Frequently Asked Questions about Unitarian Universalism
Q. Is this a new religion?
A. Unitarian Universalism (UU) is a mainline religious organization that reaches back more than 400 years. Universalism was organized in 1793, and Unitarianism was organized in 1825. The two faiths consolidated into the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961.This religion combines the richness of both faith traditions. Both groups trace their roots in North America to the early Massachusetts settlers and to the founders of the Republic. Overseas, their heritage reach back centuries to pioneers in England, Poland, and Transylvania.
Q. What do UUs believe?
A. UUism is creedless religion, meaning that we do not require members to adhere to dogma, or a specific belief system. We celebrate diversity of beliefs while we affirm and promote seven principles:
- 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.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the 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.
- These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.
Q. If UUs celebrate spiritual diversity, what kinds of sermons to the ministers deliver?
A. The UUCSH is a free pulpit, which means ministers and lay speakers are free to say what’s on their mind, without censorship. To hear some recent sermons delivered in our pulpit, visit our Podcast page
You may also be interested in reading an eBook by John Sias titled One Hundred Questions that Non-Members Ask About Unitarian Universalism.
Q. What kinds of people are UUs?
A. UUs come from all walks of life, races, cultures, sexual identities, and political and spiritual perspectives. Most of us strive to make positive changes in our own and others’ lives. Some UUs have made contributions large or lasting enough to make them well known, such as: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Olympia Brown, Louisa May Alcott, Henry David Thoreau, Clara Barton, Robert Fulghum, Beatrix Potter, Frank Lloyd Wright, Florence Nightingale, Carl Sandburg, Adlai Stevenson, Thomas Jefferson, Morris Dees, May Sarton,T. Berry Brazelton, e.e. cummings, Linus Pauling, Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Paul Newman, Caroline Farrar Ware, Christopher Reeve, Keith Olberman and Zach Wahls.
Q. Is there a symbol of UU?
A. Yes, a flame within a chalice (a cup with a stem and foot). Most UU congregations light a chalice at the start of worship services. The UUCSH also lights small chalices at the start of Board of Trustee meetings and some small group gatherings as a way to focus our attention and purpose. Hans Deutsch, an Austrian artist, first brought together the chalice and the flame as a Unitarian symbol during his work with the Unitarian Service Committee during World War II. To Deutsch, the image had connotations of sacrifice and love. Unitarian Universalists today have many different interpretations of the image.
Q. What is the Unitarian Universalist Association?
A. Each UU congregation operates independently as part of the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. The UUA provides services and resources that individual congregations cannot develop independently. Also, the UUA has the strength in numbers to be a force for social justice issues and other causes that reflect members’ shared values.
The UUA has endorsed the following purposes:
The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational and humanitarian purposes. The primary purpose of the Association is to serve the needs of its member congregations, organize new congregations, extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalist institutions and implement its principles.
The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member societies and organizations, to promote the full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to race, color, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, age, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.
Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any society unless such is used as a creedal test.
The UUA has resource-rich website that you may enjoy visiting.
Affiliated and Associated Organizations
Here is contact information for some of the groups that are Associate Member or Independent Affiliate Organizations of the UUA.
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
The UUSC, motivated since 1939 by liberal religious principles, works to promote justice, freedom, and self-determination in the U.S. and worldwide. The UUSC can also be contacted via the PeaceNet and CompuServe networks.
UU Women’s Federation
617-742-2100 x 653
The UUWF is the only continental membership organization for all UU women. Formed by the 1963 consolidation of the Association of Universalist Women and the Alliance of Unitarian Women, it is an associate member of the UUA.
Conservative Forum for Unitarian Universalists
The Conservative Forum for Unitarian Universalists exists to ensure that all UUs are free to pursue a responsible search for religious truth and meaning in our societies and denomination regardless of their individual views on politics, economics, or social issues.
Covenant of UU Pagans
CUUPS The Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans was formed to enrich and strengthen the religious pluralism of UUism by promoting the study and practice of contemporary Pagan and Earth/nature-centered spirituality.
Members of HUUmanists are UUs who are also religious Humanists. This group constitutes the principal organization representing Humanists in the Unitarian Universalist Association of congregations.
Unitarian Universalist Christian Fellowship
UUCF is comprised of non-creedal followers of Jesus rooted in the history and tradition of Unitarian Universalism. All who wish to freely follow Jesus are welcome to be members of the UUCF. This is a movement and organization of members who are interested in exploring liberal Christianity as we walk freely in the spirit of Jesus, growing our souls and the soul of the world.