William Sloane Coffin – Advent 1981

As I was prepping for tomorrow I stumbled upon these prescient words from William Sloane Coffin (the great civil rights activist and sage from the historic Riverside Church in NYC), which he included in his First Sunday of Advent sermon on Dec. 6, 1981, just as the moral majority (aka religious right) was beginning its move to prominence in U.S. culture:

“Disenchanted with secular humanism and with the political left, many these days…are joining the religious right. Our best hope, they say, lies in recapturing old-time values. It is a seductive belief in a chaotic world. But with old-time values go old-time structures of religious authority, and it was precisely the repressive dogmatism of these structures of religious authority that gave rise to secular humanism and the political left. It would be intolerable to return to the religious intolerance under which so much of humankind suffered and bled for so long–and suffers and bleeds today… Moreover, to demand, as do fundamentalists, individual obedience rather than individual thinking is to advocate a return to the nursery, rather than to a religion worthy of the name.”

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