Saturday, October 25, 2008

A look at UUA thinking in 1966

Everything We Know about UUA history is wrong - or at least somethings that I thought I knew about UUA history is wrong. At least that is what I am thinking after reading the 1973 book RELIGION AMONG THE UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISTS: CONVERTS IN THEIR STEPFATHERS' HOUSE (Robert B. Tapp). This book was based on surveys and studies done in 1966 - and is an interesting snapshot of the UUA just before the late 1960s meltdown.
the Peak year for the UUA was 1968 with a membership of 282, 000 - the current membership (2008) is 155,000, but the decline was in the 1960s and 1970s. In 1977 membership was 145, 000. This loss of half the membership in nine years explains a lot about what happened to the denomination during that time frame (and what happened to the denomination also explains what happened to the membership).

Okay. lets look at some of the 1966 views
30% said that "God" was irrelevant or harmful
44% said "God" was a name for some natural process in the universe (such as love)
26% said that "God" was real

12% said they prayed frequently
52% said they prayed occasionally or seldom
36% said they never prayed
(34% had said they found the term prayer non-useful)

43% said they were Christian - 57% said they weren't
70 % said religious education was very important to what a church's emphasis should be.9the topic percentage)
The most important skills for a minister were Dealings With People 84% and Preaching 74%, Religious Education 59%, counseling 58% and Social Action 45%

11% wanted the UUA to be more Christian in ten years
37% wanted the UUA to be a more universal religion in ten years
52% wanted the UUA to be a more humanistic religion in ten years

12% were born UUs

18% voted for Barry Goldwater in 1964 (39% of the vote was the National USA percentage)

the 12% who were born UUs is roughly the same for what it is now ---
Too bad there's no survey to show us what UUs were believing in would be interesint to see who left - the usual thinking was the left and the right left, leaving just the middle .....but we dont really know.


jim innes said...

Wow! Those statistics are telling. I wondered why as a unreconstructed Universalist I felt out of place.The Theological School at St. Lawrence closed shortly after I left and all these years I thought it was because of me.
Are you going back to the Fredonia connection?

SC Universalist said...

Jim, after the UUA ran out of money (after running through the money) - they had to cut somewhere - so they closed the historic universalist seminaries and kept the historic unitarian seminaries.
Freedonia instead of Railroad Bill? Sure, at some point!