About Unitarian Universalism
Unitarians? Universalists? The Unitarian and Universalist denominations in North America joined in 1961 to become a single, leading light for liberal religion. Both had roots in colonial New England as well as deeper roots in the Protestant Reformation. The Unitarians got their name from their belief in a single divine essence, as opposed to the trinity. The Universalists got their name from their belief in universal salvation, as opposed to a division of humanity into the Elect and the Damned. These theological issues faded in importance, but the names remained. While some individual UUs and congregations still identify themselves as Christian, most do not.
What Unitarian Universalists Believe
Twenty years ago, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association adopted the following principles.
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant 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.
The living tradition which we share draws 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.
This statement was the end result of a deliberative process, and it is subject to future evolution. When challenged as to "Where do you stand?", a humorous but not inaccurate reply is that "We do not stand--we move."
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) has much more information and resources available for those interested in learning more about the Unitarian Universalist movement on the UUA.org website.