Tuesday, August 22, 2017

How do UUs respond to the racism at Charlottesville with moral authority?

Rev. Marlin Lavanhar at All Soul's Church in Tulsa Oklahoma gave a wonderful sermon on Sunday, 08/20/17 entitled "Charlottesville: It's not so black and white." It is well worth listening to and sharing.

There are many take aways from Rev. Lavanhar's message the most important of which is the importance of nonviolent resistance not something to be done lightly without the knowing possibility of injury and death.

Rev. Lavanhar supports resistance and protest, but also encourages people to be smart about it and prepared.

He also supports the rights of the Nazis and White Supremacists to free speech. As usual the moral calculus isn't always simple but requires thoughtful reflection and then strategic action.

I wished that Rev. Lavanhar might have spent a little time and effort in explicating the moral philosophy of the action he is recommending such as the inherent belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all people. If we truly believe this how does that value inform appropriate action?


  1. The whole sermon could be summed up in my childhood chant, "Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."

  2. There is a great article on Alternet asking people to stop counter protesting because it is counter productive and elevates the very ideas that we object to. To access the articleclick here

  3. It is easy to forget when we are upset that all human beings are children of God or the Spirit of Life or Mother Nature or whatever you consider the Higher Power to be. We are called by the universe to love all beings even if we don't agree with all their beliefs and practices. It is the beliefs and practices to which we object and resist not the person. UU teaches this in its first principle of the inherent worth and dignity of every person. Violent counter protests is not in keeping with UU values. Pass the word. A big shout out to Rev. Lavandar for his wonderful message which demonstrates and moral leadership which we all hunger for. :-)

  4. Is it that White Supremacists are aggrieved and require our compassion rather than our hatred? Perhaps we need to listen to them even though we disagree. They are obviously in pain when they attack people from other racists so vehemently. What are they afraid of?

    1. Suppose they were abused or traumatized as children? Otherwise, where did such hate come from?

  5. Nazi's and White Supremacists should be included into our circle of love and compassion. Jesus said we are to love our enemies. How can we come to love these folks?

  6. I used to think I would go to hell for sinning and as I get older I realize I am in hell for sinning. I can't wait til it's over and I can go home hopefully having learned the lessons I came here to learn. I have learned that there are not good guys and bad guys but only us who all can sometimes be good and sometimes be bad and even when we're bad we didn't realize it at the time only doing, as Aristotle told us, what we thought was the good. And So Rev. Lavanhar has hit the right note out of all the pundits and commentary which have followed in the wake of Charlottesville. What we have as President Trump told us is pain and suffering on all sides. Some, in the moment, seem more culpable than others, but what made the haters the way they are? It goes back to the voters who put a person spouting racist, xenophobic, and eugenic ideas and we must ask ourselves if we are to be honest who and what made these voters that electing such a person was a good idea? It that can be figured out, human kind will have taken a big step to higher consciousness.

  7. I have come to think that according to Universalist theology, Hitler, and Nazis are in heaven because the Universalist God loves all its creations unconditionally. How can we do any less being created by this loving Entity/energy? The call is not to punishment but to accountability for right action and right belief. The political and moral question is how this accountability can be best operationalized?


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