Filling the church-shaped hole

In an opinion piece on the Washington Post website, Percy Bacon, Jr., talks about why he stopped going to a Christian church: “I couldn’t ignore how the word ‘Christian’ was becoming a synonym for rabidly pro-Trump White people who argued that his and their meanness and intolerance were somehow justified and in some ways required to defend our [Christian] faith.”

That’s not the only reason Bacon stopped attending church during the Trump years. He also discovered that his church wouldn’t allow LGBTQ+ people to lead small groups. And he started reading leftist Black intellectuals who were openly skeptical about religion. Bacon contacted Daniel Cox, director of the Survey Center on American Life, who told him: “Your experience is very typical. Most people who disaffiliate do not cite a single precipitating factor. It’s more of a fading away from religion rather than a dramatic break.”

Bacon goes on to say: “People have told me to become a Unitarian Universalist. Unitarian churches I have attended had overwhelmingly White and elderly congregations and lacked the wide range of activities for adults and kids found at the Christian congregations that I was a part of. But they have a set of core beliefs that are aligned with more left-leaning people (‘justice, equity and compassion in human relations,’ for example) without a firm theology. I’ve also thought about starting some kind of weekly Sunday-morning gathering of Nones… or trying to persuade my friends to collectively attend one of the Unitarian churches in town and make it younger and more racially diverse. But I’ve not followed through on any of these options….”

In short, Bacon hasn’t found a good way to fill what he calls the “church-shaped hole” in his life. He adds, “It’s strange to me that America, particularly its left-leaning cohort, is abandoning this institution, as opposed to reinventing to align with our 2023 values.”

I appreciate his response to Unitarian Universalism, which can be summed up as: “Mm, yeah no….good set of core values, but too White and too old.”

As an old White guy, sometimes that’s my feeling about Unitarian Universalism. It’s too bad that we can’t realign Unitarian Universalism to our 2023 values of supporting children and young adults, and not being entirely White.