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Activity 4: Principles and Sources (7 minutes), Session 2: Religion to the Rescue

In "Riddle and Mystery," a Tapestry of Faith program

Materials for Activity

  • A poster of the Unitarian Universalist Principles and a poster of the Unitarian Universalist Sources
  • Optional: A copy of the UU Principles in children's language

Preparation for Activity

  • See if your congregation has posters of the Unitarian Universalist Principles and/or Sources. If not, you may order posters from the UUA Bookstore. Or, use Session 1, Leader Resource 1 to create posters. Display the posters; if possible, leave them posted for the duration of Riddle and Mystery.
  • Optional: Obtain a copy of the UU Principles in children's language. Find a variety of resources on the UUA Bookstore website.

Description of Activity

This activity introduces the seven Unitarian Universalist Principles and the six Sources from which Unitarian Universalism draws, as they relate to big questions. If the youth may be unacquainted with these resources, take a little extra time, but do not push the presentation to the point of group boredom. It is best to present the Principles and Sources in small doses. Future sessions will provide further opportunities.

Point out the posted Principles. Ask if youth are familiar with them. Read quickly through them, offering, in addition, simpler language, if you feel the group needs it. If you have time, ask for volunteers to come to the poster and point out a favorite Principle.

Ask if youth agree with this idea:

Here is something you can say to an alien or anybody else who wants to know what Unitarian Universalists are. You can say "Look at our Principles. They will show you who we are."

Explain that the Principles are a covenant—or agreement—among the congregations of Unitarian Universalist Association. Though they were not written to guide the behavior of individuals, most UUs think the Principles can help us know how to act.

Pose a question:

Imagine somebody asks if God exists, and someone else answers, "Yes, there is a God and that God cares most about the people who believe in God." Would that be a good UU answer?

Affirm:

No, it would not—see the first Principle.

You might also say that some people believe there is a god that has opinions, for example that people of a certain color are special, or that people in certain religions are special, or that men, for example, are more special than women. Those are not Unitarian Universalist answers to questions about God. If you believed them, you would not be comfortable in a UU congregation (and the congregation might not be comfortable with you).

Then move on to the Sources. Explain/remind that Unitarian Universalism looks to many places for answers to our big questions. Review the list quickly, simplifying the language as needed. If you have time, ask for volunteers to come to the poster, point out a favorite Source and give an example—or give one yourself. You might share a quote from Mahatma Gandhi as an example of "words and deeds of prophetic women and men."

Point out that even glancing at the list of our Sources tells a lot about Unitarian Universalism—because it shows UUs look in many different places for answers to big questions.

Pose this question:

What if the big question is "How do I know what to believe?" and someone answers "I know what to believe because the Bible tells me what to believe and the answers in the Bible are the only ones anyone should believe." Would that be a good UU answer?"

Affirm:

No, because Unitarian Universalists agree that answers can be found in many different sources, like all the ones on the list. Many UUs think the Bible is a good source for answers, but it is not the only one we should use.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Thursday, October 27, 2011.

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