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Letter: Column misstated Unitarian Universalist theology and membership

To the Editor:

I'm writing to respond to Michael Fitzpatrick's ‘12 column ("The secret life of atheists at Brown," Sept. 24). As the facilitator for the Brown University Unitarian Universalist Group (BUUUG), I am pleased that our group was included in his article. Our members see this as an opportunity to rectify some misconceptions about our group, and about Unitarian Universalism as a whole.

On one point he is absolutely correct: BUUUG (which has no "undergraduate" U in it; we welcome graduate students too) is completely accepting of students identifying with Christian beliefs. However, his article implied that the groups available to Christians were those groups "targeted specifically at Christian students to promote solidarity and celebrate their religious views." While BUUUG opens its doors gladly to students identifying with Christianity, we are not a group targeted specifically at Christians. Rather, we are a group targeted at Unitarian Universalists and those interested in Unitarian Universalism.

Fortunately, this misconception provides the group a welcomed opportunity to clarify our religious tradition to the Brown community. While Unitarian Universalism has deep roots in Judeo-Christian theological history, we are not a sect of Christianity. Our faith draws on a diversity of religious sources, encouraging an individual search for truth and meaning in our lives. We are united by common values as opposed to a creed or dogma, and while our values are common to many world religions, we agree to celebrate and practice them from all different origins of belief. We commonly call our faith a "living tradition," meaning it has evolved through history and will continue to achieve more inclusivity and diversity of thought. In other words, as many Unitarian Universalists say, you don't have to believe alike to love alike.

Historically, both Unitarianism and Universalism grew out of the Protestant Reformation, beginning as two religions contemplating and debating Christian ideas. The merging of the two groups to create Unitarian Universalism has broadened the base of religious thought from which we draw — you will rarely find two Unitarian Universalists who completely agree on theological grounds. In our group at Brown, we have members who identify with Christian, Hindu, humanist, Jewish, earth-based, atheist, agnostic and many other types of religious and non-religious thought. Our minister in Providence is also a Zen Buddhist master. While our backgrounds are diverse and transcendent, we remain one people committed to a set of inclusive and love-centered principles.

Chelsea Waite
Brown University Unitarian Universalist Group Facilitator
Sept. 28

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