Have You No Sense of Decency?

Below is a sermon Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof delivered on Sunday, January 16, 2022, at the UU Church of Spokane. In his sermon, Rev. Dr. Eklof addresses the January 11, 2022 letter from the UUA Executive Vice President to the UU Seven Principles Fellowship. The letter begins, “”We demand that you immediately cease and desist from the following. . .”

The UUA Executive Director demanded that the fellowship, not affiliated with the UUA, must cease referring to itself as a Unitarian Universalist group and refrain from using UU in its literature, logo, and website URL, among other demands.

Rev. Dr. Eklof’s sermon gives wider context to this overreach by our UU leadership in his sermon “Occupation of America’s Most Liberal Religion.”

Write a Letter to the UUA President

To the Executive Vice President of the UUA, “Have you no sense of decency?” We urge Fifth Principle Project members to share your thoughts with the UUA President at sfrederickgray@uua.org.

Update: The title Executive Director has been corrected to Executive Vice President.

What are your thoughts?

Please leave your comments and thoughts below.

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Eric Schuman
Eric Schuman
8 months ago

There is no surprise here. Will the UUA return to its democratic principles in the next decade? I would be delighted and thrilled, but have no reason to believe so. I applaud those who continue to work for democratic change in our Association, but I don’t believe those efforts are worth my time. I will continue to support my own congregation (Salem, Oregon) as long as it embodies those cherished seven principles.

Mimi Gingold
Mimi Gingold
8 months ago
Reply to  Eric Schuman

I certainly understand your feelings. It may be a futile effort to try to save the UUA. It takes a significant toll on those who persevere in trying to preserve the core goodness of UU in the toxic environment the UUA has been creating. At this point there are some enclaves —some churches like yours, perhaps—-that appear to be immune from the dictates from Boston. But, I wonder how long that will last…..especially when we learn of the chilling letter sent to the Texas congregation. And, other congregations we know have been very detrimentally affected in this mess. It may… Read more »

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
8 months ago

Seems to me the most logical progression would involve:
individual congregations voting to stay in UUA, or leave.
those leaving should consider self-identity as Unitarian, not UU..
Voila. As Unitarians, we’re back to pre-UUA status. Boston is not relevant.

Bill C
Bill C
8 months ago
Reply to  Burton Brunson

The UUA has no authority, including theological, to define what is Unitarian Universalism and who are UUs or what congregations qualify as UU. It’s well known and acknowledged, including by the UUA, that many self-identifying UUs neither belong to a congregation much less the UUA. Unitarian Universalism isn’t a corporate brand name.

Last edited 8 months ago by Bill C
Bob S
Bob S
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill C

This potential schism reminds me of the great Unitarian controversy of the early 1800’s when the original Congregational churches in New England split into those who favored the traditional Trinitarian view and those who embraced the Unitarian views. There was usually only one church in town, so some towns voted to go Unitarians while others stayed Congregationalist. Maybe it’s time for another schism?

Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill C

Actually, it is a registered trademark, as is ‘UU.’ It would seem that trademarks are “owned” by corporations (albeit nonprofit and charitable) and not by the faith’s adherents. This issue has been addressed by the courts with other breakaway faith groups!

Bill C
Bill C
8 months ago
Reply to  Karen

Point me to the information on this. Show me what trademarks the UUA owns, and that Unitarian Universalism is a trademarked name. Why was the letter not from a lawyer? Explain the legal theory behind the 7 Principles board folks were told they can’t detail their years of experience in UU? Tell me why the 7 Principles fellowship can’t say they follow the 7 Principles? Explain the other UU fellowships and groups that are not members of the UUA? Were they given similar letters? To hold a trademark, the UUA can’t selectively enforce a trademark. Uniformly and ubiquitously enforcing a… Read more »

Last edited 8 months ago by Bill C
Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill C

US Trademark search link is found on this page:
https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search
The 7 Principles would fall under Copyright laws.
This is a very sad awakening to the reality of our situation. The coup is nearly complete, it seems.
Join http://www.UUMUAC.org to join forces with other dissenting UUs. Support dissident congregations and ministers, while you are at it!
Withdraw funding and endowment $$ from UUA (but not membership so your congregation can vote). Organize! Communicate.m! Protest!

Bill C
Bill C
8 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

Oh, no! I looked and it turns out that Unitarian Universalism and UU are trademarks of Monsanto

Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  Bill C

Look again

Karen
Karen
8 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

There are 2 different intellectual property rights systems we are talking about.
Yes, ‘7 Principles ‘ is registered as a trademark by other nonUU entities — think logo — company and brand recognition.
As a creative work, though, wouldn’t the 7P fall under Copyright (like songs, poems, books, performances)? I really don’t know, except the UU 7P do not seem to be a “trademark” for UU.

sandra
sandra
8 months ago

I suppose most of you have read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer” some time ago, but it is a time for a revisit, as it gives insight into what is going on in the UUA.

I would like the Powers in Boston to read it, but it appears they have locked their minds and thrown away the key. What galls me is their arrogance and meaness. What about “Search for the Truth? Shall we strike that one?

I was both sad and relieved when I left our congregation over two years ago.

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
8 months ago
Reply to  sandra

FWIW, I can “second” the recommendation of “The True Believer” as being worth a read (or a re-read). Having read it some decades ago, I could see (also some decades ago) what was coming in the UUA.

Interestingly (for me at least), the basic religious beliefs which initially attracted me to UUism are the same concepts which I still believe. Nobody ever explained to me what the necessary or required connection is between those beliefs and leftist “SJW” politics. To this day, nobody ever has.

Miles R Fidelman
Miles R Fidelman
8 months ago

Now THAT is an opening for a massive lawsuit – to challenge the UUAs assertion of copyright ownership on the name.

davidgmarkham
8 months ago

The UU lost its way when it turned to social justice work as its primary mission. There are many NGOs that have more expertise and competence in working for social change that UU. What is distinctive about a UU mission is its acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual development. UU needs a revival to reorient itself to its deeper mission which the sanctification of its members and thereby the world.

Gretchen
Gretchen
8 months ago
Reply to  davidgmarkham

What I notice about UU focus on social justice is endless workshops, book studies, discussions, essays, articles, sermons, etc. otherwise known as words, words, words. It has been shocking and enlightening to wake up to the depth of racism in our country and to embrace our recognition of our white privilege. All good, except UU leaders are turning on their own people rather than bringing us together to actually TAKE ACTION to DO something concrete. The ONLY action taking place is accusations of racism to our own people who have different opinions and disagree. Many are then cut off, demonized,… Read more »

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
8 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

UUA leaders have, in effect, adopted what amounts to a political creed (In what professes to be a “creedless religion”). Moreover, they proceed to use that creed as a test of character (by, for example, demonizing anybody who disagrees with them as bigots, hatemongers, racists, etc). This again (according to what I read in UUA literature) is what religious liberals supposedly don’t do.

Jim Aikin
8 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Exactly right, Gretchen. Actually taking meaningful social action in the wider world is not, as far as I can see, part of the UUA playbook. At least it’s not a major part. They’re all about looking inward and policing the thoughts and ideas of UUs and regulating the operation of UU congregations. I’ve flirted with joining the Satanic Temple instead. Their focus on action is good … but I’m a little concerned that they overemphasize individual freedom and under-value social responsibility.

Bob S
Bob S
8 months ago
Reply to  Jim Aikin

In my church, there’s a vocal adherent who is obsessed with eliminating all perceived micro-aggressions towards PoC. It’s reminiscent of my guilt-ridden Catholic Mom who continually questions whether something she said or did was a sin. This person wants us question our every action: Was that a micro-aggression?

Bob S
Bob S
8 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

In my church, I’ve been told by one of the most vocal adherents of the new dogma that they have given up on trying to change the world and have settled on the goal of changing others in the church to be like them. It’s no wonder the membership is shrinking drastically.

paul
paul
8 months ago

The church is turning into a far left political action committee with a blind commitment to rigid ideological orthodoxy. It is not the denomination I joined 32 years ago. I am not leaving UUism, it is leaving me.

Janet
Janet
8 months ago
Reply to  paul

I agree. As someone who left my radicalized congregation thanks to a radicalized minister, I confess that although I miss a few people, my mental health has improved. I don’t miss being a UU at all. Now I’m simply curious how long it will take for the denomination to either split or implode.

Helen Borland
Helen Borland
8 months ago
Reply to  paul

I agree with Paul and Janet. This is not the religious organization I joined 32 years ago. I maintain my membership, however, so that I have a voice when I want to speak up (not often, but when I do I feel I’m frequently ignored). I have decreased my pledge by over 90% and give the difference to other organizations that appreciate my support (financially and by volunteering) and don’t tell me I’m a white supremist just because I’m white.

Rev. Millie Phillips
Rev. Millie Phillips
8 months ago
Reply to  paul

The traditional far left before the current (ab)use of that term was philosophically universalist, not identitarian, whether or not one agrees with it otherwise. Some of us still exist. As far as I’m concerned, the ideology is not leftist at all, since it’s divisive, rejects strategic debate around how best to get rid of capitalism and racism, and is tied to a wing of liberal corporate/academic interests who, intentionally or not, seem to work against uniting different people around common goals. As a previously unemployed minister, I’m glad to note I recently got a community organizing job with a non-profit… Read more »

Paul
Paul
8 months ago

As I understand it the traditional far left wants to unite people across lines of race and other identities to fight for their common class interests against the economic elite. The contemporary “woke” left divides and Balkanizes people along those same lines of identity, as I see it.

Rev. Millie Phillips
Rev. Millie Phillips
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul

Exactly.

Richard Sasso
Richard Sasso
8 months ago

This why l left UUism. Sad, so very sad.

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
8 months ago

The obvious thing that now needs to happen is the formation of an alternative organization. The UUA is a completely racialized bunch of SJW Woke idiots, who want to burn heretics. The adoption of the race-baiting racialist garbage of the “8th principle” by a number of congregations shows that some approve of this idiocy. Not me.

Sasha Kwapinski
Sasha Kwapinski
8 months ago

Several years ago, I was connected with an online alternative Unitarian group, the American Unitarian Conference (AUC). Haven’t heard from them in quite a while. Does anyone know if they’re till, active?

Stephen
Stephen
8 months ago

I became a Unitarian at age 18 and Unitarianism and being a Unitarian has been an important part of my life during the succeeding 64 years. I can no longer recognize my religion. I truly value the issues with which this group is struggling. However, I have come to the conclusion that Unitarian Universalism is a lost cause and that the UUA and UUMA have been the most significant contributors to the demise of Unitarian Universalism as a religion; it is a RINO, a religion in name only. Perhaps it is time to call the UU experiment a failure and… Read more »

John
John
8 months ago

In reaction to this UUA effort, I’ve become a pledging member of UU Spokane in addition to my local UU in Vancouver, WA. I intend to continue to support this Spokane congregation regardless of whether they are forced to change their name or logos. The UUA has abandoned the 5th Principle, but they forgot that we each have free will and can easily vote with our feet and our donations. I hope others do the same. It’s also much easier to become a member of UU Spokane given our current pandemic. Volunteering and participating can all be done virtually.

Edith Mayfield
Edith Mayfield
8 months ago
Reply to  John

As a lifelong Unitarian, I continue to be increasingly appalled at UUA. I now refer to myself as a Unitarian – NOT a UU.  I attended GA 2019 and was horrified at the extent to which SFJ harangued us, and insisted we all see life as she sees it. I stayed up the first night reading Dr. Eklof’s book and found comfort in reading much of what he said. I especially appreciated it what he said about many long-time Unitarians. Yes, we long-time Unitarians feel that we have not left the church, so much as it has left us.  I met a woman… Read more »

davidgmarkham
8 months ago
Reply to  Edith Mayfield

Bono said one time something like, “i don’t believe in a God who is hard up for cash.”

This whole refocus on social justice is misguided and diverts UUs from pursuing the mission of nurturing spiritual development.

davidgmarkham
8 months ago

The UUA President can be voted out of office.

Perhaps rather than leaving people could consider staying and working for positive change. Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof and others are joining together to work for positive change within the leadership of our denomination.

Judith McGavin
Judith McGavin
8 months ago

I joined the UUA Board shortly after the Anti Racist Agenda was voted on in Calgary, Alberta Canada. From that moment in time, to the first training I attended lead by Rev Joe Brandt, not a UU minister. Every time you questioned them you were called a racist. The current hyper focus on anti racism is not new, it has just ratcheted up to a frenzy. It is my opinion that the UUA has been systematically moving towards a centralized governing body for quite awhile, doing away with District Exc, dismantling Districts, moving to regionalization and all trustees are at… Read more »

Anonymous
Anonymous
8 months ago

Can we be safely included in this discussion with anonymous participation? Sorry to point this out, but many congregations are more afraid of becoming split apart than they are afraid of falling under the distortions formulated by the current UUA Junta. Why do I ask this question? Answer: This fear drives many church leaders towards silencing outspoken voices. As well I’ve heard church leaders minimize the problem, expecting to “return to normal” once P 8 is confirmed. I despair in seeing the size of the blinders that many church leaders and congregation members are wearing. Do I want to make… Read more »

Bill C
Bill C
8 months ago
Reply to  Anonymous

The threatening due to fear of split is ultimately a completely counterproductive tact of congregation leaders and ministers because congregants leaving is the definition of a split. Congregants aren’t draftees or employees who have to show up to make a living. They are volunteering to be there and the ones paying the congregation.

Speak up, raise Hell, spread the word!

Last edited 8 months ago by Bill C
Bennett Stark, PhD
Bennett Stark, PhD
8 months ago

Terrible, but perhaps predictable. So much for congregational polity.

Lee
Lee
7 months ago

This isn’t the first time I have seen someone talk about dropping the “Universalism” from “Unitarian Universalism” on these pages. Is there a back story to that? What’s the specific objection to Universalism? Thank you.

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
7 months ago
Reply to  Lee

The best discussion of this is the second essay in the Gadfly papers entitled “I want a divorce”.

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