What is Unitarian Universalism?
Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religious tradition that formed in 1961 with the consolidation of the Unitarians and the Universalists. These were distinct religious bodies which emerged out of Protestant Christianity and evolved through time and changes in American culture.
Originally, Unitarianism referred to the theological position that there is no Trinity—only one singular God. Unitarians came to value the use of reason and critique in approaching religion and the insight that could be gained by critical study of the Bible and other religious texts. In the 20th century, Unitarianism was also heavily influenced by Humanism, which encouraged scientific inquiry and a human-centered rather than a supernatural- centered approach to religion.
Universalism originally referred to the theological position that a loving God would save all people, and no one would be condemned to suffering for eternity. Universalists understood that waiting for some eternal reward or punishment was not enough—that people needed better lives now. Universalists were interested in social reform, justice-making, and manifesting the love of God by improving lives here on Earth. Eventually, Universalism also came to be influenced by the theological position of the Unitarians—that there was no trinity, but that instead God was a singular unity.
Today, Unitarian Universalism is a non-creedal religion that both embraces and transcends its roots, encompassing a wide variety of personal theological and religious beliefs, while also holding in common a commitment to living our Seven Principles in practical, transformative ways in the world. Unitarian Universalists value religious freedom and tolerance, full equality of all people, diversity, spiritual life and learning, care and respect for our planet, and working together to make the world a better place for all people.
Our churches and our Unitarian Universalist Association are democratically governed and financially sustained by their members.
Our symbol is the flaming chalice. The flame represents the light of truth that we all seek, in our own ways. The chalice represents the vessel for that light; each of us contains some of the light within us. The chalice and the flame became a symbol of Unitarianism during WWII when it was used as a symbol for the relief and aid efforts of the Unitarian Service Committee. In Unitarian Universalist churches all over the country and the world, worship services often begin by lighting the chalice and speaking words that remind us of our common purpose and values.