The Unitarian Free Religious Community (UFR), a public-law corporation, was founded in Frankfurt am Main in 1845. It feels an affinity with the intellectual historical traditions of free thought and belief and tries to make these tangible and fruitful for people today. Below you will find a brief overview of the basics of the Unitarian Free Religious Community.
The UFR does not believe that it holds an unshakable religious truth. The community takes the view that all religious knowledge is inadequate and that various beliefs are possible. It therefore does not bind its members to holy scriptures or immutable doctrines and rejects any compulsion to believe. The UFR respects the freedom to practice one’s religion and the right of the individual to form his or her religious and ideological ideas within the framework of the basic Unitarian ideas according to the best consideration of reason, conscience and spirit.
Freedom for self-development and freedom as self-determination are inalienable foundations of human existence. Freedom therefore has a high priority in the UFR. But freedom should not lead to a lack of bonds, because it is only in human interaction, in the relationship of the individual to his fellow human beings, that freedom can be fully realized.
Religion and reason are not opposites but complement each other while preserving their limits. The Unitarian religion includes reasonable thought processes up to the limit of all human searching and research and is in this respect also committed to the search for knowledge in the natural sciences and humanities.
Religiousness is viewed by the Unitarian community as a fundamental trait of human nature. It is not based on “holy scriptures”, “revelations” or other testimonies of faith, but is the expression and result of the thinking and feeling of the consciously living person who – in the depths of his being – deals with questions of his existence.
Concept of God
The UFR is of the opinion that all statements about “God”, the meaning of the world, soul and immortality remain inadequate, that we have to be content with parables and symbols that can only point to that which is incomprehensible, essentially ineffable and indescribable. “God” cannot be humanized and neither described nor proven. For the UFR, “God” is therefore not a transcendental being endowed with its own consciousness but rather a word symbol and a symbol for the inexplicable connections and mysteries of all existence.
Relationship to Other Religions and World Views
In line with the concept of tolerance, the UFR strives for a peaceful coexistence of all religions and non-religious world views in recognition of the diversity of forms of life and wisdom. The members of the UFR include religious humanists, pantheists, panentheists, non-dogmatic Christians and free spirits of all kinds.
Together, religiousness as part of the human being, humanity in fellowship, the use of reason up to the limits of conceptual thinking and freedom in responsibility are the cornerstones of the Unitarian religion. Religious humanism thus becomes the spiritual starting point of the UFR.
Religion is there for people and must be geared to their needs. Free religion is based on this view. Therefore, independently of historical and traditional forms of religion, the UFR serves to cultivate and develop religion, and aims to help strengthen people’s religious, intellectual and spiritual areas while opening up ways to live in an increasingly complex and fast-paced world. By dealing with a wide variety of topics from religion, philosophy, culture, current affairs, society, etc., people should keep an open mind about the world in which they live; because the more man strives to understand the world, the more he can find his way to himself and to others. The UFR does not proselytize or persuade but through its activities tries to help people to find their own inner path.
Community events include Sunday speeches (discourses, sermons), ceremonies marking milestones in life such as baptism, confirmation, marriage and funeral services, as well as seminars, lectures, cultural events, discussion and art groups, community tours and social gatherings. As a corporation under public law, the community also offers state-recognized religious instruction for all grades.
Independent membership can be acquired by persons of legal age who do not belong to any other religious community. Members of other religious communities have the opportunity to join the community as patrons (sponsoring members). With the exception of the right to vote, they have all the rights and obligations of independent members.
The UFR is a democratically constituted religious community and equal to the Christian churches under the law. However, the community waives the right to collect church taxes from its members. The UFR is financed exclusively through donations and membership fees. The minimum membership fee is 60 euros per year. The members and patrons (sponsors) are asked, however, to assess and determine the amount of their annual contribution – beyond the minimum contribution – depending on their income and financial possibilities. Contributions and donations to the community can be claimed as religious charitable deductions for the purpose of the income tax return.
Some well-known Unitarians or personalities close to the Unitarians include Albert Schweitzer, Thomas Mann, Charles Darwin, Bela Bartok, Edvard Grieg, Alexander Graham Bell, Isaac Newton, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Linus Pauling and Christopher Reeve.
Last But Not Least…
… we cordially invite you to visit the scheduled events to form your own idea of the community and its members. If you would like a personal conversation with the pastor, this is possible at any time by appointment. We would be happy to send you the regular Unitarian newsletter free of charge.