Tolerance is not Inclusion

Here on the blog last week, I talked about how the world still needs liberal religion; how many people still want all the community benefits and even the rituals and commemorations that come with religious practice. They want the good parts of religion without the dogma and the stifling traditions, and at its best, that can be Unitarian Universalism.

But, we are not always at our best. While our traditions may not be rooted in superstition, they can still be restrictive to newcomers. Inviting people in without being willing to make room for them to create new programs and modify traditions so that they can feel some ownership.

It is not enough to say that we welcome people, not to tolerate them in our congregations. We must actually invite them to offer up ideas and requests and we have to be willing to hear them out and give them honest consideration.

It isn’t enough to say that we want young adults, or people of color, or queer folks, or even young families if we are not willing to change how the church works and looks and sounds to truly accommodate them and their needs. If we want to embody the beloved community, our churches cannot remain homogenized, and some of us will have to grow passed discomfort with change.

The world needs liberal religion. Unitarian Universalism needs to be the progressive faith that we claim to be if we are going to meet that need and make it to the end of this century as a vibrant and active religion. We need to make sure that new people are allowed to belong to the church and that the church can belong to them.

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