ABOUT UNITARIAN UNIVERSALISM
Our Member ‘s Reasons For Being Unitarian Universalists
The 7 Principals Of Unitarian Universalism
We, as Unitarian Universalists, covenant (agree and promise) to affirm and promote;
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part
History and Philosophy of Unitarian Universalism
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion characterized by a "free and responsible search for truth and meaning". Unitarian Universalists do not share a creed but are unified by their shared search for spiritual growth. As such, the Unitarian Universalist Church (UU) includes many agnostics, theists, and atheists among its membership. The roots of UU are in liberal Christianity, specifically Unitarianism and Universalism. Unitarian Universalists state that from these traditions comes a deep regard for intellectual freedom and inclusive love, so that congregations and members seek inspiration and derive insight from all major world religions.
Unitarianism began formally in Transylvania and Poland in the late 1500s. As the name implies, Unitarians did not believe that Jesus was God and thus did not believe in the Trinity: rather, they believed Jesus was a man, but one with a unique relationship to God and whose moral teachings were the most powerful ever put forth.
Universalism began in the United States in the late 1700s. Universalists could not imagine God as a wrathful being Who could punish the majority of people forever in hell. Instead, they thought of God as a God of love Who would ultimately welcome everyone into an everlasting life in heaven.
Through time, these two religious bodies became less dogmatic and Unitarian Universalism was formed from their consolidation in 1961. The new organization created in this merger was the Unitarian Universalist Association. At the time of the consolidation, Unitarians and Universalists had expanded beyond their roots in liberal Christian theology. Today they draw from a variety of religious traditions. Individuals may or may not self-identify as Christians or subscribe to Christian belief. Unitarian Universalist congregations and fellowships tend to retain some Christian traditions, such as Sunday worship with a sermon and the singing of hymns. The extent to which the elements of any particular faith tradition are incorporated into personal spiritual practice is a matter of individual choice for congregants, in keeping with a creedless, non-dogmatic approach to spirituality and faith development.
The defining belief of Unitarian Universalism is that religion is a matter of individual experience, and that, therefore, only the individual can decide what to "believe." The roots of this belief can be found in the Unitarian insistence on freedom of personal conscience in matters of faith. As a result, while Unitarian Universalists have no required creed, they treat as a sacred value complete and responsible freedom of speech, thought, belief, faith, and disposition. Unitarian Universalists believe that each person is free to search for his or her own personal truth on issues, such as the existence, nature, and meaning of life, deities, creation, and afterlife. UUs can come from any religious background, and hold beliefs and adhere to morals from a variety of cultures or religions. They believe that what binds them together as a faith community is not a creed, but a belief in the power and sacredness of covenant based on unconditional love. That love is enough to hold together such variety derives from their Universalist heritage which affirms a God of all-inclusive love.
Current concepts about deity, however, are diverse among UUs. While some are still Monotheistic, often from a Judeo-Christian perspective, many profess Atheism or Agnosticism. UUs see no contradiction in open Atheists and Agnostics being members of their community because of the rich Unitarian legacy of free inquiry and reason in matters of faith. Still other UUs subscribe to Deism, Pantheism, or Polytheism. Many UUs reject the idea of deities and instead speak of the "spirit of life" that binds all life on earth.
The Unitarian Universalist Humanist Association wrote:
We are “religious” in that we share with most Unitarian Universalists the natural human desires for a beloved and accepting community; a purpose greater than ourselves; rituals and practices that resonate with our common humanity and shared mortality; and opportunities to work with other tough-minded, warm-hearted people to do good in the world and to help one another attain the greatest possible fulfillment in life.
Since the early 20th century, Humanism has been an influential part of our continually evolving religious tradition. Unitarians and Universalists have always trusted in reason and affirmed the findings of science. We take the intellect seriously. We know, deeply, that each person is on a search for truth and meaning in life. Most Unitarian Universalists find meaning in a desire to leave the world a better place.
As a non-dogmatic faith, Unitarian Universalism honors diversity in thought, race and gender and the differing paths we each travel. We celebrate, support, and challenge one another as we continue on these journeys.
The only prerequisite to becoming a Unitarian Universalist is that one covenants (agrees with and promises to uphold) the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism.
(This article has been modified from information that can be found in Wikipedia and on the UUA website.)