Unfortunate Public Response

We have become aware that a UU minister posted a video on YouTube entitled “Don’t Trust the Fifth Principle Project!”  The video accuses the founders of the Fifth Principle Project of deception. Without citing any evidence, it is alleged that the Fifth Principle Project’s purpose to reinvigorate our faith in the democratic process within our denomination is a cleverly disguised malicious conspiracy. The video asserts, again without any supporting citation, that the real intent of the Fifth Principle Project is to undermine our religious traditions and fracture our faith community.

We are disheartened that a UU minister would choose public denigration of other UU’s instead of engaging in civil debate. This behavior is wholly contrary to what we expect from our ministers.  This behavior, however, confirms that a segment of our ministry has embraced a new ethos that deems principled dissent or even advocacy for UU Principles a threat that needs to be silenced.  UUism is in troubled waters.

While providing a detailed response is tempting, we elect to stay focused on the big picture.  The Fifth Principle Project remains committed to gathering into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governance of our denomination.   As the author of the video correctly noted, Every Voice Deserves a Vote.

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The book will be available on Amazon.com.

Information will be posted on this website.

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John Robinson
John Robinson
3 months ago

This minister has serve only an internship, and at best one year as a settled minister. Her depth of participation in Unitarian Universalism is short. It takes a lot of hutzpah to attack others so publicly. Her disregard of laypeople is stunning. She thinks only minister’s matter. As a minister of over 50 years and a life long Unitarian and from a family of generations of Unitarians and Universatists I think she only understands Unitarian Universalism as a arm of a new political and social theory with no regard for its real history. She would have been among those who… Read more »

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
3 months ago
Reply to  John Robinson

The arrogance and “moral superiority” delusion shown in Sarah Skotchko’s remarks redefine “chutzpah”. While still an intern, she gave a corrosive and unprofessional sermon attacking Todd Eklof. She is on record on FB and other venues calling looting on BLM riots “justifiable”. She is a minister, but does not have a ministerial temperament of searching for the good in others. Those who are young professionals take huge chances in nasty comments about their elders and those who have walked the walk for many years. She will learn that the arrogance of youth is not welcome in those who have actual… Read more »

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago

How are Black people supposed to respond when they are murdered with impunity?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  John Robinson

Instead of attacking what Rev. Sarah has said, you are attacking her personally.

Robert South
Robert South
3 months ago

Is there a link?

Dr Teresa Goodell
Dr Teresa Goodell
3 months ago

Calling anyone racist without supporting evidence is anti-UU. She needs to take the hateful video down.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago

She gave supporting evidence.

eric limbach
eric limbach
3 months ago

I’m really sorry that this silly schism has come up within the UUA. I’ve followed this pretty closely since the imbrogilio at UUA HQ in 2017, the farce at GA in Spokane & the programming of GA in 2020. Its a paradigm shift, I guess. The new guard pushing out the old guard. It is difficult to respond without being mean to the author, I have terrible rhetorical talents, me saying this from the vantage point of 74 years. WoW! Talk about well-meaning people (UUs) shooting themselves in the foots!

Richard Trudeau
Richard Trudeau
3 months ago

This behavior, however, confirms that a segment of our ministry has embraced a new ethos that deems principled dissent or even advocacy for UU Principles a threat that needs to be silenced.”
Yes. Eloquently put. Good job, Webmaster!

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago

I don’t remember her calling for anyone to be “silenced”. Instead, she made criticisms of Fifth Principle Project and its practices, and backed up her criticisms with evidence. You can disagree with her, but it’s not fair to pretend she said things she didn’t.

Lilith Marie Haas
Lilith Marie Haas
3 months ago

I couldn’t stand to watch it after she put up the name calling text and stated this project was started by 2 ‘white men’ as if that were a crime in itself. I am so sorry this happened. The poor character of people who qualify as ministers these days has been a real problem. I don’t see why these people can’t realize by now their ‘racial justice “work” is not only not helping people of color, but making things worse. I hope she lives to regret making this mean video.

Marian Hennings
Marian Hennings
3 months ago

This woman delivered a very snarky sermon attacking the minister of the Spokane church for having written and distributed a book in which he criticized what he sees as unwise, even discriminatory trends within the UUA leadership. This is another diatribe of the same ilk.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago

Perhaps she is being a “gadfly.” Is that so wrong?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago

If the Fifth Principle Project is all for the “right of conscience,” should it not affirm Rev. Sarah Skochko’s right of conscience to criticize and challenge the Fifth Principle Project and its practices? And if Fifth Principle Project criticizes people for not engaging in debate, should it refuse to engage with Rev. Sarah’s criticisms? That’s what I see when I read “We’re not going to provide a detailed response.”

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

Where did you read that anyone from Fifth Principle Project denied Rev. Sarah’s right to freely speak her point of view? Where was it that Rev. Sarah invited anyone from the Fifth Principle Project to engage in anything like a debate? All she did was to accuse us of lying. She’s free to do that. We are free to not dignify it as an invitation to debate.

Last edited 2 months ago by WebMaster
Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

How do you respond to her claim that when you e-mail lay leaders and office managers but not ministers, you’re bypassing the people most likely to have heard of Fifth Principle Project and targeting those least likely to have heard of you?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

We sent our email to church administration, to the President of a congregation when we could, or the office administrator. When neither of these were available, we sent it to the minister. These are the people who are generally responsible for church communications. What Rev. Sarah failed to tell you is that the letter was an attachment to an email requesting that the officer receiving the email pass the letter on to the minister and the rest of the congregation. There was no effort to bypass ministry. Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Interesting. Did you ask the recipient to forward your letter to the congregation at large, which would include the minister, or to forward to the minister first before sending to the whole congregation? If it’s the second, why not just send to the minister in the first place? If it’s the first, how is that not bypassing the ministry?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

David, I think the accusation is that FPP avoided sending to ministers because ministers were more likely to know who FPP was and that their messages may have been a poor fit with the values or ethos of their congregation, whereas lay leaders and administrators likely wouldn’t know who FPP was.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

The moment you say, “We’re not going to even bother responding to her evidence-supported accusations” is the moment you can’t blame her for not engaging with and responding to your ideas. If you want her to debate you, you can’t respond to her saying, “We’re not going to dignify her points with a response.”

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

We’ll respond appropriately to all communications. The appropriate response to an accusation that we are lying is to not dignify it by treating it as anything but an accusation. That accusation is the only “point” she made.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

She said you tried to avoid contacting ministers because they might know about your organization and instead directed communications to office administrators who’d be less likely to have heard of you. She argued that that’s a bad-faith practice. She showed screen caps of social media posts that many would find racially offensive from the leaders of the Fifth Principle Project to argue that your values are not in line with most UUs’ values on racial issues. You could respond to those arguments that she made, which she backed up with evidence. But you chose not to. That’s your right, but… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

She offered an opinion as to why we sent our letter to the administration of congregations. It is a pejorative view that she could not support with anything but innuendo. Her social media posts were not from the Fifth Principle Project. The nature of those posts is highly debatable. You and Rev. Sarah are free to take them out of context and cast them in the worst possible light. We viscerally disagree with your characterization of those posts. And I’ll say this one last time. She did not offer any arguments one could engage with. All she offered was smears.… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by WebMaster
Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

You don’t think it’s reasonable to characterize the posts she shared as ones that many UUs would find racially offensive?

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

Lastly, it’s not fair to say Rev Sarah’s trying to “silence” you when really all she’s done is criticize you. If criticizing someone’s ideas or practices is equal to “silencing them,” she could just as legitimately say that you are trying to “silence” her. You’re not, and she’s not.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

By declaring that our efforts to advocate for our principles are little more than an effort to undermine our faith community Rev. Sarah strongly insinuates that such efforts should be silenced.

Tom Clowes
Tom Clowes
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

“strongly insinuates”? Is it really fair to assume people are saying things that they didn’t actually say? Would it be OK with you if I say you believe things you haven’t affirmed because your comments “strongly insinuate” that belief?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom Clowes

It’s our view of the implications her accusations of lying and disruption carry. In view of those accusations, it’s a perfectly reasonable and arguable view. But I’ve given enough time and effort to your defense of her accusations against us. Thanks for your contribution.

Lilith Marie Haas
Lilith Marie Haas
2 months ago

I just realized she has written this up on Medium, https://sbskochko.medium.com/dont-trust-the-fifth-principle-project-46c11facd8fc where you can make a comment (on Youtube she has them turned off) if you like. I have not decided if I want to engage with her or not. I have just bought your book and look forward to reading it.

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