This week marks my one year anniversary working for the Unitarian Universalist Association as the Program Associate for Peacemaking. Working with amazing theologians, peace activists and dedicated Unitarian Universalists, I have learned a lot about what UU peacemaking looks like. In the next few days, I will be sharing just a few of the many realizations I have made when it comes to UU Peacemaking.
• Monday: No Creed, No Peace Testament
• Tuesday: Unitarian*Universalists’ long and difficult relationship with peace
• Wednesday: Just War and Pacifism—A False Dichotomy
• Thursday: Theology of Conflict
• Friday: No Justice, No Peace
No Creed, No Peace Testament-
When, in 2006, the UUA decided to study the role of peacemaking in our movement, many thought we were on the path to becoming a “peace church.” Much like the Quakers, the Mennonites, the Church of the Brethren, Hindus, etc.; we would step up and reject all forms of violence.
I have to tell people weekly, this is not true. Let me repeat, this is not true. We are not becoming a peace church. We cannot just do that. Not today, not tomorrow. In order to be included in that elite group of peace churches, we would need a peace testament. A peace testament is a religious creed based on peace. For the Christian pacifists and others named above, their faith is squarely centered on non-violence. It’s not just that Quakers believe that peace is good. Quakers are Quakers precisely because their theology and spirituality is centered on pacifism.
How does that differ from, say, our sixth principle, which says: “We affirm and promote: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.”? While our sixth principle does promote peace in our world community, it is not our creed. We covenant to work for our principles and purposes. And while UU’s tend to agree with them, belief in them is not a prerequisite to become a member.
In fact, Unitarian Universalism as a creedless faith is what draws so many of our members to our churches and communities. People are drawn to a faith community where we accept you as you are. We do not have a holy book or a set of rigorous beliefs or religious law. We just ask you to be in our community. We don’t have to believe alike, pray alike or hold similar world views on political practices. In order to become a peace church like the communities named above, we would have to sacrifice the creedless nature of our faith.
This is precisely why we cannot be a peace church. We would have to fundamentally change who we are as a faith. Not that changing our faith would be an inherently bad thing. We change and redefine our faith all the time. However, I think it would be extremely short sighted if we were to change our creedless nature of Unitarian Universalism after four years of study and in the midst of an incredibly unpopular war. That is just one reason why we are not becoming a peace church even though “we affirm and promote: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” While we strive for a world community with peace, liberty and justice for all, there are thousands of ways to define what that would look like.
So, if we are not a church of pacifists, what are we? What does UU peacemaking look like? Well, that is what we are working on. Come back to this blog everyday to learn a little bit more of what Unitarian Universalist peacemaking looks like. And check out some of my more informative peace centered blogposts at our old blog: http://uuawo.blogspot.com/2007/07/midterm-review-what-is-peace-studies.html