Unitarian Universalism is part of the liberal religious tradition. This means that we test religious understandings against our own hearts and minds. We encourage open-mindedness and celebrate the fact that we don’t all believe the same thing—some of us identify primarily with our Jewish and Christian roots, while others find spiritual nurture in Buddhist meditation or in pre-Christian earth-centered traditions. Some of us are humanists and freethinkers. Our long name is the result of the merger of two Protestant denominations, the Unitarians and the Universalists, in 1961.
Former UUA President Bill Sinkford succinctly described our tradition this way: Unitarian—one God; Universalist--nobody left behind. Unitarianism developed as a response to the doctrine of the Trinity (in traditional language, Father, Son and Holy Spirit). Unitarians tend to believe in one God, not three, and see Jesus as a teacher and prophet; in the words of Jesus scholar Marcus Borg, a “spirit person." Universalism developed as a response to Calvin’s doctrine of predestination, which said that only a few people (the elect) would get to heaven; the rest were consigned to hell. Universalists believe that no one is beyond God’s love, and in the end, all will be reconciled to God.
In the UU tradition, we put more emphasis on how one lives than on dogma and doctrine. We are not bound by a common statement of belief or a creed, but rather by covenant. We agree to walk together as people of faith. Every Sunday we say together our affirmation of faith:
Love is the doctrine of this church
The quest for truth is its sacrament
And service is its prayer.
This is our great covenant
To dwell together in peace,
To seek the truth in love,
And to help one another
To the end that all souls shall grow
In harmony with the divine.
Unitarian Universalism articulates a set of principles and sources of our faith. We covenant to affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equality 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 to 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 traditions we share 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 openness to the forces which create and uphold life.
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenges 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.
These principles and sources articulate the spiritual and ethical orientation of our religious tradition.