Why is British Unitarianism in Freefall?

British Unitarianism LogoI have a lot of sympathy for the Unitarian movement. Specifically the modern Unitarian movement that seeks to provide a community and religious experience free from the burden of creeds. It is a humanistic faith concerned with social justice. I value and appreciate that. In the secular British culture, I know of a lot of folks who are ‘spiritual but not religious’ – who feel there is something there, but want to avoid being told what it is. I know of lots of folks who are humanist, and concerned with community and society.

When I’m working in the US I try to go visit a church. My  experience of the UU church has been good. UU doesn’t exist in the UK, but its equivalent, the Unitarian denomination, is in decline.

I’ve been looking through their central website this week, and the annual reports are not edifying reading.

And I don’t know why. Is it just that British Unitarians are terrible about communicating? It seems like the country is ripe for their message. It seems like lots of folks I talk to would be happy in that environment. But there are relatively few congregations around, most are small, aged, and meeting increasingly rarely (though some, I’m sure, are bucking that trend). I’ve never been to a British Unitarian meeting. My nearest is over an hour away and at a difficult time for the family.

The social reasons why all church attendance is shrinking in the UK are pretty well rehearsed. But I don’t understand why British Unitarianism isn’t more successful.

And I feel a sadness, that a denomination that has a genuine potential to be a religious force for good, will eventually die out, unlike the malevolent imported mega-church lunacy that’s growing like a cancer over here.

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