Our Second Source
Words and Deeds of Prophetic women and men,
which challenge us to confront, powers and
structures of evil with justice, compassion, and
the transforming power of love.
Rev. Paul D. Daniel, Minister
The voice of the prophet belongs not just to the ordained clergy. Rather, we are all called to raise our voices to condemn injustice and inequality with the intention of transforming our society with love and compassion.
That need is even greater since the recent election where the new administration has enacted policies and executive orders that are at variance with our UU values. We must resist all such action that violate our ethics and principles. It is only through our joint and concerted effort can we have any realistic hope of saving our world often overcome by bigotry and hatred, indifference and a growing cacophony of despair.
Our world is in imminent danger of being overwhelmed by the evils of terrorism and war, famine, economic injustice, global climate change and assaults on human right here and across the globe. The current assault on our civil liberties by the fearmongering of the “Alt-right” conspiracy theorists is alarming
especially for Muslims immigrant’s and other minorities.
Our Second source of wisdom, the” Words and Deeds of Prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of
evil with justice, compassion, and the
transforming power of love” impels us to adapt a theology of social witness and action to counter the forces of repression and offer faithful truth telling with compassion and love to counter repression, false news and lies.
If we are to embody our values, we must serve as priests and prophets of those principles that call us to action. The UU theologian James Luther Adams is our seer and we are wise to heed his words arcane as they may be to modern ears.
He writes, “The Priest invokes the divine presence for blessing and seeks to bring spiritual healing.” The prophets are also exalted and reviled, for they take on the odious duty of “invoking divine judgment upon injustice as they seek radical spiritual and social transformation. t is their voice that shakes us out of our pride and lethargy and calls for to a change of heart, mind and action. With fear and trembling the prophet announces crisis and demands ethical decisions and moral action here and now.” We all are both the prophet and priest for our own time.
The pastoral letter 12 years ago, of former UUA president William Sinkford is a case in point. He warned of evil tidings if we do not participate in our electoral process. We saw the recent results of our 2016 election when millions of Americans did not vote.
Sinkford calls us to action to preserve our values and to take steps against that which threatens our constitution, our faith and way of life. He said, “the greatest service our faith community can perform right now is to help Americans reclaim our democracy.
We should never again have a president or legislature elected by only 58% of eligible voters according to NPR in 2012 and again this last election.” Ninety-Million eligible voters did not go to the polls in 2016. That is shameful, irresponsible and a threat to democracy.
We must do better!
He calls us to work to increase voter registration and turnout as an act of faith. I also believe we must also counter gerrymanding and voter suppression. Sinkford contends that the consequences of inaction will be to cede the political and social agenda to the religious and political right and their tendency to repress what they cannot control.
How sadly prophetic he was 12 years ago and again today. The Republican political agenda is already rolling back our social justice safety net.
Here is just a short list of
programs in danger:
“the Affordable Care act,
environmental protection and the EPA
GLBT? rights that will lead to the limitations of all our rights.
Religious and political conservatives are now emboldened to redouble their efforts to limit or eliminate woman’s reproductive right. Fresh attempts to limit others personal freedom are being contemplated.
A recent executive order now allows federal contractors to discriminate against GLBT? Citizens. There is a move afoot to reverse marriage equality perhaps with the nomination to the supreme court of Justice Gorsuch.
Family planning agencies are under assault. Mass incarceration of minorities are likely to accelerate as will stop and frisk laws. Such actions surely are an anathema to freethinking religious liberals.
It would be a mistake to assume that because most of us are average middle class that we are not at risk. We should all be chilled to the bone at the potential erosion of our liberties. All thinking American should be alarmed by the growing Russian hacking scandal and the tweet storm of lies and false new news coming out of the White House that serve only to undermine our faith in the government and democracy itself.
This is not a partisan issue because all Americans are effected. Make no mistake about it; all our rights are in jeopardy. These times demand that we marshal our forces of love, justice and compassion now. Unless we are willing to resist the repressive elements of laws like the proposed ban of Muslim immigrants we are in peril of repeat the excesses of the McCarthy era of the 1950s or worse.
As UU we are called to oppose the divisions that are fracturing our society. Support for the government is appropriate and necessary when it is in keeping with our values. Loyal opposition is called for when our principles are being violated. These issues are the core of our faith.
Our first line of defense again such repression must be to give voice to our UU values in keeping with our individual conscience. We cannot allow the current domestic fear of terrorism to override our democratic principles, our constitution and our especially our second principle. (see hymnal)
As Wendy Kaminer, another of our prophetic voices wrote, “our fear of terrorism is much stronger than the fear of domestic repression, or love of liberty. A commitment to liberty is a commitment to’ defend the rights of people you fear or distain.
We are obliged to protest and challenge repressive laws.
It is our responsibility to question
our government, to demand that we be heard before such laws are passed. We can do that effectively by actively participating in the electoral process and in government at all levels, local state and national level. If we don’t exercise our rights, we will surely loose them.
In 2001, former Bush Attorney General John Ashcroft’s was an early proponent of such repressive proposals we see being proposed today He said, “people who exercise our right of dissent to criticize the administration only aid terrorists”. The president is doubling down on that repression. He has demonized the free press, undermined our courts challenged the bedrock principle of separation of powers. and created a “post truth” and “post fact” environment by repeating and expanding upon what he calls false news stories and denying what all the intelligent agencies believe about Russia. The administration also denies what all reputable scientists tell us of a global warming crisis and the environmental dangers we face. This nonsense calls us to respond.
There is work to be done my friends,
by the priest and prophets among us if we are to restore the promise of democracy and fulfill the call of our faith. Like the Old Testament prophets, we will surely be met with indifference and hostility; but ours is not a popularity contest but a battle for the very soul of democracy and social transformation. Resistance is a moral faithful imperative. Our UU principles (UUA.org) demand no less.
The prophets of old called the people of their time to see reality and to act. We must answer that same called today. We may become as unpopular as they were and just as unlikely to be invited back a second time to a dinner party when we speak up for the oppressed?
Even today the prophets in our own faith are not always heeded even though as a religious movement, we encourage and value the voices of dissent that confront powers and structures of evil.
We Unitarian Universalists believe we can make a positive difference in our own lives and for the lives of all others in our own times. Ours is a faith of deeds not creeds. Our inaction can only lead to the evils we fear.
James Luther Adams again said it best, “a church that does not concern itself with the struggle in history for human decency and justice, a church that does not show concern for the shape of things to come, a church that does not attempt to interpret the signs of the times, is not a prophetic church.
We have long held to the UU idea of the priesthood of all believers, the idea that all believers have direct access to the ultimate resources of the religious life and that every believer has the responsibility of achieving an explicit faith for a free people. In others word, “speak up” As a faith based on a radical congregational polity to the exclusion of ecclesiastical control and influence we are by faith disposed to a firm belief in the prophethood of all believers (the voice of the laity).
The prophetic liberal church is not a church in which the prophetic function is assigned not merely to the few. The prophetic liberal progressive church is the church in which persons think and work together to
interpret the signs of the times in the light of their faith, to make explicit through discussion, the highly significant thinking that the
The prophetic liberal church is the church in which all share the common responsibility to attempt to foresee the consequences of human action and behavior, both individual and institutional, with the intention of making history (to cause change) in place of merely being pushed around by it.
Only through the prophethood of
all believers can we together foresee doom and mend our common ways. Hope is certainly a virtue, but only when it is accompanied by prediction and by the daring venture of new decisions, only where the rophethood of all believers creates epochal thinking.
If this foresight and this larger vision does not emerge from the churches, they must come from outside the church. Humanity can surpass itself. We can and must do better if we are to affect the course of democracy to bring justice, equity and compassion to the whole of humanity
Do we as religious liberals have access to the religious resources for this surpassing of the present? We must if our prophetic voices are to be heard and matter.” Our faith demand that we heed the voices of the prophets and priests like those of President Sinkford, Wendy Kaminer and James Luther Adams. For they push and pull us to social
Complacency and action both have their consequences. Evil prevails when good people of all political and religious beliefs remain silent. What will you do to counter the power and structures of evil? What will you do to bring more compassion, justice and love to our country? If not you then who?