What does Unitarian Universalism mean?
Unitarian Universalism is historically rooted in Christianity. The term "Unitarian" is used in contrast to "Trinitarian" (though we do have members who say they are both), "Universal" salvation as opposed to "salvation of the elect". The Universalist Church of America was founded in 1793, and the American Unitarian Association in 1825. In 1961, these denominations consolidated to form the new religion of Unitarian Universalism. Today, we recognize many other sources of wisdom and many UU's would not identify themselves as Christian.
Unitarian Universalist Religion
Unitarian Universalism is a faith tradition that encourages each individual to develop a personal faith. It draws from many different religions, in the belief that no one religion has all the answers and that most have something to teach us. The ultimate determination of what is sacred is found for each of us by our own direct experience.
- From Judeo-Christian heritage, we take the teachings of the Bible and Jesus.
- From Buddhism we take the power of meditation.
- From Judaism we take the belief that working together we can achieve peace and justice.
- From Native American and other earth-centered traditions we take respect for the earth and reverence for natural cycles.
- From Humanism, we take the belief in reason and science.
Unitarian Universalism is a way of being religious rather than embracing a specific religious doctrine. For us, religion is an ongoing search for meaning, purpose, value and spiritual depth in one's life. We believe that individuals are entitled to make their own search, and that not all persons are going to share the same beliefs. We believe there is wisdom and value in most all religions, but that no one religion has all the answers. We believe in an inner harmony that will lead to ethical action.
Unitarian Universalists believe individuals have the responsibility to search for and form their own beliefs, and as a result, they may believe different things. What holds UUs together is not common belief, but common experience and a common approach to life.
Unitarian Universalists use our Principles to define our shared values and to inform our decisions and actions. We believe in the Golden Rule, loving our neighbors as ourselves, working for a better world, searching for truth with an open mind, using reason to help us explore religious ideas, and granting everyone the right to choose their own beliefs.
An excellent book about Unitarian Universalism is A Chosen Faith by John A. Buehrens and Forrest Church, Beacon Press.