Ever hear the term “UUer” and think Huh? Then THIS is the post for you. And probably one you may want to share with others. Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist…I met people from all walks of faith when I discovered Unitarian Universalism about ten years ago and remember wishing I would have found it sooner.
Let me preface this by stating that I do not intend to proselytize here. I am a (1) former Catholic, (2) big fan of social justice initiatives, and (3) progressive atheist/secular humanist. Oh, and I am also a humanist chaplain. And while I speak of Unitarian Universalism as a church, it is important to note that the official organization is known as an association. This source here clarifies it best, in my opinion:
“….Unlike most religions in North America, it does not require its adherents to adhere to a specific set of beliefs. Its membership includes individuals who identify themselves as Agnostics, Atheists….Humanists…. Many inter-faith couples find it to be a comfortable religious home in which both spouses can gain spiritual nourishment without bending their personal beliefs out of shape. UUs view the main function of the congregation as facilitating the spiritual quest of its members. The main function of a UU minister is not to tell the members of the congregation what to believe. Rather, it is to help them develop their own religious belief, and ethical systems. Major concerns of the UU religion include social justice and service to humanity. Most UUs readily modify their beliefs to match the findings of science. Thus they were very active in the abolition of slavery. More recently, they have actively working towards achieving equal rights for women, and the attainment of equal rights….”
Their Seven Principles Take a look at these principles outlined above. Each one is so valuable and important. And these are the pillars on which you are building a foundation for your kiddos. Each one matters so much:
1- raising kiddos who are cognizant of their dignity and recognize their worth
2- valuing justice, equality, and practicing compassion
3- recognizing differences among us and accepting people for who they are (notice how it reads “encourage spiritual growth” rather than encourage religiosity)
4- children are encouraged to seek out the truth and interpret for themselves, which supports critical thinking practices
5- to understand exactly why democracy is important (one can easily look around the world and see societies that have and still do crush the people’s right to contribute to and build up democratic institutions)
6- work to better the world (not just ourselves, neighborhoods, and local communities, but others that lack resources and justice)
7- respect everyone
UU & LGBTQ
A Place for Humanists, Atheists & Agnostics
Some wonder Where does an atheist fit in at church? Well, I can’t speak for all, but for some who identify as progressive like myself, the idea of a group of people who possess like-minded beliefs and want to gather in a group-setting, enjoy hearing or singing songs (some of which are religious in context), or raise their kiddos as part of a congregation is appealing. And for those who, like me, consider themselves humanist, the UU church is a great place to grow and exist. They even have an association for Humanists who are UUers. Pantheists often find the UU church a nice fit, too.
The Our Whole Lives Program
My memories of religious education, which took place in a Catholic church-setting, aren’t the most fond. And what I learned in public school in the 90s wasn’t exactly the greatest. However, this helped propel me in finding, what I believe, is the best program for my children. The UU OWL program is amazing, described here by a former attendee who is now an adult. My first-born had a lapse in attendance, but returned when entering seventh grade and I found their curriculum for sexual education the most progressive ever. This description here sums up the progressive lessons for various ages.
In conclusion, I have spoken to many parents who have told me that they desire to leave the churches that they have been going to (and one family said they have yet to find a church they wish to regularly attend, but are searching) because they are looking for more. These discussions have gone in many different directions. Some are looking for a church that is more diverse racially and socioeconomically. Some are looking for a church that isn’t afraid to speak out in support of Black Lives Matters or in opposition to certain current events conducted by the current political administration. Perhaps they are seeking a church that not only welcomes LGBTQ people, but also supports them in various ways. For me, I’ve had my first-born attending the religious education program at our local UU church since Kindergarten because of the framework by which the instructors teach. And often, I enjoy sitting through one of their Sunday lectures as I wait. Their lessons are progressive, promote the understanding of all belief systems without indoctrinating my child, and allows for networking with a group of children and adults who tend to hold similar beliefs as I do. Equality for all. Importance placed on social justice. Respect for all human beings and everything in nature. Can it get any better?