The threat of fundamentalism


Unitarian Universalists must boldly participate in the religious marketplace of ideas.


We could do so much more to renew our faith tradition for this new age. Above all, we could recall our reason for being a free religious community—to reorient ourselves toward the Holy, to be a beacon of hope and courage at a time of despair and fear, and not only to stand but to move against perhaps our most pernicious enemy: fundamentalism.

The rise of fundamentalisms of every kind—fundamentalisms of the mind, fundamentalisms of religion, fundamentalisms of politics—should both alarm and galvanize us, for fundamentalism is antithetical to freedom. And it should encourage us, for so long as fundamentalists in every walk of life attempt to close the doors and the minds of this world, we will have work to do.

We could become not reactive, but responsive, on alert for those moments that might prove fruitful in our ongoing work to stand against fundamentalisms of every kind. When Sister Elizabeth Johnson’s books are censured because the Roman Catholic Church finds them unsupportive of doctrine, we should make ourselves known as a supportive presence and affirm the freedom of inquiry upon which all of us depend. When a Pentecostal bishop like Carlton Pearson and an Evangelical pastor like Rob Bell discover the universal love of God, we should be there, with an open hand and an invitation, in the same way we stand with people who embrace marriage equality, or immigration rights, because our future in part depends on the free exchange of these ideas.

Adapted from “Texts of Liberation,” a presentation at the 2011 Minns Lectures by Rosemary Bray McNatt. see below for links related to this story, including other selections from the Minns Lectures.

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