I am first going to start off by saying I am a completely open and non-judgmental person. I always try to see both sides of every situation and try to understand others when we are on different pages. This is definitely what I like most in myself, my ability to take a step back, consider someone else's ideas and opinions, and accept them even if I disagree. You can have your own opinion, and I can have mine. Well, this is mine. My youth group is cooler than yours. But before I tell you why, here is a little background on my religious journey and Unitarianism.
I had never identified with a religion until I was a sophomore in high school. I remember throughout my whole life listening to my friends talk about church on Sunday, CCD, confirmation, communion, baptisms, christenings, confessions, and altar service; the list goes on. My response would always be, "Oh, I don't really have a religion," because I didn't. I strictly went to church on Christmas Eve, Easter, for masses in memory of my grandfather, and the occasional "I had a sleepover at my friend's house so I went to church with them the next morning." My dad was raised Catholic and my mom was raised Episcopalian, but their beliefs strayed from the religion as they grew older. They did not feel the need to raise their children under beliefs they didn't quite agree with themselves. So when my friends would ask why I didn't go to church, I would proudly tell them that I didn't have a religion but am able to recite the Lord's Prayer without skipping a beat. It was fascinating to them and myself, that I did not have a religion. I liked being different.
When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents decided that they wanted to belong to some type of organization, so they went religion shopping. I babysat every Sunday morning at the time, so I would be left with the reports after their trips. Mom and Dad would pop into different Unitarian Universalist Fellowships and feel out the vibe. They liked it. My great-grandfather was actually a UU, which was how they knew about the religion. My parents eventually settled on a fellowship in Morristown, New Jersey, called the Morristown Unitarian Fellowship or MUUF.
I'm going to assume you don't know what Unitarianism is, so I'll give you a quick lowdown. Unitarian Universalism can quickly be defined as a religion where everyone and anyone is accepted. Would you believe me that any religion is accepted at a UU Fellowship? How about if I said any sexual orientation is accepted? Well, it's true. You are allowed to believe in one God. You are allowed to believe in many gods. You are allowed to believe in no god(s). We are actually the religion with the biggest support for the LGBTQI community, and anyone of any sexual orientation or gender identity. UUs are typically very down to earth people, laid back, casual: Unitarianism can be known to be very "crunchy granola" like.
To give you a more official look into Unitarianism, here are our seven principles. (I included the children's translation in parentheses) These principles are our guide to life and the morals we believe in and act on.
1st Principle: The inherent worth and dignity of every person; (We believe that each and every person is important.)
2nd Principle: Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations; (We believe that all people should be treated fairly and kindly.)
3rd Principle: Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; (We believe that we should accept one another and keep on learning together.)
4th Principle: A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; (We believe that each person must be free to search for what is true and right in life.)
5th Principle: The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; (We believe that all persons should have a vote about the things that concern them.)
6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; (We believe in working for a peaceful, fair, and free world.)
7th Principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. (We believe in caring for our planet Earth, the home we share with all living things.)
So, as you can most likely gather from this, we are pretty open people. I've only been a UU for about five years, but I know it is a relationship that will last. I left my youth group for college just about a year ago, and miss it great deal. A UU youth group is like no other. I've been to the occasional Catholic youth group meeting, and it is pretty different from a UU meeting.
1. We can wear our PJs (or anything for that matter) to Sunday morning meetings, no questions asked.
2. We can discuss the legalization of gay marriage across the country and why it should happen ASAP. (Which does not really have to be discussed anymore because, well you know why. But, yay!)
3. We can talk about different kinds of contraception and were offered to be HIV tested for free after one service.
4. (MUUF exclusive) We have a sphinx from the movie set of Cleopatra in our youth group room.
5. (MUUF exclusive) Our fellowship is an old mansion with three stories!
6. We can debate our hearts out on whether there is a God or not, where we go or don't go after we die, whether abortion is right or wrong, etc., but still fully accept each other's opinions.
7. (MUUF exclusive) We pass around a stuffed animal chicken and tell the group about our past week.
9. We light a chalice at the beginning of every meeting (and service) and blow it out at the end.
10. We can 100 percent be ourselves and we can 100 percent talk about absolutely anything.
My point of this article was not trying to convince you that you should become a UU, or that I disagree with your own religious choices. This article's purpose is to inform those who are not familiar with Unitarianism about a religion that is actually pretty cool.
So, do you agree? If not, that's fine, I accept your opinion. (Winky face)