Are you a new religion or a cult?
By Neal Waldrop, Trustee Emeritus, Urantia Foundation, Maryland, USA
The authors of The Urantia Book explain how important it is for each human being to develop a personal philosophy of religion, so that the individual's awareness of religious and spiritual values will benefit from living personal experience. In other words, the authors stress that each man and woman has a right to participate in the most inspiring of all possible pursuits — the personal quest for truth, the exhilaration of intellectual discovery, and the determination to explore the realities of personal religious experience.
Therefore it is obvious that The Urantia Book has nothing in common with cult, radical, or fanatical movements that subordinate individuals to intense ideologies or some assortment of domineering doctrines. In addition, it is equally clear that the teachings of The Urantia Book have nothing to do with establishing, propounding, or promoting an institutional religion. As previously implied, the authors call on each reader to create his or her own personal religion by interweaving the awareness and understanding that arise from inner experience.
The authors of The Urantia Book affirm that every religion contains truth, and they agree that there is a real purpose in the socialization of religion. Therefore an active interest in The Urantia Book does not conflict with observance of the essential requirements of any prominent institutional religion. Many readers of The Urantia Book continue to participate in activities of a church or another organization that has been their framework for traditional belief.
The authors tell us quite frankly that in seeking to coordinate spiritual values and universe meanings, they are drawing on the highest existing human concepts. On the other hand, the authors do not stop there, for they also supplement and enhance prior understanding in intriguing and innovative ways. For example:
The authors of The Urantia Book contribute many original insights into the essential unity of matter, mind, and spirit. Further, they identify the multiple interactions that pervade science, philosophy, and religion and that resonate in individual experience as causation, duty, and worship.
The authors portray God's active presence in the human mind, while also explaining his plans for the progressive growth and evolution of individuals, human society, and the universe as a whole.
These aspects are integral elements of the authors' intensive efforts "to expand cosmic consciousness and enhance spiritual perception" (Forward), a goal that Urantia Foundation emphasizes. In these and all other endeavors, however, the Foundation has no connection with a church, a clerical hierarchy, or any other system that savors of philosophic or spiritual subordination. There is no official interpretation of The Urantia Book, and Urantia Foundation does not claim or exercise any form of authority over understanding or belief.
The Foundation pursues objectives that are identified in The Declaration of Trust Creating Urantia Foundation (January 11, 1950), a document that also describes the duties of the Trustees. From a practical perspective, Urantia Foundation is a non-profit organization that depends on donations to achieve its purposes. Individuals and groups may choose to support its work by providing financial assistance or by serving as volunteers.
A number of readers of The Urantia Book have formed social organizations or other independent groupings that enable them to associate with and inspire each other, or perhaps to take other steps that are linked with spiritual, philosophic, or social ideals that the authors proclaim. In many cases, the organizations and groups mainly focus on fostering study and dissemination of the teachings.
Urantia Foundation is aware of these activities in a broad and general sense, but it certainly does not seek to manage or direct them. To the contrary, the Foundation has a firm policy of not intervening in the affairs of a social organization.
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