People are often surprised to learn that Christians, Jews, Atheists, Mystics, Scientists, Pagans, and Buddhists are capable of all being members of the same religious community. So often religion has a creed or a doctrine, providing a single answer to the quest for truth. In our four hundred year history, Unitarianism and Universalism has had no common assent to creed. We hold a non-creedal faith. Members are not asked to profess a certain set of beliefs. Instead, we affirm the importance of freedom of conscience. Each one of us is empowered to ask questions, to trust our experience, and to follow our own spiritual path.
Those unfamiliar with our liberal religious movement, question whether Unitarian Universalism is a religion because of the variety of beliefs among us. How can Christians and Buddhists worship together? How can a Scientist who finds truth through inquiry belong to the same religious community as a Pagan who believes in the magical power of ritual?
What we hold in common is an approach to religion and to life that values our individual experience without denying another person’s experience. Our lives are enriched through mutual respect, deepened through the exchange of ideas, and nourished through the support of a caring community. What holds us together as Unitarian Universalists is a set of Principles and Purposes that articulate not what we are to believe but how we are to relate to one another and the world-at-large.
These principles are related to those basic childhood lessons: Each person is important. When we listen and cooperate, everyone learns so much more than we can all alone. Unitarian Universalists gather around shared values and common vision for a just world. Our independent congregations are governed by the democratic process and freely choose to participate in a national organization, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.
I made the video above with my husband, Peter, explaining common misconceptions people have about Unitarian Universalism. Below is a video by the Unitarian Universalist Associaiton, followed by the principles and purposes of its member congregations.
Voices of a Liberal Faith
This video from the Unitarian Universalist Association tells the story of our faith through powerful imagery and inspirational testimonials. In it, you’ll see and hear Unitarian Universalist leaders and members share elements of our history, our theology, what it’s like to worship with us, how we educate our children, and more. You’ll also learn about our deep commitment to social justice and inclusiveness.
Our Principles and Purposes
The following are the seven principles which member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association 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.
Unitarian Universalist congregations draw from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Learn on the UUA’s website.