So how do your religious beliefs stack up, exactly? (amusing)

R. A. Hettinga
Sun, 2 Dec 2001 09:10:11 -0500


At 12:38 PM +0100 on 12/2/01, Robert Harley wrote:

> I don't even know what Unitarian Universalism is... reading their
> description, it makes no sense to have it at #2 but since it
> includes "very diverse" beliefs in a bunch of stuff, I guess it's a
> catch-all for people who don't line up well with a lot of the other
> entries.

Standing jokes about UU's:

"A decompression chamber between a real church and the golf course."

"Did you hear the one about the Klu Klux Klan burning a question mark
on the Unitarian's lawn?" (Lenny Bruce)

"Honk if you're not sure." (UU bumper sticker, circa 1976)

"Just before the pearly gates, there's a fork in the road. The signs
say 'Heaven', and 'Discussion Group about Heaven' -- that's where the
Unitarians go."

"A Unitarian's catechism is his liberal arts degree."

...and so on, all I could think up on a Sunday morning. :-).

By way of reference, PT Barnum was a Universalist. The Universalists
merged with the Unitarians in 1962 or so. They believed in universal
salvation: everyone goes to heaven. I expect Barnum figured it was
the only denomination he could get into. 'This way to the egress', as
the sign carried by the pretty girl in a full tent used to say --
followed by all manner of fools getting up out of their seats to
actually go see the egress.

"Unitarian" means "all gods are the same god", more or less, and they
don't believe in the trinity, or that Jesus was divine. They're
descended from, of all people, the original New England puritan
congregations. My church, for instance, is the original church that
John Winthrop founded in Boston in 1630. The election of a Unitarian
minister to the deanship of the Harvard Divinity School in the early
1800's caused a schism in the former puritan congregations. The group
that became the congregationalists, who still believed in the
Trinity, packed up and left. All over New England congregations voted
to see which way they would go, with the winner keeping the church
building and land, and the loser building a church on the other side
of the town common. If you stand in any New England town common
today, you can see who won those votes, Congregational or Unitarian.

I was raised by a father who was a lapsed Dutch Reformed turned
Atheist, and a mother who was Southern Baptist turned Agnostic. I
became a Unitarian at age 15 at Eliot Chapel in suburban St. Louis, a
church named after, but never attended by, William Greenleaf Eliot,
founder of Washington University in St. Louis <>,
and grandfather of T. S. Eliot, and who in turn went off to Oxford to
become a lapsed Unitarian turned Anglican. :-).

Actually, I'm backsliding on my religion, these days. The older I
get, the less of the divine I believe. Someday I'm going to end up
just like my old man the atheist arch-conservative: I'll stop going
to church at all, join the John Birch Society, build a house full of
firearms with 3 foot-thick stone walls in a remote New Mexico
ghost-town somewhere, and start waiting for the fall of civilization
as we know it...


Who believes in the *original* definition of "liberal"...

1. Unitarian Universalism  (100%)
2. Secular Humanism  (97%)
3. Liberal Protestant  (82%)
4. Liberal Quaker  (81%)
5. Atheism and Agnosticism  (76%)

Version: PGP 7.0


R. A. Hettinga <mailto:>
The Internet Bearer Underwriting Corporation <>
44 Farquhar Street, Boston, MA 02131 USA
"... however it may deserve respect for its usefulness and antiquity,
[predicting the end of the world] has not been found agreeable to
experience." -- Edward Gibbon, 'Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire'