for a Unitarian Universalist.
Sadly, I only came up a 3% match as a Jehovah's Witness.
Since my sister (a fellow godless secular humanist) had fond memories of her old UU church in Massachusetts, she invited me to join her and her girlfriend, Sophie, at the downtown Portland service yesterday. I dragged the baldman and his daughter along for the ride. Such troopers!
Based on everything I'd heard about Unitarian Universalism, I thought it would be the PERFECT church for me. I understood it to be a very inclusive religion. All faiths - or non-faiths - included. No judgement. No preaching. Just a place where everyone is welcome regardless of where they are in their spiritual journey or how they arrived there.
And hell, they sing songs! And barely mention the word god! How could it go wrong?
Let me tell you how.
I could have forgiven the sign, honestly. This is PORTLAND for christ's sake. I know what I'm up against.
But it went downhill from there.
Oddly enough, there were NO children there. Liza was one of the only kids in attendance. Which is just WEIRD. According to my sister, children were an integral part of the UU services at her old church. Her favorite part, in fact. But they were eerily missing here in Portland, almost as if they'd been banished to a basement somewhere. I already feel like I don't get enough time with my kids. I don't see myself joining a church where they can't sit next to me.
Then... The pastor proceeded to spend the beginning of the service espousing upon the need for gun control. I sat in a crowd of like-minded head-nodders as he bragged about how many guns they've taken off the streets and then passed around a collection bowl for Cease Fire, a political organization with which I fundamentally disagree.
As far as I'm concerned, the separation of church and state should go both ways. Politics have no place in religion. Maybe it's just me, but the whole reason I'd even go to a Unitarian Universalist church in the first place is that I don't want to be told how to think. I want to show up there to be reminded TO think. To remember that there isn't only one way to think.
Instead, the supposedly inclusive Unitarians spent the first ten minutes of their service subtly reminding me what a horrible excuse for a human being I am because I staunchly believe in protecting my right to self defense.
Somehow, it managed to get even worse.
The theme of the day was diversity. Which, hey, great! I'm all for diversity. Especially on the anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's birth. The pastor (who also happened to be the only black person I saw at the service) spoke at length about how much he'd love to see his parish LOOK different. How they obviously aren't doing enough to include peoples of color. That they need more outreach to brown people. Forget about the fact that we have a black president! Obviously the dearth of color in his parish is a sign that MLK's dream has yet to be fulfilled.
He may be right, but the sermon fell on deaf ears. I was still smarting from the outright prejudice I had just experienced myself. I couldn't be in the moment; I was too busy clenching my fists. Before I could even THINK about my own fledgling spirituality, I was made to feel as if I was not only unwelcome, but unwanted.
That's not diversity. That's ELITISM.
The message was loud and clear:
We only want you if you think like we do! BONUS POINTS if your skin is the same color as a caffeinated beverage!
Instead of a place where multiple viewpoints are accepted and cherished, the UU is a beacon of political correctness. Basically, if you need weekly affirmation that you are the perfect bearded, white, liberal, progressive Portlander: sit your ass in a chair at the First Unitarian Church and you'll leave feeling like your shit don't stink.
It was little more than a progressive liberal circle jerk.
For the record, I'd be just as horrified if they had handed out NRA stickers at the service instead of ones that said Gun Free Zone. I value ALL political ideologies, even if I disagree with them. Same thing with religions. But that respect has to go both ways.
Needless to say, I won't be going back.