Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Faith Like a River: A Program on Unitarian Universalist History for Adults


We need not think alike to love alike. — Francis David

Religious tolerance is one of the greatest values of our movement. Perhaps our faith embraces it passionately because our religious forebears were so often subjected to intolerance. Throughout Western history, religious tolerance has been a question both in the civic realm, as societies have worked out whether to allow diversity of religious belief and practice, and within faith traditions themselves, as religions have had to work out just how much diversity of belief would be tolerated within their particular tradition. This workshop explores tolerance of diverse beliefs, both in the civic realms that held our faith forebears and within our faith tradition itself. Participants examine moments in history when governments or rulers, wrestling with questions of religious freedom, created an environment where Unitarianism and Universalism could take root. The workshop also studies the history of religious diversity within the Unitarian tradition.

Before leading this workshop, review the Accessibility Guidelines for Workshop Presenters in the program Introduction. Prepare to accommodate individuals who may be in the group.


This workshop will:

  • Present touchpoints in Western history where struggles related to religious tolerance have shaped Unitarian Universalism
  • Illuminate several events in our faith history which challenged Unitarians, Universalists, and Unitarian Universalists to engage the idea of religious tolerance
  • Consider tolerance as a religious value.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn about religious tolerance in Western history and consider how government and civic society's struggles related to religious tolerance have affected Unitarian Universalism
  • Learn about people and events that shape Unitarian Universalist values of tolerance and inclusivity
  • Consider the differences between tolerance, acceptance, and embracing the other
  • Consider their personal boundaries of tolerance and acceptance.