The truth hurts less than lies.

Published April 10, 2017

Greetings, friends:

I am going to interrupt the theme of these newsletters and address some news that has rattled our community, causing much sorrow.

As many of you know, the Rev. Ron Robinson was arrested late last month on child pornography charges, and newspaper reports state that he has admitted the charges in deeply disturbing terms.

Ron was, among other roles, the long-time executive director of the Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship. He taught seminarians – I’ve known Ron since 1994 when I was a seminarian and he a church-developing layman – rallied a community of missional ministers and held ministerial fellowship with the UUA. Each of these connections have been undone, responsibilities released, and his fellowship suspended pending the outcome of the legal process. The groups he was closest to have responded firmly, quickly and without defensiveness, to provide care, prayerful consideration and concern for his family and (without pardon) Ron.

It is worth noting that, to my knowledge, nobody has come out and denied that Ron committed any moral or legal crime, or that he was the target of some vendetta or conspiracy. He may be guilty of greater crimes or lessor crimes. He may be found not guilty in court. But it isn’t inconceivable that he committed them, and that we have become less naive (or self-deluding) than others before us who loved and esteemed their misconducting, abusive or injurious religious leaders. And if not him, then it could be another person at any time.

Our community speaking openly does not correct the harm he caused, but, in a new spirit of candor, repentance and accountability, keeps the harm from continuing through collusion and denial. We have learned from others’ scandal and cover-ups, and while I was as shocked as anyone about the news, I was in a sense prepared for it. I hope this is true for you, too. We must prepare ourselves “as far in us lies” for trouble and hardship. And if this ordeal recalls a harm or an assault against you, there may be some small solace in the truth coming out. There is hope in the cross, but also much pain.

This is a Universalist Christian service; what does our tradition say? While there were plenty inside and outside of Universalism keen to highlight the goodness of God and the falsehood of an eternal hell, it comes with a profession of the surety of a punishment that is proportional to the sin. There was disagreement about how this would take place or when, but a just God asks no more or less than the harm done. There is no place for false denials or false confessions; the Eternal One sees, and in time heals and receives. Keep this in mind as more facts come out; I am sure of more sorrowful news, and be ready to pray for Ron and his family, and help those hurt, known or unknown.

Sincerely yours, (The Rev.) Scott Wells