Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Principled Commitment: An Adult Program on Building Strong Relationships

Alternate Activity 1: Faith In Action - Uu "horsemen"

Activity time: 30 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Newsprint with "four horsemen" (see Preparation)
  • Low-stick masking tape

Preparation for Activity

  • If you haven't already done so for Activity 4, Communication Pitfalls, write the names of the "four horsemen" on newsprint: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, Stonewalling.

Description of Activity

This activity is a follow-up to Activity 4, Communication Pitfalls.

Post the newsprint with the "four horsemen" listed. Explain that the "four horsemen" behaviors can arise not only in a couple's relationship with one another, but also in conversations with others about religion. Invite participants to think about how they've seen criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling play out in interactions between Unitarian Universalists and people of other religious faiths. (In these examples, the behaviors can be directed toward UUs or exhibited by them.) Encourage participants to think of specific examples from their own lives and their own congregation. Here is an example:

A UU gets into an argument with his evangelical Christian sister about same-sex marriage. The UU says he supports same-sex marriage. His sister says, "You never could tell the difference between right and wrong, ever since you were a kid! Now you've found a religion that's just like you - morally confused." (criticism) The UU says, "Well, it's better than worshipping some outdated, oppressive, bogus book like you do!" (defensiveness)

Ask participants to share other examples of the "four horsemen" in religious conversations.

After identifying a few examples, ask:

  • How might a UU respond to such statements with humility? How might we respond in keeping with our second Principle, "justice, equity, and compassion in human relations"?
  • What are some ways for the speakers to express the same sentiments without using one of the negative behaviors?
  • How can we present our religion to others in ways that are in keeping with our Principles and values?
  • Is this an issue we'd like to explore further and perhaps share with other groups in the congregation? If so, make a plan to do so.