About Unitarian Universalism

Principles

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal faith tradition rooted in the Christian Reformation and inspired by the Enlightenment ideals of freedom, tolerance, and reason. Because we have no creeds or dogma, Unitarian Universalism remains free to adapt and change to life’s ever changing challenges. What unites us as a community is a commitment and faith in the power of love to build bridges that transcend difference. To help us on our shared journey we have adopted a set of principles that serve as a guide in making moral decisions.

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;2 Girls
  • 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.

Sources

While Unitarian Universalism is rooted in Christianity, it has evolved over the centuries to be inclusive of many sources of inspiration:

  • 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.

It should be noted that the first Source is your own direct experience of the universe. Your spiritual journey begins where you are and who you are.  You are perfect just as you are, everything about you has been shaped by the conditions of your life experiences.  Unitarian Universalism does not ask you to change who you are or what your believe to conform to experiences rooted in the past or some predetermined code. You are invited to join us just as you are, inside and out.

Many people take this stand to mean that you can believe whatever you want. This could not be any farther from the truth.  Most religious traditions expect you to choose one set of beliefs over all others. Often in such traditions, one is expected to ignore evidence that contradicts their beliefs. Unitarian Universalism, instead, provides the freedom to believe as your life experience has taught you and the freedom and support to grow and change as you follow your unique spiritual path.

To learn more about Unitarian Universalism, please visit www.uua.org

 


 History

In 1961 the Unitarians and the Universalist consolidated to form the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations.  In that time Unitarian Universalism has matured into a faith tradition rooted in the wisdom traditions of the world, fed by the findings of scientific discovery and free to address the issues and concerns of today in love and compassion.

The Unitarians

Though many of the beliefs and ideas associated with Unitarianism have been around since the beginning of Christianity, it was not until the mid-16th Century that the name Unitarian was used. What differentiated the early Unitarians from their contemporaries was a rejection of the Trinity and a belief in the unity of God and Jesus.  They held that Jesus was a man sent by God to reveal a message of love and forgiveness.  Christian churches holding Unitarian beliefs were formed independently in Transylvania, Poland and England in the 16th and 17th Centuries.  Consistent among all these groups were the principles of freedom, reason and tolerance.

Unitarianism in America emerged in the Congregational Churches of New England early in the 19th Century.  It was a grass-roots movement fueled by the Enlightenment and the Democratic ideals of their new nation.  The issues that resulted in a schism between the Unitarians and their Congregational counterparts included the Unity of God and Jesus, the inherent good of people, and the human authorship of the Bible. By 1825, the Unitarians formed the American Unitarian Association that would last until the consolidation with the Universalists in 1961.

Since their beginning, Unitarians have ardently resisted the adoption of any creed that would serve to exclude and alienate people of differing beliefs. For this reason, Unitarianism was free to adapt and grow beyond its Christian roots.  When the first Humanist Manifesto was written in 1933, it was signed by several Unitarian ministers who all believed that a belief in God was not necessary to live a moral and meaningful life.

The Universalists

Universalism in America took root in the late 18th Century grounded in the simple belief that God’s love transcends human differences and is too great to condemn any person to eternal damnation.  They believed in the universal salvation of all people regardless of their beliefs while maintaining a belief in the Trinity and the sanctity of the Bible.

The Universalist Church of America was formed in 1793 and because of it powerful and inclusive message of love and forgiveness it quickly grew beyond its New England roots  to become one of the largest denominations in the nation. The message of the Universalists was so well received that other denominations adopted their message of love and forgiveness in place of the traditional fire and brimstone.

By the late 19th Century, Universalism began to question its own identity.  It was a gradual shift, but over time the significance of their name had changed some.  Instead of being simply a marker of their unique theology of universal salvation, it had become to represent a new understanding of its place among world religions.  It had become to see itself as a universal religion that recognized the teachings of other religious traditions and became a leader in fostering understanding and tolerance among the world’s religions.