No One is Born a Unitarian Universalist

One thing that separates the Baptists from the Lutherans and Presbyterians (and there are a few) is that Baptists don’t believe you can be baptized until you are old enough to understand what the intent of the ceremony is; you cannot enter into the covenant unless you do so with informed consent. And, despite the fact that we both trace our polity back the the Cambridge Platform, this may actually be one of the things that Baptists and Unitarian Universalists have in common today.

You see, no one is born a Unitarian Universalist. Your parents cannot make you a UU. Plenty of people have been raised by UU parents and grew up in a UU church, but membership and belonging require that you learn the responsibilities and commitments that come with covenantal religion and that you choose to accept those responsibilities for yourself.

One of the most important distinctions about Unitarian Universalism from mainline Christianity is that rather than relying on a statement of belief, a creed, we are a religion built on relationships and promises. You can’t just say that you are a UU by quoting scripture; being a UU is a choice you make to be part of a community and to do your part to support the mission of the congregation.

It is a choice you make, and it is a choice you make again each time you show up. And that isn’t something we expect children to understand. Sure, we welcome children as part of the community, but they aren’t members with the same obligations and privileges until they are deemed old enough to consent fully to the covenant of the congregation. And, just as with any other adult, they make the choice to belong over and over again, knowing that there is no damnation waiting for apostates; only that they will be missing out on the joys of community and that they miss out on the support of the community.

No one is born a UU. It can be argued that no one even wakes up each morning as a UU. It might be fair to say that you membership is renewed in an important way every day that you choose to be a UU all over again.

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