Wednesday, February 16, 2011

UU apostasy?

Who would be a UU apostate?

An apostate is someone who renounces and leaves a religious body; while a heretic is someone who differs from the religious teachings while remaining within the body, according to Lauren Winner’s article on Writing about Paul Haggis’ apostasy from Scientology, she notes that Scientology makes recognizing apostasy simple, because of its clear boundaries about who is inside, and who is outside, the “church.” Because apostasy requires such distinct divisions, few apostatize from mainline Christian denominations. With nothing truly unique against which to rebel, those who leave “simply…float away.” Ms. Winner continues, “It is hard to imagine a Unitarian-Universalist apostate.”

This, of course, makes me want to prove her wrong. While rejecting any temptation to use words like “apUUstate,” I do want to explore the concept.

As a noncreedal, covenantal tradition, any UU apostate would not *believe* something different than the others in a congregation. Rather she would refuse to abide by the congregational covenant. Perhaps she regularly disrupts the public worship services, or maybe he won’t stop hugging people inappropriately. A real UU apostasy would be accosting others and telling them that their beliefs were wrong—and then leaving the congregation when told to cease doing that.

UU membership is less about a particular theological identity than it is a statement about one’s theologically-grounded commitments. So UU apostasy might be reneging on one’s prior commitments. Now, the road back into covenant is well-trod; we all fail to live up to our covenants once in a while. We all (should) help each other to come back into right relationship. When a person breaks the covenant, and resists reasonable invitations and accommodations, and leaves decrying the original commitment, that would seem to qualify as a UU apostasy. I have heard of a few examples.

One example, of which I have *not* heard: if a UU member continues to insist that her right of conscience is absolute, and that she has not only the right, but the responsibility, to block the rest of the congregation’s work if it displeases her, then the congregation might ask her to leave, and declare her an apostate for not living up to their shared covenant.

..or so I think, today. Other opinions are welcome.

{rant reproduced, with links, at So May We Be}


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