How to Defend Unitarian Universalism

If you're a Unitarian Universalist, chances are pretty good that you've encountered people who say that UU isn't a "real" religion. You want to respond but don't want to sound arrogant or evangelistic. Here's how.


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    Prepare an "elevator speech". How would you explain UUism (Unitarian Universalism) to someone in an elevator? It should be short and sweet. For example, "We don't tell you what God is, we show you how to find yours."
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    Ask them what they think UU is. Chances are, they'll have at least one misconception about UUism, such as thinking that we believe that absolutely anything goes. It's usually pretty easy to correct things they think about UUism that are just plain wrong.
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    Tell them about the Seven Principles. Explain how they form a framework for each person's establishment of their own beliefs. Point out how someone truly evil would not be able to work within them.
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    Tell them a bit of history. Include some notable UUs, to show them that we've been around a long time.
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    If you've taken it, explain the "Building Your Own Theology" or "Five Questions" course. Most of us turned our minds and spirits inside out when working through that class, and at some point wished there was one book to explain it all.
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    Let them know that many of us came to UU from other religious traditions. Those traditions may have planted the right seeds, but in UU we found they can grow and flourish.
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    Talk about how we've learned to tolerate the widely diverse beliefs that we have, and how that leads us not to discount or condemn other religious traditions.
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    If you're an atheist, and the other person knows that, explain how UU still helps you answer The Big Questions Of Life. Talk about the benefits of being in a community of like-minded people.


  • Make sure your discussion is a dialog, not a sermon. The more you tell someone about UU, the more questions they're likely to have.
  • If the talk turns to sin and punishment, go back to the Seven Principles.
  • Show that we are happy in our faith. It's something we enthusiastically pursue, not a set of obligations to be endured, even when we're working through the thorniest spiritual issues.


  • Do not express antipathy to other beliefs, especially the other person's or yours prior to joining UU.
  • The other person may well reject everything you say out-of-hand. Do not put too much emotional investment into the conversation. This can be especially difficult if the other person is a close friend or family member.
  • Remember that you're there to inform, not to evangelize. All you really want to convince them of is that you're a good person who belongs to a good religion, just as they are.
  • Presume that the other person is as enthusiastic about their faith as you are about yours.

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Categories: Religion