This is from a sermon I preached on Sunday, November 9, 2008, to the UUs in River Falls, Wisconsin. I was preaching about how we include and exclude people in our congregations, in a sermon called “Invisible Fences.”
I want to take a moment to welcome a specific group who, if this congregation resembles every other UU congregation I have visited, are always present but usually silent about their existence. They feel that if they share who they are, they will be judged as immoral, or stupid, or perhaps—though we don’t use the word much—evil. I am talking, of course, of UU Republicans.
We laugh. And yet I am completely serious. Within this congregation, within every one of our congregations, are Republicans, who weekly brave the sight of bumper stickers such as the ones I saw in the parking lot today, “Save the world. Vote democrat.”
I want to say two things to those of you who are here. First of all, thank you. Thanks for being here. Especially this week, you embody courage by showing up, and I hope that this service holds healing for you. Second, I want to tell you that we need you here, now more than ever. Your faith needs you. Unitarian Universalism needs you. Our congregations need to include smart, kind, thoughtful, respectful people from both political parties, who are willing to engage in civil discourse with one another about how to move our country forward. We can’t buy into the media traps that have been laid out to cause us to stop thinking and questioning and learning from everyone around us. We need both parties in order to have hope.
As I preached, I saw one man with tears running down his face. He did not speak with me after the service. As I drove home, I thought about something Jim Wallis, from Sojourners, said after the 2004 election. He said that the media kept calling him and asking something to the effect of, “How does it feel that you lost the election?” His response was, “Prophetic religion was not on the ballot.”
I feel the same way about this election. Many of us were elated with the change in American values symbolized by Obama’s election and broken-hearted by the dehumanization emanating from ballot initiatives designed to deny the worth and dignity of gay and lesbian relationships. But it’s important to remember that Unitarian Universalism was not on the ballot. Unitarian Universalism will never be embodied in any candidate, initiative, or political party. Unitarian Universalism, rather, will always be that deep calling which causes us to align ourselves with the life and love within people of all political parties, and to repudiate the smugness, self-righteousness, and certainty which exists within people of all political parties.
Rev. Meg Riley