Unitarian Universalism has a rich history in the United States, going back hundreds of years. A few of the founding fathers are purported to have been Unitarian or to have had such leanings.
As I grew up in the church, I feel I am able to provide a unique perspective on the inner workings of this intriguing faith.
Basically, UUism is not so much a religion as a philosophy. It’s a creed that has no real backbone or dogma if you will, because of its very nature to be inclusive towards all, and tolerant of most everything. On the positive side, this belief system lends itself toward freedom of thought and speech, the right to think for one’s self, in theory, and to work for what they believe to be social justice for under represented groups of people who have been traditionally marginalized by society.
A typical UU service is more of a social lecture, and can vary from church to church. There may be a moment of silence, or even a prayer, but no mention of God is usually made. This is because a UU congregation can be made up of atheists, agnostics, deists, theists, pagans, and other types of faithful. There may be hymns, as there are UU hymns written specifically for the church, and the usual offering. Holidays are similar to the Christian faith, but tend to be more generic. For example, UUs will celebrate Christmas, but also make mention of Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Winter Solstice, Ramadan, and others.
Their desire to be inclusive, while attractive to some, can be a detractor for others. We are all on some sort of spiritual path, and we can’t choose to be on all paths at the same time. Sometimes asking eternal questions, and never getting any definitive answers, can be a slippery slope for those seeking true spiritual growth. In addition, never drawing a real line in the sand, in terms of right and wrong, can be just as destructive. However, in its defense, some individuals that adopt the UU faith grew up in very restrictive religions find UUism’s freedom of thought and inclusiveness as its best qualities.
I left the church at age 30 and converted to Christianity. There was always an emptiness I felt in the Unitarian Church from a spiritual perspective, like I didn’t know if I was coming or going, and no true spiritual instruction. I wanted to know who God was, and not as some lofty mystical ideal who may or may not exist.
There are many positive qualities of the Unitarian Universalist church, and also many attributes that ultimately made me leave, for my own reasons. In the end, each person must evaluate his own spiritual path and act accordingly. I have found, however, that in life choices must be made, and you can’t embrace everything or please everyone. And that, I believe, is the UU fatal flaw.