Unitarian Universalism unites people of diverse theologies around shared universal values. As we consider and celebrate the more than 50 years since the 1961 merger of the Unitarians and Universalists, it’s good to remember that our “universal” values, our cherished “seven principles,” are entirely a leap of faith.
They don’t come from a holy book or a spiritual leader. They aren’t part of the doctrine of any particular religious tradition, denomination, cult, or tribe. They aren’t written in stone. Yet they are, in as real a way as humans are able to achieve, universal principles for ethical living and spiritual development.
Where did those principles come from, anyway?
We made them up. As part of the merger, we made them up, and then, during the early 1980s, we re-examined them. We worked together, once again, to find words that expressed our souls’ understanding.
When I say “we,” I mean the member congregations of the UUA and the members of those member congregations. It took multiple committees, many debates, years of discussion in individual congregations, and two formal votes of approval by the congregational delegates at two separate General Assemblies.
“We” (in the representative, democratic sense) evoked, developed, and agreed on our revised principles, and in 1985 they were adopted with only one dissenting vote.
What kind of a religion is this?
It is not a religion of absolutes handed down by a religious hierarchy. Our faith is in the power of the human mind to think and learn. Our faith is in the power of the human heart to love and be brave. Our faith is in the power of the human spirit to seek truth while trusting in the larger Truth that we may never fully understand.
Talk about a leap of faith.