WHAT DOES “UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST” MEAN?
In the simplest terms, the word “Unitarian” refers to belief in a single, unified Divinity rather than a God of three aspects (as in the Trinitarian understanding of Father, Son, Holy Spirit). “Universalist” refers to the idea that salvation is a universally guarantee without condition or exception.
Each term represents a religious tradition that is thousands of years old, and which was represented by a formal denomination in the United States since the nation’s earliest days. Those two denominations consolidated in 1961. While Unitarian Universalists have no creed, all members hope to live by seven core principles.
OUR UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST PRINCIPLES
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
- The inherent dignity and worth 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 six 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 people 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.
WHAT DO UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST BELIEVE?
(From “What Do UUs Believe?” distributed by the UUA Bookstore.)
- We believe in the freedom of religious expression. All individuals should be encouraged to develop their own personal theology, and to present openly their religious opinions without fear of censure or reprisal.
- We believe in the toleration of religious ideas. All religions, in every age and culture, possess not only an intrinsic merit, but also a potential value for those who have learned the art of listening.
- We believe in the authority of reason and conscience. The ultimate arbiter in religion is not a church, or a document, or an official, but the personal choice and decision of the individual.
- We believe in the never-ending search for Truth. If the mind and heart are truly free and open, the revelations which appear to the human spirit are infinitely numerous, eternally fruitful, and wondrously exciting.
- We believe in the unity of experience. There is no fundamental conflict between faith and knowledge, religion and the world, the sacred and the secular, since they all have their source in the same reality.
- We believe in the worth and dignity of each human being. All people on earth have an equal claim to life, liberty, and justice — and no idea, ideal, or philosophy is superior to a single human life.
- We believe in the ethical application of religion. Good works are the natural product of a good faith, the evidence of an inner grace that finds completion in social and community involvement.
- We believe in the motive force of love. The governing principle in human relationships is the principle of love, which always seeks the welfare of others and never seeks to hurt or destroy.
- We believe in the necessity of the democratic process. Records are open to scrutiny, elections are open to members, and ideas are open to criticism — so that people might govern themselves.
- We believe in the importance of a religious community. The validation of experience requires the confirmation of peers, who provide a critical platform along with a network of mutual support.
– David O. Rankin Copyright 1989 by Unitarian Universalist Association.