Monday, April 17, 2006

Somebody's Listening, But Keep Talking!

Our very own Navy UU Chaplain Cynthia Kane recently e-mailed the higher echelons of the UUA (President Bill Sinkford and Moderator Gini Courter) about our recent challenges, as well as some of hers. In part, she wrote:
Transitioning back [from deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba] has been quite a challenge, mostly from fellow UUs who've taken issue with the fact that I was there & also that I am not joining the UUSC "Stop the Torture" campaign. I was the guest speaker at the Pacific Northwest District annual meeting, which proved to be quite controversial...and regrettably my message was overshadowed by presence in uniform & in GTMO... Another example of our continued need to educate our comrades in faith and help them make our congregations more welcoming.
Sound familiar? Anyway, she got this reply from Gini Courter...
I've been thinking on this for a long time. I'm frustrated, too. I keep remembering when the images of two uniformed military folks (I think one was you!) were shown on the "big screen" during the GA closing last year. The applause was loud and sustained. I believe that the "center" of Unitarian Universalism is proud and supportive of our UU members of the military, but they don't get (create?) the same air time that the anti-military (usually presented as pro-peace or anti-war) folks get. I'll continue to be mindful and be more vocal.
... and this from Bill Sinkford:
This breaks my heart. I know how how hard it is to feel that you are not welcome in the religious place that you know is your home. You are living in that space which people of color know so well.

I promise to continue to raise this issue with our congregations as I have been doing in my preaching. It is a central spiritual issue for our religious community. Whether it be people in the military, Republicans, working class folks...anyone who doesn't fit the predominant demographic...we need to take to heart the words of the hymn, "Come, come, whoever you are." Its not just a nice tune.
Rev Sinkford's comment about inclusion really hits the nail on the head. It mirrors what I have noticed about the "selective acceptance" among UUs of those who are "not like us" - especially political conservatives and military members.

His reference to "that space which people of color know so well" is particularly compelling. It certainly puts things in a different perspective if you think about how most UUs (warning: huge generalization coming) would rather die than express any kind of anti-minority sentiment. But how many people of color are in our pews on Sunday morning? How many military?

Maybe we UUs need to learn to see ALL colors as "us," including khaki and camouflage.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Military Religious Freedom Foundation

Hello all!

Yesterday, I was asked by a friend to comment on a thread in another forum regarding the current status of former Air Force Chaplain Melinda Morton, and the status of the U.S. Chaplaincy Corps, from the perspective of a religious liberal ministerial aspirant who hopes to serve as a chaplain.

As I was researching for my commentary, I came across two articles I would like to share with you all. They are a bit long, but I guarantee they are well worth the read.

If you would like to see some commentary on the Chaplain Melinda Morton case, I have a thread on my website that has some news articles and commentary.

Now, the two articles that I would like for you to read are here... they are a two part series...

Article 1

Article 2

They were written by Cara DeGette, and they detail the mission of a former Air Force officer named Mikey Weinstein. Part of that mission is to form an organization known as the Military Religious Freedom Founation.

I have sent a letter to Mikey Weinstein, to let him know about my past and my call to UU Military Chaplaincy, and to ask how I can form a more concrete relationship with the Foundation and how I can help. But that is a personal choice for me, in my path to ministry.

I would ask my fellow Military UU's, especially those who are veterans or are currently serving, to look over these links, and begin seeing how we can aid in their mission and cause.

Yours in Faith,

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Anyone want to go to Maryland?

Chalice Chick joins the fray by telling us the following story:
As I recently wrote about on my blog the YRUU group at my church got a rather one-sided presentation on the military from a lady who came to speak out against Army Recruiting in the schools. I was wondering if any of y'all would be willing to come give them another perspective on military service and particularly on how what you have done aligns with your UU values.

The head youth person hasn't said yes, but it would probably be toward the end of June. I will pay airfare from whereever you are to Washington DC and you can stay in our guest room. (The house is under renovation and sort of messy, but the bed is comfy!)

Anyone interested can email me back at
Her blog post is an interesting read - seems to fit into last week's conversation about UU's in the military. Hopefully some military UU will be willing to visit her congregation.