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Unitarian Universalist Sixth Principle

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Oct. 30th, 2010 | 02:25 am

Sixth Principle:  We affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.

I suspect many of these words sound familiar.  The spirit of this principle can be found in the Declaration on Independence and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Perhaps the most active principle because of the use of the word "promote," it calls us to actively promote these values in our world community.  So, let's take a second to parse this out.

World community:

As mentioned in other posts, historically Unitarians and Universalists believed in an understanding of the Torah and Christian Testament that affirms creating heaven here on earth.  As Alfred North Whitehead's process philosophy began to weave itself into the fabric of both denominations in the early 1900s, this notion that all things are a part of a living process furthered the notion that we are literally our sibling's keepers.  At the core of this is loving commitment to care about and strive for equality for all people- not just ourselves.  Perhaps this point comes together in the increasingly polarizing media around the upcoming election.  With violence on the rise, terrible attack ads, and judgment of people based on party affiliation it is ever increasingly important within our churches that we are a place for all views.  In U.U. churches there are Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians, Green Party folk, and everything else you can imagine.  Each of these folks live in community in their congregations and within the UU Association because that is how they believe the world should be- on building many windows.  None of us have the truth, but together we know more and learn more than we do apart.

Peace:

Perhaps the most hotly debated of our three global community commitments- especially in times of war.  You will always find Unitarian Universalists at peace marches.  You will always find Unitarian Universalists in the military.  By and large, Unitarian Universalists fit into either the- "fighting and war are never the answer" group OR the "there are just wars" group.  Of course, there are people outside of those two groups- being noncredal, we have folks with every view point you can imagine.  The one thing I think everyone agrees on is that war is only very rarely the answer.  With that stance, we strive to promote peace in all that we do.

Liberty:

Perhaps it goes back before this, but liberty as understood in our traditions has its roots in the founding of this country.  Many of the founders were liberal congregationalists (later called Unitarians) who believed in liberty and helped begin to define it for a nation.  Our congregations believe in their own liberty.  The Unitarian Universalist General Assembly may vote to support something, but congregations still have the free will to make their own path.  The same thing is true for members.  The church may decide to support a particular issue, but members are not required to agree.  Unitarian Universalists support this same right for the world.

Justice:

Where there is a Unitarian Universalist church there will be a social action/justice committee of some kind.  It could be a congregation is too small for a full committee.  Instead they may have a Green Sanctuary Committee, Racial Justice Committee, Welcoming Congregation (LGBTQ) Committee, or some other more specific committee.  Unitarians and Universalists were considered heretics off and on from the time of the Council of Nicea (they went from being heretics to doctrine off and on during after this Council).  So, there is a general disposition to standing up for our own rights.  In more recent years, it is the Universalist belief in universal salvation (if we all go to heaven, then we better learn to get along here on earth), the Transcendentalists (we must constantly work to improve ourselves), and the Puritans (heaven's city shall be made here on earth, so we must be good stewards of the land) that are major foundations to justice work.

Now, as I have relayed these values, I have focused heavily on our "Christian" history.  However, Christianity was not created in a bubble and has influences from Judaism, Islam, Zoroastrianism, and Paganism within it.  So, too were these histories laden with influence from various religious traditions.  In recent years, as we have more members coming from traditions other than Christianity, Judaism, and Humanism, the reasons for these same values within other religious traditions have been woven in.  For example, our Buddhist members have added a lot to how we understand peace in our time.  I will talk more about these when I cover the Sources of our faith, but this is a good beginning.  If you read all the way to this point- well done.  :-)

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