Why I’m a UU

Since the shooting at the Unitarian church in Knoxville on Sunday that killed 2 and injured others, I’ve been pondering why I’m a Unitarian Universalist. Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be preachy, and I’m not trying to convert anyone. If we were a preachy bunch we’d have grown a lot larger in the 500 years of our existence when we were deemed heretics. It should come as no surprise to any of you that a church I’m a member of still is considered heretical by many.

I’m going to share the 7 principles of Unitarian Universalism. Since it’s always about me, I’ll share how they apply to me. We require no one to believe these, but, if you don’t it’s not likely you will be happy being a member of UU.

#1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person

If a church accepts me then it’s obvious they follow this principle. Seriously, Maurice and I were embraced the moment we walked into the church. Not tolerated. While some have a hard time tolerating me sometimes, it’s not what I want from my community. Tolerance is what I do whenever the neighbors next door fight every night. I want to be respected for who I am and the differences we have.

#2. Justice, equity and compassion in human relations

This one is so directly linked with the first principal. We all know what justice is, but justice does not necessarily mean compassion and that is why they are both mentioned together yet individually. Sometimes it’s hard for me to distinguish this one from the first principle. Confused yet?

#3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations

Again, please note the word acceptance, not tolerance. All races, creeds and colors are welcome to worship with us. Financially? Maurice and I are pretty close to poor due to my disability yet we go to a very wealthy church community. Does anyone care? No one gives a damn at all. We’re not expected to donate a fortune to help build a new wing on the church. Donating time and effort is equally appreciated.

When I got up in front of the entire congregation and announced that the illness I’d been dealing with was actually bipolar disorder, I received nothing but love and support. No one shunned me, in fact, most sought to understand. There are some who still don’t “get it”, but they still treat me with respect. Or at least as much respect as anyone gives me, which ain’t much.

#4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning

This means a guy with a big funny hat doesn’t tell us what to believe. On Sunday Morning I may sit next to someone who practices Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Atheists, Agnostics or Christianity. One of our most popular classes is “Build your own religion”. That name is funny to me because Unitarian Universalism is a religion, but the class is to help someone discover their own truth, with the understanding that is likely to change over time.

#5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large

Again, there is not a man in a funny hat telling us how to run our church. Each church makes decisions on it’s own either through it’s elected board members or a congregational vote. While it’s very rare, a church can even designate someone a minister. That means I could become one without any schooling. Don’t worry, it’s very rare.

#6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all

We don’t isolate ourselves. We reach out to our community and the world beyond. Social Justice is a huge part of being a UU. We refer to it as faith in action. Saying the right thing isn’t enough, they must be followed by good deeds. Most UU’s don’t believe in the concept of Heaven or Hell. We generally believe they are concepts we live here on earth and thus require us to live by our principles in the time we are here.

#7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Most people think of this as the Environmental principle, and it is very much so. Most UU churches are currently striving to be certified as green sanctuaries. This basics of this certification are to do things like install low flow toilets, low energy bulbs and offer recycling at the church, but it’s also much more. Our church participates with local immigrants in a community garden, we plant indigenous plants where outside growth has been introduced (a big reason why California has so many mudslides), and much more.

A large part of our 7th principal includes Peace and Justice, serving to prevent war and reduce nuclear arms. Basically, it doesn’t matter how many cans people recycle if you’re going to blow them up.

I hope you don’t feel like I was too preachy. I had to write this more for me than for anyone today. I’m a little deeper than normal because of Sundays events.

Blessed Be

13 comments on Why I’m a UU

  1. Thank you for this post. I found it very interesting… and not preachy at all. I love the distinction between tolerance and acceptance. There’s something very self-righteous about the tolerance mindset. Why would anyone want to be part of something that just tolerates them?There is a quote someone said to me that has always stuck with me… “Truth, is truth, wherever it’s found, on heathen or christian ground.” To me, a respect for other’s beliefs is esential for a healthy relationship.

  2. I am glad I read “Why I’m a UU.”It sounds as if you have really found a wonderful place to accepted for who you are.I left organized religion about twelve years ago after belonging to the Methodist church for many years. There were too many cliques and small cults within the church itself that had no tolerance for unique individuals. The church became very judgemental and very self-righteous. I could no longer be free to worship as I wanted to or to really be myself around others. I miss the fellowship of other Christians, but I also think that the Church today is not what is was first meant to be. It is too political and people join for the wrong reasons. I just say my prayers every day and continue to believe in the God I know who is all accepting and loving.

  3. @denise I’m glad you found it interesting and not preachy. That was my intent. You have eased my mind.@les I’m glad your connection with God comforts you. I hope some day that you are able to find a community that you feel comfortable in.

  4. Thank you for sharing this Bradley! I think whereever we all find a place of acceptance is a place we can be grateful; and the principles you’ve laid out here are very humane and caring. I’ve been around the block to so many different churches, I always found the politics to be unbearable, and people superficial. Faith, the word, on it’s own has gotten me through many many dark days where I had no hope. I have found non-denominational chapels in just about every place my daughter has been sent/ and one place I’ve written about is “the bell” on my blog. It’s a place I would go alone, and they allowed me to ring a 50 yr old bell for hope for my daughter, with true grit faith, I would prevent her from being institutionalized. I won. Or someone was looking out after us both–I surely wasn’t alone.I’m sorry about the tragedy, and I always am when I read these stories. No matter what church or place of worship it happens at, we are all people giving our souls and self to God or someone–and on a Sunday, it’s just awful and horrific for innocent people to be killed while in church.Sorry this is probably far too long, but I appreciate you sharing this, and I’m glad you have a place for support and one you feel at home…peace, Stephany

  5. @shiv and Wendy Primarily I did the post for my own purposes, however, I wanted to educate as well. Many don’t even know Unitarians exist, much less what we believe in. As for you Wendy. I’ll get you converted eventually. 🙂

  6. @shiv and Wendy Primarily I did the post for my own purposes, however, I wanted to educate as well. Many don’t even know Unitarians exist, much less what we believe in. As for you Wendy. I’ll get you converted eventually. 🙂

  7. This is a very interesting post. Though I’m not Unitarian but one of the other million variations on Christanity, I really liked these points. Most denominations are far too exclusive, judgmental, and non-accepting. What the Bible teaches isn’t how we have lived or how the world sees us.Thanks for this very interesting post today. You didn’t convert this reader ;-P but it was ver informative.

  8. Definitely not preachy, Bradley. Just understanding, which rocks. It’s rare to hear someone describe their beliefs with such an open heart/mind. I love to learn new things about religions and the principles you describe sound rather cool really. Simple enough on the surface but certainly not so simple in practice, I should think.

  9. You a UUMe a UUAll the cool people are UU’s!Nice post, Bradley.I am so happy I found the UU Church several years ago, too. It really is an anti-church, don’t you think? It is a welcoming, accepting, warm place where they don’t tell you what you are supposed to think or believe. ANTI-church!Thanks for the post.

  10. I’m back! I’ve read your post in reverse order and I’m glad I took the time they are well worth the little effort. thanks!

  11. It sounds like the school of Buddhism I practice. Almost every one of those seven basic tenets could be rewritten with slightly different wording and become the basic building blocks of Nichiren Buddhism. Very interesting. Thank you for elucidating that for me.

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