American Unitarian Conference™
Promoting the American Unitarian Tradition
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President's Letter 6/2003
pride ourselves on being a creedless, tolerant and free faith where
individuals are free to follow their own path and their own consciences.
May it ever be so. This aspect of our faith is often expressed as
“Unitarians don’t tell people what to believe” or “Unitarians
can believe what they want.” This mode of expression is, I think, an
unsatisfactory and inaccurate way of conveying the freedom and tolerance
that is so central to our tradition.
do, as a group, hold strong opinions about what is right and what is
wrong. We have very definite opinions, based on experience and reason,
introspection and reflection. The parameters may be broad but there are
definite limits. Some of these beliefs are expressed in the AUC
Statement of Religious Principles. God exists and there is only one God,
for example. Others are not expressed formally in these principles, even
though they are widely held and based on our religious understanding.
For example, I think it is fair to say that no American Unitarian
regards the Bible in the same way as the Revs. Jerry Falwell or Pat
Robertson. American Unitarians would universally regard as wrong a
prohibition on interracial dating or marriage. American Unitarians would
reject the atheism and polytheism so common in UUA circles. And so on.
American Unitarians such as William Ellery Channing and James Freeman
Clarke understood this well. They did, of course, criticize Calvinism
and Roman Catholicism, but they spent much of their time developing a
constructive, positive program for American Unitarianism. They
emphasized the importance of reason and science. But they also
emphasized the importance of self-culture and love and trying to improve
the world we live in.
exploration of this “constructive” side of American Unitarianism has
spontaneously begun on our internet forum and AUC Chat. But given its
practical importance in terms of helping all of us think about how best
to lead our lives and showing others the essence of the American
Unitarian understanding of the human condition, we will try to more
systematically explore these issues in this journal and on the web site.
God’s peace be with you.
in faith, freedom and reason,
© 2003 American Unitarian Conference™