The Counterfactuals

I don’t normally deal with counterfactuals, but since I’m avoiding writing about why I think UUism (or most UU congregations) will stay white it’s related.

So let’s play the “what if…” game:

–What if Rev. William Jackson had been welcomed by the meeting of the nascent AUA instead of being given a few dollars and sent on his way?

–What if the Unitarians and Universalists had given the Joseph Jordans the money to found a seminary instead of doing misadventures in Japan?

–What if the AUA had left Ethelred Brown and the Harlem Unitarian Society alone instead of stripping him of his fellowship and sabotaging the church?

–What if the AUA (and the local ministers) had done anything (like recognize) Rev. William H.G. Carter and church he founded in Cincinnati?

–What if the UUA had followed through on its commitment to BAC?

And that’s just the ones off the top of my head.

In a different view…what if the Unitarians had done like the Methodists, Baptists (Presbys and Lutherans to a much lesser extent) and had established a few Black congregations themselves? What is/was in Unitarian theology that stopped this from happening?

What’s striking to me is the lack of imagination that U/U/UUs displayed and continue to display. I’ll write about that eventually.

2 thoughts on “The Counterfactuals

  1. These statistics are 5 years old, but I doubt they have changed significantly. The United Methodists are whiter than UUs, apparently, and the black Methodist denominations are as tiny as UU. The Churches of Christ and the American Baptists are the only denominations that come close to the same racial/ethnic distribution of the country as a whole.

    I’m not sure that it was theology, but class that kept Unitarians from establishing black congregations, just as they did not establish congregations outside of large urban areas or college towns outside of the New England homeland – even up to the present day. And class and geography in the Universalist case. The black population was not where Universalism arose and spread. Not to say that racism didn’t exist; it certainly did, and payed a huge part.

    Mark Morrison-Reed touches on theology in this piece, but I am not sure he is correct. His interpretation of Universalist theology is not how I understand it.

    • I don’t know where you got your numbers, but the Black Methodist denominations are orders of magnitude larger than the UUA. Even the CMEs, which is the smallest, was 850,000 members at last count.
      The AME church is somewhere around 3 million members and the AMEZion church is around 1.5 million.

      Most historically Black denominations are significantly larger than the UUA.

      I do not doubt that class was minorly involved when it comes to both the Unitarians and the Universalists, but knowing the history of the free Black population of Boston would make that a weak argument. I agree with Mark more than you do about the Universalist side, so there’s no reason for me to go into that.

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