Has anyone tried out a Unitarian Church? I’ve always been curious about my local one, but I’m apprehensive that being honest about my atheism may alienate me. Are they open to committed non-believers?
I’m a lifelong Unitarian Universalist and I moderate the UU group here. Happy to answer questions.
No one is going to ask you whether you are an atheist. They’ll likely assume you are a humanist or athiest, actually. So jump in!
We call it a movement rather than a religion, and we are creedless, which means we don’t require members to believe in the same thing.
We do have 7 principles, the first of which is to promote and affirm the inherent worth and dignity of all humans. God and Jesus are not mentioned in any of our principles. [uua.org]
Started attending the local Unitarian Universalist Church. Unfortunately, at Christmas the sermon was about Jesus. My middle finger was twitching. Am way too atheist for that!
They are deeply involved in social justice and issues I care about: helping immigrants, the elderly and poor people. That's wonderful.
I especially liked the Unitarian Church because of the community: old friends, doctors, teachers and social workers. Will return to connect with a nurse who also loves hiking.
They are open to non-believers. They vary greatly, just like Christian churches, in the culture of their individual congregations, including church politics, snobbery or how welcoming they are to newcomers, the level of classism practiced by most church members, etc. All the usual human failings.... All you can do is check out that church and see what you think.
I have been a member of two Unitarian churches in my area. One was very welcoming, not that classist, and very supportive of my late wife and me. The other one was very classist, snobby and not very inclusive for most of the time I spent there. Both were very accepting of non-believers and most of their congregations were non-believers.
Over the years, I've tended to return to UUs in various locations I've lived. I go to a good one now, and am considering becoming a member.
As an atheist, or anything else you can think of, you will be welcome. That's what it's all about, all different people allowing one another to be who they are, think what they want, and not be criticized or judged for it ! No guilt trips at all, if you don't show up for awhile either ! No dogma. No god trips. Open minds, questions, and discussions are cherished and encouraged. Refreshing.
It also fills that need that many get, to belong to a group, to follow some light level traditions, maybe some singing , which often varies from one meeting house to another. Each location may be different than another - so it has to "fit".
Give it a try - nothing to lose !
I am president of the Prescott Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. We welcome all beliefs or non beliefs. We are lay led, hence no minister. Our services are led by members or people from the community about topics of interest. There is absolutely NO dogma or anything you have to believe in. just the principals pertaining to respect for all living beings no matter who or what or orientation they happen to be. Some UU's are minister led and the "sermons" can be a bit preachy but usually of a general topic and not "religious". This has been my experience with UUism. If you are at all interested I would suggest checking out a few UU groups to see if you think you could fit in.
Don't even feel the need, desire or curiosity for it, if I feel lonely I go to a bar or similar place, if I want to discuss relevant issues I go to a meet up, but a church? What's the purpose? What's lacking in your life that you can't figure out yourself?
Love my UU Fellowship. Atheists are definitely welcome, and as warmly embraced as everyone else. It is a great place for all the non-Christians to gather. All of us live 50 or more miles from one another, so the UU fellowship hall offers a central meeting place. I've been going for six years now, though it had been suggested to me by several people over many decades. I often wonder how different the lives of my children and their father would have been had I begun attending when it was first mentioned to me. Give it a try.
When I went to a local Unitarian church, the pastor said it is a home for anyone who has been damaged by religion. I felt right at home. And because it is on the very far other side of town and I'm not crazy about driving that far on Sunday morning, or even getting out of bed on Sunday morning I don't go. I manage to get to my Sunday lunch Humanist book club in the middle of town.
I attended Sunday services with the UUs for over a year. I found them to be very accepting. Some of the congregation were atheist and some semi-religious (in my opinion) and some were not sure what to believe! They describe themselves as seekers of the Truth and look for truth to be revealed in the scriptures of many religions.
I left the UUs for the Humanists and atheists because the Humanists and the atheists have the answers where the UUs have only the questions.
Some are. My sister attends one in CA that she enjoys greatly. All sorts attend.
I'd perhaps speak to the leader of your Unitarian Church to ask if there are fellow atheists or simply go to a coffee hour.
I suspect they are the places that most atheist congregate. It's "Church lite". For people who miss that community aspect.
I went to a UU church once in Pasadena, California and was impressed...an interesting talk by a Rabbi that wasn't particularly religious that an atheist could totally enjoy. I went to a UU church in Macon, Georgia, and well...it's hard to take religion out of any church in Macon, Georgia. It was watered-down religion with a liberal slant for everyone but still lots of talk about omnipotent beings.
Actually just talked to someone who started attending a UU church with her husband and kids. He, at least, is an atheist. She said there was nothing about god, and they didn’t care if they believed in god. The sermons were about morality one week and feminism (pro) another week. She also said they offer age-appropriate sex ed classes that provide actual information. That part sounded like not offered at all UU. She really liked it.
There are a couple members here that attend for the community aspect. It's not something I personally have any interest in but I get why some are interested. (Call it what you will, church is church and Unitarian sects believe in the divine. That doesn't work for me.)
I attend the Green Bay Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (in Green Bay). The vast majority of us identify as atheist or agnostic, or pagan, or choose not to identify as anything. We do have a very small group who identify as Christian, Hindu or Buddhist. Nearly all of us (or perhaps all of us) are progressives or liberals or whatever word you want to use, although that is not a requirement. That is who our beliefs attract. The purpose of a fellowship such as this is a gathering of like minded people. Social justice is a big part of it. We are not a big congregation but we do what we can. Yesterday a group of us worked together to provide a meal for a local homeless shelter. Every year one of our members collects donations for a shelter for battered women. We do the simplest and easiest of things such as collect used egg cartons for a local food pantry. We collect food for one of our local high schools for the students to take home over the weekend. We clean up parks. Those are just some of the things we do. I enjoy playing my flute with our UU Musicians, which is a hodge podge of instruments who somehow play together and it works. (Who else has a guitar and a harp in the same group with an Indian flute and a concert flute, among other instruments. No one does all of these things and some do none of them. We educate each other about educational and environmental issues. So that is a synopsis of part of what UU is all about. Nancy
I did try one for awhile, and its a small town and had people I know well and am really fond of in it. A Lesbian Pastor running a UU Church in Vermont . . . Doesn't get much more liberal than that! And I really love so many of the people there, and love what they do for the community, and love having a community to physically hang out with --- so rare in our internet world. But, I eventually faded out from it because of theistic issues. No matter how their desire to not push religion, honest intentions. Disguised, even from themselves, in their soft language of "spirituality" and such, they still believe in an external power. An organized/intelligent power. That old Greek "Problem of Evil" is a quick summary of what a stone wall that is for me. This universe conflicts with any image of an intelligent, good, all-powerful force. I love many of the folks there, but belief in an external consciousness ends it for me.
**Note: Everybody was very kind though, good people. Nobody tried to push anything on me, and I didn't let them know my concerns. I just faded away, and I still feel guilty about it. They have good intentions - I am just allergic to that particular fairytale.
I have thought about going to my local Unitarian Universalist Church. I live in a very conservative area and I would like to meet people who, although might believe in some kind of god/consciousness, would more likely be humanist and liberal/progressive minded. I do know that all are welcome--to include atheists--and I don't think anyone would try to "convert" you.
This is a Direct quote from the Amarillo Unitarian website, and i think it sums up the purpose of the fellowship nicely:
“ The big achievement in the first 20 years of the Fellowship was to establish a haven for free souls to come together to examine and discuss ideas important to individuals and to society.
The membership will probably never be large in terms of orthodox churches. Thomas Jefferson’s hope that every man living in his day would die a Unitarian will never be realized in Amarillo. But the Fellowship can take real satisfaction in keeping alive an oasis where freedom of thought is nurtured in this bastion of religious conservatism.”
We have a Unitarian fellowship in this podunk town in which I live. Believe it or not, in this ultra conservative city filled
With hypochristians, that Unitarian fellowship has been here since 1956. Ironically, a vast majority of the people who attend are seniors. I actually enjoy attending because NOTHING includes the label of religion. As they say, their only doctrine is love. Although everything from Wiccans to Atheists and Buddhists attend, no one ever discusses their religious views or lack thereof unless someone specifically asks them. It is truly a fellowship free of religious doctrine. Very enjoyable experience.