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Unitarian Universalism (UU or UUism) is a liberal religious tradition that was formed by the merger of Unitarian and Universalist groups. Its roots are in Protestantism, although Christian beliefs are no longer required for adherents to modern Unitarian Universalism and most Unitarian Universalists (UUs) do not consider themselves Christian.
Unitarian Universalism has its origin, and most of its adherents, in the United States, where its largest organization is the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee is a related nonsectarian organization which started out of an effort to smuggle Jews and other targeted groups out of Nazi Germany. The UUSC works to promote social justice and human rights around the world. Unitarian Universalist churches worldwide are represented in the International Council of Unitarians and Universalists (ICUU).
Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion. It is a syncretic religion, which respects all the major religious traditions, and religious services often draw from the various world faiths. A major difference between Unitarian Universalism and other major religions is a strong emphasis on tolerance and acceptance. Unitarian Universalist churches welcome gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered people as well as the disabled, and the church does not discriminate on the basis of skin color, national origin, or ethnicity. A large portion of its members consider themselves humanists, and many may hold Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Pagan, atheist, agnostic, pantheist, or other beliefs, or may not choose a particular theological label. This vast diversity of views is considered a strength by the UU faith, since its emphasis is on the common search for meaning among its members rather than adherence to any particular doctrine. Many UU congregations have study groups which study the doctrines and spiritual practices of Neopaganism, Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam, and other faith traditions. One UU minister, the Reverend James Ford, has even been acknowledged as a Zen master.
Therefore, the only unifying factor amongst Universalist Unitarians is rejection of any particular creed. Unitarian Universalists view this as an important counterbalance to dogmatism, which hampers the individual search for truth and spiritual fulfillment. Additionally, Universal Unitarians are bound together by the act of meeting together in a supportive environment and sharing non-denominational inspirational stories. In this way, it is similar to Freemasonry.
Universalism and Unitarianism started out as two separate movements within Christianity. An important difference of Unitarian Universalism from Christianity is rejection of any statement of belief or creed, especially regarding Jesus Christ as the messiah. In this way, it comes into direct conflict with conservative Christianity.
While some people are raised in the UU faith, a greater number of members have come from other religious backgrounds. People join the UU faith for a variety of reasons. Unitarian Universalism often draws on adult "refugees" from other faiths. Often parents choose to bring up their children in the UU faith as a compromise if the mother and father come from different religious backgrounds. Parents who do not subscribe to a particular dogma but who want to give their children some kind of religious background are also drawn to the UU faith. Children who are brought up in the UU faith often, though not necessarily, attend Sunday religious education (RE) classes, which are somewhat akin to Sunday School in Protestant churches. RE classes may deal with moral values and the problems of growing up, as well as exploring the teachings and traditions of other religions.
Starr King School
Starr King School for the Ministry, located in Berkeley, CA. Starr King School educates Unitarian Universalist ministers and progressive religious leades for society using an educational approach rooted in Unitarian Universalist Values.
- Starr King School for the Ministry
- 2421 LeConte Avenue
- Berkeley, CA 94709
- Phone: (510) 845-6232
Meadville Lombard Theological School
Meadville Lombard Theological School, located in Chicago, IL. Meadville Lombard is associated with the Unitarian Universalist denomination, although it will award Doctors of Divinity who are associated with other religions. It is associated with the University of Chicago.
- Meadville Lombard Theological School
- 5701 South Woodlawn Avenue
- Chicago, Illinois 60637
- Phone: (773) 256-3000
- Unitarian Universalism at Religious Tolerance - a summary of Unitarian Universalist beliefs.
- Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations - a representative body of UU churches in the United States.
- Canadian Unitarian Council - representative body of UU churches in Canada.
- Unitarians in Great Britain - representative body of UU churches in the United Kingdom.
- International Council of Unitarians and Universalists - representative body of UU churches in over two dozen countries.