Freedom

by Marlene J. Geary
Chair, Sunday Services Committee
Unitarian Universalist Society: East
Manchester, CT, USA

 

Have you ever found yourself saying “Being a Unitarian Universalist means that you can believe anything you want?”

The Rev. Liz Strong writes: “Unitarian Uni­versalism is not the freedom to believe anything or nothing. It is the freedom to reason and feel your own way to what the evidence leads you to believe. You have the freedom to form your own beliefs. [But] there are responsibilities that go with this freedom.”

The Rev. Tim Kutzmark takes it from there: “Just because Unitarian Universalism doesn’t have a rigid structure doesn’t mean there is no structure at all. Just because Unitarian Universalism doesn’t have a rigid set of beliefs doesn’t mean there are no beliefs at all. Just because Unitarian Universalism has an open embrace doesn’t mean that any belief is welcome here. Just because Unitarian Universalism affirms us as individuals doesn’t mean that our own mind is the be all and end all of religious discernment.

Our faith is rooted in radical beliefs, revolu­tionary concepts about divinity and humanity and the nature of life that reach back several thousand years. Timeless truths taught by our Unitarian and Universalist forebears are at the core of our faith. These core beliefs are anchored in this present day and age by what we call our Seven Principles and Purposes. These Seven Principles and Purposes are not inconclusive or inconsequential vagaries. They are seven specific action statements, seven specific mis­sion statements that, if we really guided our day by them, would cause us to upend our lives and upend the world around us.

The Principles are the heart of our faith. We are called not just to affirm these, which is easy. We are called to actively promote them in our home, our workplace, our neighborhood, our town, our state, our country, and our world. And if our own beliefs are not in sympathy with any of these seven—then this Uni­tarian Universalist faith is not a place for us. I can’t be here, you can’t be here, we can’t be here, and simply believe whatever we want. Our own search for truth and meaning must be guided by these seven religious principles.

My mom used to say: ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.’ Well, I’d echo that and say: ‘There ain’t no such thing as a free search.’”