What Do We Believe?

We often have a hard time answering this question because Unitarians are not bound by a common religious belief. Instead, Unitarian congregations covenant to uphold shared principles. These principles demonstrate that we believe in respect, equality, justice, peace, the democratic process, and living in harmony and sustainability with the earth.

The principles are not creedal documents, nor is affirming them required for membership (for instance, many of us here at Beacon feel that principle eight is better viewed as a call to action rather than a principle). Individual Unitarians are free to interpret the principles in the context of their own lives. As was attributed to an early Unitarian 500 years ago, “We need not think alike to love alike.”

We believe it makes no difference whether you are agnostic or atheistic or believe in Jesus, Buddha, or another deity, but rather how you live your life. These principles may help guide us in our decisions about how to live our lives.

We draw from many religious and ethical sources, but the covenant which binds our national association of congregations together is the affirmation of these eight principles.

Our Eight Principles (Values)

We, the member congregations of the Canadian Unitarian Council, covenant to 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.
  • Individual and communal action that accountably dismantles racism and systemic barriers to full inclusion in ourselves and our institutions

We live out these Principles within a “living tradition” of wisdom and spirituality, drawn from sources as diverse as science, poetry, scripture, and personal experience. These are the six sources our congregations affirm and promote:

Our Sources of Wisdom and Spirituality

  • Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder, affirmed in all cultures, which moves us to a renewal of the spirit and an openness to the forces which create and uphold life;
  • Words and deeds of prophetic women and men which challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love;
  • Wisdom from the world’s religions which inspires us in our ethical and spiritual life;
  • Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by loving our neighbours as ourselves;
  • Humanist teachings which counsel us to heed the guidance of reason and the results of science, and warn us against idolatries of the mind and spirit;
  • Spiritual teachings of Earth-centred traditions which celebrate the sacred circle of life and instruct us to live in harmony with the rhythms of nature.

Grateful for the religious pluralism which enriches and ennobles our faith, we are inspired to deepen our understanding and expand our vision. As free congregations we enter into this covenant, promising to one another our mutual trust and support.

Learn more: How the UU Principles and Sources were Shaped – from 2006 UU World article, USA