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Unitarian church disappointed by ‘discriminatory’ gay marriage plans

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  1. At last! Thank you for reporting on Unitarians’ support for same-sex marriage & religious civil partnerships.
    However, we generally don’t use the cross as a symbol – couldn’t you have a nice picture of a Unitarian chalice, or of Derek McAuley?

  2. Unitarians are highly rationalist and progressive. One of a number of groups of this type who still persist with supernatural belief. How odd human beings are.

  3. Religious and rational! I’ll always be an Atheist, but I like this message. If only the ‘bigger’ denominations would catch on.

    1. You can be an atheist and a Unitarian (we’ve welcomed atheists since the 1920s).

      1. So if believe in ‘god’ is not a requirement to be a unitarian, then your ‘church’ is more of a social club rather than a faith?

        1. Spanner1960 20 Sep 2011, 1:38pm

          Wicca is considered a religion, but does not worship deities.

          1. True but isn’t unitarianism some form of christian belief?

            It is not possible to be a christian atheist.

            Which is why I’m asking if is more like a social club than a religion, If atheists are welcome.

        2. Depends if you consider Buddhism a social club!! Religion is hard to pin down but it is something that deals with the deeper questions in life: meaning, death, consciousness, morality, how to live with pain and suffering. Unitarians don’t provide a set of answers but most of their services deal with these types of issues. I’d say that makes it more than a social club.

          Unitarians started out as a largely liberal Christian movement in the 1700s / 1800s but because they didn’t accept many traditional Christian belief (Jesus as god, hell, the holy ghost, etc) and they had no set beliefs, they became more inclusive over the centuries so it makes more sense not to call them christian.

          There have been so many different definitions of god, other than just a big powerful magic being who made the world – see Spinoza, Seneca, Paul Davies, Don Cupitt, etc. Some would argue it is possible to be a christian and at least not believe in the traditional idea of God as a being (see Don Cupitt)

  4. Look at that. A Church being more progressive than the Tories and Labour. Good show.

    1. Jock S. Trap 20 Sep 2011, 10:28am

      Sad but very true.

  5. Unitarians don’t neccessarily believe in the supernatural. We could have a long debate about what is supernatural and what isn’t but unitarians in Britain belong to a ‘creedless’ religion so they are free to believe what they find credible, they can believe in a god, take god as a metaphor or be atheists.

    The basis of the religion is community and reflection and celebrating life events rather than having a set of beliefs.

    Though they use some ‘god / divine’ language on their website, Unitarians include people who define themselves as atheists, humanists, agnostics, christians, jews and buddhists among others.

  6. Mumbo Jumbo 19 Sep 2011, 6:44pm

    Bless ’em.

    Of course, other religious groups who shriek for religious freedom at every opportunity will object to THIS religious freedom knowing that as soon as some religious groups have no problems with LGBT people and start to perform same-sex marriages, then the more people will ask questions of them and the more exposed they will be to charges of just being plain old nasty.

  7. Glad this has finally made Pink News! Unitarians don’t use the cross as a symbol though because we’re not all Christians. We universally use the Chalice. Can this be changed on the article?

  8. I find it very strange why there is so much resistance by the government to allow any religious denomination the right to celebrate same-sex unions, ergo marriage. Does anyone know the reason for this? It makes absolutely NO sense. I don’t understand a blanket ban, it should be left to individual denominations to make that decision and legal to do so.

    1. The reason can only be pressure from the established church of England, which is woven into the fabrc of te constitution. They seek exclusive ownership of the concept of “god” and to have sole licence of who can and who cannot “talk to god”.

      It looks like the coalition have caved in to pressure from these nasty old men, so jealous of their intellectual theological games.

      Why our modern politicians don’t have the balls to tell them where to get off I don’t know.

  9. jamestoronto 19 Sep 2011, 7:57pm

    A chalice is the recognisable symbol of the Unitarian Church not a cross. Unitarians do have a creed not just the same one that Christians in general get. We believe all come to their own understanding of our relationship to the Universe whether through a deity or not. We believe in the equality and worth of all human beings and honouring and respecting all life. We believe in freedom of thought and speech that does not harm others or violate others. Unitarians don’t in general accept the creeds handed down in long ago centuries and you won’t usually their incantations at a service. (However, if you choose to believe them that is your religious right.) The Unitarian Church, most of the Quakers and progressive Jewish synagogues and the United Church of Canada (the largest Protestant denomination here) have all conducted marriages since the start some six years ago. The Methodists will soon follow. Even the Anglicans are debating it now.

    1. I’m pretty sure we don’t have a creed, at least not in the UK. Our members are free to believe whatever they think makes sense. In most cases, this will include liberal social attitudes, enthusiasm for the scientific method and affirmation of enlightenment values. We’re open to dissent but we’re not afraid to speak our own minds, and we respect anyone who holds a carefully considered viewpoint and is able to articulate it coherently and with intellectual honesty. Despite our name, even trinitarian Christians are welcome, as well as people with any other faith (including none!).

      I’m pleased to be part of a religious movement which doesn’t consider atheism to be a second-rate worldview, and keen to explore what contemplative, liberal atheists have in common with contemplative, liberal Christans, Muslims, Buddhists et al. It was no surprise to me that Unitarians support gay marriage, but after joining I was delighted to discover that we’re quite active in campaigning for it!

      1. jamestoronto 19 Sep 2011, 10:04pm

        That is the creed. By creed, I mean what one believes not what chants or utters by rote. One’s inner belief system is one’s creed not outer words. We don’t have a written creed such as the Apostles’ or Nicene creeds just as in the UK. You and I may not believe exactly the same but we have the same creed – freedom to come to our separate beliefs. I guess it all comes down to semantics.

  10. It would be a scandal if a group that exists to celbrate life events were not allowed to celebrate equal marriages.

    What is Featherstone thinking? Just how bad can her staff possibly be? Or how slow, if they need an extra nine months to get the ball rolling.

    Are they intending to pull the same trick as they did so successfully with the Equality Act – present a bill so late in the parliament that there is no option but to pass it as written, with massive failings, or lose it completely? I would urge everyone to prevent us being in that invidious, and powerless position again.

  11. According to the consultation on religious CPs which ended on the 23rd June, the results of that consultation were due out on the 23rd September. We still don’t know the full outcome of this measly change. We still can’t do religious CPs, nor do we know what the regs will say.

    There’s one delay after the other, gay marriage was supposed to be consulted on in July, then Autumn and now March 2012. It’s disugusting. We’re told they are talking to groups but it’s obvious this doesn’t inlcude the unitarians or quakers. There’s a whole load of unanaswered questions, why the delay, what’s going to hapen in the next 6 months, who are the stakeholders, I think we should all write in mass to lynne featherstone and our mps. The lib dems seem to have wangled a victory out of an another delay and yet again it sounds like we’re still going to be unequal and not going to get what LGBT people want. Surely it’s us who are the stakeholders and no-one else!

  12. Jock S. Trap 20 Sep 2011, 10:27am

    I can see why this church is disappointed, most of us are but surely they have to see the sense of whats happening. I applaud those religions that wish to actively take part in performing these ceremonies but we will constant suffer from the religious bigots and church and I fear they will try to stall any progress at every turn with a possible marriage equality coming into force in 2035.

    Get Civil marriages through 2015 and we’re on our way, no turning back. With the help of the Unitarians, Quakers, Reform & Liberal Jews we can carry on pushing for more Equal marriage in all forms but for now please see that this way is a lesser of two evils really.

    Ironic isn’t it. The Christian/Catholic church teaches Evil just acts exactly the way they teach it.

    1. My biggest relief is that they have currently said they are not going to disuss straight CPs at the moment….I feel the issue around CPs is far more controversial than religious marriage with opt outs for any religions that don’t want to do them, afterall they’ve just spent 2 yrs doing it for CPs. I can’t see offering one type of marriage only to gays and offering all types of marriage to straights can possibly be fair and non discriminatory. Would that really be legal, it’s like offering one type of flavoured ice cream to gays only and then saying yes but we’ve offered you ice cream no-one said we had to sell you all types of ice cream…it’s nonsense!

  13. Civil marriage is a far more important right than religious marriage.

    Quite frankly what religions can or cannot do is irrelevant to me.

    I do not welcome or appreciate the interference of these cults on this issue.

    Civil marriage is what the majority of same sex couples support,.

    Allowng religious same-sex marriages to have legal recognition is a minor concern that can be rectified simply.

    Or alternatively these cults can offer same sex marriage in their cult buildings and the couple can get legall married in the Town Hall (as is the case for all religious weddings in tehe Netherlands).

    Request to religious cults – keep your noses out of this subject until all couples have access to civil marriage.

    Until that point you are hindering, and not helping the cause of equality.

    1. Further, Marriage is ALWAYS a civil contract and NEVER a religious contract.

      The above FACT is reinforced by the fact that marriage is legally terminated via the state… not the church!

    2. Tim Hopkins 20 Sep 2011, 4:05pm

      Sorry to be blunt, but that is a selfish point of view: “I’m not religious, so I don’t care whether LGBT people of faith get equality or not – just give me my equality”. Luckily, many people don’t have such a perspective, or we’d be nowhere on LGBT equality at all: all our advances have relied on non-LGBT people supporting our equality, even though it was of no interest to most of them personally.

      I’m an atheist, but I think equality means equality for all, not just for people like me!

      1. No it is not selfish.

        Religions are not obliged to grant equality so focussing on what they are or are not allowed do is very irrelevant and distracts attention from the fact that same sex couples are denied access to civil marriage because they are gay.

        These progressive cults are being very disingenious and unhelpful when they start demanding the right to hold religious weddings or religious CP’s.

        Regardless of whether a marriage or CP is allowed to take place in a cult building, a gay couple will NEVER be allowed to get married in a catholic church.

        I want the government to introduce full marriage and CP equality and leave the cults to do whatever they like. A religious wedding is utterly meaningless without state recognition so state recognition should take priority over whether a cult is allowed to marry people or not.

        1. David, I would agree if they were saying “let’s delay this until we get religious marraige” but they are NOT saying that. Along with Peter Tatchell, who is an atheist, they’re saying “we should have this consultation sooner and it’s silly to create yet another two tier system, lets just make it on the basis that same-sex and opposite sex marraige are the same in law once and for all, including when it comes to religion.” Makes sense to me and it is what the Scottish government has proposed.

          It won’t just affect unitarians, as anyone can get married in a unitarian church. Without a fully inclusive law, we end up with yet another thing that is different for gay people.

          By the way, Unitarians, Quakers and Liberal Jews are not cults by any standard definition of a cult. Cults are generally small closed systems that dictate the views of their members and exert high level of control over their followers. These 3 religions are the exact opposite.

        2. David, the government is not leaving my “cult” to do whatever we like. The law forbids us from holding marriage ceremonies for same sex couples; that is not “leaving us to do whatever we like”.

          We are campaigning for full equality of recognition for same sex partnerships. Full equality includes lifting the prohibition on religious marriage, but we are not so idealistic as to stand in the way of intermediate compromises. What exactly is it about our support that you object to?

  14. Lynne Featherstone owes us an explanation for two delays. I’m surprised StonewallUK hasn’t thrown any light on this. What could possibly be the reason for these postponements I wonder?

    1. Stonewall may well be the reason for the delay.

      seeing as Stonewall is headed by a homophobe I sincerely hope they are staying well out of this.

      Ben Summerskill has yet to be sacked for his homophobic campaign against marriage equality last year. Therefore Stonewall cannot and should not be trusted on this issue.

      1. de Villiers 20 Sep 2011, 5:07pm

        The mysterious world in the mind of David where words mean only what he wants them to mean.

  15. It is possible to be atheist and christian and vice versa.

    Don’t leap in with shallow and demeaning comments about social clubs. Get off your arse and find out – if u can be bothered !

    Don’t make such a virtue of your ignorance David. You might learn something …

  16. Unitarians are highly rationalist and progressive. One of a number of groups of this type who still persist with supernatural belief. How odd human beings are.


    How odd to comment on something of which you know nothing ! :)

    Unitarians do not ‘persist’ with ‘supernatural belief’.

    Why not find out — if at all interested …

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