Unitarian Universalist: Beliefs, Symbols & Quotes

Instructor: Sunday Moulton

Sunday earned a PhD in Anthropology and has taught college courses in Anthropology, English, and high school ACT/SAT Prep.

In this lesson, we'll explore the beliefs and symbol of the Unitarian Universalists, punctuated with accompanying quotes. We will learn what unifies their diverse religion and the history of their symbol with its legacy of service and sacrifice.

Who are the Unitarian Universalists?

You may have heard of the Unitarian Universalist Church. You might even be familiar with their flame and chalice symbol from signs out front of their meeting halls. However, if you've never visited the congregation, you might not know much else about them. They don't seem to profess following a particular, religious tradition or deity, but how can they be a religion if they don't? By taking a close look at their beliefs, and at what their symbol represents, we might shed some light on what might seem like a paradox at first glance.

Unitarian Universalist Church in Modesto, California
UU Church Modesto California


''We have religion when we look upon people with all their failings, and still find them good.'' - Ralph N. Helverson (Unitarian Universalist Minister)

Some mistakenly believe that Unitarian Universalists are atheists. While some members may follow that belief, the religion does not require members to believe in any particular deity or any deity at all. However, Unitarian Universalists believe in the sacred, regardless of what name to call it and draw inspiration from all religious scriptures, enlightened writers, and great philosophers. Likewise, members express a wide variety of beliefs regarding life after death, but the majority reject the idea of divine judgment which has been a position of the church since the beginning of the Unitarians and the Universalists.

''I have told stories and read poetry from the Bible throughout the twenty-one years of my Unitarian Universalist ministry. Yet the Bible remains for me but one rich source among many human records that speak to us of the joys and challenges of being alive.'' - Rev. Donna Morrison-Reed

The Seven Principles

''Church is a place where you get to practice what it means to be human.'' - James Luther Adams (Unitarian Universalist Association)

So, if the Unitarian Universalists do not share a common belief in a higher power or what happens after death, what do they share in common to unify their organization? The answer to that lies in the Seven Principles that all members are asked to practice in their journey through light and in their search for religious fulfillment. According to the Unitarian Universalist Association, they are:

Greater Good
World Peace

  1. The inherent worth and dignity of every person
  2. Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations
  3. Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations
  4. A free and responsible search for truth and meaning
  5. The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large
  6. The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all
  7. Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part

Bearded dragon being blessed in a church service for the animals.
bearded dragon

''The Principles are not dogma or doctrine, but rather a guide for those of us who choose to join and participate in Unitarian Universalist religious communities'' - Rev. Barbara Wells

Chalice and Flame Symbol

''May your life preach more loudly than your lips.'' - William Ellery Channing

Chalice and Flame Symbol
chalice and flame

What you might be most familiar with regarding the Unitarian Universalist Church is the symbol of a chalice, a type of cup, and a flame. Austrian artist Hans Deutsch created the flame and chalice symbol for the Unitarian Service Committee (USC) in 1941. Known for drawing political cartoons mocking Hitler, Deutsch had to flee Paris when the Nazi's invaded. He soon met Rev. Dr. Charles Rhind Joy, director of the Lisbon, Portugal, office for the USC who worked to help refugees escape Hitler's grasp.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account