What Is Unitarian Universalism

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We call ourselves "the Uncommon Denomination sm." We are indeed different. We do not require members to subscribe to creeds, ancient or modern. We do not claim to have all the answers. We accept modern biblical criticism, which regards the books of the Bible as the writings of men who often wrote decades or centuries after the events they describe. We do not regard them as the immutable word of God. We consider the findings of modern science regarding the origins of man and the universe more credible than the stories of creation in the book of Genesis.

In our view every person has the right to believe what he sincerely believes and not to be required to give lip service to the dogmas of any religious organization. One of the principal purposes of our denomination is to help one another in the search for truth and meaning. Out of the interchange of ideas we can grow in understanding of the mystery of life and the best ways to live it. A person's real religion does not lie in the doctrines one is told to accept; it lies in the highest values and most sincere beliefs that rest in the heart.

While we have no required beliefs, we do find a general consensus in the covenant affirmed by our member congregations:

The inherent worth and dignity of every person.

Justice, equity and compassion in human relations.

Acceptance of one another and encouragement of 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 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 Unitarian Universalist denomination constitutes a merger of two denominations developed in America about the time of the American Revolution. Unitarianism grew out of the conviction that the doctrine of the Trinity was unscriptural and that Jesus was not God. Universalism began with the conviction that all humans would be saved and that God was not so terrible as to send many if not most to eternal torment in hell.

From these beginnings both denominations grew in wisdom to acceptance of individual freedom of religious belief. They merged in 1961.

Today Unitarian Universalists draw on many sources of religious and ethical inspiration. They appreciate the insights of the Hebrew and Christian bibles. They cherish the words attributed to Jesus of Nazareth and other prophets and teachers throughout the ages. They also look to the teachings of Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions. Many find inspiration within our own Unitarian Universalist heritage: In the call of Ralph Waldo Emerson, a Unitarian Minister, that we search for religious meaning more within our own souls than in ancient writings and prophets. Or in the philosophy of "reverence for life" of the Lutheran/Unitarian Albert Schweitzer.

Unitarian Universalists do not think of their religion as a gateway to an afterlife. Most are content to "live one life at a time" and thus to live well on this earth for their own self-fulfillment and for the progress of humanity. The earth is our home; we must protect it. All persons are our brothers and sisters; we must relate to them with love and justice.

As our children are important to us, our congregations maintain schools of religion. Our purpose is not to indoctrinate. We teach children about other religions as well as our own and encourage them in their own search for religious and ethical truth. Above all we seek to give them experiences that will help them grow into tolerant, morally responsible citizens.

Throughout the history of our country Unitarian Universalism has been in the forefront of struggles for human freedom and human rights. The Unitarian Thomas Jefferson not only wrote the Declaration of Independence but also originated the phrase "wall of separation between church and state."" The famous words "of the people, by the people, and for the people" were taken from a sermon by the great Unitarian abolitionist preacher, Theodore Parker, whose published sermons Lincoln kept by his bedside. The marcher killed in Selma, Alabama was the Unitarian minister James Reeb. Unitarians such as Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucy Stone led the campaign for women's rights. Universalist Olympia Brown was the first woman minister in the United States. Unitarian Horace Mann is known as the father of American Public School education. Universalist Clara Barton founded the American Red Cross. Unitarian Dorothea Dix led the movements for reform of prisons and treatment of the mentally ill.

In our own day Unitarian Universalists continue to oppose the efforts of dogmatic religions to impose their ideas on the rest of us. We consider prayer in public schools divisive and the teaching of creationism as the subordination of scientific truth to religious myth. We favor a woman's right to choose. We oppose sectarian displays of the ten commandments in courts of justice. We favor a just society in which all are treated equally regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, sex or sexual orientation.

The First UU congregation in Florida was founded in 1885 in Tarpon Springs, FL. 1939 saw the beginning of our Miami congregation that was quite active in civil rights before this became popular. In the 1950's, congregations began in Fort Lauderdale, and North Palm Beach.

In 1999 our most recent community, River of Grass, was born and became known as one of the fastest growing congregations in our denomination.

We call ourselves "the Uncommon Denomination sm."


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