• Welcome to Religious Forums, a friendly forum to discuss all religions in a friendly surrounding.

    Your voice is missing! You will need to register to get access to the following site features:
    • Reply to discussions and create your own threads.
    • Our modern chat room. No add-ons or extensions required, just login and start chatting!
    • Access to private conversations with other members.

    We hope to see you as a part of our community soon!

Faith crises and Unitarianism


Active Member
Unitarianism is my best guess when it comes to religion. I think that God, at least in some very broad or general theistic sense, exists, that believers should form a community around this belief, and that they should set out teachings about God and morality. However, I have reservations before joining a UU church and their movement.

Christianity feels colorful, diverse, and inspiring both in its philosophies, history, culture, practices and cultures. The problem is that Jesus' miracles seem more like the ideas of a fringe charismatic movement than of real phenomena.

But UU churches feel bland and empty in contrast, their national culture being that of Reformed WASP anglo-Protestants and anglo New Agers. They seem like a mix between self help classes and support groups with services in the form of Reformed Protestantism but with the message of modern, non-academic psychology. I know that there is such a thing as Unitarian studies, beliefs, and theology, but in general it just seems bland with a mix of old heretical/unrealistic interpretations of Christianity (eg. the virgin birth was real but Jesus didn't claim to be God's pre-Creation Word), polytheism, and atheism.

The approximately 15 minute promotional video I saw just seemed to be people with opposing theologies saying that they love each other, approve of people having same-sex sexual relationships, and that their movement has had some involvement in liberal causes like the Red Cross, women's voting, and African American equality. That's good and nice, but it's still bland, and I don't want to elevate political liberalism to a religious belief system. Is there a better UU video available?

I would generally qualify as leftist, but there are issues on which I disagree with leftist politics. For example, I believe in an armed citizenry, but worry that there are powerful, activist forces in the government and among liberals that want to disarm us like Europeans have been disarmed.

Besides that, I've heard strange things about Unitarian churches, particularly that they have an excessive level of sexual activity between members. In the promotional video, adolescents said that they were being taught about sex. The YRUU (UU youth group) was disowned in 2008 because of scandals in this area.

Quakerism is very attractive culturally and ideologically. I do think that their services have a major bland element due to their unprogrammed/spontaneous music-less, frequently silent worship. The second issue is that in terms of theology it is basically a soft, accepting version of Christianity. So Quakerism actually teaches Christianity, if you are serious about theology, but you don't actually have to accept it to join and be a member, depending on your Quaker sect. And really something similar can be said about mainstream Christianity too, except in the case of adult conversion. Thirdly, Quakerism requires you to accept Pacifism, and although I sympathize with it and find it reasonable, I think that there are probably cases where people should defend their country militarily.

The other two real options I see are to go to a mainstream church with an open mind and try to get things out of it like community and morality, which is what I think some people do, and just give up religious observance even though you believe in God, which is another common response.


Consults with Trees
Staff member
Premium Member
I have to say that little of what you've written here corresponds to my experiences in three different UU fellowships. Not sure what to tell you, other than to let you know that every single UU fellowship is different, much like no two churches are going to be the same either.

You're vaguely correct in that, because UU is non-creedal and non-dogmatic, that you get people from a wide variety of religious traditions sharing fellowship with each other. The religious identification of UUs (aside from obviously identifying as UUs) range from Christian to non-theist to Buddhist to Pagan to various syncretic paths. Really, what that should tell you is that on the whole UU values wisdom and knowledge regardless of where it comes from; there's no religious exclusivism to speak of here, so you're not going to hear rubbish about "this is the one true path" and whatnot. Inspiration can come from anywhere, and UU's let it flow as it will.

You're also vaguely correct about the political aspects of UU, but this is perhaps in part due to UUs understanding that religion is supposed to be a way of life, not some isolated component of your existence. If your religion is actually your way of life, it's going to intersect with politics. But, fellowships vary in how active they are with various causes, and not all of them are "political" per se. Often the groups that serve various causes are ancillary functions and not connected to main services. In other words, you can pretty much ignore that component if you want to. Nobody is going to make you an activist or supporter of endangered species protection or something.

As for this thing with sex, I seriously started laughing when I read that. I've never gotten any indication that promiscuity among members is the case, and I've never heard of this scandal claim either. E
ven assuming it is true (which I seriously doubt), abuse issues so uncommon as to be trivial and nearly irrelevant. Let's just be realistic here: whenever you deal with people there's a teeny tiny chance you'll run into a creeper. Now, you can either choose to let the fact that there exists an infinitesimally small fraction of people who are creepers ruin things for you in a haze of paranoia and become a hermit on a mountaintop somewhere, or you can do what most reasonable people do and get on with your life and simply pay attention and be smart about things.

At any rate, you do not have to join a fellowship to go to services and take advantage of the community. I don't know if there's a better promotional video about, as I haven't actually been to my local fellowship for a few years now and am a bit out of the loop. Even so, I still consider myself an unofficial member/supporter and it's the only widely-available "church" I would ever consider attending. Not just because it's the only place that would really welcome a Pagan, but because their support of pluralistic attitudes and encouraging people to build their own religion is simply fantastic, IMHO. :D


Active Member
Dear Quintessence:

Thank you for replying. When you write that Unitarians are not creedal, does this mean that they don't even believe in the one God, as implied by the name "Unitarian"? As a result of joining with the Universalists they are not definitively Unitarian anymore as an institution?

"You're also vaguely correct about the political aspects of UU, but this is perhaps in part due to UUs understanding that religion is supposed to be a way of life, not some isolated component of your existence. If your religion is actually your way of life, it's going to intersect with politics."​

OK, I understand the idea that religion is a way of life, and that results in an intersection with politics. But that intersection can be true of very many other aspects of one's life like sports or employment and so it doesn't follow that your church should teach "mainstream culturally liberal" politics as part of its religion. OK, I understand that many churches have parish committees that get involved in important work on issues of human rights, abortion (usually anti-abortion), stopping war, or providing economic justice. I am just not sure that mainstream cultural liberalism should be treated as a religious teaching. Maybe that's not what UUs do. Like I said, I am generally on the left politically but there are some typically "liberal cultural" things that I have major disagreements with, and am skeptical about "cultural politics" being a religious teaching.

May I ask why you why you decided to become so less active in the last few years? Was it still having the same spiritual power and attraction for you that it did when you first joined, or perhaps it lost some of its attraction? If so, why do you think that is, because I have heard from others that this is a deficiency with the UU church, perhaps for it lacking philosophical or organizational structure or something else.


Consults with Trees
Staff member
Premium Member
It's been a long time since I looked at the history of UU, but from what I vaguely recall, you're essentially correct that when Unitarianism became universalist - when UU became UU - insistence on monotheism disappeared. But I'm not positive about that. There are others more well-versed in the history of UU than I, and I don't doubt there are some good books on the subject. They may be available at your local public library, or if they are not, there's always inter-library loan.

I'm not sure I'd characterize UU as treating "mainstream cultural liberalism" as a religious teaching. In part because I'm not sure UU can be said to have "religious teachings" in the sense that is commonly understood by those in the Western cultural morass. The religion is non-creedal and non-doctrinal; the closest thing I'd identify as a "religious teaching" would be the principles. If we take a look at the principles, I suppose it's true that they support "liberal" values, but perhaps not "liberal" as understood in a political context. Beyond that, the "religious teachings" of UU really draw from just about anything and everything. When I attended semi-regularly, I remember the minister some times drawing inspiration from ancient Celtic mythos, Buddhist practice, religious naturalism, secular humanism, Abrahamic traditions... as well as things that don't seem particularly religious to most people like making salsa or talking about mental health issues. Outside activities ran the spectrum too. I sat in on meditation groups in two different fellowships, and they were each very different. One used Buddhist-style meditation to the letter and another more of a free style. Another hosted an annual art fair. Yet another had a science discussion group. The stuff they do is really all over the place, and varies from fellowship to fellowship. Maybe the best way to characterize the "religious teachings" of UU would be to say that they are... well... everything? :sweat:

With respect to being less active, I don't really know. At the time I became less active, there was not really any identifiable reason for it. It just happened, like the moon waxes and wanes. That happens in many things in our lives, I think. They just wax and wane, without much cause or reason.

Sand Dancer

Crazy Cat Lady
I have gone to some that were bland, and some that were very exciting, but none are going to be heavy on theology.


Libertarian Unitarian
I've been to about a dozen Unitarian sermons and joined my local Unitarian congregation. I've often heard stories told to us from children's books, or poems by famous Unitarians. There was even a critique of House on the Rock and Ralph Waldo Emerson's influence on it. Joining the Unitarians was a two-step process for me, but can be as long as a four-step. We learned about the history of Unitarians, did fun exercises, were separated into groups based on theological beliefs, and told very specifically what we were getting into as we did the guest book ceremony.

My favorite Unitarian minister (if I could have one) would be Aaron White from the Dallas congregation. I've watched interviews and sermons with him multiple times. "Love is the doctrine of this church." Is a universal theme all can relate to. My local chapter has many groups to participate in. Some are spiritually-based, others are not. Unitarians tend to believe that all things can be taken to a spiritual level. Any book you read, fiction or non-fiction, can be inspiring and even words to live by, like the Bible.

On that note, there are a lot of Unitarian pamphlets and brochures on the subject, and a lot of books on Unitarianism itself. I own one of them. But the majority of what Unitarians get in their spirituality comes from their favorite books, favorite movies, favorite music, and so on. Anything can be spiritual and everyone has the ability to spiritual in their own way.

That being said, you will never come across a single religion that you entirely agree upon. I certainly don't agree with Black Lives Matter (they all do) and the things they're trying to do there. I'm not even politically left (I'm Libertarian).

If you're looking for a place where everybody around you believes in monotheism, you will be sorely disappointed. But if you're looking to be inspired by any subject matter, and learn astonishing facts about the world and its inhabitants, then try Unitarianism again.

Anyways, whatever you do, I hope you find your spiritual home. Best of luck to you!


Premium Member
I occasionally attend the local Unitarian Church (in the UK, the UUs are called Unitarians still) and have found them to be quite open, and to be hugely variable, but to not be so into devotion. But they have a good discussion. There are Christians and former Christians (including 'refugees' from Methodism, Anglicanism and I think Catholicism) as well as people of atheist and Muslim backgrounds. And me!

'We need not think alike to love alike' is the motto on the fronts of their orders of services.