This post on The Wild Hunt Blog got me thinking, and my response is a bit long for just a comment. The post is about a recent video released by the UUA, and what traditions are or are not mentioned in it.
It sometimes takes newcomers a while to understand the baseline eclecticism inherent in Unitarian-Universalism (UUism). The tone and content of services, and the beliefs of congregations (and clergy) can, and often does, vary widely from church to church and region to region. What gets put forth as official Unitarian-Universalist Association (UUA) materials can also vary significantly, depending on who is currently employed at 25 Beacon Street (the UUA headquarters). While certainly influenced by various national committees and decisions made at GA (the yearly General Assembly of UUs), it's not surprising that groups who often consider themselves part of the UUA might wind up feeling left out when the official materials come out.
Having worked at the UUA in '80-'81, I was bemused when Pagans "discovered" the UUs in the mid '80s. Some Pagans of my acquaintance actually believed they could, and should, "take over" the UUA. Some of them actually believed that the UUs, by showing interest in Paganism and being welcoming to Pagans, were expressing a desire to become Pagans. The thing is, UUs are welcoming of everyone. Basically, if you don't come in firing weapons or raping and pillaging, they'll be happy to see you, pass the coffee, and engage in conversation about what you believe. But UUs are, well, UUs. If they wanted to be Pagans, or Buddhists, or Christians, they'd go and do that. But they don't. So people who expect part of religion to be commitment - commitment to a specific religion - are generally going to be quite disappointed with the UUA.
I have to admit, I'm one of those who wound up disappointed. I was briefly a UU as a teenager, when I got involved in Liberal Religious Youth (LRY) (a group of us who were more often radical than liberal, spiritual than religious, but yes, we were youth). But after a few years of that, I really wanted something more traditional. I became frustrated with the UU blender - the insistence that all religions are basically equal and come down to the same principles. I found it was a happy home for liberal intellectuals who weren't particularly religious, but not for me. And in recent years I've also become dismayed with how the UU omnivorous approach has at times led to cultural appropriation. For instance, while I think it's great if UUs want to sponsor a local Native American elder or group to give a talk about their culture, hiring shameons and white poseurs to present "Native American" ceremonies at UU events is really, really not cool. The thing is, the UUs have an odd paradox going on - there's a general support for social justice (albeit in a Liberal manner), but there's also the omnivorous religious approach that can turn into consumption. So it's ironic to me that when I was with the UUA we marched in anti-racist demos and supported actions called by First Nations activists, yet now it seems so many of them really don't get it when it comes to respecting the wishes of First Nations people to have their ceremonies protected.
While I still have some friends who are UUs, and I think it's great they let everyone from the local AA meeting to the Pagans use space in their churches, I think maybe the Pagans are starting to realize that being a UU is a specific religious approach. It's an approach that may at times include some forms and aspects of Paganism, and other religions, to a certain extent, but it will never be the same as those specific religions. It's not meant to be.