I can recall years ago telling friends about UUism and noticing that I was essentially telling them what we don’t believe, not what we do. I felt a bit embarrassed by this, but in the end I must admit that a main reason I am here is the fact that UUism is unlike other religions- and especially unlike the conservative Protestant Christianity I grew up in. As I once told a friend, you don’t have to be superstitious in UUism, and it’s hard for me to identify any other religion you can say that about.
Not living in the American Bible Belt, I almost never find myself asked to justify this position. I think the same is true for most EUU members: the liberalism in our religion is seldom challenged, only the religious aspect. Those I know (almost all secular humanists) ask me: “Why do you need a religion at all?” Sometimes I have real trouble answering them, because most of them manage to be good people without practicing any religion. So I can only answer about what helps me.
It’s all about right and wrong. Ethical questions pervade every aspect of human life, and I don’t think people should have to wrestle with them in isolation. We need a community in which we can try to solve these problems together. That is religion’s basic purpose. Other religions deal with ethical questions too, but those I know usually either impose an authoritarian framework or require you to be superstitious, or both.
An important part of our UU framework for dealing with right and wrong is religious education, and that’s part of the reason why I’m in EUU today. I might have handled the big questions of ethics and morality without a church, but my wife Gevene and I felt it was really important for our children to face these issues in a caring community. So we drove a few thousand kilometers or more – several times a year – to bring them to their friends and ours in the EUU. They’re adults now, but we keep coming back to this caring community for the same reasons for ourselves.