The Rev. Christana Wille McKnight wrote a guest post on the uugrowth blog and presented a workshop on the subject at GA 2010. I wasn't there, but I saw the slideshow from the presentation. It included a recommendation that we "Educate clergy, membership professionals and lay leaders about appropriate methods of integrating and welcoming raised UUs as adult members."
I vented recently on this subject and received some comments wanting to know more about being a raised UU. I've written before about all the great things about being reared UU, so, okay. Time to give a little of the other side.
First, a little bit about some of the negative that I've seen or heard about we "Cradle UUs" as adults. Let me preface this by saying that though this is irritating when it surfaces, it's thankfully not a widespread issue, certainly nothing that I would consider to be a prejudice. But it's popped up enough to prompt me to stand up and say, "Please do not continue."
What does it look like? It looks like the people on the UU discussion lists (and even in a UU seminary class!) who say that they just don't have as much respect for those born UU -- they didn't have to work as hard to get here.
It looks like the curricula and surveys that assume anyone taking them came from another religion.
It looks like a minister who begins a sermon at a UU function with, "Everyone who was raised UU, please raise your hand." Several of us do so. Minister scans room and then says, "Me neither."
Ha, ha. Yes, I get the joke. But the message is, "I don't see you. You are not one of us. You are not a significant part of this religion."
The sermon continues, talking about how brave one must be to find this religion. And I completely agree.
What is also brave is the kindergartener who is continually told that they are going to hell by their classmates.
The middle schooler who continues to patiently try and explain their religion to their friends.
We are called a chosen faith. Here's the dill, pickles. Even if you are raised Unitarian Universalist, this is a chosen faith. Because we have been raised to go out into the world, explore it, explore our theological beliefs, and make a choice. With my generation, frankly, I think our parents went a little too far with that. "She can choose her religion when she grows up," was a statement heard far too often. Well, of course your child can choose a religion as an adult. Everyone can. But sometimes our religious education was a little too heavy on preparing us to make this choice and a little too light on Unitarian Universalism as a way of life.
I'm thrilled that our modern religious education is rectifying that error.
So you've been raised in this religion. I heard Gini Courter (raised UU) talk about how the one aspect of coming out as a lesbian that was no big deal was the "you're going to hell" part, because she'd already been hearing that one since kindergarten anyway!
In your own way, you've been fighting for religious freedom your whole life. Explaining it, to kids, teachers, scout leaders, who asked you "What the heck is that?" Trying to understand why Susie's mom won't let you come over anymore or the Smith family won't let you babysit. Watching your friends have bar mitzvah parties, receive special Confirmation gifts from grandpa, birthday money from godparents.
You're a young adult, and you go to a UU church ... but you were always in the basement with the youth group, so the service is unfamiliar to you.
You visit other churches as you were trained to do. Try different religions on for size.
You realize that being a Unitarian Universalist is not just a system of belief. Not just a covenant. It is part of your identity.
You come to church. And the religious authority in the front says, "Who was raised UU?" Excited, you raise your hand.
"Me neither," he says.