European Unitarianism emerged from the anti-Trinitarian movement within the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.  Transylvania, then an independent kingdom, was the only place where it endured; official hostility destroyed the new faith elsewhere.  The Transylvanian church is considered to have been founded in 1568, when King John Sigismund, himself a Unitarian, issued his Edict of Religious Toleration.

Many people, sometimes entire villages, converted, and today Transylvania still has the second highest number of Unitarians or UUs (about 80,000) in the world, after the U.S.  Their beliefs and rituals have changed little since 1568.  Having been threatened by various forms of oppression, most recently Romania’s former communist regime, the Unitarians cherish their history and remain grounded in tradition.  They are liberal Christians who believe in the unity of God.  Their motto is “Egy az Isten,” “God is one.”  They do not use the cross as a symbol.  They consider Jesus a superior human being, an example to be followed rather than worshipped.  Transylvanians like to refer to their faith as “practical,” i.e. as placing an emphasis on the application of religious teachings to everyday life.  The Unitarians are part of Romania’s ethnic Hungarian minority, using the Hungarian language among themselves and the Romanian language in any official business or when communicating with ethnic Romanians.  Today they enjoy a close relationship with the Unitarians of Hungary, and with the international community of Unitarians and UUs.

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