Requiring the “7 Principles”?

In the most recent issue of the UU World magazine, a letter writer states:

“…to me, if you don’t accept the Principles and consider life’s hard questions using them you are not truly a UU.”

It’s always worth going back to the original source when you want to test strong statements like this. So let’s go back to the original source for what the letter writer calls the “Principles.”

These principles come from section 1 of Article 2 of the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association. Article 2 as a whole is titled “Principles and Purposes.” Unfortunately, most people seem to stop reading at the end of section 2.1, and forget to read the rest of the Principles and Purposes.

But it’s really worth going on to read section 2.4, which I quote in its entirety below:

“Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test.”

In other words, the letter writer has gotten a little mixed up — the Principles and Purposes explicitly state that individuals have freedom to believe what they wish. Furthermore, nothing like a creed may be used as a test to determine who is, and who is not, a Unitarian Universalist.

It’s not easy being a part of a non-creedal religion in a culture like ours which is so heavily dominated by creedal religions. We do have boundaries, but we don’t draw our boundaries using any statement of belief. It’s not easy, but it’s also our greatest strength. Let’s try to remember that, and hold on to that.