When I was new to Unitarian Universalism a lot of my friends and family wanted to know more about the religion. After doing a fairly “shoddy” job of explaining it I would get the response, “So it’s not really a religion then.” I was always confused by that statement, because after my time with the UU church I came to see what many would call “true religion.” My Christian heritage actually defines true religion, and I have seen it as long as I have been a UU.
Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.
In fact there are two big things that strike me the most about this statement: first, UU’s do this without having to fear God will strike them dead or send them to hell–care is part of our nature; and second, we are not afraid to make it part of our politics. UU’s generally try, though partners and members, to make this list a little longer. We argue on behalf of those who are unable, and we help let others know their voice matters.
In fact, one of the most important things “religious” people do is practice their religion. Okay, maybe that sounds a little cyclical. Let’s take a look at it. Most people define religion very narrowly. I notice often that many have a hard time defining a religion to be a religion without invoking the name of Jesus. UU’s go one step further and don’t even require members to invoke the name of a god.
In so doing, we still use words like faith, communion, and even prayer. I believe UU’s do something revolutionary and extremely honest. We set a basic set of principles and ask that while we work together we abide by them. Religion for us then is not about belief or necessarily even G/god–it is about being part of community and our responsibility to that community.
For Unitarian Universalists, religion is about what we do. What does the existence of G/god even matter when we let children starve, prejudice to be defended, and the innocent die? What makes us strong is that we work together so we don’t have to be afraid, even though we rest in the minority.
Many religions are also defined by their daily practice–whether that practice be prayer, reading, or doing good deeds. Unitarian Univesalists do this as well. We just let others decide their own practice. While some may practice through reading or prayer, others do so through feeding the poor. Still others define practice through revitalizing their community. What is your daily practice, and why is it important to you?