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For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others. — Nelson Mandela

Freedom is central to Unitarian Universalism's "free faith" and is inextricably linked with other core values—the use of reason, tolerance of difference, love, hope for change, and faith. James Luther Adams' wrote that "all relations between persons ought ideally to rest on mutual, free consent and not on coercion." His second stone is "establishment of a just and loving community."

This workshop explores freedom struggles in Unitarian Universalist history to the present day, making connections with freedom and liberation movements in other cultures and communities. Participants consider what they, as Unitarian Universalists, can learn and contribute.

Activity 4, Freedom Songs, requires advance notice to participants to select songs about freedom that they appreciate. Plan to email or otherwise communicate with the group early. The Faith in Action activity puts into practice the idea that with freedom comes responsibility, or as Nelson Mandela said, the call to "live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others." Through doing this we become truly free and whole.


This workshop will:

  • Present important struggles for religious freedom in the history of Unitarianism and Universalism
  • Focus on struggles for freedom in different communities
  • Explore freedom through history, story, art, music, experience, and action
  • Optional: Differentiate between liberalism and liberation theology.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn about the historical and theological importance of freedom in Unitarian Universalism
  • Understand that freedom has different meanings for different people and communities
  • Reflect on the role of freedom in their life and faith, and the connection between freedom and responsibility
  • Optional: Explore the difference between liberalism and liberation theology.

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