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Tuesday, May 18, 2004


I used to be a Unitarian Universalist and can fill you in on some of their theological background, though it might bore you. (I've got an entry mentioning your post on my blog btw).

The American Unitarian Association, founded in 1825, by William Ellery Channing, had as its basic doctrine the denial of the doctrine of the Trinity and several other foundational doctrines of orthodox Christianity.

The Universalist Church, which was founded in the United States just a little after 1770, had as its basic doctrine the universal salvation of all souls, later amended to allow for a state of intermediate punishment, like purgatory, to satisfy those who just couldn't fathom the idea of the most egregious of sinners getting in scott-free.

During the nineteenth century, the Universalist Church had a crisis of sorts. It isn't really easy to motivate people with Universalism. There wasn't any theological foundation to build anything on, so in order to motivate the parishioners, they became a very active social-work church, doing many good works, but also becoming very liberal in the process, and slowly abandoning their theology.

The Unitarian Church took a different course, slowly moving toward humanism, and they wound up merging in 1961, having come to the conclusion that there was no practical distinction between the two organizations.

It is absurd that one should apply a "deity" standard to a religion. That is completely ethnocentric in its view. I don't think anyone would argue that Buddhism IS a religion, and as a Buddhist, I can tell you that contrary to popular misconception, Buddhists DO NOT worship a deity. There is NO worship of Buddha in Buddhism. Buddhism is simply about "applying the teachings" of the Buddha to ones life. To put it in a Christian context, it would be as if Christianity was ALL about applying the teachings of Christ to ones life, without any worship of Jesus. I know this may be difficult to wrap ones head around, but the only worship in Buddhism, if any exist at all, is a worship of the teachings/ideas of the Buddha. The emphasis on gentle,kind, and tolerant treatment of others, in this life, combined with only a nominal(compared to Christianity/Islam etc.) concern for the afterlife have led many to proclaim that Buddhism is the original Humanism. Please note however that everything I've stated can be generally applied to MOST schools of mainline Buddhism. Just as in Chrisitianity, there are hundreds if not thousands of different schools (denominations) of Buddhism, so things will vary accordingly.

I am writing a paper on what it takes to classify religion a religion. Any and all help I coudl get in helping Me to understand that concept would be greatly appreacted.Thank You, JOHN ENGER

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