Two days ago, a madman walked into a church just like mine (and only four hours away from mine) and opened fire, killing two people and injuring others.
Compared to many religions, Unitarian Universalism is a tiny denomination; we have maybe 100,000 members in the United States. So this tragedy hits extra hard — particularly because the man wielding the weapon didn’t choose a church at random. No, he deliberately planned to attack the Knoxville UU congregation because of its liberal social policies. He hates liberals, says the letter he left in his truck; he hates gays. Apparently, while he was shooting, he was shouting hatred for all to hear.
High on one of the outer walls of my church hangs a banner that says “Civil Marriage Is a Civil Right.” My congregation of about 300 people are very progressive in our politics: I’d estimate us to be 90% pro choice, 95% Democrats, 100% supportive of gay rights. UUs don’t adhere to a specific creed; rather, my church includes atheists, humanists, pagans, Christians, Buddhists, Jews, and those who create their own spirituality.
Many beliefs, but one congregation. Why do we come together? Because we find truth and meaning in the seven principles that all Unitarian Universalist congregations affirm and promote:
The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
Justice, equity and compassion in human relations; Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations; A free and responsible search for truth and meaning; The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large; The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all; Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
Although we have no common prayers or mantras, we recite a covenant each Sunday. UUs everywhere speak a variation of these words each week:
Love is the spirit of this church, and service is its law. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love, and to help one another.
We are liberal. We are welcoming to all. And for this, a man decided people just like me deserved to die.