Unitarian Universalism

 

 

 

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Unitarian Universalism (UU) is the recent merging of two liberal Christian churches, Universalists and Unitarians. There are about 800,000 UUs in the world. Most of these live in the United States, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.

 Origins of Unitarian Universalism

 The first Unitarian church began in Europe in 1638. Many Unitarian churches were founded as a reaction against rigid Protestant beliefs. In North America, Unitarianism and Universalism developed separately. Universalist congregations began in the 1770s and Unitarian congregations began in the 1820s. Over the decades the two groups converged in their liberal emphasis and style, and in 1961 they merged.

 Both Unitarians and Universalists were long considered the most liberal of Christian denominations. Today, the beliefs of UUs are quite diverse; it is a multi-faith group and sources of member spirituality include not only Christianity, but also Buddism, Wicca, Humanism, Judaism, and Pantheism.

 Unitarian Universalist Sacred Texts

UUs respect and embrace the sacred literature of several religions but do not have any special holy writings. Contemporary works of science, art, and social commentary are valued as well. Unitarian Universalists aspire to find truth anywhere, universally. Many UUs share a Christian heritage and the Old and New Testaments are read from time to time, as are the inspired writings from other religions.

Unitarian Universalist Beliefs

Members are not required to hold any specific belief concerning God, Jesus, heaven, hell, etc. Within a single congregation, there will be some individuals who believe in no deity, a single deity, or many deities. Others are unsure of the existence of god(s) and goddess(es).

They also hold various views on life after death, from complete annihilation of the person, some form of afterlife removed from earth, to reincarnation. They are free to have beliefs that parallel those of Christians, or Buddhists, or other religions.

Instead of eternal salvation, UUs strive towards personal growth, increased wisdom, strength of character, and gifts of insight, understanding, inner and outer peace, courage, patience, and compassion. Some UUs honor Jesus, and other master teachers of past or present generations, like Moses or the Buddha.

UUs cherish religious diversity and make few attempts to convert others to their religion. They believe in the inherent dignity of each human, regardless of race, color, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, nationality, degree of ability, etc. Starting in the 1950s, UUs were influential beyond what their numbers would suggest, in the battles to end racial segregation. They have also been actively involved in programs to promote equal rights for women, gays, lesbians and other oppressed minorities.

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Last modified: July 03, 2013.