Unitarian Universalism creates change: in ourselves, and in the world.
Seven days a week, UUs live their faith by doing. Whether in community with others or as an individual, we know that active, tangible expressions of love, justice, and peace are what make a difference.
The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and its member congregations have identified with certain principles found in all religions — universal principles based on respect, equality, openness, freedom, democracy, justice, and unity. We find inspiration in many sources, including world religion, philosophy, literature, art, and science, but, no matter what most inspires us as individuals, as a religious movement Unitarian Universalism is deeply committed to the cause of equality and justice for all people, and to protecting our Earth, environment, and other creatures from the shortsightedness of our own species.
In the broadest terms, Unitarianism emphasizes human agency and Universalism the inclusion of everyone. As individuals, Unitarian Universalists have many different religious beliefs, backgrounds, lifestyles, and practices. We celebrate our differences so long as, whatever we believe, we put our faith into action helping to make the world a better and more just place for everyone.
Our historical roots go back to the early Christians, many of whom held Unitarian and Universalist beliefs, at least until they were declared heresies by the Church during the 2nd and 3rd centuries, and remained so throughout the Dark Ages. After the invention of the printing press in the 15th century, however, making the Bible more widely accessible, some read it and began questioning Trinitarian Doctrine again, returning to a more Unitarian theology that focused on the humanitarian teachings of Jesus. Around the same time, others rejected the Calvinistic notion that God favors only an Elect few, returning, instead, to Universalism, the idea that God loves everyone.
Although Unitarianism and Universalism formally began in Eastern Europe around this time, both ideas soon spread and eventually found their way to America where they have continued to evolve. Near the turn of the 20th century, Unitarian Ralph Waldo Emerson challenged us to move beyond our use of traditional Christian language in favor of broader, more transcendental terms. Then, in the 1920s, our age old emphasis on Jesus’ humanity and human agency led others to ask why we need to use religious language at all. Isn’t it enough to simply live good, just, compassionate lives for goodness sake? Humanism was, thus, born from Unitarianism and half the signers of the original Humanist Manifesto were Unitarians.
Although they long shared much in common, the Unitarian and Universalists remained separate denominations until they formed the Unitarian Universalist Association in 1961. The running joke is that Universalists believed God was too good to damn them and Unitarians believed they were too good to be damned.