Contribution to the
Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church (BAUUC)
COVENANT GROUP SERVICE,
March 13, 2005
The Conservative Covenant Group was founded in January of 2004 and has been meeting monthly, on the first Saturday of the month. It's primary purpose is to provide a forum at the Church for social and political conservatives to discuss common interests, including books, essays, and current affairs. As a secondary purpose, the group hopes its very existence will encourage the Bay Area UU Church to embrace a diversity of political viewpoints by welcoming people regardless of their political orientation.
Like other covenant groups, this one opens with a chalice lighting, a reading, and a round of personal check-ins. The group members reserve empty chairs to welcome newcomers. We socialize, discuss common interests, and organize outings and service projects. Our status as a covenant group links the group officially with the Bay Area UU Church. This relationship supports the group's leadership, helps develop new leadership, and keeps the group vitally connected to the congregation.
Probably the most difficult aspect of founding this group was coming up with a name. We settled on "conservative" as the shortest and least misleading of many alternatives. In this context, the word "conservative" is a catch-all term for an array of similar yet distinguishable social and political perspectives, including libertarian, communitarian, Democrat, independent, neoconservative, theoconservative, Republican, and possibly others. For example, the topic of drug policy reform came up in one of our earliest meetings, and it quickly became obvious that there was no danger whatsoever of a consensus forming. Theologically, the group has attracted UUs with a range of viewpoints, including UU Christian, Humanist, Pagan, and others. Our social views tend to emphasize individual responsibility, but our members represent a mixture of other social values.
Being a "conservative" sometimes means having a child who dyes her hair pink, and sometimes it means speaking in defense of polyamory. Sometimes it means advocating the abolition of the electoral college. Sometimes it means defending Charles Darwin or George Orwell. Sometimes it means advocating greater separation between church and state.
Often it seems that the only thing we agree on is that our group improves the public discourse of the Bay Area UU Church by providing a forum for perspectives, concerns, and opinions that the UU movement has historically misunderstood, marginalized, or ignored.
In principle, the Bay Area UU Church's acceptance of religious pluralism logically implies an acceptance of political pluralism. The seven UU Principles as well as our BAUUC Mission Statement and our Covenant of Loving Kindness all implore us to be respectful of differences of opinion. However, UU communities have a tendency to assume that all UUs are the same politically or should be the same politically. The very existence of the Conservative Covenant Group is a helpful reminder of the complete diversity within the Bay Area UU Church.
This presentatation was largely an adaptation by Peter Taylor of Jason Pullen's FAQ. Our covenant is also online, as are some notes from a 2005 SWUUSI workshop on UU conservatism. Please address all comments to Peter.