In my last post I proposed the elimination of the UUA Washington Advocacy Office. Does this mean I want the UUA to stop being a political action committee? Anyone who has read my posts here, or my comments on the Chaliceblog or CFUU or Beliefnet knows my answer is *YES* When our constituent denominations were formed, churches were the only advocates the poor and the powerless had. But times change, and we must change with them. Today there is no issue that doesn’t have its own advocacy group, and almost invariably with more power than the church spokesmen. There’s a saying in football that when a team claims to have two running backs, they have none. What this means is that if they had a star, he’d be the running back... is there any issue at all in which we are the advocates? Be honest- is there any political issue in which we even make a difference? Then why are we wasting our time, money, and moral capital?
So if we’re shouldn’t be lobbyists, what is our mission? We could speak out. I don’t mean “speaking truth to power”- the catchphrase of the day- everybody and his grandmother is doing that, although nine times out of ten it merely means calling the President a nazi. In fact, so many are doing it that ours is a lost voice in the cacophony. I mean speaking truth to the people.
The Religious Right is right about one thing: our culture is sick. We religious liberals tend to dismiss that message because we disagree with the RR on so many issues- but anbody can stumble into the truth, and that is indeed a truth. Instead of calling the President a nazi, why don’t we call Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas a slut? It’s just as true, but it’s a truth none dare speak. In a communications class twenty years ago I saw a public service commercial that was never aired because it was controversial. I forget the exact numbers, but it went something like this: “Last year three African Americans were killed by the Klu Klux Klan. One was killed by the American Nazi Party. And 11,000 were killed by gangs. If you’re a gangbanger, you’re not hip- you’re a TRAITOR!” THAT was speaking truth to the people. If we can, as a denomination, denounce the Republican party for wanting to change the filibuster rule, why do we find it so difficult to denounce gansta rappers for degrading women and deadening the human spirit?
Government and laws simply cannot solve the ills of society; only a higher awareness within that society can- and who is better suited to lead a drive to social consciousness and personal responsibility than a church already known for fighting for equality? We have abdicated the fight for public morality to the Religious Right- and that was the biggest mistake the religious liberal ever made. We should be the ones out there teaching that choices have consequences, but we’re too terrified of being called “judgemental”. I believe we concentrate on politics just to avoid directly confronting situations involving “judgements”. There are so many “inconvenient truths”... that it’s far more true that crime causes poverty than the other way around... that the number one cause of poverty and indeed nearly all human misery is bad choices and bad lifestyles... that one consequence of the interconnected web is that we all have to pay for your sins.
Of course, first we’d have to have a debate within ourselves on what morality is. I don’t believe that having no creeds means having no morals, but we’re afraid to have the debate for fear of offending members and having some leave. That’s a strange one to me, for we have no fear of offending people over political issues and driving them from the church. I say we should leave politics to the politicians, and return to the issues people turn to churches for: philosophy, spirituality, and morality. I believe that even in the short term we’d have far more impact by trying to get people to do the right thing than by sending out yet another flurry of hot faxes from the Washington Advocacy Office.