Is UUism a movement or a religion?

Is Unitarian Universalism a movement, or a religion? This question came up yesterday in conversation. Here's my answer...

1.) We are not a movement. A movement is more of a political response at a moment in time that will wither away when its goal is either accomplished, or abandoned. Certainly, a movement can appeal to one's heart and capture one's imagination and evoke energy to cause change, but even if a movement lasts for a hundred years it will still eventually evaporate.

2.) We are not a religion, if you define religion as having creedal beliefs and/or dogmatic ritualistic actions. I've heard it said we are "Radical Protestants" on the edge of the Protestant Reformation, continuing to evolve Jesus' story of Love. But we have actually evolved way beyond that, for our story includes the knowledge and wisdom of religions other than Christianity, as well as the knowledge and wisdom of humanism. We do not say you are welcome to believe anything, but the door is open to a world of possibilities like no other single religion would ever allow.

3.) We are a movement, sometimes. Our deep concerns for social and environmental justice are ongoing, never ending, although the focus at any single moment in time may change. Sometimes we jump on the bandwagon of a current cause but more often we are the leaders - identifying the cause for others, and helping to create solutions in both dialogue and action.

4.) We are a religion, absolutely, because we are dependent upon forming communities of faith. While it is possible for a lone individual to be Unitarian Universalist in principle, one only blossoms in the company of others. Our communities (congregations, churches, societies) are the foundation of UUism where each individual is challenged to grow and become the best possible example of humanity that he or she can achieve.

What do you think? Comments welcomed.

1 comment:

  1. I agree that we have evolved past being radical Protestants, although we did centuries worth of exemplary work as very inquisitive Protestants pulling the rest of the Christian set along into new territory. A professor of mine (a pretty hip Methodist) described us as being "post-Christian." In the post modern sense, he was right, because we UUs understand that a singular or unifying grand narrative, such as the story of Christ, does not exist. Multiple narratives, each with their own truths, inform us and the rest of society (big part of what's up with the growing SBNR--spiritual but not religious--demographic). I also like your idea that we are a movement and not, in other words, "both"/"and." It is much more realistic not to be given a false choice or false dichotomy of being "either"/ "or." The truth is much more nuanced, which you"ve hit upon here.


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