The following meme I produced and shared on Instagram and elsewhere a while ago sums up one of the main issues I have with pretty much every religion.
The Unitarian Universalist stands out in its openness and inclusiveness and for its lack of dogmatism and narrow faith that other organised religions display, especially the monotheistic ones.The Unitarian Universalist stands out in its openness and inclusiveness. Click To Tweet
My first introduction to them was more than a decade ago, some time in 2001-03, when I was working at UWC-USA in New Mexico. A friend had asked if I would be interested in accompanying her to their Sunday gathering in Santa Fe saying that they welcome anyone and everyone.
Having been born a Tibetan-Buddhist, in a Hindu kingdom at the time, and having been educated by the Jesuits, luckily, I developed not only a healthy appreciation for all religions but also a curiosity for — and an openness to learning about — others.
For instance, as a student at the United World College of the Adriatic in Italy, when a friend invited me to attend their Christian Fellowship meeting, I went. In New Mexico itself, I took part in Muslim celebrations and activities including praying together with them. As a matter of fact, one of the reasons I travel the world as much as I did and still do is for such opportunities.
So naturally, I accompanied her. But, it wasn’t until recently, more than a decade later, that I would come across Unitarian Universalists again, and, through a college friend, learn considerably more about them this past weekend.
Here, to begin with, are the principles Unitarian Universalists adhere to, taken from The Unitarian Universalist Pocket Guide:
We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
The same Pocket Guide has a list titled “Sources of Our Faith,” which I again reproduce below.
The living tradition we share draws from many sources:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
Elsewhere in the Pocket Book, I came across the following quote:
“We Unitarian Universalists have inherited a magnificent theological legacy. In a sweeping answer to creeds that divide the human family, Unitarianism proclaims that we spring from one source; Universalism, that we share a common destiny. Unitarian Universalists are neither a chosen people nor a people whose choices are made for them by theological authorities — ancient or otherwise. We are a people who choose!”
Forget about being so open and inclusive, many religions exclude half of humanity: women!
One would also guess Unitarian Universalists to be considerably more inclusive and progressive in this regard! And of course they are — the friend, who is the pastor of the Unitarian Universalist society I visited, is a woman!
If only all religions had as much faith in one another as they do in their own, humanity would be served, humanity which, to me, is bigger than any religion.
As far as I can tell, the Unitarian Universalists come close to that ideal…of fostering humanity and having faith in humanity!