What bothers you about Unitarian Universalism?

While I have deep philosophical and structural concerns with Unitarian Universalist institutions, and some lesser aesthetic quibbles, I bet there are Unitarian Universalist situations that each of us have experienced which are picayune — basic, unnecessary annoyances — that might be resolved with a couple or few hours of the right volunteer effort. And the right volunteer might be reading this right now.

The kind of annoyance that smudges an otherwise good (or acceptable) experience. The kind we see at the UUA or district level have more eyes on them but church life is full of “poor user experiences”; these are hard to overlook and, for newcomers especially, hard to forgive.

I wrote about these “paper cuts” before, in case you’d like more background.

So, what would you address?

By Scott Wells

Scott Wells, 46, is a Universalist Christian minister doing Universalist theology and church administration hacks in Washington, D.C.


  1. What bothers me about Unitarian Universalism?

    Not much, some of the ideas might need a little recalibration for today, but really not much.

    What bothers me about Unitarian Universalists?

    The ones wielding old ideas as clubs.

  2. What really bugs me is the lack of people who want to be Ushers and yet want to talk about how less-than-welcoming UU congregations can be. A really good Usher program would work wonders at most UU congregations.

  3. What bothers you about Unitarian Universalism?

    Just about everything.
    It is not a religion but a political PAC.
    No there there.
    Stuck in the 1960s mentality.
    Where in the Unitarian God? Where is the Universalist God? Deism? Theism?
    It is religiously defined by what it is not not what it is.
    It is defined by its political activism that reflects a left wing ideology.
    Without a core, a central statement of actual belief (no, the 7 Principles are not sufficient)..as simple as “We believe in The One God, known by many names …” etc. etc. the name as no meaning. Why not be honest and just change it to something like the “Progressive Alliance for Social Justice” or similar.
    Of course, those comfortable with the politics and lack of God are very satisfied, but it underscores why it remains a small fringe organization.

  4. There is something to the “no there there” comment although “belief” is not necessarily the essence of religion. (See James P. Carse The Religious Case Against Belief) I do think UUism is lacking in a central story. The story of Jesus and the language of the Bible provides a central framework for Christian churches. Although UUism has a history as long as American Protestant Fundamentalism, it does not often draw on a sense of its history or tradition. It does not have common rituals. Having common cultural symbols that we can keep going back to and draw new meaning from is something that makes Unitarianism sometimes feel flat.

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