No, It’s Not a Cult.

Human Nature - Laura G Owens - Writer
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readSep 21, 2023

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We’re the opposite of a cult. We think for ourselves.

Nine times out of ten when people ask me about my Unitarian Universalist church I get a strange look. What they’re dying to know is are we some sort of cult. Nope, a bona fide religion. No devil worship or blood sacrifices. No groupthink.

But Laura, no Bible? no doctrine? No God? Lay led with only a part-time pastor?

The person usually looks genuinely confused. Pained. I have it seems, broken the rules of conventional church. UU’s have affirmations, not prayers, a chalice lighting vs. the body and blood of Christ.

I go on to explain that we follow seven values and principles, not doctrine.

Blank stare.

I explain that we’re open to believers and non (Because of this we tend to attract recovering religious types. Those who felt shamed, judged or damned).

We have lots of recovering (or current) Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists, Lutherans and Baptists. Loads of Jews, pagans, Humanists, atheists and agnostics. A smattering of Hindus and Buddhists, and plenty of “none of the above.”

Come as you are.

Blank stare.

But if all you know is conventional religion with clerical hierarchy, with Scripture, Godly obedience, His Will, the Holy Spirit, sin, wrath, repent, kneel and pray, well — imagine how you’d feel about a church that welcomes atheists and pagans?

I explain that some of us really like Jesus (me), but that we find truth and meaning in our own way.

This likely makes me a heretic. And I do so love the sound of that.

I will say that mentioning Jesus seems to win me a few points.

When I politely tell the uninvited door knockers who insist on sharing God’s Word that, thanks and all, but that I don’t believe in Last Days, the Rapture, His Will, Original Sin, Heaven, Hell, repent, or in a wrathful homophobic or transphobic God…

They squirm, smile and back away. I cover all their talking points up front so they don’t have to. Seems fair that if they can knock on my door to save my soul, I should at least enjoy explaining why they’re wasting their time.

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Human Nature - Laura G Owens - Writer
Human Parts

Social commentary. Huffington Post. Personal essays. 15 years researching and writing about mind & body natural health.