the Principles and Creeds

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the Principles and Creeds

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jun 12, 2008, 7:56pm

I've been hearing a lot lately about the UU church having problems of all kinds. Fortunately, the congregation I've started attending doesn't seem to have the same problems (given, I've only been once, and I wasn't there for a service). I think part of it is the whole Principles V Creeds conflict. By calling the Principles "suggestions" it makes it seem like they aren't really integral to the faith, and you don't need to believe in anything, even the principles, to be a UU. I'd argue that we do have a creed, and its the 6 Principles. This is the one and only thing you have to believe to be a UU. I think if we started treating the Principles as a creed, and not friendly suggestions, we'd be a lot better off. It'd force people to come to terms with the fact that its just as acceptable to be a humanist UU as a Theistic one, and that seems to be where a lot of conflict is coming from.

jun 12, 2008, 8:48pm

There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations 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.
Unitarian Universalism (UU) 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 an 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.
These principles and sources of faith are the backbone of our religious community.

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The congregations covenant to "affirm and promote" the principles. There is no test of the individual, and that is supported by the principles. I am a fairly active Unitarian at the congregational level, and I have not examined the principles or the sources to the end that I will know whether I believe them all. They are, nevertheless, ways in which I typically go about my religious life in conjunction with the twelve steps.

I think there are few of us who actually think deeply about the principles and sources in general (I have more than most others I know); we go about our business. It is disappointing that it is hard to find someone in a free and responsible search for truth and meaning, but there are people groping, and they need their space.


jun 16, 2008, 11:19pm

Thats exactly what I'm saying. Congregations covenant to "affirm and promote" the principles. From what I've been reading on beliefnet, it seems like some don't even do that anymore, they just view their congregation as a atheist church, for example, ignoring everything else about the religion. Given, I haven't been a UU for even a month yet, but I find it discouraging that their seem to be so many people that ignore the few teachings that we do have in favor of doing their own thing entirely.

jun 17, 2008, 12:20am

I hope you all will pardon the perspective of a former UU. I grew up in the church so I spent at least a few Sunday school classes discussing the history of the principles, what they mean, etc.

The problem with presenting the principles as a creed is that not everyone actually agrees entirely on the principles themselves. Actually, my father never cared much for the adding of the seventh principle. It was not so much that he disagreed with it, but thought it superfluous.

Furthermore, the whole point of the Unitarian church is that lack of a creed test and the principles don't make a doctrine even if presented them as such.

Of course, the lack of creed attracts criticism that I believe is on some level deserved. Not because I think the lack of creed makes Unitarian Universalism any less of a "real" religion, but because I've ultimately come to the conclusion that the church's unwillingness to commit to a creed ultimately creates a church that stands behind and for nothing in the long run. That's a small part of why I left.