There are about 7,000 Unitarians in Great Britain and Ireland, and about 150 Unitarian ministers. There are about 800,000 Unitarians worldwide.
Unitarianism is an open-minded and individualistic approach to religion that gives scope for a very wide range of beliefs and doubts.
Religious freedom for each individual is at the heart of Unitarianism. Everyone is free to search for meaning in life in a responsible way and to reach their own conclusions.
In line with their approach to religious truth, Unitarians see diversity and pluralism as valuable rather than threatening. They want religion to be broad, inclusive, and tolerant. Unitarianism can therefore include people who are Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Pagan and Atheist.
- Unitarianism has no standard set of beliefs
- Unitarians believe that religious truth is not necessarily or primarily laid down either in scriptures, by a holy person or by a religious institution
- no individual or group in Unitarianism makes an exclusive claim to the truth
- within certain core values each Unitarian can believe what they feel is right
- Unitarians are so called because they insist on the oneness of God and because they affirm the essential unity of humankind and of creation
- Unitarians believe religion should make a difference to the world, so they are often active in social justice and community work
- Unitarianism grew out of the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century CE and started in Poland and Transylvania in the 1560s
- Unitarians have adopted the Flaming Chalice as the symbol of their faith
- The Unitarians were the first church in Britain to accept women as ministers, in 1904
- Unitarians welcome gays and lesbians in their ministry and support equal rights for gay people within the Church and in society at large
A heretical religion?
Early Unitarians felt that the language of the Bible spoke clearly of “one God”. Because of this they felt that the traditional Christian idea of God being a Trinity was wrong.
From the viewpoint of mainstream Christianity, therefore, Unitarianism is a heretical belief, and for many centuries those who believed in the unity of God were persecuted by the churches.
Unitarians think ‘deeds speak louder than words’ – they believe religion should make a difference to the world, so they are often active in social justice and community work.
Unitarianism may attract people with a strong interest in social change. Such people may well be drawn to the church because they regard fixed creeds as having been used throughout history as an oppressive way of maintaining an institution or society’s existing power structure, and so are more comfortable in a church that doesn’t have a creed.
Unitarians welcome gays and lesbians in their ministry and support equal rights for gay people within the Church and in society at large.