What Unitarian Universalists Believe

UU Chalice InterfaithI have found spiritual companions in Unitarian Universalism. Its  congregations now include people of many different spiritual beliefs: Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, pagans. We include people who believe in a personal kind of God, and those who believe in a divine force of connectedness between everything that exists. We include people who love the Goddess, and people who do not imagine any God at all. Sometimes people say that in Unitarian Universalism you can believe whatever you want—but that is not really true. Though we have many more diverse beliefs today as Unitarian Universalists, you could say we are still arguing with Calvin.

We don’t believe in a God of anger. We don’t believe that people are born evil. We don’t believe that our bodies are shameful. We don’t believe that someone had to die to appease an angry God. We don’t believe that God loves some people and sends other people to hell. We want to get rid of that guilt and shame producing kind of religion, that heavy burden people still carry around because Calvinism is so ingrained in our culture.

We do believe that Love is at the center of the Universe, and those of us who believe in a God, believe in a God of Love. We do believe that each person is important and lovable and that we are all part of one family. We do believe that we are called to live a life of service and compassion, and that human beings, however imperfect we may be, can make a choice to follow our values.

We believe in a democracy of spirit—that each person has a share of wisdom and truth and love. We believe in the importance of community—that we learn and grow most by sharing with each other. We believe that love is contagious, that we cannot find fulfillment and purpose without knowing that we are loved, and loving others. We believe that love can transform lives.

To believe in Love as the foundation of the universe is an act of faith. There is no proof, we don’t know in some objective way that love will win out over the forces of hate and greed. We have to make an experiment of it—perhaps that is why the Quakers could sing “Love is Lord of Heaven and Earth” with such conviction. They practiced nonviolent love in their doings with other people, and learned something of its strength. And perhaps we too have experienced something of its power in our times—those moments when gentleness transformed a heated situation, those historic movements when love crumbled oppression and brought justice into society.

To believe in Love, to make this act of faith, is to strengthen Love’s power in our world, to make it more likely that our relationships will be mutual and kind, that our society will bend toward fairness and compassion. May it be so.

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4 thoughts on “What Unitarian Universalists Believe

  1. Yes, love is the greatest of gifts. Too long have we forgotten its efficacy, its real meaning. Seemingly so small as it lay hidden, until its potency is revealed to the one experiencing it from within… or without.
    From a heart that acknowledges its presence, love does what it must do. It forgives, understands, has compassion. However, this love also holds within it courage, and a strength that knows no limits; wild and freely given to all.
    Love demands nothing and yet, it doesn’t roll over. It stands at times from the shakiest of knees, with a resolve that says, ‘no’ this is not the way.
    Are you… ready for love? * smiles*

  2. I’d like to know your foundation and supporting evidence for these statements: “We do believe that Love is at the center of the Universe, and those of us who believe in a God, believe in a God of Love. We do believe that each person is important and lovable and that we are all part of one family. We do believe that we are called to live a life of service and compassion, and that human beings, however imperfect we may be, can make a choice to follow our values.” I’ve known many active members of UU communities who do not believe this. You imply that they aren’t really Unitarian Universalists. On what authority do you make this claim?
    I’ve known many active members of the UU community and people who identify as Unitarians and UUs who do not believe this.

    • Hey Bryan, I am curious about your comment, because in my experience in UU congregations the value of love is a core value. I am not saying that all UU’s live up to that ideal. But our basic principle of the inherent worth of every person originated historically in direct reply to the Calvinist idea of the depravity of human beings. It is especially our Universalist history which speaks in terms of abundant love. Your request for supporting evidence is beyond the scope of one blog post, but I am drawing from our UU theological history of the last few hundred years in the United States. Some of this explored in earlier posts.

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