Quote from a sermon that should be read annually at UU Churches. Too many lose site of this fundamental.
But is it true that a church can be founded upon individual freedom of belief and still possess a common faith? Will it not happen that the variations in belief will be so wide that no common faith is possible? The answer is, in the first place, that freedom itself is the basic precept of the Unitarian faith. Instead of people being bound together as a society of those who all believe - or are supposed to believe - the same things, Unitarians are united by their faith in freedom. This is a far larger faith than anything that is defined by dogma. What it means is this: that we can put our trust in freedom, both for ourselves and for one another, believing that we shall come closer to truth if our minds are unfettered.
What the churches of authoritarian belief are based upon - or if not based upon it, then restricted by it - is the fear that if people are allowed to think freely they will arrive at wrong and harmful conclusions, and therefore they must be told what they must believe. This certainly puts much less trust in human nature than does the Unitarian faith in freedom.
Perhaps, however, this trust may go too far. Suppose that in a given situation, an individual Unitarian insists that he is right and all the others wrong. The answer is that this can be a very healthy situation. Such a Unitarian is entitled to do all he can to prove that he is right - which, of course, he may be. It has happened frequently in history that one man has been right and all others wrong, as for example, in the case of Semmelweiss, or even of Copernicus. And if he is not so much right as eccentric, no harm will be done. Unitarians are not afraid of eccentricity.
This, then, in the first place: freedom is itself the basic precept of the Unitarian faith, both because it is the natural right of every individual person and because it is, as history proves, the best basis to go upon: and in reliance upon freedom, Unitarians are united.