Universism

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Universism is the name of a faithless religious philosophy codified by Ford Vox, as well as the Birmingham-based organization created to promulgate it, also called the Universist Movement (United Universists prior to March 6, 2005). Vox originally organized the movement on the Internet, then chartered it as a religious non-profit corporation in Alabama in July 2005 [1]. The organization is in the process of creating local groups that meet in person.

Universists describe Universism as "a progressive and naturalistic religious philosophy in which all meaning and purpose is understood through personal reason and experience."[2] It was first promulgated by Ford Vox, a medical student at the UAB School of Medicine, in a 2003 speech. [3]

Universism is further described by Universists as modernist and materialist in its attitude towards science; relativistic, individualist, and post-modernist in its moral reasoning; libertarian and humanistic in its political theories; and rationalist in its views about God. By making reason and uncertainty pre-eminent over faith and dogma, it aims to unite deists, atheists, agnostics, transcendentalists, pantheists, and others in the free-thought tradition. It is the Universists' position that the individual search for meaning is paramount, but Universism does not decree wherein meaning lies, enjoining each person to seek it for herself.

In his 2003 speech Vox described his role as raising awareness of a maligned and ignored worldview by uniting its constituents into a religious classification so that the worldview could flourish and its adherents enjoy fellowship. Vox previously organized the Deus Project (1999), an open online study group devoted to the idea of developing a safe, rational future religion. Vox considers Universism the result of lessons learned through the Deus Project. The Universist Movement is headed by Vox and based in Birmingham. The organization is primarily concerned with fostering local Universist groups.

The Universist website states that as of February 27, 2006, 1882 people have signed as "public signatories to the Universist Movement's mission statement."[4] Furthermore, it states that over 10,000 people have signed the private statement declaring themselves to be Universists, without having their names released on the website. To sign up as a Universist, one provides a name, email address, and city of residence via the website's sign-up form. There is no accurate count of active Universists. A cover story on Universism by Birmingham Weekly reported that during "the week of July 4, 2004, the number of Universists who meet face-to-face at local venues such as coffee shops topped 1,000 for the first time."

References

  • Short, Dale (July 22, 2004), "Gimme That New-Time Religion," Birmingham Weekly [5]
  • Simon, Stephanie (November 16, 2005), "Doubt is Their Copilot," Los Angeles Times. [6]
  • Colmes, Alan (February 18, 2005) "Universism" Fox News Live.
  • Larson, Lars (February 25, 2005) "Universism vs. Faith" Lars Larson Show.
  • Garrison, Greg (May 20, 2005) "UAB medical student starts a religion." The Birmingham News
  • Garrison, Greg (September 9, 2005) "Universism's new leader aims to go nationwide." The Birmingham News
  • Foreman, Tom (February 15, 2006) "[Birth of a New Religion" Anderson Cooper 360. CNN
  • Harris, Tony (February 16, 2006) "Faces of Faith: Universism" CNN Sunday Morning

External links