Faith Symbol FAQ
What is the faith symbol?
Existing traditional emblems usually reference particular faiths; the universal symbol of affirmation or belief represents what is common in spirituality, charitable humanism, and positive science-based and philosophical systems— an abiding reverence for and appreciation of creation or being, and our ability to share it.
Why a universal faith symbol?
Throughout history differences in belief have contributed to the spawning of wars and other conflicts— an interfaith symbol affirms that while cultural and other variations are acknowledged, contrasting viewpoints can be respected and similarities discovered, and such advancements in understanding can be a foundation for tolerance and world peace.
We are moving in this direction. A recent nationwide survey confirmed that Americans are becoming more ecumenical, along with the world as a whole. Most no longer feel their religion is the only way even if their tradition teaches otherwise, evidenced by the fact that they are switching religious affiliations with increasing frequency.
Hasn’t this been done before?
While there have been earlier, aesthetically-pleasing interfaith designs, they are usually in more complex forms combining visual elements of traditional religious emblems. The universal faith symbol uses basic, familiar shapes— triangle, circle, heart— and is easy to remember and draw.
Since neither the triangle, circle, nor heart shapes are by themselves associated with any particular faith, group, or movement, together they can be shared by all, rather than having to decide which symbols representative of particular beliefs or values to include or exclude in an overall design.
Why not invert the triangle?
This was tried in an early version (right). While it follows the shape of the heart, it is overall less successful. The triangle pointing up has a more accurate symbolic meaning, evidencing solidarity and strength, than a downward-pointing one. The present design also has the emblematic tree form at top.
A clever variation, Peace and Love (left), was suggested by artist friend Dorothy Lazara. The triangle is replaced by the linear elements of a peace symbol, which on reflection could be viewed as the three lines of a triangle rearranged. Also interestingly the number of voids in the symbol is unchanged— still seven.
A web image-search turned up a simple Peace and Love identical to the above except without the circle, the vertical line of the emblem continuing down to the point of the heart.
Shouldn’t the oneness of an ultimate reality be emphasized over three or any other quantity higher than one?
This design expresses the unity of the several or infinite into one, as besides being nested and connected all three shapes meet at a major point or confluence, indicated by the red dot (right) in this stylized rendering.
Depending on artificial divisions, various expressions of a single divine or real nature could be divided into any number of aspects, from two to infinity. Three though seems to be a universal standard— just large enough to break the dualism of two yet small enough to be most-easily comprehensible.
This seems to apply whether sacred— the Holy Trinity for example— or secular, such as Freud’s aspects of mind— Id, Ego, and Super-Ego.
Does use of the symbol imply or require acceptance of all positive forms of belief?
No, just respect for others who hold those differing beliefs, and the recognition that faiths, no matter how unalike they may seem on the surface, have deeper truths in common along with those differences.
Applying the above examples— despite the fact that three elements might work well for a trinitarian, a unitarian might find other meanings in the elements; likewise for a Freudian versus someone who is less a fan of Freud.
I’m a Christian. Can I use the symbol?
Persons of all faiths and philosophies, to the extent they acknowledge that their own belief system, while perhaps best for them at the time, may not necessarily be best for others, can show this understanding and regard with the symbol.
It’s not us and them, just us.
I’m an atheist. What use is it to me?
Humanists and naturalists have as great an appreciation for the mystery and wonder of being as their more creedal fellows. Though generally not believers in life after death, such a view can render the adherent even more appreciative of life due to cognizance of its brevity. The symbol is as much yours as anyones.
Is there anyone then who shouldn’t use the symbol?
Those who find life meaningless rather than meaningful, not worth living rather than too short, who are trapped in past bitternesses to the exclusion of forgiveness and seeing what the future offers, who find every day an endless grind, the rest of humanity out to get them, seeing nothing new under the sun, etc.— may want to change their attitude :)
The symbol is for everyone.
Does the symbol imply that one faith as good as another?
Not necessarily. Religions, philosophies, and sects can be judged by their long-term positive verses negative effects on their adherents and on society. Some groups might seem beneficial at first but end up being traps, spirit-reducing rather than enhancing— e.g. one wouldn’t support those that condoned terrorism, much less engaged in it.
Life is expanded not constrained by the best faith.
Is the symbol intended to convey any particular political views?
No, though in an indirect sense an interfaith symbol is supportive of freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of religion— in other words equal rights for all.
What is the connection to unitheism?
A unitheist approach, that faiths of the world, as well as many positive non-religious philosophies— while differing due to cultural disparity, tradition, etc— all strive toward the same underlying truths, was the impetus for design of the Universal Faith Symbol. Superimposed over a sunburst, it’s the logo of the Unitheist Fellowship (see Links).
Who designed the symbol?
The symbol was designed by Warren Farr, an artist currently residing in Kentucky, with a little help from friend Kathryn Graham, who provided an opinion as to the best rendering of the design. If you wish to contact him with comments or additional questions email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is the symbol copyrighted?
No it’s in the public domain, meaning anyone can use it without permission or license to express unity of spirit in all its forms. It belongs to all of us.
As a matter of fact it can’t be copyrighted.
Application for copyright through the United States Copyright Office in order to regulate commercial use only was declined on grounds of de minimis authorship, meaning that beyond simply combining familiar symbols or basic geometric shapes— themselves not copyrightable— the amount of creativity in the design was insufficient to support a claim.
Because it represents all faiths, as well as beliefs sometimes not considered faiths, can I vote to have it displayed near, inside, or on a public building or other government facility?
As far as is known this has yet to be legally tested.
return to Faith Symbol Main Page
revised 2/22/12 ~ public domain symbol