Thursday, September 03, 2009

Selective sensitivity

UUs are a highly sensitive bunch. We know that the terms "articulate", "brown bag lunch", and the note produced when Rush Limbaugh blows his nose- F sharp- are all racist code language. How is then that the advertisement on the inside front cover of the latest UUWorld passed the smell test? If your copy hasn't arrived yet, the ad is from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. This is a non-prophet (their pun, not mine) "association of atheists and agnostics working since 1978 to keep state and church separate". The ad says, in small type 2/3 the way down, "FFRF educates and litigates".

That's as may be- but this ad sure doesn't do much educating- if it did, Berry's Mom wouldn't have been moved to say, "Excuse Me? I Thought We WERE a religion!" The ad in fact is not educational- it doesn't say anything about the separation of church and state (except in the small print 501(c)(3) statement quoted above; it doesn't tells us about any incursions of religion into any facet of government. It doesn't give us any examples, arguments, etc.,- it only gives us quotes from six atheists, five of those quotes ranging from mildly to highly offensive.

While the ad itself is not educational, its acceptance and placement is. It tells us about the mindset of the editors- and I don't like what it's telling me. It says they didn't think any pledge-paying UU church member (which is, after all, how one gets on the mailing list) would be offended by the first quote in the ad, "The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction." Umm, that would be the God of Abraham, and specifying "the Old Testament" makes it the God worshipped in Judaism, and Islam. Taken in conjunction with the Butterfly McQueen quote, "As my ancestors are free from slavery, I am free from the slavery of religion" it sounds like comparing the Jewish Covenant and the submission of Islam to slavery.The Clarence Darrow quote is less offensive than snarky, but then we have the Mark Twain quote, "Faith is believing what you know ain't so" which implies dishonesty or cognitive dissonance in believers. Well, this believer has faith in what he knows *IS* so- the fact that Mr. Twain did not share my perceptions does *NOT* make me a liar or deluded.This is not an educational ad. It does not make a positive case for anything; it merely sneers at billions of people. This ad is hate speech. How is it that these calumnies are given the entire inside cover, second only to the front cover itself in importance? Yeah, yeah, yeah, in small print on page three it does say that the UUA does not endorse all ads- but it also says that the UUA reserves the right to refuse any advertisement. So why wasn't this ad refused for its general tone?

I suspect the reason is because the person or committee who accepted it believes that UUs are just too smart and well educated to fall for all that faith crap. Why would I think that? Because I've seen and heard it before. The UU University Theology track at GA had the same tone. The 90% that was good was spoiled by the quotations from that eminent theologian, Bill Maher, and the insistence that faith was bad and a modern theology must be divorced from any whiff of a deity.

I asked once before , and I'll ask it again: is an anti-creed- things thou must not believe- the same as a creed?


ms. kitty said...

Excellent, Joel! Nice rant. I totally agree. Write to them at and tell them what you think. Judy has done it, I have done it, and several other ministers on the chat have agreed with our dismay.

Colleen said...

Hey Joel ... tell me again why you are not a Worship Associate? I would come to hear you speak ... Colleen

Joel Monka said...

Ms. Kitty- Thanks, and I do intend to write!

Colleen- Nice to see you here! Let me know what youthink of the "Pagan" and "My Pagan life" tags. As to being a Worship Associate, I don't think we have any such thing at All Souls- we never have lay-led services unless Bruce is sick. Except for Summer services, of course, but they expect moderately famous guest speakers then.

ogre said...

Agreed. The ad was astonishingly inappropriate.

And offensive.

SC Universalist said...

the ad sounds bad (still waiting for my copy of the World) - but obviously you have never been any any publishing job, if you think editors have anything to do with advertisements. Some editors dont even see the ads until they see their printed copy. and usually placement depends on payment (you pay more for a good spot)
the complaint is with the business advertising department.

BGD said...

Evidently, Clarence Darrow was a Unitarian.

Joel Monka said...

Haven't you heard, BGD, any celebrity who doesn't have a signed and notarised Apostle's Creed publically posted is a Unitarian.

jeanne said...

Hello Joel,

Thank you for your words here. I called Scott Ullrich, UUA World's business director, to express my deep concerns about this ad. I teach World Religions at my UU church in Rocky River, Ohio, and feel that the ad is beyond inappropriate. I respect personal athiesm, but fundamentalist anti-religionism is quite another thing.

Scott told me that he regretted the decision to run the ad. He sent me links to his online response and to several blogs, including yours. Here is what he wrote:

All the best,
Jeanne Grossetti
Lakewood, Ohio