I’ve been sitting on this post for over a week, wondering if I should post it. It’s undergone several revisions, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I am not done with the topic. I need to discuss it, and failing some kind of resolution, I need to rethink my involvement in the Unitarian Universalist movement.
Lately, I have been on a quest to learn what makes a Unitarian Universalist. No one has answered that with any usable definition. I asked how the Principles might fit into a definition, and that got a lot of replies. It seems that there are many who are opposed to using our Principles as a guideline for UU theology. It smacks too much of “Creed” to ask individuals to make a commitment to the covenant that our congregations enter into when they join the UUA.
This did not come without some logical inconsistency. Some people refused to recognize certain spiritual paths as “religions” in order to make the claim that every religion follows the 7 Principles. Most were forced to admit that the religion practiced by the people is not to same one handed down as dogma by institutions. There were others who claimed that one could, theoretically, be a member of a UU congregation without personally believing in the Principles and supporting their work, meaning that all it takes to be a UU is paying dues.
To carry that thought through, to be a Unitarian Universalist is simply to meet the membership requirements for one of thousands of associated Congregations, all of which are, technically, affirming and promoting the 7 Principles in someway, though how they do this is governed by no body or council higher than the congregation its self. Several people complained that there was no real accountability to the UUA or member Congregations, even though some of the same people were loathed to give any more authority to the UUA even on this count.
This is not the description of a religion, or even a spiritual movement. These are descriptions of a social club that, in general, wants to be seen as doing good things. This describes a group more concerned with membership numbers than with the spiritual health of members. This description actually goes against the Principles that define the Association’s covenant.
It has to mean something to be a Unitarian Universalist, or there is no point in using the label. It certainly no longer requires that you care, one way or the other, about the singular or plural nature of deity. It doesn’t even imply that you are concerned with the salvation of human souls, universal or otherwise. The label has become a symptom of a bigger problem: it is long, hard to explain, and no longer describes to the majority of our members.
It has to mean something. There has to be a boundary. We need to define who we are, and we need to admit that this will mean some people just aren’t ready or willing to be included. We need to accept that not everyone is willing to live up to our Principles, and that might mean that not everyone is able to be a UU.