November 19, 2011
This might be a terrible idea, and I've wrestled with it for months now, but today I'm going to talk about my religion.
Since the beginning of this year I've been attending the local Unitarian church.
First off, I could never be involved in any religion that didn't accept that all people are equal. Unitarians are one of the few religions which allow openly LGBT members to be ordained ministers and were one of the first faiths to ordain women. Tolerance is of critical importance to me. Unitarians welcome people from all faiths including Christians, Muslims, Jews, Buddhists, pagans and atheists and frequently include content from other faiths in their services.
The thing that attracted to me to the Unitarians was the lack of dogma. There is nobody telling you what you should believe. There is no text saying, "this is the truth". You're allowed to be an individual, but you're still part of the community. You're welcome, even if you say, "I don't know if I really believe that". There is no communion, every service is different, you don't have to take part in Lent, you don't have to turn up every Sunday, you don't have to kneel, you don't get baptised, you aren't going to hell.
The concept of original sin - that is, humans being responsible for all the evil in the world and having to beg God for forgiveness - isn't something Unitarians subscribe to.
Unitarians believe that most of what was written in the Bible was allegorical... as in, not exactly what actually happened in real time. The stories have a moral and meaning can be taken from them - but Jonah wasn't really swallowed by a whale, and Noah didn't actually collect up all those species and put them on a boat. The stories are metaphorical. That makes a lot more sense to me than trying to force myself to have faith in things I think are impossible.
Unitarians believe in science and evolution. There doesn't have to be a conflict between science and spiritual beliefs - they each have a place. I'm still working on this, but essentially I couldn't be a part of a religion which required me to pretend that science = fantasy.
Unitarians don't promise that you'll go to heaven after you die. In this morning's service, the minister said, "The only thing I know for certain is that you should be very, very skeptical of anyone who says they know with absolute certainty what happens after you die". Some Unitarians do believe in heaven. Others believe in reincarnation. Others believe in nothing at all. But most believe that seeking spiritual meaning in this life is more important than what happens after you die.
Note: Much of the above are my own beliefs and do not represent Unitarians as a whole.
I hope you can understand how this religion makes sense to me. Please respect my beliefs. If Mattgreen can manage it, anyone can. Thanks x