In last month’s newsletter, I gave one reason why I’d like to see more children and youth in our programs. I pointed out that if we had twice as many kids in our programs, that increases the odds that each child would find a buddy their own age. But this year’s mid-term elections prompted me to offer an even better reason to bring more kids into UUCPA.
Back in the early 1930s, an American Unitarian theologian named James Luther Adams went to Nazi Germany to study the response of organized religion to Nazism. Adams learned that nonprofit, voluntary organizations like congregations are a key bulwark against the rise of fascism. Democracy depends on the freedom to form groups that try to affect public policy democratically.
Adams went on to ask himself, “What in your typical behavior as an American citizen have you done that would help to prevent the rise of authoritarian government in your own country? What disciplines of democracy have you habitually undertaken with other people which could serve to affect public policy? More bluntly stated, I asked myself, What precisely is the difference between you and a political idiot?”
Being part of a congregation like UUCPA is, in fact, just such a habitual discipline of democracy. At UUCPA, we regularly work to affect public policy, in a wide variety of ways. Leasing space over our parking lot to a solar energy company is a way of affecting public policy to use more renewable energy. Hosting two different homeless shelters on our campus for a total of two and a half months a year is a way of affecting public policy to find innovative ways to address homelessness. Many of the weekly sermons, many of the weekly discussions in the Forum, and many of the adult education classes serve to educate us about policy issues. Not many organizations do all this, and welcome children and teens — UUCPA is one of the rare places in our society where kids can build habits of democracy.
Voting is not enough, says James Luther Adams. What disciplines of democracy have you habitually undertaken with other people which could serve to affect public policy? How can you get your kids to learn those disciplines of democracy from a very young age? One answer is to be part of UUCPA. And the more children who learn these disciplines of democracy, the safer our democracy will be. So whenever you see a new family with children at UUCPA, welcome them!
See you soon,