Unitarian Universalist Principles

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity 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 we share draws from many sources:

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves up to renewal of spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men 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

Are we a new religion? No, we belong to a worldwide religious movement tracing its roots back over 400 years. Our earliest roots reach back thousands of years to the Hebrew prophets, the Socratic tradition, and the teachings of Jesus. More recently, earth-centered spirituality, Eastern traditions such as Buddhism, and secular humanist ideals have influenced many of us. Contemporary and historical figures known for original thinking and prophetic social action have drawn inspiration from their UU roots. Among them are Thomas Jefferson, Albert Schweitzer, Margaret Sanger, Joseph Priestly, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Clara Barton, Kurt Vonnegut, Susan B. Anthony, E.E. Cummings, Rev. Robert Fulghum, Louisa May Alcott, Buckminster Fuller, Florence Nightingale, Frank Lloyd Wright, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. (Read more about famous UUs.)
Where does our name come from?

  • The word Unitarian, coming into use in early 16th century Transylvania, was a term used to designate a number of groups that had pledged themselves not to persecute one another and that wished to emphasize the unity or oneness of God as distinct form the traditional Trinitarian formulation.
  • The word Universalist, also born in the post-Reformation world, defined those people who were opposed to the cruel doctrine that only the elect of humankind will be saved. On the contrary, they said, salvation is universal for the “whole family of humankind.”

Do Unitarian Universalists have a dogma?  No. While our religious movement is rooted in the Christian and Jewish traditions, we believe that creeds limit our spiritual vision. We continue to affirm the statement of Francis David, a 16th century Unitarian leader: “We need not think alike to love alike.”
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about God?  Concepts about God vary widely among us. For some, God represents the creative process; for others, the personification of the spiritual, or the sense of unity with the universe. Others do not find “God” a useful word at all. We affirm the right of individuals to believe about God whatever seems to them to be true and meaningful.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about Jesus?  Traditionally, we have found the life and ethics of Jesus to be of more value than the dogma that has accumulated around him. We accept Jesus as an important prophet and spiritual leader without denying the importance of religious teachers from other traditions and cultures. We affirm that the divine spark is in all of us.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about the Bible?  We understand the Bible to be a collection of books written by many authors over a period of 1,300 years. It represents a treasury of religious searching for the meaning and purpose of life and God. We interpret the Bible — and other religious texts — symbolically rather than literally.
What do Unitarian Universalists believe about sin and salvation?  We tend to understand sin in the biblical sense of “missing the mark.” It is failing to live responsibly with ourselves, others, and the universe. Salvation means becoming whole and reflects the process of fulfilling our human potential.
What is the purpose of a Unitarian Universalist congregation?  Our congregations are living communities gathered to provide understanding, support, and food for the spirit. We look to one another for intellectual and emotional support, and to share in the celebration of what is spiritual and holy in life. We also value concerted action for social justice.
How are Unitarian Universalist churches organized?  Each church or fellowship operates under congregational polity, being democratic and autonomous, but intentional about making and maintaining communications with other UU congregations. Our ministers are ordained and installed by the individual churches after completing graduate-level theological training and receiving fellowship in the Unitarian Universalist Association.

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