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Conscience and cupboards

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When I cook, I leave a trail of chaos in my wake.

A few days ago, Liesl came along behind me, shutting doors, shaking her head. “Do you ever close a cupboard door?” she asked.

“No,” I said flippantly. “I don’t. I’m a Unitarian Universalist. We don’t shut cupboard doors. It’s against our religion.”

And suddenly I found myself thinking about vaccines.

You see, some UUs ask their ministers to write letters for them, so that their children can receive religious exemptions from public school vaccine recommendations.

And there’s some merit to that. Unitarian Universalism is a tradition that values freedom of conscience.

But maybe it’s also a symptom of our struggle to claim our core. We welcome so much diversity into our midst, that sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly who we are.

We aren’t a tradition that has an agreed-upon book. We have no list of commandments (just seven principles, and some people bristle about them).

So what’s a minister to do? Faced with parishioners who (wrongly, in my opinion) passionately believe that vaccines will harm their children?

I could argue that UUs also value reason, and it’s not much of a leap from reason to science (which comes down firmly in favor of vaccination).

But there is no defining standard, no clear-cut, overarching rule. Just competing arguments.

I think if someone asked me, my answer would be, “No. I’m sorry. My conscience does not allow me to help you endanger other children and vulnerable adults.”

What do you think? How would you respond to such a request?

And how do we, as Unitarian Universalists, move beyond a place where people can claim absolutely anything—even closing cupboard doors—as being “against their religion?”


One thought on “Conscience and cupboards

  1. I’d respond with…

    If your vaccines work like they are supposed to then what are you worried about? How can an unvaccinated person be a threat to someone else? Do they carry a disease automatically because they don’t have a vaccine?

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