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Understanding World Religions

Religion is the driving force behind much of what happens in the world today -- particularly when it comes to the "big three" religions -- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Religious differences have and continue to spark wars, create nations, and spawn ongoing conflict down through the centuries. No matter what religion you adhere to (or even if you claim that you don't adhere to any religion at all), you need to have a basic understanding of the world's religions in order to understand what is happening in the world today so that you can be better informed and a more useful citizen of your nation and of the world. Without some knowledge of religion, you will not understand the underpinnings of what is happening in an increasingly global society.
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Dec 12, 2015

Our quote for today is from Elizabeth Gilbert. She said, "Look for God. Look for God like a man with his head on fire looks for water."

In this podcast, we are making our way through Garry R. Morgan's book, "Understanding World Religions in 15 Minutes a Day."

Our Understanding World Religions topic for today is, "The Unitarian-Universalist Association, The Unity School of Christianity, and The Unification Church"

These three belief systems are considered in one episode not because they are necessarily similar in belief but because the similarity of their names sometimes has led to confusion. We'll look at each separately.

--- The Unitarian-Universalist Association

The Unitarian-Universalist Association formed from the 1959 merger of the Unitarian Church and Universalism, which, historically, developed separately. Unitarian beliefs have roots in the anti-Trinitarian controversies of Christianity's early centuries but came into their present form during the Enlightenment. Unitarianism found greatest growth and popularity in the U.S., particularly through the speaking and writing of the nineteenth-century essayist Ralph Waldo Emerson. In contrast to orthodox Christian teaching, Unitarians follow the ethics of Jesus but deny his divinity. They believe the apostle Paul was the one who intentionally elevated Jesus' standing—that Jesus himself was strictly human and knew it. Unitarianism was and remains popular chiefly with the intelligentsia.

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--- The Unity School of Christianity

Charles and Myrtle Fillmore founded The Unity School of Christianity in 1889. Charles was interested in Eastern religions and the occult. Myrtle, his wife, was a follower of Christian Science; this mix came together in Unity.

Although Unity makes extensive use of biblical vocabulary, its basic belief system is more like Hinduism. God is the source of everything but is not distinct from the human soul. As with Christian Science, Jesus was only human; Christ was just the spiritual aspect of him. "Jesus was potentially perfect and He expressed that perfection; we are potentially perfect and we have not expressed it," according to Unity writings. The focus is on health, spiritual healing, and prosperity. All of us have Christ potential within us. The goal of Unity is to replace the physical human body with a true spiritual body through a series of reincarnations, so that everyone becomes a Christ.

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--- The Unification Church

The Rev. Sun Myung Moon founded The Unification Church, in 1954, as The Holy Spirit Association for the Unification of World Christianity. Its followers, commonly called "Moonies," currently number about ten thousand in the U.S., though there were more at Unification's peak in the 1980s. Moon was born in 1920 in what is now part of North Korea, and later moved to South Korea. In 1972, he moved to the U.S., where he lived until recently reclaiming South Korea as his primary residence.

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