Friday, September 04, 2009

We made a difference!

I didn't blog about the offensive ad in the new UU World, but I weighed in on it in comments on others' blogs and it looks like we all made a difference. Here's a message from the World's business manager:

September 4, 2009

I’m writing regarding the Freedom From Religion Foundation’s advertisement in the Fall 2009 issue of UU World. As the UU World’s business manager, I am responsible for all aspects of advertising in the magazine. We have received emails both supporting and denouncing our publication of this advertisement, and I greatly appreciate that you took the time to write and share your concerns.

I have come to the conclusion that it was a mistake to run this particular ad. While the stated mission of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is entirely consistent with UU values, this ad seems hostile to all religion. To be more specific, I believe that I failed to help the advertiser match their message to our readers. An ad spotlighting FFRF’s purpose of “working for the separation of state and church” would have been more appropriate than one that for many appears to be condemning all religion in general.

UU World accepts paid advertisements for the same reason as any other periodical, to support the costs of publication. Advertising also makes it possible for UU and independent organizations to promote their goods and services to a UU audience—a service to our readers and to the advertisers. Our ads are often forums for differing viewpoints, and the UUA has taken a broad view of what perspectives can be included. (See UU World’s advertising policy.) In this case, FFRF needed help finding the right tone to elicit the support they were seeking from UU World readers.

As business manager, I will continue to be responsible for accepting, rejecting, or seeking to modify ads submitted to us. In the future, however, I’ll watch for the rare advertisement that needs to be modified before being accepted.

Scott Ullrich
Business Manager
advertising @

I really appreciate Scott Ullrich's prompt response to our concerns and his acceptance of responsibility. I wish everyone whose performance is critiqued sharply had the wisdom to respond in a sensitive way to the criticism, whether or not s/he changed his/her behavior as a result.

Thank you, Scott Ullrich!


Masasa said...

Way to go Scott! Well done.

Berrysmom said...

Well, well, well... I'm glad.

Robin Edgar said...

Indeed it does look like you and others who complained about the ad did make a difference Ms. Kitty. I was favorably impressed with most of the blog posts or comments about this particular controversy. I too will say well done to Scott Ulrich for promptly acknowledging that he had made an error in accepting the ad in the form it was presented and accepting personal responsibility for his mistake. Would that more UUA staff and UUA administrators had that level of integrity. . .

I may have more to say about this later but it sure is nice that The Emerson Avenger doesn't feel any pressing need to comment since so many other UU bloggers are saying pretty much what he would say anyway. ;-)

For the record I contacted the Freedom From Religion Foundation directly by email requesting a copy of the ad and its co-president Dan Barker responded positively to my request this afternoon. I will be commenting about this matter soon enough but I am very happy to see how things have gone so far and believe that this can be a "teaching moment" all round.

Have a great weekend Ms. Kitty,

Robin Edgar

ms. kitty said...

Thanks, Robin, for the good wishes. I hope you have a great weekend too!

Robin Edgar said...

You're welcome Ms. Kitty,

I believe that this latter part of a comment that I just submitted to Rev. Cynthia Landrum's blog is worth cross-posting here -

Bravo Scott Ulrich! You are very much in The Emerson Avenger's good books on this particular issue even if I can quibble with aka question some of your other words. You may even be awarded a U*U Hero Award if I ever get around to creating my U*U Heroes and Zeroes Awards. ;-) In fact your exemplary conduct, which allows me to hand out at least one U*U Hero Award this year, gives me the push to go ahead and award some U*U Heroes and Zeroes Awards.

That being said I would like to encourage all the good U*Us who have shared their concerns about this questionable ad being published in the UU World magazine to go the extra mile and contact the Freedom From Religion Foundation directly to politely let them know how and why you found the ads themselves to be offensive to try to persuade them not to display the more offensive ads in bus advertisements, as doing so will only exacerbate relations between God believing Americans and atheists, most of whom would prefer to get along with each other if I am not mistaken. I had no serious problems with the wording of the earlier Atheist Bus Campaigns and said so very publicly in this letter to the editor published in the Montreal Mirror alternative weekly this spring when the French version of the Atheist Bus Campaign came to Montreal.

Anonymous said...

What is your point? You "churches" are over run with atheists (aka, humanists) and are utterly anti-Christian so there is no God in your "places of worship". The only thing you people seem to worship are your own egos. I laughed when I read that you are so angry about the FFRF advert. Talk about being in denial. You need to make up your mind whether you are indeed a "religion" and what that means for you.

Robin Edgar said...


Your allegations and accusations are based on fact but over-generalize.

Some U*U "churches" are indeed overrun with atheists (aka, humanists) to the point where God believing people are "less than welcome" in them.

Some U*U "churches" are indeed utterly anti-Christian or largely anti-Christian but by no means all of them or even the majority of them.

:so there is no God in your "places of worship".

Being omnipresent and all God is in U*U "places of worship" whether U*Us like it or not, or indeed whether U*Us believe it or not. . . ;-) To paraphrase Aldous Huxley - Facts do not cease to exist just because they are disbelieved. But I do of course understand where you are coming from, and it would be fair to say that *some* U*U "churches" are pretty Godless when it comes to their beliefs and style of "worship".

:The only thing you people seem to worship are your own egos.

That is true enough of *some* U*Us.

:I laughed when I read that you are so angry about the FFRF advert. Talk about being in denial.

Some U*Us may indeed be in denial of the extent to which atheism has overrun U*Uism as it were. Indeed I know of some who are. I am not convinced that Rev. Ketchum is one of them however. I do believe that some U*Us are trying to put the Unit back into Unitarianism but not necessarily in a way that you would consider to be Christian. Do you believe that all religions that fail to recognize Jesus as God have no God in their places of worship?

:You need to make up your mind whether you are indeed a "religion" and what that means for you.

I couldn't agree more on that point and I believe that more and more U*Us are deciding that they do in fact want Unitarian*Universalism to be a religion and not just a "tiny, declining, fringe religion" at that. In fact this particular controversy has made it clear that a good chunk of the U*U blogosphere, including some Humanist U*U bloggers, want Unitarian*Universalism to be a religion where Humanists and Theists can Co*Exist and Co*Operate. I wish them well in that endeavor.

Robin Edgar said...


More coming. . . :-)

ms. kitty said...

Robin, thanks for your very cogent comments.

Robin Edgar said...

Hey that's me Ms. Kitty, even-tempered and yes. . . *erudite*. ;-)

ms. kitty said...

Yes indeedy, Mr. Erudite!

kimc said...

Anonymous -- We know we are a religion and we know what that means for us. It means something different than it means for you, so you don't seem to approve.
Religions are about how you live your life.

ms. kitty said...

Well said, Kim!