I know there are several other forms of Liberal Religion. The UUA and our individual congregations work with a lot of churches on specific projects and we share goals for the world with those churches. So, why am I UU? What is it about Unitarian Universalism that has earned my fervent support?
Firstly, let me say that I am a believer in institutions. I do not believe we can have real justice, real and lasting change, without building it into our systems of governance and law. I believe that all of our efforts will be more effective if we pool resources and skills to work together. I also believe that while we need lawyers, doctors, and activists to do what they do; they still need churches to nurture and occasionally heal their spirits and support them emotionally in their work. In short, we need liberal religion if we are to build a more just and compassionate world.
Unitarian Universalism is among the most liberal of institutions. Because we focus on lofty goals rather than specific means to achieve them, we can welcome a broad swath of humanity. Your personal understanding and relationship with the divine can be almost anything. You can practice Christian prayer, Buddhist meditation, or Pagan spell casting, or a combination of all three (which is not unheard of). You also have wide latitude in how you participate in the community; sermons and hymns aren’t your thing? Many churches have small groups, classes and reading circles. Many even have groups that come together for Christian prayer, Buddhist meditation, or Pagan spell casting. We offer community, acceptance, and encouragement but we allow you to form your own relationship with the divine and the world around you. That’s uncommon, to say the least.
Now, there are religions that are as liberal as Unitarian Universalism, a few even more so. Most of them are going to be strange to the average American. Others are so liberal that they seem, to me, to have problems effecting change in the world. The Pagans of North America, of which I count myself one, are fractured and some of their practices and rituals might seem peculiar to outsiders. I also have a great deal of respect for the Society of Friends but the Quakers are not active, as a group, in national politics; Quaker meetings can be powerful, but also awkward for newcomers. Unitarian Universalism usually looks like the Protestant religion that, even if one isn’t personally familiar, is shown on popular television shows; it is organized, familiar, and effective as a bulwark of spiritual health.
I am proud to say “I Am UU” because I believe that being part of Unitarian Universalism, investing my time, skills, and capital in the common cause, makes the world a better place. I see that we are changing the landscape and culture of the world around us. Our ministers stood with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr in the 1960s and they stand with activists today in Washington DC, at Standing Rock, and in communities all over the country. Just as importantly, they are present with me. When I walk into a UU congregation, I am welcomed, I am accepted, and I am loved. I know that not every person feels that way at every one of our churches, and I am committed to helping remedy that. I believe our congregations are, too.
Unitarian Universalism, to me, is a force for good in the world. It can welcome most people in our culture. It can aid in directing their skills and resources to building a world that is more just, more equitable, and more compassionate.
That is why I am UU.
If, like me, you think Unitarian Universalism is a force for good in the world and that our message of acceptance and encouragement can change lives, help me spread the word. Whether you can give a few dollars today or a few dollars a month, you can help tell people about liberal religion and Unitarian Universalism. Doing this work together matters in terms of both quality and longevity.