This series of articles on the Seven Principles of Unitarian Universalism reflects the understanding and priorities of one Unitarian Universalist.
3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.
It is said that charity begins at home. The Third Principle is most often practiced on the local level, within and among Unitarian Universalist congregations.
Unitarian Universalists draw their inspiration from many different religious and philosophical traditions, including Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, earth-based religions, humanism, atheism, and agnosticism. How do people on such diverse paths manage to worship together and work together on common goals? Mutual acceptance is the key.
UUs are not always as accepting of each other as they could be. When you are passionate about your own point of view or path, it can be tempting to feel superior to others who believe or practice differently.
The Third Principle calls on Unitarian Universalists to not only accept the spiritual paths of others, but also to actively encourage them in their quest for truth and meaning.
It also helps to take some time to learn about the spiritual traditions of others, looking for foundational principles that those traditions share with your own path. The more you do this, the more common ground you will find. A basic principle of universalism is the recognition that common threads of universal truth can be found in all religions.
Practicing the Third Principle is not limited to the local level. The instant communication provided by the Internet makes it possible to reach out to UUs and others around the world for mutual encouragement and spiritual nurturing. The Church of the Larger Fellowship is Unitarian Universalist congregation that operates primarily on the Internet to support people who do not have access to a local congregation, and also those who want to reach outside their local congregations.
There are seven principles which Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
- The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
- Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
- Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
- A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
- The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
- The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
- Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.