Liberal religion is a religious tradition which embraces the theological progress of a congregation rather than a single creed, authority, or writing. Because it may draw resources from many traditions, it cannot normally be characterized as Christian, Jewish, or any particular religious faith.
Liberal religion in principle
- Revelation and truth are not closed, but constantly revealed.
- All relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not coercion.
- Affirmation of the moral obligation to direct one's effort toward the establishment of a just and loving community.
- Denial of the immaculate conception of virtue and affirmation of the necessity of social incarnation. Good must be consciously given form and power within history.
- The resources (divine and human) that are available for achievement of meaningful change justify an attitude of ultimate (but not necessarily immediate) optimism. There is hope in the ultimate abundance of the Universe.
Unitarian Universalist minister Kimi Riegel defines the religious liberal as such:
"To be a liberal according to my favorite scripture, Merriam-Webster, is be open minded, is to be free from the constraints of dogmatism and authority, is to be generous and to believe in the basic goodness of humankind. Religion is defined as that which binds us back or reconnects us to that which is ultimately important. Thus religious liberals are those that are connected, through generosity and openness, to the most important aspects of life. And therein lies the challenge. If we are open minded and not bound by authority, who or what decides those matters of ultimate importance?"
Seven Principles and Purposes
Deliberately without an official creed or dogma (per the principle of freedom of thought), Unitarian Universalists instead typically agree with the principles and purposes suggested by the Unitarian Universalist Association. As with most actions in Unitarian Universalism, these were created in committee, and affirmed democratically by a vote of member congregations, proportional to their membership, taken at an annual General Assembly (a meeting of delegates from member congregations). Adopted in 1960, the full Principles and Purposes are as follows:
"We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part."—The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association
Unitarian Universalists place emphasis on spiritual growth and development. Unitarian Universalism is a creedless religion. The Unitarian Universalist Association affirms seven principles: The official statement of Unitarian Universalist principles describes the "sources" upon which current practice is based:
- Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
- Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
- Wisdom from the world's religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
- Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves;
- Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit.
- Spiritual teachings of earth-centered traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.
- What is Liberal Religion and Why Should I Care?: A Sermon by Rev. Patrick Price
- "What is Liberal Religion?". Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- "The Principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association". Unitarian Universalist Association. Retrieved 2007-02-24.
- Principles. UUA (2010-09-09). Retrieved on 2010-09-29.