What Exactly Do We Believe as Unitarian Universalists?

What exactly do we believe as Unitarian Universalists?

Here are three points about some of our commonly shared beliefs to help you better understand who we are: 

1. We believe individual experience and conscience are the best authority for our beliefs and values.

What most distinguishes Unitarian Universalists from the followers of most other religious traditions is we believe our own individual experience and conscience are the best authority for our beliefs and values rather than any authority figure, centuries-old tradition, or particular sacred text.

That doesn’t mean we never look outside of ourselves for inspiration or wisdom. In fact, in seeking to answer the question "How shall we live our lives?" we look to the experiences of others as well as the wisdom of humanity as discovered in all the world’s religions, literature, the arts, history, philosophy, and the sciences.

Related to this, we don't believe any belief should be accepted uncritically. We believe in examining our beliefs with reason and in conversation with others, but we believe the most important test of any belief is whether it makes somebody a better person.

Also related to this, we believe each person should be free to choose his or her own beliefs, should practice humility regarding his or her own beliefs, should practice tolerance toward those with different beliefs, and always be open to at least the possibility of changing one’s mind.

2. We believe the purpose of life is to live as fully as we can within this lifetime.

Many of us believe the best way to live as fully as we can within this lifetime is through the practice of virtues that help us live with more connection and meaning in our lives, virtues such as openness, compassion, awe, gratitude, forgiveness, acceptance, hope, and commitment to worthy goals.

This leads many of us to affirm and work toward the realization of certain social values such as the worth, dignity, and potential of every person, an appreciation for the diversity of the human family, liberty and equality for all people, democracy, a peaceful world community, and respect for the natural world of which we are a part.

 3. We believe religious community helps us do together what would be difficult or even impossible to do by ourselves.

It’s true that many Unitarian Universalists have rejected traditional understandings of spirituality, God, and many religious practices, yet we haven’t given up on the promise of spirituality and religion completely!

Rather, we try to follow a path that traverses a middle ground between the rigidity of orthodoxy and a completely secular approach to life, a path that balances the deep human need for connection and meaning with a 21st-century understanding of the world and universe in which we live.

We especially value the importance of religious community. Religious community helps us do together what would be difficult or even impossible by ourselves.