Monday, July 28, 2008

A Hate Crime?

I'm stunned. Simply stunned.

Yesterday we all heard the news of a gunman who opened fire in a Knoxville Unitarian Universalist church. What a horrendous act.

I am a UU. Let me restate that. I am a PROUD UU.

When I heard the news, of course, there was no information on motive or anything like that. I felt their pain and sorrow as I would had it happened in any other church. But today I heard that it is being investigated as a possible hate crime!

a HATE crime, people!

I'm filled with anger, sorrow, anguish, confusion, the list goes on. Near the top of that list is an overwhelming concern for a faith community I have grown to love.

How do we, as a faith movement, process this?

For those of you unfamiliar with the Unitarian Universalist movement, we are a non-creedal faith community who affirms to support the spiritual journey that each of us faces in this life. Although we don't have a creed, we do have some basic principles:
  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

You can learn about it at, specifically about our principles and about our beliefs.

When I first ventured into my local UU church, I remember reading a brochure that listed these seven principles. The truth is - they had me at #1! As I learned more about this community, I came to understand the profound power of this principle, as well as the other 6. Once I really embraced this movement, discerning the right path for me, and indeed for humanity, became clear. UUism takes the good from all the worlds religions, and leaves the divisive paradigms and dogma's behind.

It's liberating. It's love. It's healing.

So, my mind turns back to the tragedy in Knoxville and my burning question about how to process this as a faith community. How can a faith movement based on love and acceptance of everyone cause people to hate us so much? It's so clear to me that people, no matter what their faith, race, or sexual orientation are people deserving of love and understanding. Why is that so hostile to those less fortunate to know our movement?

We are an interdependent web of existence. We can help heal our sisters and brothers in Knoxville through this interdependency. We must stay strong and hold firm our beliefs. This tragic event must not change who we are, but should serve to strengthen our resolve. I am proud to be a UU, and though I never met the courageous souls who died I feel a kinship with them and am proud to be associated with them.

In this time of shared pain, I fall back on the tenants of my faith and dare to imagine. I dare to imagine a world free of hate and bigotry. I dare to imagine a world filled with love and compassion. I dare. Do you?

1 comment:

Jon said...

Please let us know if a fund has been set up to aid the victims. I guess the lesson is that we should not take life for granted. This is just so sad.