24 September, 2007

Ahmadinejad Speaks to Unitarian Congregation

New York, New York - The visit of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has been surrounded by controversy. Since becoming president of Iran in 2005 Ahmadinejad has made statements denying the Holocaust and calling for the destruction of Israel. His recent visit to the United States in order to address the U.N. General Assembly and planned visit to speak at Columbia University has been the focus of many debates. The question as to whether an avowed enemy of the United States and flagrant anti-Semite should be allowed to speak openly at an American University has been questioned by many. But one other public appearance by Ahmadinejad upon his arrival in the United States managed to slip by virtually unnoticed to the public and the entire media, the entire media, that is, except for TBNN.

In an exclusive investigation, TBNN was able to discover that President Ahmadinejad's first speaking engagement upon arriving in the United States on Sunday was at the Baker Street Unitarian Unaversalist Congregation. Ahmadinejad addressed the congregation during their regular Sunday morning "time of gathering."

"I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today" stated Ahmadinejad. "It is a comfort to know that there are still some left in America who stand for freedom of speech and the right to think and believe according to one's own conscience."

Ahmadinejad spoke for over an hour to the packed house of over 500 people. After he was finished he received a standing ovation from the congregation. At the end of the "service" the entire congregation joined hands with Admadinejad and sang "We Shall Overcome."

While this first speaking engagement of Ahmadinejad's went largely unnoticed, some who were privy to the events ahead of time were "deeply troubled" by his appearance.

"I for one am not pleased" said Evylyn Pietrewlevski, a member of Baker Street. "I understand the importance of diversity and tolerance. I don't want to offend the Iranian people in any way, but I don't think this was the right person to have."

Still, the Rev. Odessa Alma Jennings-Hardworth, pastor of Baker Street, defended the decision to have Ahmadinejad speak.

"We realize that President Ahmadinejad has made some statements which could be considered by some to be intolerant" stated Jennings-Hardworth. "Indeed, that might be true. But one must examine his overall demeanor. While Mr. Ahmadinejad is intolerant towards good things, he is also intolerant of those whom we consider intolerant in even more important matters, namely those of the far-right agenda. So we share a common intolerance of unfavorable intolerance and his intolerance of intolerance far out weights, in my opinion, his intolerance of those things tolerable. If there's one thing we cannot tolerate, it is intolerance, unless a greater intolerance exists towards those with even greater intolerance. I think our motives in having him speak, speak for themselves."

10 comments:

Les said...

I don't know what's funnier..."intolerant intolerance" or the label "probably will happen". :)
Good one, Tom!

Martin Vennard said...

Hi, I work for BBC World Service radio in London and today (Monday 24th September) between 1pm and 2pm East Coast Time in the States we will be discussing in our programme, World Have Your Say, whether the Iranian president should be allowed to visit Ground Zero. If you would like to take part in the radio discussion please call me at +442075570635 or email me at martin.vennard@bbc.co.uk

Many thanks
Martin Vennard
BBC World Service radio.

Darrin said...

I don't know how to dial a phone number with a plus sign in it.

I believe this Unitarian meeting was a good follow-up to the time they had Hitler speak decades ago.

Robin Edgar said...

If one is to believe the allegations of German anti-fascist and anti-racist groups the German Unitarian religious community was subverted by Nazi ideologues, some of whom were former SS officers and convicted war criminals, following WWII and held top leadership positions in the Deutsche Unitarier Religionsgemeinschaft for several decades. Apparently the word Unitarier, which means Unitarian in German, can also be quite readily interpreted as meaning Unit-Aryan. . .

I realize that this "news report" is satire and parody rooted in some rather unfortunate realities about contemporary Unitarian*Universalism aka U*Uism but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would be badly misinformed if he really believed that Unitarian*Universalist U*Us actually "stand for freedom of speech and the right to think and believe according to one's own conscience."

Unitarian*Universalist U*Us have gone to extreme lengths to try to censor and suppress my own right to think and believe according to my own conscience, and censorship of various kinds is quite rampant in the so-called U*U World. I have been permanently banned from every UUA sponsored email listserve and internet forum for daring to speak what I think and believe according my own conscience. I have been falsely arrested on trumped up criminal charges for daring to publicly protest against U*U injustices, abuses and hypocrisy. Injustices and abuses that include, but are by no means limited to, egregious anti-religious intolerance and bigotry. Most recently the not so brand-spanking new minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal, Rev. Diane Rollert, has seen fit in her highly questionable wisdom to seek a restraining order against me based on either paranoid delusions or outright lies to the police, in a deeply misguided and outrageously hypocritical effort to force an end to my ongoing peaceful public protest activities in front of the alleged Unitarian Church of Montreal.

There is no shortage of grist for your religious satire mill in my very well-docuumented trials and tribulations with Unitarian*Universalist U*Us. . . Feel free to post something inspired by these genuine article news stories. Here is the latest U*U breaking news story about Rev. Diane Rollert's misguided and cynical, but most likely to prove utterly futile. . . attempt to seek a restraining order that would force a *temporary* end to my ability to publicly speak what I have good reason to think and believe about U*U injustices, abuses, and outrageous hypocrisy according to my own conscience in front of the Unitarian Church of Montreal on any given Sunday.

Team Tominthebox News Network said...

Robin,

Thank you for taking the time to comment. I'm not sure how to respond, because, primarily, I'm not exactly clear on where you're coming from.

Let me begin by hopefully clarifying my own position. We here at TBNN, myself, my brother who writes under the name "Brother Slawson" and our friend Eric Carpenter who writes under the name "Elder Eric" are all Evangelical Christians of the Reformed Camp. Therefore, while there may be small issues of disagreement among us, we firmly agree upon what are commonly known as the Five Solas of the Reformed, faith. Scripture alone, Christ alone, faith alone, grace alone, Glory to God alone. So our purpose here is to highlight various issues within Christendom in a satirical and comical way from that perspective.

So that being said, our primary "beef," (if you want to call it that) with the Unitarian Church is their flagrant post-modernism, essentially stating that whatever you believe to be true is true. Everyone finds their own "path." It is a religion totally devoid of authority and standards. Therefore, as long as one has that view that everyone else is right, he or she is free to associate with that fellowship. The minute one wishes to impose some set of absolutes or standards he or she is ousted.

So Biblically speaking Unitarian Church is a false religion. There is no authority of Scripture and therefore no salvation within her walls. She is pure humanism plain and simple.

I am sorry for the frustrations you are having with them, but my question to you would be "Why do you want to associate with them?" If you have the slightest inclination that there is some form of absolute truth in the world, then why would you want fellowship with a religion that is completely contrary to that notion?

My advice to you would be to let it go. If protesting the church is getting you arrested, whether justly or not, stop protesting the church. If you have been banned from discussion boards then "shake the dust from your feet." If you have been hurt by these people I'm very sorry. Seriously. But seek a Bible-believing evangelical church in your area, read God's Word daily and seek new relationships amongst a true body of believers.

-Tom

Robin Edgar said...

Hi Tom,

Well thank you too for taking the time to respond at some length to my comment. I am coming from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. ;-) More seriously I am simply pointing out that the rumours of U*Uism being a "religion" that stands for freedom of speech and the right to think and believe according to one's own conscience are greatly exaggerated.

I write under the name of The Emerson Avenger who has the reputation of being something of a Transcendentalist Super Hero in the U*U World.

http://emersonavenger.blogspot.com

Like you I highlight various issues within U*Udom in a satirical and comical way, as well as in rather more serious ways when necessary and appropriate.

You primary "beef," with the Unitarian Church (if you want to call it that. . .) has considerable validity. It is a serious error for U*Us to take the position that "whatever you believe to be true is true" as you put it. The thing is that, although this may play out in practice within the U*U World it is not true that such degenerate relativism is U*U dogma as it were. On the contrary U*Us claim in the fraudulent religious propaganda to affirm and promote a free and responsible search for the truth. Prominent U*U minister Rev. Charles Eddis, minister emeritus of the Unitarian asserts -

"We are firmly committed to truth with a small "t," to the right - indeed the duty - of personal judgment. Freedom of belief is not a licence for religious anarchy or irresponsibility. It is not a franchise for wishful thinking. It is an opportunity for careful, hard, honest thought. Every person should develop his or her own capacity for personal judgment so that she or he may, in the words of the apostle Paul, "Prove all things; hold fast to that which is good." Nor is it all a private matter: we believe in sharing personal convictions and beliefs with each other in an atmosphere of openness and mutual respect.

This would lead one to believe that Unitarian*Universalists do believe that it is important to responsibly seek out objective verifiable truth rather than foolishly believe that "whatever you believe to be true is true".

:It is a religion totally devoid of authority and standards.

I would not say that U*Uism is totally devoid of authority and standards. It certainly claims to have some authority and a good number of standards. The main problem is that so many U*Us do such a terrible job of respecting that authority and living up to those standards.

:Therefore, as long as one has that view that everyone else is right, he or she is free to associate with that fellowship.

Again this is not an accurate representation of U*Uism. U*Us are very good at being judgmental and saying that other people are wrong, as my own well-documented case should make abundantly clear. . .

:The minute one wishes to impose some set of absolutes or standards he or she is ousted.

Well I certainly would have to admit that I was well and truly ousted by outrageously hypocritical U*Us because I tried to get U*Us to respond in genuine responsibly to some absolute truths, and responsibly implement their very own claimed standards.

:So Biblically speaking Unitarian Church is a false religion.

Purely rationally speaking it is open to considerable debate as to whether or not the "Unitarian Church" is even a "church". Some people even question whether U*Uism can be properly described as a "religion" these days. Rev. Ray Drennan, the fundamentalist atheist "Humanist" U*U minister of the Unitarian Church of Montreal once proclaimed in the "church" newsletter that it is "false advertising for the Unitarian Church of Montreal to call itself a church. I certainly have to concur on that point. I also concur with the point made by Kenneth Howard QC in a follow-up letter to the editor which is that it is similarly false advertising to call it Unitarian in that the word Unitarian clearly implies belief in One God. . .

:There is no authority of Scripture and therefore no salvation within her walls. She is pure humanism plain and simple.

Well I am not so sure just how "pure" U*U "Humanism" is. . .

:I am sorry for the frustrations you are having with them, but my question to you would be "Why do you want to associate with them?"

"Why DID you want to associate with them?" might be a better question. ;-)

:If you have the slightest inclination that there is some form of absolute truth in the world, then why would you want fellowship with a religion that is completely contrary to that notion?

Well, as I said earlier, in principle U*Uism is by no means completely contrary to the notion that there is some form of absolute truth in the world. I have to acknowledge that in actual practice a great many U*Us do act in a manner that is pretty much completely contrary to that notion.

:My advice to you would be to let it go.

Are you sure that you are not a U*U? That is their repeatedly parroted "advice" to me too. . . ;-)

:If protesting the church is getting you arrested, whether justly or not, stop protesting the church.

Actually I think that if anyone is "arrested" it is U*Us, Montreal Unitarian U*Us or otherwise. . . I seem to recall that Jesus did not stop protesting just because he was arrested by the Roman "secular authorities" at the behest of the Jewish religious authorities. Likewise, Paul and many other early Christians did not stop protesting the "church" of their era just because they got arrested a few times.

:If you have been banned from discussion boards then "shake the dust from your feet."

Parroting U*Us again eh? Hypocritical U*Us can choke on my dust * . . . ;-)

:If you have been hurt by these people I'm very sorry. Seriously.

Thank you but I am by no means alone. Some so-called "Humanist" U*Us, and even some so-called "Christian" U*Us are pretty good at going out of their way to hurt people and most other U*Us expect the victims of intolerant and abusive U*Us, including intolerant and abusive U*U clergy, to "turn the other cheek" as it were.

:But seek a Bible-believing evangelical church in your area, read God's Word daily and seek new relationships amongst a true body of believers.

I have in the past attended a few different Bible-believing evangelical churches in my area but I was not overly impressed with those churches either, although none gave me reason to publicly protest against anti-religious intolerance and other injustices and abuses. Not that evangelical churches are free from internal injustices and abuses, but I will leave it up to Evangelical Christians to clean up their own mess.

Sincerely,

Robin Edgar

Robin Edgar said...

I meant to say:

Prominent U*U minister Rev. Charles Eddis, minister emeritus of the Unitarian Church of Montreal asserts -

In further 20/20 hindsight I should have said:

Prominent U*U minister Rev. Charles Eddis, minister emeritus of the alleged Unitarian Church of Montreal asserts -

Hugh said...

Funny, I just read something just like this...

Why I Have A Little Crush on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

Quoting:

"I know I'm a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush Administration that make me swoon..."

See also Amy Hall on this.

Will said...

Hilarious. Keep up the good work--

Will

Robin Edgar said...

This parody is remarkably prophetic when one notes that, exactly one year to the day that it was posted here, UUA President Bill Sinkford met with and was effectively preached at by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

No joke. . .

Sinkford Joins Fellowship of Reconcilliation for Meeting With Iranian President

September 25, 2008

On Wednesday, September 24, during the opening of the United Nations (U.N.) General Assembly, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President William G. Sinkford participated in a meeting between members of the United States peace movement and high level Iranian officials, including President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki and the Ambassador to the United Nations, Mohammad Khazaee. The meeting took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York City and was organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), one of the oldest peace organizations in the United States.

Rev. Sinkford was joined by a delegation of Unitarian Universalists (UUs), including Adam Gerhardstein, Acting Director of the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy, Bruce Knotts, Executive Director of the UU-United Nations Office (UU-UNO), Marilyn Mehr, Board President of the UU-UNO, and Helen Lindsay and Marion Ward, both Unitarian Universalists who traveled to Iran with Fellowship of Reconciliation peace-building delegations.

Mark Johnson, Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation, welcomed President Ahmadinejad saying, on behalf of the 150 representatives from faith and peace organizations attending the meeting, “We all believe that change is possible, and that reconciliation is needed.”

Rev. Sinkford was one of twelve attendees invited to address the Iranian delegation. He shared the following remarks and question:

"Central to our religious heritage as Unitarian Universalists is the defense of religious and political freedoms and full equality for all people, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, race, or national origin. In the United States we struggle to make these freedoms and that equality real.

"The reports we receive about the treatment of women and political dissidents in Iran raise questions and concerns for us. Is Iran moving towards allowing its citizens more freedom of choice and affiliation? Is the government working towards equality for women in public life? Are protections being created for citizens who identify with different political parties, religious beliefs, and sexual orientations?

"Our governments and our cultures are very different. Given those basic differences, I would like to hear from you how the U.S. and Iran can best work together to find non-violent resolutions to our differences."

In his response to President Sinkford’s question, Ahmadinejad talked at length about Iranian attitudes towards women. He cited many statistics about the civil engagement of Iranian women, (e.g., 70% of university students are women) and even joked that women are about to replace him. He also spoke about the Iranian belief that women are the essence of society’s beauty and kindness, and said that Iranians do not want women to work too hard, in fear that their spirit will be broken and that this will destroy society’s beauty.

Bruce Knotts recognized that President Sinkford’s question went largely unaddressed, “As a fairly new UU, Rev. Sinkford’s question makes me proud. I regret that Ahmadinejad only addressed the gender issue and avoided the more uncomfortable subjects.”

The eleven other speakers covered many issues. Some questioned Iran’s intimidation of its citizen diplomats and its violence towards youth trying to shape Iran’s future. One speaker asked Ahmadinejad to clarify Iran’s stance towards Israel and Palestine. Another raised concerns about Iran’s nuclear ambitions, asking why they were pursuing a civilian nuclear program when the entire world is shifting towards renewable energy. The final questions sought to gauge Iran’s willingness to collaborate with the U.S. government and the peace movement to find solutions to the many outstanding issues between our countries.

President Ahmadinejad spent an hour systematically answering each question. He unequivocally condemned the use of war, saying that it brings nothing but “pain, destruction and tension.” In response to the nuclear question, Ahmadinejad declared, “the time for the atomic bomb has come to an end.” He defended Iran’s civilian nuclear program, stating that Iran spends three times more money on solar and wind energy than nuclear. To the Israel/Palestine question, he said that every nation deserves the right to decide its own future, and that if Palestine is given a free referendum, Iran will support the outcome.

He summed up his remarks by addressing the concerns of those fearing that the U.S. will launch another war. “I really believe that the U.S. is no longer able to start a war for decades to come,” he stated. As he departed the gathering, he told the assembled peace organizations to count him as a member.

Reflecting on the meeting, Rev. Sinkford remarked, “Ahmadinejad presented an image of Iran as a peace-loving, progressive, ethical, sane member of the community of nations. One question I have is how the reality of life in Iran would match that image.”

Bruce Knotts, who is a retired United States diplomat, understood the significance of this meeting, “Iran is a great regional power and the U.S. is a great world power. For the sake of the world, these countries need a peaceful relationship.”

The UU delegation left the meeting convinced that President Ahmadinejad was sincere in pursuing a relationship with the American people and the U.S. government. Rev. Sinkford remarked, “I could not imagine the current U.S. president taking the time to honor questions about his actions the way Ahmadinejad did today.”

Source - http://www.uua.org/news/newssubmissions/120089.shtml