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Watch a Video about Our History of Religious Freedom!

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Download "Voices of a Liberal Faith: Our History of Religious Freedom" (MP4).

If you would like to learn more about Unitarian Universalism, you may enjoy watching the full version of  "Voices of a Liberal Faith".

In this video, members and ministers share their thoughts on worship and fellowship, explain the goals of religious education, explore the historic roots of our religion, and celebrate the spirit of social justice that inspires our faith.


Our History of Religious Freedom

REV. DAVID SAMMONS: One of the things that people don't understand about our movement is that it does really have a very rich historical past, not only roots that go back to the beginning of the Reformation in Europe and a very rich history in the United States, in Colonial America.

GINI COURTER: I think what I want folks in our congregations to know is that if there's a candidate for the great American faith, it is us. Take a look at who signed the Declaration of Independence, and you see our names there. Three of the first six American presidents were Unitarian. And I'm pretty proud of the country that we helped build.

REV. BILL CLARK: This faith, the more I learn about it and discover, is ingrained in the values that the American Constitution was put together with. It's about acceptance and tolerance and liberty and freedom to believe. I think it's inherent in who we are as citizens of this country.

REV. DAVID SAMMONS: Most of the idea of Universalism, although it had some roots in England, is really indigenous to our own country—very simple, plain folks, mostly farmers and tradespeople, who really did believe that a loving God wouldn't damn people to hell. Unitarians, although they also believed in a benevolent God, put more stress on what William Ellery Channing called character. He called it salvation by character. He said what matters isn't what you believe, it's how you live your life. And Ralph Waldo Emerson and all those other luminaries of the 19th century and the Unitarian side of our movement made that kind of assertion.

CHRIS WALTON: For both the Unitarians and Universalists, people in the Church had a moral obligation to reform society. And so it wasn't simply about getting your soul right with God, it really had very much to do with helping your society live up to its highest principles. So by the mid-20th century, the Unitarians and Universalists saw that they had more and more in common. And in 1961, they formed the Unitarian Universalist Association and brought their two traditions together.

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Last updated on Friday, March 7, 2014.

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