Comments on Proposed 8th Principle

In a debate on June 1, 2021, Rev. Craig Moro shared his thoughts on the Unitarian Universalist Association’s proposed 8th principle.  The debate was sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Multi-cultural Unity Action Council (UUMUAC).  You can view the full debate at this link.

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Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
2 months ago

Brings up important questions that need to be answered:
Accountable — to whom? and by what standards?

Who defines racism? What constitutes proof or evidence of racism?

Passionate — about what?

As one who is actively pro life, I would also ask: Does the concept of human worth and dignity (or the “interconnectedness” or “interdependence” of all things) also include the unborn?
Would freedom of conscience also include the refusal to perform an elective abortion or officiate in a same sex marriage? Would UUA ministers, or the UUA itself, defend peoples’ freedom of conscience in those regards?

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
2 months ago

A good reminder of why I left the UUA some decades ago. Even then, I could see the political “creed” coming.

John Robinson
John Robinson
2 months ago

I applaud Craigs statement. As an old UU and a birth one, I think back to a class given at Meadville by Professor John Godby. HIs contention was that creeds, and statements of faith, and I would add Principles and Purposes are summaries of where a religious body has been and bind it to that past and history. When I was ordained a Unitarian Minister the Principles and Purposes as we have them today did not exist. When they were adopted they enshrined the values of the 1970s. In my view the bind us to the past, hold us back… Read more »

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
2 months ago
Reply to  John Robinson

Thanks so much for your reflections, John. I don’t believe that Article 2 (Principles, Sources, Purposes) need to be maintained exactly as written, “every jot and tittle” for all the days to come! I have been part of a concerted effort to change the language of the 4th Source statement (on Jewish and Christian teachings) to explicitly include Islam. Members of a working group from All Peoples UU Church and the Salaam Network in Louisville, KY submitted hundreds of pages of documentation to support this change. You can see a summary in this video that showed at the 2021 GA:… Read more »

Donald Wilson
Donald Wilson
2 months ago
Reply to  John Robinson

I haven’t seen a single congregation, and more importantly no GROUP of congregations, propose a Vision for the association in my lifetime.

Congregations, and their shallow understanding and use of the Cambridge platform, are solely to blame for any failings surrounding the fifth principle, and the stagnation of faith you suggest has happened.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
2 months ago
Reply to  John Robinson

I do not agree that our principles tie us to the past and restrict our vision of the future. Far from it. Our principles have served our church through the much greater racial strife of the 60’s. And after modifications in the late 70’s and early 80’s, allowed the UU church to advance from 5% female clergy to over 50% today, the highest of all US churches. There was no need to add an 8th principle decrying patriarchy.  And more recently, BIPOC Ministers in our clergy increased by over 300% from 2000 to 2017 compared to only a 30% increase from 1988 to… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
2 months ago

I think your proposal of embedding the 8th Principle in Article 2 makes the most sense if everything was to be only minimally changed. I don’t sense this is the direction of the UUA.
Paula Cole Jones promotes the 8th Principle by saying you can support the principles and never deal with racism. If we put the anti-racism/accountability principle in we should add other concerns like disability rights, fat liberation, LGBTQIA liberation etc.. Spell it out very clear what our intentions are as a religion. If the mission is supposed to liberation for all state it plainly.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Suzanne

“… dismantle racism and other oppressions …”

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

Rev. Craig Moro’s statement makes a great deal of sense. That is why I’m fairly sure it will be ignored by the powers that be in UUism that are intent upon steering the organization into schismatic dissolution based upon dogma that makes no sense at all.

Terry Anderson
Terry Anderson
2 months ago

For an update on how the Canadian Unitarian Congress (CUC) is handling the Woke teaching in preparation for a vote on our 8th Principle in Nov. see the announcements here. Note that members can speak at the educational events prior to the General Meeting but ONLY if you have watched the series of 5 videos. As I watched them, I realized why I will not attend these sessions. I may be in my last few days of being an active UU – after over 50 years of membership.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Terry Anderson

I’m listening now to the Responsibility Covenant video. It is a version of accountability that is deeply steeped in what used to be known as EST. I doubt the participants know that. But it is clearly recognizable to those of us who remember a time when the whole idea of relationships was to break down personal boundaries. Here it is being weaponized to dissolve one’s capacity for critical thinking, which is apparently here regarded as the new barrier to “the really real” between whites and POC.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Watched 8 minutes of it. Maybe, to be fair, I should watch the whole thing. But the first 8 minutes is EXTREMELY spacy and incoherent. I don’t have much faith that the remaining 29 minutes will change that verdict.

I would be curious who this appeals to, because I think many people will find this extremely off-putting.

If someone has watched the entire thing, does it ever get closer to making a substantive point? Are there some substantive arguments that they make, and when do they get to them?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I’ve so far watched more than half the longest one and may 5 minutes or more of each of the others. To me, the bottom line is that you must first watch these videos because they are tellingly everyone that they are not to bring their critical questioning selves to the forums, that is, white people cannot. You must first commit to accepting and embracing that you, or we, are indeed a racist and if you bring your critical self you may not see this truth of this. Your rational question self is the privileged white supremacist self.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Sorry for the typos. It’s late.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

So, I watched all the videos. I stuck it out because I was hoping I would be able to discern some cogent argument they were making. But I continued to be puzzled by the incoherence and wandering lack of substance. I kept thinking I was watching some kind of cult intro put on by True Believers. (And this perspective, I am sure, would be seen as my own failure to develop enough self-awareness to overcome my internal “resistance” to the validity and coherence of the views presented.)  Apparently, the problem with those of us who disagree with this approach is… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Alas, I don’t understand your point. I am hoping that by discussing it, I can get a better idea.

The way I see it, racism is a thing; there is racism here and now in our world. Exploring and understanding that is a valuable process. So is doing something about it. The CUC has already dedicated decades to the former and wants to now focus more strongly on the latter. If you think their newer focus is a bad thing, would you give me specific details or examples. (I don’t need a comprehensive essay, just a start at the dialogue.)

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

How about you start this dialogue by getting out your copy of the Gadfly Papers (which I’m sure you have and have read – right?). And give me specific details or examples of the terrible things DRUUM found in it:

The Gadfly Papers by Todd F. Eklof being shared at General Assembly reintroduces toxic history and theologies containing transphobia, ableism, sexism and targets people of color 

Tim Bartik
2 months ago

I have watched Craig Moro’s statement, which is good. He particularly emphasizes the “accountability” language, which is IMO the most problematic part of the 8th principle. “Accountability” language is quite powerful. I am accountable to my employer, in the sense that they can fire me if I don’t do my work in an acceptable way. We are in RELATIONSHIP with our fellow congregants and fellow human beings, which is not the same thing as being “accountable” to them. The “accountability” language, in addition to being POWERFUL, is, as Rev. Moro points out, quite vague — who are we accountable to,… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

One other point — a political point, about Rev. Moro’s suggestion to instead of adopting the 8th Principle, to put it into the Purposes section. I understand the argument that this would do less damage than making this language part of UU principles. The 8th principle is more of a purpose or mission statement than a principle, and in theory the next clause about “nothing herein” infringing on freedom of belief helps allevaiate concerns about what “accountability” means. And the political argument here is: this way one can say that you are willing to address problems with racism, but in… Read more »

Kathleen Dillon
14 days ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Comments and this principle project consideration of the eighth principle

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago

Rev. Moro’s comments were part of a larger debate where pro and con arguments are presented.

https://youtu.be/O6jy1PWSYBI

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago

Yes, there a link in the OP to the full event.

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Yes, there is a link in the text of your post for the full video but it’s not an embedded video. Why not show both YouTube links as embedded videos?

Adding both videos as embedded videos is easier to do in WordPress than adding the YouTube link to the text of your original post.

Pasting the YouTube link into the original post for both videos would automatically add them as embedded videos where both are equally visible and accessible.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago

It’s a direct link to the full video, so I don’t much understand the point you’re trying to make. But neither do I think it really matters.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

Tom Clowes (whom I believe was banned from this site?) speaks on the “pro” side from about 2:32 to about 15:22 (with interruption), at video in the links to full event.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

I think that the Eighth Principle is vague on accountability precisely because the writers want to leave that to us as individuals and congregations; top-down, heavy-handed dictation of the definition is not their goal. They give one example. By “example,” I think it means that they want us to consider this idea. (They are not trying to require this example.) “In practice, that can mean having a People of Color Caucus within congregations, districts, etc., to discern and express needs and concerns to the rest of the community.” So, the one and only one suggestion is that “accountability” means having… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

How do you know they are not trying to require this example? I certainly don’t know that, and I instead think that they want to require such accountability to unelected groups that have the “right” opinions. I don’t think that the core advocates for the Eighth Principle have much interest in leaving anything up to us — they have very strong ideas about what is right and wrong. In other words, I strongly disagree with you: “top-down, heavy-handed dictation of the definition” IS their goal. If it wasn’t their goal, they would be more open to suggestions to get rid… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Maybe this is a toMAYto / toMAHto thing. To me, “accountably” is quite flexible in that it can be interpreted at multiple scales — individual, committee, congregation, district, denomination — and in multiple contexts — governance, ceremony, social action, etc. In each instance, the concerned entity is free to choose its actions for the given context.

Yes, “informed by feedback from diverse groups” is a great example of how to be accountable that is applicable at many scales and in many contexts. Nonetheless, hard-wiring it into the principle isn’t what I’d do.

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Accountable means: (of a person, organization, or institution) required or expected to justify actions or decisions; responsible.

Some synonyms: liable, responsible, answerable, chargeable.

It doesn’t mean “informed by feedback from diverse groups.” Consult is a better word for that.

Consult means: seek information or advice from (someone with expertise in a particular area).

Of course, proponents of the 8th principle want the power to hold UUs accountable, responsible, liable, answerable, chargeable, not to set up consulting services.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

For me, the call to action is more inspiring than the call to consulting. What if we change “… by our actions that accountably dismantle …” to “… by our actions to dismantle …”? Would the proposed Eighth Principle then be okay?

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

IMO, the Eighth Principle would be far more acceptable if the word “accountably” was eliminated as you proposed. (I still agree with Rev. Moro that this isn’t really a “principle”, and ideally should go elsewhere in UU documents. But IMO, enough UUs want SOMETHING in the principles about racism, so I think that should be considered seriously.) But I think you will find out that the Eighth Principle advocates have no interest in such a compromise proposal. They prefer the word “accountably” precisely because it can be interpreted to require UUs to answer to unelected groups with the “right opinions”.… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

In my circles, the word “accountably” doesn’t mean punishment. It means the likes of having SMART metrics to help keep our focus on the prize. So to me, the wording difference is not worth the effort. More important than spending a significant amount of time to try to raise the approval rating of the principle’s wording by a few percentage points is making the strong statement that we endeavor to take significant, constructive steps towards dismantling racism and other oppressions. We are working towards these SMART efforts in my congregation. The proposed Eighth Principle will serve as a reminder of… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

So now it sounds like you’re not really interested in a compromise. That’s too bad. In my opinion, the “accountability” language is in violation of basic principles of liberal religion. You can tell from Rev. Moro’s commentary that he is also very concerned about the accountability language. We both disagree with you that “accountability” has such a benign interpretation in the Eighth Principle. Even if the “wording difference is not worth the effort”, in your view, because you don’t regard the word “acountably” as having the implications we are concerend about, is it perhaps “worth the effort” to achieve greater… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Perhaps if the 8th Principle had been drafted without the divisive language, I may have been OK with it.

At this point, I would have to see an apology from the UUA to Mel Pine. And I would need an answer to Jim’s question above that nobody seems to be able to answer. And I need to see Todd Eklof refellowshiped. And I would need…

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

Ditto.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Reconciliation between Mel Pine and the UUA would be great! As a first step, I recommend a private conversation between Pine and an appropriate UUA representative, where both sides spend a lot of time deeply listening to what the other has to say. Likewise, Todd Eklof.

By “Jim’s question” do you mean the thing about advocating for marriage equality at a predominantly black church?

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Since the UUA didn’t “have a private conversation” with Mel Pine at the beginning, he deserves an apology. I didn’t say anything about reconciliation.

Jim wrote:

How about you start this dialogue by getting out your copy of the Gadfly Papers (which I’m sure you have and have read – right?). And give me specific details or examples of the terrible things DRUUM found in it:

The Gadfly Papers by Todd F. Eklof being shared at General Assembly reintroduces toxic history and theologies containing transphobia, ableism, sexism and targets people of color 

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

Apologies are often part of the process of reconciliation. Personally, when I am trying to make progress on a disagreement, I start with the goal of reconciliation and the process of listening; that’s the approach that works best for me. There are other ways to go about it, of course, but I seldom use them; I leave those approaches to those people who personally find those approaches to be the more effective. I have not read The Gadfly Papers nor the DRUUM response. Even so and even though I cannot read minds, I am willing to accept that both parties… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I don’t know how to engage in deep listening with someone who doesn’t even try to understand the issues.

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

While you have read “White Fragility” and, presumably, UUA materials re anti-racism, you have not availed yourself of a balanced perspective. Constructive dialogue and deep listening would be greatly improved if you read the Gadfly Papers and the UU reactions to that book… and, since you’re posting on this site, I would think Used to Be UU would also be something you would read in order to inform yourself about the issues involved. Have you read Used to Be UU? It seems your purpose here is not to listen and understand but to “educate” us about your personal preferences and… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

The word “example” is used in contexts where it is one of many possibilities. If there are alternatives, how can it be interpreted that the given example must be chosen over those alternatives?

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

As I said above, the firm adherence of the Eighth Principle advocates to the term “accountably” suggests that they are not interested in just “listening” to diverse groups. They want something much more than that.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

What they want is more than “just listening.” They are advocating for action. When organizations are trying to achieve something, they have procedures for making plans, they have design metrics to measure progress, they have contingency plans, etc. “Accountably” is about keeping the focus on priorities such as efficiency, organization, and urgency. That is the “something much more” that the advocates have in mind.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I think this is all rhetoric, and not about action, but rather about adherence to ideology.

If we wanted “action”, we would urge more UU congregations to do such things as engage in interfaith community organizing efforts (such as those sponsored in different communities around the countries by groups such as Gamaliel). Or maybe more suburban-dwelling UUs should push for changes in local zoning ordinances and housing codes to allow for the construction of more multfamily housing in their jurisdiction.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Yes, those could be good steps towards accountably dismantling racism and other oppressions.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

IMO, they’re not “accountable” unless they are done at the dicates of some external group. They may be steps towards dismantling racism and other oppressions, but they are not “accountable” dismantlings unless we are doing these at the behest of some other group and must report to that group on our success, as they judge it.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, I wish I could agree with you but having gone through an “adoption” process in my congregation and having attended several Paula Cole Jones discussions, the words I use are dogmatic and anti-democratic. No one was allowed to question the wording of the 8th Principle. No alternatives to it were presented. No one explained why it had to be a principle. Rather, Paula encouraged us to vote to adopt it and went so far to say that she didn’t see how voting no was possible. Anti-racism and adding a principle are two distinct actions. Combining the two give an… Read more »

Janet
Janet
1 month ago

I was one of those UU members who didn’t pay much attention to what goes on in the UUA … until now. I just started reading about the proposed eighth principle a few days ago and am horrified. I did watch the video and agree with much of what Rev. Moro has to say. I agree that “accountably” leaves the door open to authoritarian oversight, even abuse. I also agree that this new principle is unfortunately different from the others in emphasizing division and conflict instead the possibility of community, peace and understanding. But I have other objections as well.… Read more »

Suzanne
Suzanne
1 month ago
Reply to  Janet

Paula Cole Jones has done a lot of workshops on why the 8th Principle should be adopted without revision. When someone asked her about what ‘spiritually whole’ means she couldn’t explain it to my satisfaction. I think it is part of a sentence that Jones used in the anti-racism training manual.

It sounds like congregations will be accountable to organizations like DRUUM or Black/POC caucuses in their church. This might put an end to churches being able to choose their own ministers. I think most churches will readily vote in favor of the Principle.

Janet
Janet
1 month ago
Reply to  Suzanne

Unfortunately, I have to agree. Most churches and most UUs will most likely vote for the eighth principle. I really do not know how to convince others of the real dangers of the ideology which informs this principle. There seems to be a knee-jerk association of anything that questions anti-racism and the ideology which undergirds with being “pro-Trump” and “alt-right.” Most seem completely blind to the dangerous authoritarianism on “their side.”

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