This began as "UUdom is a microcosm of society part 2," but the fast pace of discussions sparked by the holidays- see The Humanist's Godless Campaign at Pfarrer Streccius; "When Did Expressing Doubt About God Become a "Negative" Attack Message?", "Part II -- When Did Expressing Doubt About God Become a "Negative" Attack Message?", "Supporting Atheists As Anti-Oppression Work", and "Humanist Parents Recreating Religious Community" at Liberal Faith Development , my own Give the gift of death for Christmas , Can you talk about God in your church? at The Journey, and where spirituality is not welcome at Discontinuous Permafrost- (and my delays in writing it) rendered the original obsolete. Instead, I'm taking up the obligation Steve Caldwell quite rightly laid on me when I popped off about it in comments to offer a solution to the rift; I'll lay it out in bullet points as Greta Christina did in her post "How Can Atheists Be Good Allies?"
1. Realize that this is not your church. I have witnessed a strong proprietary mindset by atheist/secular humanists within UU. I'm told that this is strongest in the Midwest, but it seems common throughout the UUA, and was expressed well by goodwolve in the comments to Can you talk about God in your church? : "You don't do it because of people like me - sorry. I just can't stand the infiltration. I know that sounds like a rough word, but I was raised Humanist and it feels so unauthentic to talk about god - it makes me feel like my experience isn't valued and that my church has been taken over by latent Catholics and Baptists." On the other hand, Fausto pointed out in comments in Liberal Faith Development that both Us were founded by Christians. (I'm told this is stronger in the East)
If UUism is to mean anything at all, it cannot belong to a single philosophy. Whatever either constituent "U" was originally, or what you might think "UU" was when they merged, UUism must belong to whoever will covenant to behave in a manner consistent with the Principles and Purposes, regardless of their beliefs. A member's beliefs must be treated with respect. Not agreed with- respected.
2. Don't fall for the fundamentalist binary paradigm. This is a problem for theists and atheists alike. Intellectually we know that there are hundreds of religions, and many shades of atheist- but all too often discussions seem to fall into "either you're a Bible-thumper or trying to outlaw God". "Believer" and "Christian" are not synonyms. Neither are "godless" and "communist". If someone disagrees with you, don't presume to know what he believes- ask him!
3. Remember who you're talking to. We are UUs; this implies certain mindsets. Atheists, don't talk about theocracies and millions killed in crusades. Theists, don't talk about Stalinist purges and outlawing God. UUs, regardless of belief (or the lack thereof) aren't going there. People who would go there would be happier in other churches or organizations. People go to UU churches to fellowship in safety and freedom; save the extremist rhetoric for the extremists.
4. Religion has nothing to do with intelligence. By the numbers this is more of an atheist failing as far as I can see, but now and then believers will also try to make claims linking intelligence to whether one believes or not. Fact is, there are both geniuses and morons on both sides of the discussion, and any trends you think you may see are always less than the difference between individuals. "Bell Curve" type comments (including use of the word "irrational") are as insulting and counterproductive in religious debates as they are in race relations.
5. Even if it's a joke, don't say anything that requires an "Except for you, of course; you're different," if a friend is listening. Three reasons- first, it doesn't make your friend feel better to know that while he may be accepted, his friends, family, and heroes are not. Second, you may not know where everyone within earshot stands, and your "joke" might come just when someone is trying to decide whether your congregation is right for him or not. Third, everyone knows that there's many a true word spoken in jest, and many may begin to wonder about you; some rhetoric is dangerous because it is exaggerated, over the top... and some, because it is exactly what you really meant.
6. Remember why people become UU in the first place. While there are those who were raised UU, they are in the minority; most come to UU as adults, and they came because they didn't feel welcome anywhere else. Some felt outcast because they were believers, but heretics within their previous churches, and some because they aren't believers at all, and for many of them, UU is the church of last resort. They simply have nowhere else to go. Driving such people out of your congregation because of their beliefs may be the only true UU sin.
P.S. All of the above applies to political positions, too.
P.P.S. Happy New Year, everyone! (Yes, I know it's two months late for some of you :) )