Racial, multicultural tensions still beset Unitarian Universalists

Moving toward truth and reconciliation
During the Unitarian Universalist Association’s recent national convention in Portland, Oregon, Joseph Santos-Lyons was ordained as the host city’s first homegrown minister of color in the church that proudly represents the left pole of U.S. religion.

The Boston-based UUA, which is 92 percent white by its own estimate, embraces multiculturalism in theory like other liberal movements, Santos-Lyons said.

“A habit of liberals is to want to fix everything on the outside,” said Santos-Lyons, 34. “But we don’t turn inward and fix ourselves.”

William G. Sinkford, president of the UUA since 2001, who was the first minority person elected to that post, said the uneasiness may have generational roots in the U.S. civil rights struggles. “Many of us thought we were going to solve racism and poverty,” said Sinkford, who is African American. “To come to terms with the unfinishedness of that work is almost acknowledging a failure for my generation.”


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