I was not a member of the group from which this statement came so what follows are my own musing around the subject in the hope that others might be inspired to contribute more to the debate.
What does it mean to be literate in general terms?
Firstly there is basic speaking, listening, reading and writing. Primary school pupils who reach Level 4 or 5 at the end of their last year in school, Year 6, are considered to be literate to a satisfactory standard for their age. They understand and can use words with considerable fluency, they have a basic knowledge of grammar and they can spell accurately. They comprehend written and spoken passages of fact and fiction. They can talk about what they have read and written themselves.
For an adult, literacy is much more than this. It involves a depth and breadth of understanding of different genres of literature, an ability to express accurately or creatively thoughts, understandings and feelings in the spoken and written word. It involves comprehending texts that are considered difficult and confidently entering into in depth discussions with others or writing substantial written pieces about them.
Unitarianism is not a religion of one book like conventional Christianity or Islam. Literate Christians might well boast that they carry 5 translations of The Bible on their i-phone and thus consider themselves to be religiously literate. A Muslim might well be able to quote effectively and pointedly from the Q'ran and be thought to be religiously literate. It is not so easy for Unitarians to demonstrate their religious literacy.
One of the ways in which they can do it is by being able to articulate what Unitarianism is today in a clear and understandable manner to all adults and children who ask the question What is Unitarianism?
It's significant that some of the other outcomes from the Vision Day assume an ability to do this. For example, it would be difficult to give 'a riposte to fundamentalism' or to ensure that Unitarianism is 'understood by the public' or 'something that everybody has heard about' without being religiously literate. Every Unitarian needs to acquire an understanding of the story of Unitarianism as it has risen and fallen in popularity from its early days in dissent from the Church of England, to the complex pattern of its religious belief structure today.
But, that is very much the Level 4 or 5 of religious literacy.
Adult religious literacy would involve an increased understanding of other genres - other faiths, also humanism and earth centred religions and other threads of belief. It would also need to express the deep belief structures that underpin the Unitarian and Free Christian faith today and how they match or counter the belief structures of other world religions.Adult religious literacy should reach down into the depths of human spirituality and bring forth in the spoken and written word the deep questions of life, reading extensively about them, sharing deep conversations with others about them, writing about them to inspire and inform others. To be 'Unitarianly' religiously literate is to be educated and knowledgeable across the wide field of religion.
So how can Unitarianism become increasingly religious literate over the next 5 years?
It can only be done through members, people, becoming religiously literate. When I asked for comments around this topic on Facebook I only got one reply. I quote from part of it:-
'My friends in the Progressive Christianity Network read voraciously. They love books of bible scholarship which explain why their gut feeling that this or that did not happen was in fact based on fact... The Unitarians don't read, they don't need to know why they are right, that they are right is enough. ... Everything we need to know we learned at the knees of Flo and Jo.'
I hope there will be some reaction to these statements!
There are, in fact many opportunities for Unitarians to become more religiously literate which are better than 'Flo and Jo's knees' and which supplement reading appropriately and widely.
Courses are available and others could be offered in many media to enable new members to become fluent in Unitarianism and for longer-time Unitarians to extend and deepen their spiritual/religious knowledge understanding and experience. Such events as Summer School, Unitarian Discovery Holiday, GA Annual Meetings, FUSE a weekend event offered by London District are only a few of many that offer opportunities for Unitarians and, therefore, Unitarianism to become more religiously literate.