Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
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18-08-2011, 01:52 PM
Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
The son-in-law of a friend of mine is a Unitarian Universalist minister, and I've been wondering about that group. They seem like the most liberal, progressive, non-dogmatic church in the U.S.: they welcome everyone, including atheists and agnostics, and say they're "non-creedal."

But they also talk about faith, prayer, and worship. I've read some of their online stuff to try to see how that all fits together, but it's still hazy to me.

Anyone have any direct experience with them? If so, what are your thoughts?

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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21-08-2011, 10:04 AM
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
I'm interested too. UU is to most churches what Pantheism is to Theism. It just seems so wishy-washy and kind of meaningless for any objective reasons. That's not to say people can't enjoy it, and that that's not reason enough, but when I think of religions or churches, I expect them to make SOME kind of truth claim. At most, UU Churches sound more like humanist social centers than anything else. Which is a good thing, but again, not really a church.
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24-08-2011, 10:02 AM
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
For UU's, it's mostly about the community and fellowship and less about the doctrines and dogma. Non-theists would not feel awkward or unwelcome attending one of their meetings. A good friend is a UU member and she is one of the kindest most accepting people that I know. And most of her community that I've met is equally supportive (like the Mormons but without the weird shit).
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27-09-2011, 08:34 PM
 
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
I came here looking for some discussion on UUs and stumbled upon this thread, which I see is a bit dated, but nonetheless...

As a UU, I am comfortable being an Atheist (more an Apatheist) and it not interfering with my involvement in a UU "church". The community, openness, and social justice piece is what I'm there for, things that should not be determined by one's religion or beliefs, but often is elsewhere. Most UU churches are also environmentally conscious, as well as GBLT welcoming.

Other religions are usually discussed and referred to in their literary form, rather than their dogmatic ones...great stories, but not gospel. Often they are referenced for their "moral of the story" qualities, but never as a way to tie into the "God" belief system. There's also frequent debate about mis-translated "facts" from the bible, recently there was a controversial discussion on the writings of James the Lesser (the story that Christianity dismisses). For the most part, everything discussed is open for debate and questioning, with no threat or being called out as a a heathen. There's no push to believe in any single "truth", and personal beliefs are never contested, denied,or pushed upon others. There are forums for debate (bible/koran/torah studies) but they don't push one belief over another or right vs wrong, they are open-minded discussions.

As for the makeup of UUs, there was a recent poll within our church (about 150 families) that broke down the different beliefs that members had. Of the majority were Atheist, Agnostic, Humanists, and Freethinkers...while there were some who sill identified with their "brought up" religions, as ex-Catholics, Protestant, Christian, etc. Considering that we are in a strict Roman Catholic dominated area, it is surprising to see so many "Freethinkers" within the community.

Personally, I have a difficult time when discussion of "church" comes up in negative light in the non-Theist community, as UU churches would be lumped in with the general term as it is frequently used. UU "churches" are meeting houses for the most part, ones that once had to compete with other Churches in order to draw attention to themselves, in turn attracting members. They are not "houses of God" or "Sacred temples" like other churches are, they are (sometimes fancy) meeting houses, plain and simple. They are non-discriminatory in the truest sense, regardless of your religious beliefs, sexual preference, appearance, political views, etc. They are a non-demanding community of like minded folks, who expect nothing more from you than conversation and respect.

Another key thing about UU is that the people, not the hierarchy of the church or religion as a whole, decide everything about how the church is run. The members vote on everything in a democratic process, rather than having everything dictated to them from those who "know better". All decisions and voting is done publicly, and is always open for discussion and debate, nothing is done behind closed doors.

That all said, UU churches can be different depending on where they are regionally. Here in the Northeast, most are very liberal and open minded. Some in other areas are closer to the beliefs (though not the "God" part) of Christianity, while others flat out down-play the Bible as a whole. Chances are, you will be able to figure it what your local UU church is like on a few visits, there's no secrecy to how the church is run, they will be pretty out front and open about it.

I think that covers most of it? I could probably go on and on...but I will spare you. Smile
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28-09-2011, 07:10 AM
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
Hi cmpx welcome to the forum and thanks so much for sharing some information about a very interesting denomination/cult/church/forum...I’m unsure what the correct description of this institution is?

Anyway a couple of questions after scanning the very informative website you shared:

How do members of the UU reconcile things like this statement, “The UU teaches me that all religions are equally right. My religion teaches me that all religions are wrong, except my one.” You can have debates until your head falls off, but that central statement will remain true, Christians are Christians...and cannot agree with Muslims or Buddhists or Taoists on matters of faith, because to do so would put them at odds with their own religion and send them screaming to hell, or New Jersey or wherever it is they believe they go when they die.

You've told us that you are an atheist, so presumably that means you think all religions are totally/completely/slightly (delete as appropriate) wrong. So what’s the point in going to UU? Surely you’d be more likely to meet like minded atheists in any environment other than a church?

Would really like to hear your thoughts on the benefits to an athiest of attending this instituion, certainly worth further debate.

Cheers

S
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28-09-2011, 10:12 AM
 
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
Hi Shannow,

I don't think I referred to a website...but to answer your questions...

I don't think I've ever heard that UU believes all religions are right. While some "moral issues" are often accepted from each religion, there's also much discussion of the flaws in each religion, mostly around "miracles", and "god", most of the discussions are in line with whats often discussed in a non-Theist manner. In my experience, UU doesn't attempt to agree or disagree with any other religions.

To me, as an Athiest (though I would lean more towards Apatheist) I don't declare that anything is "wrong" as a whole, I just don't agree and don't accept the belief in a God as an all seeing all knowing entity that we should worship...which is the truest form of Theism. That said, there are non-God parts of religions that I believe are valid and are morally important.

As for why UU...as mentioned, the social justice piece is a big part of it, the community is another. Also, I doubt I would run into any other like-minded free-thinkers otherwise, there is a strong Roman Catholic presence here (I would guess 80% of the population) so it's not all that easy. I also feel that there's a bit more variety of free-thinkers in the UU group...Athiests, Agnostics, Ex-whatevers, Humanists, and so on...there is a diverse group of folks who don't necessarily believe in God(s).

Hopefully that makes some sense?
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28-09-2011, 10:57 AM (This post was last modified: 28-09-2011 11:02 AM by defacto7.)
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
I appreciate the UU. In my experience, it is simply a place where people are free to speak freely about their ideas and beliefs as long as there is respect for the preservation of free speech and humankind in general. Even a fundi would be welcome but just because they are a fundi they probably wouldn't last more than 10 minutes. But I remember there being those with backgrounds as Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, Methodists, Catholics, Unitarian by origin even mystics and new agers all participating in free talk.

Personally, I don't go to one because of all the usual trappings of going to "church". If you don't mind hymns that all Christians know but with the words changed to fit the humanist message such as,

There is power, power, wonder working power,
in the love... of mankind.

the original is... [in the blood... of the lamb.]

how about...

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved... such a one... as me.
[That saved a wretch like me.]

I think it may be just right for people who are having a difficult time coming to grips with breaking with their tradition after realizing that the old message was false and need a place that looks and feels similar.

If you don't mind pulpits, sermons and early American architecture, you may just like it. It's a good group.

Who can turn skies back and begin again?
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28-09-2011, 01:56 PM
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
Hi cmpx and defacto7,

Thanks for the useful information. UU sounds like the most appealing of any institution that goes by the name "church." Given what the organization stands for, though, it seems a pity to have to refer to it by that word, which my dictionary defines as "building for public worship, esp. that of a Christian denomination" or "public worship; religious services." We need to expand the English vocabulary to cover this kind of group and its meeting place without the overtones of traditional religion.

On a somewhat related note, I was married by a minister (if you want to call it that) of the Universal Life Church, another extremely progressive and non-denominational organization which seems to exist solely to allow friends to perform marriage ceremonies for friends. You can get ordained online. Smile

In lieu of new vocabulary, the word "church" seems hard to avoid.

Religious disputes are like arguments in a madhouse over which inmate really is Napoleon.
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28-09-2011, 02:28 PM
 
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
(28-09-2011 10:57 AM)defacto7 Wrote:  Personally, I don't go to one because of all the usual trappings of going to "church". If you don't mind hymns that all Christians know but with the words changed to fit the humanist message such as...

This is true in some cases, but not all...and also not in all UU churches...it really depends, and when it does happen, it's often because of the discussion that the singing is around.

(28-09-2011 10:57 AM)defacto7 Wrote:  I think it may be just right for people who are having a difficult time coming to grips with breaking with their tradition after realizing that the old message was false and need a place that looks and feels similar.


I would disagree on this point. I would say that most people who were from other religions (Catholic, Christian, or the likes) don't want anything that reminds them of what they left. I personally was raised RC but was never confirmed (I gave up Big Grin ) and I had no church, group, or any form or religion for a good 20 years...nor the desire for one. I was married some point around halfway from there to now, in a non-religious ceremony (elopement) with no mention of church, god, etc. I stepped into the UU church a few years ago purely for the community, and the social piece, with no expectations of familiarity from the RC church...in fact, the lack-of that influence was the main reason I joined.



(28-09-2011 10:57 AM)defacto7 Wrote:  If you don't mind pulpits, sermons and early American architecture, you may just like it. It's a good group.

This is true, but one must remember that UU was Universalism and Unitarianism at one time...both of which had roots in Christianity at one time. They also had to compete with those churches that they separated themselves from. Some of the older UU churches are reminiscent of cathedrals, while more modern ones are very non-descript.
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28-09-2011, 03:22 PM
RE: Unitarian Universalist Church--any experience with them?
(28-09-2011 02:28 PM)cmpx Wrote:  This is true, but one must remember that UU was Universalism and Unitarianism at one time...both of which had roots in Christianity at one time. They also had to compete with those churches that they separated themselves from. Some of the older UU churches are reminiscent of cathedrals, while more modern ones are very non-descript.

Thanks for the clarification. I saw a film about a year back about a Unitarian Woman minister who was retiring from the ministry at the main Unitarian Church in Portland, Oregon. It was quite interesting. I actually saw this in a UU church in Portland. I wish I could remember the name of it but I was just a walk in. It said a lot about the way this minister developed, her beliefs and the UU church. I was impressed.

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