A Look at the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism

The Foundation of the Unitarian Universalist Association

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Unitarian Universalism (or UU) is a highly individualistic religion with no dogma concerning the spiritual nature of the world. As such, different UUs can have radically different ideas concerning the nature of the divine (or its absence) as well as ethical decisions.

As varied as the beliefs are, there are seven principles which members of the UU religious community agree upon. These are the foundations of the organization and which they promote.

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"The inherent worth and dignity of every person;"

​Unitarian Universalism is a high humanist system of thought. It emphasizes the inherent worth of all people rather than any inherent flaws in humanity.

This belief leads many UUs to not only take care of their own spiritual health but to care for other people as well. This leads to the second principle.

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"Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;"

Unitarian Universalists do not have a specific list of laws of behavior to follow. They are encouraged to personally consider the nature of ethical choices rather than adhere to strict doctrine.

Yet, they do agree that ethical behavior should include the notions of justice, equity, and compassion. Countless UUs are known for social activism and charitable giving, and the majority have a general kindness and respect toward others.

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"Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth;"

UUs are very non-judgmental. A UU gathering might easily include atheists, monotheists, and polytheists, and this diversity is to be tolerated and encouraged.

Spirituality is a highly complex and subjective topic to UUs, which can lead to multiple conclusions. UUs are also encouraged to learn from this diversity as they develop their own personal ideas of spirituality.

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"A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;"

UUs focus on their own personal spiritual development and understanding rather than being concerned about everyone reaching a consensus. Every person has the right to their own spiritual seeking.

This principle also refers to the respect for everyone's personal beliefs. It is not important to think that you are the right one but to accept that every person is free to consider their own truths regarding faith.

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"The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process;"

Unitarian Universalist's egalitarian outlook lends itself to the promotion of democratic organization. As a second ethical statement, UU also endorses action based upon one's own conscience.

This understanding is closely related to the respect which UUs show each individual person, both in and out of the UU community. It places value on each person as an equal in that everyone has a connection to 'the sacred' and through that, a trust is developed.

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"The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;"

The notion of inherent human worth lends itself to an emphasis on the world community and the allowance of basic rights for all members. It is a very optimistic view of the world, but one that UUs hold dear.

Many UUs admit that this is, at times, one of the most challenging principles. It is not a matter of faith, but in the face of injustice, tragedy, and atrocities in the world, it can test one's faith. This principle speaks to the foundation of UU compassion and the fortitude of those who hold these beliefs.

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"Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."

UU acknowledges that reality consists of a complex and interconnected web of relationships. Actions taken seemingly in isolation can still have far-reaching effects, and responsible behavior includes being mindful of these potential consequences.

In this principle, Unitarian Universalists broadly define that "web of all existence." It includes one's community and environment and many use the words "the spirit of life." It is all-encompassing and helps each individual understand society, culture, and nature while trying to support it where they can.

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Beyer, Catherine. "A Look at the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism." Learn Religions, Sep. 6, 2021, learnreligions.com/seven-principles-of-unitarian-universalism-95786. Beyer, Catherine. (2021, September 6). A Look at the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism. Retrieved from https://www.learnreligions.com/seven-principles-of-unitarian-universalism-95786 Beyer, Catherine. "A Look at the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism." Learn Religions. https://www.learnreligions.com/seven-principles-of-unitarian-universalism-95786 (accessed April 1, 2023).