Sara Robinson posted her amazing response to the shootigns in Knoxville, earlier today. About UUs, she writes, "Conventional wisdom says that we're soft in all the places our society values toughness. Our refusal to adhere to any dogma must mean that we're soft in our convictions. Our reflexive open-mindedness is often derided as evidence that we're soft in the head. Our persistent and gentle insistence on liberal values is evidence of hearts too soft to set boundaries. And all of this together leads to a public image of a mushy gathering of feckless intellectuals that somehow lacks cohesion, backbone, focus, or purpose." She then mentions a long list of Us, Us and UUs, from Servetus and David through Addams and Dix all the way to Keith Olbermann. Robinson notes, "After 25 years of right-wing eliminationist rhetoric about liberal hunting licenses and scaring us out of our treason and keeping a few of us alive as museum exhibits, it's natural that some of us would jump to the thought that maybe, at long last, somebody finally decided to grab a shotgun and go bag himself some libruls -- and decided (not unreasonably) that down at the local UU church, they'd be as thick on the ground as quail on one of Dick Cheney's private hunting trips."
Robinson follows up with "this congregation's cool, brave response shows, once again, that it's past time to drop that old stereotype, and stop underestimating the courage and intelligence of the religious left in America. We've gotten incredibly short shrift over the past few decades -- not only from the religious right, which thinks we're the minions of Satan on earth; but also from fellow progressives, who think that "religious" is a synonym for crazy, dangerous, irrational, and definitely not an asset to the movement." and concludes with "And then there's that long, tough history to draw on. The UUs, along with the Congregationalists and Quakers, have been at the beating heart of American liberalism since before the country was founded. We've faced down the ignorant and the arrogant, the terrified and the unreasonable, the cops and the courts and the Congress so many times that it's not even news any more. Civil disobedience is built into our bones (yes, *sigh,* Thoreau was one of ours, too), and we've come to regard it as one of our more important sacraments. These days, it's not only in our defense of gay rights and our gathering fury about torture, but also in our leadership role in the New Sanctuary Movement defending immigrants from ICE raids.
If the right wing ever does turn its anti-liberal crusade into a shooting war, it's easy to predict that the country's UU churches will be among their first targets. What's less predictable -- unless you know the people, the theology, and the history, or took careful note of everything that happened in Tennessee today -- is just how surprisingly fierce and fearless that response is likely to be.
Grief and pride taste strange together, but I am full of both for the people of the Tennessee Valley UUC tonight. After all, it could be any UU church in America. That's the bad news. It's the good news, too."
Knoxville, our prayers are with you.