It has been about two weeks since it was announced here that Beverly Seese and Rebecca Mattis have been placed on the ballot for UUA Trustee positions at this year’s Portland / Virtual General Assembly. We ask that you visit Beverly’s and Rebecca’s campaign websites to learn more of their campaigns.
We have a few updates.
Meet the Candidate Townhall Meetings
There is only one more Meet the Candidate Townhall meeting. These are interactive Zoom sessions designed so you can directly ask questions, share your comments, and interact with Beverly and Rebecca. We encourage you to attend this last townhall meeting. Pre-registration is needed to receive the Zoom link. All are invited.
June 2, 2022, 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific, Register
UUA Debate Forum
We encourage everyone to attend the UUA sponsored Candidate Forum. Pre-registration is needed to receive the Zoom link.
June 8, 2022, 8:00 PM Eastern, 7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific, to register, follow the Take a moment to register now.
The Perils of Being a Candidate
Unfortunately, there is a sub-culture in the denomination that is hostile to the democratic process. Published below is a recent attack against Rebecca for the simple act of asking that an announcement be placed in a congregational newsletter to inform congregants that there is an election at General Assembly and inviting UUs to attend a Meet the Candidate Townhall meeting.
The name of the minister and the congregation have been withheld for privacy purposes.
You recently contacted the office administrator at my congregation, <congregation name withheld> with a request to put your ad in our newsletter. I want you to know that our congregation supports the marginalized in our community and fully believes in the direction our UUA is leading us towards a world that is more just, equitable, and compassionate.
We do not believe in your fake and thinly veiled platform of hate and exclusion.
I will say this directly, do not contact my congregation again for this or for any other reason.
To Rev. Beverly, this same minister wrote.
So, you want to make our faith one that consists only of cis (SIC) het able bodied white folks? You do realize that is basically the premise of the KKK, correct?
I am ashamed that you were ever a minister in this living tradition.
We at the Fifth Principle Project consider the language used as inappropriate and not becoming of a minister. We hope that by shining light on such communications UUs will take a stand and demand that we reaffirm a belief that once permeated UUism as expressed in an article entitled “Who We Are” in the 2016 UU World Seeker edition.
Our faith is a belief that we can embrace the common good through how we interact with one another by holding fast to our precepts of inclusion, participation, and nonjudgement disagreement.
We have been very impressed with the generosity of UUs who have contributed through the Fifth Principle Project or made personal donations.
We ask one more time that you consider making a Campaign Donation to support Beverly and Rebecca. This is the last time we will make such a request for this year’s General Assembly election.
General Assembly Demonstration
Planning is currently underway to have a physical presence outside the Oregon Convention Center in the Free Speech Zone.
If you wish to support or participate in this demonstration, contact UUsForFreedom@gmail.com
We understand that no single demonstration or candidacy will alter the path of the UUA that is determined, per the Spring 2022 issue of UU World, to complete an “unprecedented, widespread cultural transformation” of the Association and Unitarian Universalism. For the health of the denomination, General Assembly delegates, and UUs in general, must cease being passive and become active policymakers.
The Press Release for the demonstration reads, in part.
PORTLAND, OR – For the first time in its 61-year history, the national meeting of America’s most liberal religious body – the UUA – will face demonstrations from some of its own members and clergy. They are alarmed at the radical, authoritarian, and anti-liberal turn of the Association’s leadership in recent years. In particular:
- Rejection of reason, tolerance, and open dialogue in matters of controversy, in favor of the declaration of jargon-filled social dogmas. Exclusion of even the mildest variation from the new dogma in Association communications such as the national UU World magazine.
- Declaring that the liberal UUA is awash in “white supremacy” and beginning a radical process of “dismantling” it, which includes transferring power from congregations to the UUA.
- Personally attacking and silencing dissenters rather than engaging their ideas – openly rejecting the need to even read their words before publicly condemning them. Condemning disagreement as “harm” to people of marginalized identities. Officially censuring and disfellowshipping ministers for expressing dissent. By-passing due process.
- Subverting the democratic process by making it very difficult for anyone not hand-picked by the current leaders to run for elected leadership positions in the UUA.
Two Important Things
Join the Fifth Principle Project. It’s free. The Fifth Principle Project is an organic grassroots initiative to gather into community Unitarian Universalists who want to reinvigorate the right of conscience and renew the democratic process in the governing of our denomination.
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We have an update on the Press Release for the planned demonstration at the Portland General Assembly. We have already heard from a “woke” minister regarding a request that her congregation be informed of the demonstration. “This is outrageous. And we will not be sharing this with our congregation and please do not send us any more of your nonsense.” There is clearly a set of ministers who believe that they are “self-appointed” gatekeepers of information that their congregation can and cannot read. There was a day when a free and responsible search for truth was a widely held belief… Read more »
If the minister is called by congregational vote, they are not “self-appointed.”
They are “elected by congregational vote” when they are called to serve in a UU congregation through a democratic process.
The meaning is that they appoint themselves to be GATEKEEPERS, not that they appointed themselves to be ministers.
I agree with whoever it was who pointed out that placing this extremely partisan ad in the newspaper is not exactly informational. As noted elsewhere, our congregation, the congregation of the person who posted that candidates got a neutrally worded paragraph in their newsletter, hopefully other congregations, and the 8th Principle study space made people aware of this contested election. Someone also made a parallel regarding Todd Eklof, and I’d point out that he explicitly rejected having people with contrasting views to his speak in his pulpit.
I don’t know if I will be able to attend this evening, but for the record, here are the question I would like answered: To Ms Seese: “How do you reconcile UU and democratic principles with claiming ownership of UU and telling marginalized-identifying and younger people to go elsewhere, and please specify what relationship your platform has to UU youth and young adults?” To Ms. Mattis: “Please state specifically and in detail whether you agree or disagree with, or differentiate yourself from, Ms. Seese’s suggestion re younger and/or marginalized identifying members for ‘another branch of UUism to be formed, that… Read more »
That’s a good question to ask. My belief and interpretation is that that’s not what she meant or intends, and what she wrote should have been writen more clearly. I don’t believe she wants or is advocating for the young and marginalized to form their own denomination. I believe she is talking about the particular anti-racism approach that some young and minority UUs are advocating. I think she was saying that UUs who want the CRT approach should maybe form their own UU. As far as I’ve seen, the only ones wanting and promoting racial segregation are those in the… Read more »
I don’t know if I will be able to attend this evening, but for the record, here are the questions I would like answered: To Ms Seese: “How do you reconcile UU and democratic principles with claiming ownership of UU and telling marginalized-identifying and younger people to go elsewhere, and please specify what relationship your platform has to UU youth and young adults?” To Ms. Mattis: “Please state specifically and in detail whether you agree or disagree with, or differentiate yourself from, Ms. Seese’s suggestion re younger and/or marginalized identifying members for ‘another branch of UUism to be formed, that… Read more »
It seems like Beverly. Seese spells out her thoughts about a potential split pretty clearly starting at 1:01:20 in this video:
Later in the same video, Todd Eklof has something to say about this election: [slightly edited for length]:: : “So I think you’ve hit on a really good point about the benefit of sort of running on an anti-racist ticket, which is what they’re sort of doing right now, is trying to gain control of this religion. The real question is, is this split going to result in us walking away from all that money and the institution and them keeping it, or vice versa? What happened in my church was the opposite, right? We had a small cabal here, the… Read more »
That is a load of, shall we say, rhetoric. As you are well aware, I have never suggested in any of my hundreds of postings on these topics in many different places that UU should “kick out the liberals” or any other group. Do not misrepresent my views. Of particular interest to me in the excerpts I referenced or transcribed is that Seese and Eklof seem quite open open about their wish to kick others out of UU and retain “the money,” the control, and other resources. Eklof in my opinion also misrepresents, not for the first time, what happened… Read more »
Excerpt of the pertinent part of Beverly Seese’s commentary (slightly edited for length): “You know, I just decided, OK, the church is gonna split, I mean there’s really, really no other answer, because these people are just so opposed to what I understand as Unitarian Universalism. And so I guess what I think–someone was saying to me, oh yeah, but if you split off, they won’t give you any money, What I’m saying is, if they want a doctrinal religion, they should split off. We are Unitarian Universalists, and we always have been, and if they want a different kind… Read more »
There is a suggestion here that Rev. Seese is deliberately seeking a split in the denomination. She is not. She is simply recognizing reality. As David points out, the prospect of a split predates this candidacy, and was offered by Meg Riley and her colleagues in what was far more than mere “rhetoric.”
I guess I would say that is is highly uncertain whether or not the UUA will lose membership and dollars due to the present ideology. It will lose SOME current members, but it may replace them with others. If you Google UU membership statistics, you get numbers from 1961 to 2020. Yes, there has been considerable declines in the last few years, particularly in RE, with adult membership declining from the most recent peak of 165K in 2009 down to 153K in 2020, and RE going from 58K in 2008 down to 35K in 2020. But UU membership has had… Read more »
Are the videos of these Town Halls going to be posted soon? It would be great if our congregants could see all of them before they cast their votes for which candidates our delegate should vote for.
I support the 5th Principle Project, but I am getting frustrated with the attempts of this group and like-minded other groups to continue focusing efforts on changing the UUA. At most, these efforts will only become a very small “thorn” in a very big “side.” It seems to me to be such a waste of time and talent to continue to fight this fight, when these very same resources could be used to create a breakaway church, a new Free UU Church, that would actually respect its members, the democratic process, and multiracial unity. There is a real need for… Read more »
I second this! I have followed this group since resigning from a board position and leaving the denomination due to the myriad of issues discussed here. I would love to join a new spiritual community based on traditional UU values.
The old UU church is gone. It’s time for people of good will to build something we can all be proud of.
I second your second. The UUA may be a hopeless cause. I prefer my congregation to cut ties to the UUA and/or there be a new, other national UU organization.
I also expect that national UU membership will drop a lot, and likely already has in the last couple of years. UU may just be a sinking, or shrinking, ship at this point.
I agree that we should give up on the UUA. Starting a Unitarian-Universalist church (without the A) could bring claims of appropriation of their name. However, the name Unitarian is established in public domain. I support starting a new church, as a Unitarian church. This can be done by individual congregation, no need for formal national commonality. Here in New Orleans, both local churches are hurting badly, due to financial problems and unsettled administration. There is already a tiny cell of folks prepared to start a local Unitarian congregation, based on the traditional values.
The sentiments about leaving the current Association are quite common. We understand the frustration and desire to have a solution to the erosion of what was once America’s most liberal denomination. We at the Fifth Principle Project feel that there is still a substantial hurdle that our “woke” leadership must clear before they can gain full control of the denomination. The first is stopping the UUA Board getting carte blanche authority to re-write the Association’s bylaws. We urge all delegates to vote NO at this year’s General Assembly on the business resolution, Renewing UUA Bylaws for Theologically Grounded and Mission-Focused Governance. UUs… Read more »
Some 20 years ago, there was an alternative, or “breakaway” group called the American Unitarian Conference (AUC) which was formed. I was following & contributing to it, as an interested “online observer” for a while. I have not heard anything from them in several years, though their website (americanunitarian.org) is still currently up and functioning, as well as a small article on Wikipedia.
FWIW I am formerly a member, & board of trustee member of a Southern California UU fellowship.
The present UUA bears little resemblance to the UU church I joined many years ago. One of the reasons I joined is because of its liberal and accepting principles. It is now moving in the direction of other top-down churches with set beliefs.
I would be interested in a new community which is not dictated to by the UUA.
I would just like to add my voice of support for a new denomination, independent of the UUA. I feel that the Unitarian Universalism is lost and has been lost since 1961 since it merged with the moribund Universalists. I have been a Unitarian for over 65 years and I see none of my own religion in the UU church that I am currently a member of. I watch the services of other UU congregations on-line, particularly those of Rev. Todd Eklof. I feel that like-minded ministers and churches could form a viable new denomination, particularly using the internet, Zoom… Read more »
Like Stephen, I have found that watching the UU Church of Spokane services (https://uuspokane.org/WP2/find-meaning/watch-services/) nicely fills a UU shaped hole in my life, after I felt compelled to resign from our local congregation. Despite all the controversy over the Gadfly books, I find Todd Eklof to be an excellent and inspiring speaker and they have a good choir and words to sing along. After 50 years of being a UU, I know that one cannot and should not expect every Minister to be a superstar, but it is nice to be able to engage in excellent services, via streaming. The… Read more »
Tragically, news of these candidates came too late for us to influence the selection or direct the votes or our delegates. I’m glad there will be a demonstration and disgusted at the fascist responses of the woke brigade.
Are delegates not able to vote their consciences should they feel the congregation they are attending for could not have known choices now available? I would never agree to give away my ability to vote based on my own perception of what is the right thing to do.
According to our GA delegate, voting starts on June 1, so it is not too late. Our congregation is aware of the contested election, will direct our delegate how to vote, and has also been informed of the candidates’ debate. Paula Cole-Jones has also announced the debate in the 8th Principle Learning Community and urged people to attend.
Of note also, the Fifth Principle Page is one of many contrasting resources included in our congregation’s 8th Principle learning space.
Our congregation will decide the candidates and the other business matters to be voted on at GA by majority vote. Eligible voting members will use a poll after having the chance to attend informational meetings. Our congregation voted to approve the 8th Principle last week. I understand the final tally, of eligible voters who attended the meeting, was 85% in favor. While you may view this as a “fascist” victory for the “woke brigade,” I would disagree. There was a carefully designed process to provide a wealth of information from many sources, including opinions from those both for and against… Read more »
Perhaps I can help with understanding what the press release looks like to me, and perhaps to people like me. > Rejection of reason, tolerance, and open dialogue in matters of controversy, Approaches that seemingly are intended to halt anti-racism efforts are considered exercises in intolerance by many, so it is not a rejection of “tolerance” but a rejection of “intolerance” that some readers will believe, and thus they will be supportive of the UUA. > … in favor of the declaration of jargon-filled social dogmas. Exclusion of even the mildest variation from the new dogma in Association communications such… Read more »
How would the UUA even begin to be able to address that?
Yes, the UUA has no enforcement capabilities, no direct influence into policing, etc. Their full power comes from the impassioned pleas that they issue. Congregations as a whole have some influence in their local communities, and there is much strength from the individual members of the congregations. Many of the congregations and individual members are quite receptive to being proactive on the anti-racism front. The UUA serves as a great way for people to coordinate actions and share good ideas. My question for each of Seese and Mattis: would you stand on the sidelines, actively work against the UUA participating… Read more »
I can’t answer for Seese and Mattis, but I strongly disagree with your notion that “The UUA serves as a great way for people to coordinate actions and share good ideas.” The UUA and its staff have no particular expertise in public policy issues, which often depends on the details of public policy. How exactly should we reform housing policy? What should we do to reform policing and also deal with crime? What should we do about education finance and how can we improve U.S. education and job training? How can we encourage the creation of more good jobs in… Read more »
Let me ditto your most articulate post here and add another very important reality. One of the primary reasons Jay and I founded the Fifth Principle Project is our discovery that there is no way for UU’s to talk with one another except within their own congregations, and even then, this is for the most part informal. There is GA, but this is once a year and attended by a small number of UU’s relative to our population, and even then the UUA controls the agenda and manner in which it is addressed. This has grown more so over time.… Read more »
That’s a great list of public policy issues to discuss. Thank you. I think the UUA is a good way for congregations to share information about these. And the UUA may be able to convey information from other religious and non-religious organizations too. Do you know of articles on these topics that have been rejected from UU World? (On the other hand, if an article was rejected because the UUA was described as dictatorial, the result of a coup, vindictive, undemocratic, abandoning its principles, etc. then I am having trouble seeing that as evidence that the UUA is failing to… Read more »
As one example: UU World would never publish an article that was opposed to the notion of “defunding the police”. And I think the same is true on other issues. There is an adherence to a certain progressive ideology on most issues that is not interested in other ideas.
As you probably recall, I am in agreement that UU World should seek to publish a range of views, and although I don’t know the reasoning, to me, discontinuing letters to the editor seems a mistake.
Articles that appear to be designed to stop anti-racism work would definitely raise eyebrows in any editorial office. Instead of opposing “defund the police” or opposing other efforts, have you tried proposing efforts? An argument of let’s do X because it has these advantages that Y doesn’t have is a positive contribution to anti-racism efforts. An argument that is all about stopping Y without proposing an alternative path towards achieving similar goals too easily appears to be pro-racism. Towards the goal of reducing the number of people killed by the police, what is your proposed alternative to the approach that… Read more »
I have no interest in hijacking this thread to discuss this issue. I discussed this over 2 years ago in a lengthy post of mine on a UU forum on reddit. I was responding to UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray’s column where she advocated “defunding the police” and actually went pretty close to advocating “police abolition”. But I don’t think that this thread here is an appropriate forum to discuss the policing issue. https://www.reddit.com/r/UUnderstanding/comments/hph3ns/uua_presidents_june_4_2020_column_a_message_to/
But in brief: my thread discussed a number of reasons why “defund the police” is not only a bad slogan, but a bad policy, and recommended policy alternatives to reform the police. Go to the reddit thread if you want to see those arguments.
> and recommended policy alternatives I assume that the material from 2 years ago is still highly relevant. I would welcome you contributing to UU World an article on the positive aspects of solutions you would like to see. If you emphasize your alternatives and the strides they would enable towards dismantling racism, people may rally around your ideas. I would stick with X is good because it achieve this and that, rather than Y is bad because it doesn’t achieve this and that. Because people already know that Y is not a panacea that solves all problems; they are… Read more »
But defund the police is bad because it would (1) increase crime, and (2) make it more difficult to reform the police. So it is bad substantively, not just bad as a slogan. Defund the police is bad for social justice, and bad for racial equity. It is equally important to critique bad ideas as to propose good ideas. And if the UUA is committed to free speech and dialogue, it would publish articles that do both. The notion that you shouldn’t argue that Y is a bad policy that would make things worse is a seriously mistaken view of… Read more »
I argue there is value in transferring some responsibilities currently handled by armed police to unarmed social workers and the like. There is no evidence that this will increase crime. (Yes, eliminating the police entirely increase crime, but only a small minority of progressives would consider such a possibility.) If you agree that unarmed social workers have a role, I’d like your help, even if you think that “defund the police” doesn’t describe what we are doing. If you are not willing to help with the good cause of trying to reduce the number of people killed by police, either… Read more »
Having less police patrolling the street will increase crime. That is shown by numerous well-done social science studies. Crime is too high in the U.S. So, we need more police patrolling the street. In some cases, we can do this through auxilliaries, but not in all cases. In addition, we need to clear more crimes by hiring more detectives who have the talent to develop strong ties in the neighborhoods. Read the book “Ghettoside” by Jill Leovy on this. Murder clearance rates in major U.S. cities are much too low. We also need to reform the police and make it… Read more »
In other words, UUA President Frederick-Gray, by her comments, is certainly not opening up the dialogue on these issues, but actually attempting to shut down the dialogue, and ignore any social science evidence against her beliefs.
I can’t read your mind nor Frederick-Gray’s, but it is sounding like you two agree that increased use of auxiliaries would be beneficial. And unarmed neighborhood-based initiatives would be beneficial. Furthermore, I am guessing that you both agree that increased policing is not the only way to reduce crime; we could get more resources into impoverished neighborhoods, simultaneously reducing incentives for crimes, increasing alternatives to a life of crime, and increasing effectiveness of the existing punishments because there is now more for a culprit to lose. And the advantage of these and similar approaches is a reduced number of killings… Read more »
I object to the UUA and Rev. Frederick-Gray’s approach for more reasons than a “bad slogan”. In particular, they appear to be following a “faith-based” approach to public policy, which ignores empirical evidence that is inconsistent with their prior beliefs. This makes it very difficult to engage in any real dialogue.
Can you give an example of a reasonable approach to reducing killings by police that has met with an unreasonable response from the UUA?
First, you have framed the issue too narrowly. The purpose of the police and the entire criminal justice system is to reduce crime, while also doing so in a way that is not brutal and respects principles of fairness and justice. Therefore, our goals must be, for example, to both reduce killings by police and reduce crime. Crime is a huge problem, which disproportionately affects Black people, and lower income people. Second, the entire June 4, 2020 column by UUA President, the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, was an unreasonable response to this issue. It ignored social science evidence that the police… Read more »
And to answer your question more NARROWLY, in the post I did on reddit, which I referred to previously, and which goes into more detail and gives some links, the following appear to be reforms that reduce police brutality: “A wide variety of police reforms seem to significantly reduce police brutality. These include: retraining police in the importance of procedural justice and in de-escalation techniques; diversifying the police force to include more Black officers and female officers; eliminating the union rules that make it difficult to discipline or fire individual police officers for abuses; eliminating the ability of fired police… Read more »
My post on reddit on this topic is here: https://www.reddit.com/r/UUnderstanding/comments/hph3ns/uua_presidents_june_4_2020_column_a_message_to/
I joined a church. I didn’t join a political action organization. I attend a UU church for spiritual renewal, growth, and community. I don’t want anti-racism (or any social justice work) to be the focus of my church experience. Why does a UUA board member need to have a plan to eliminate police violence? This is a complex problem and a person with no expertise is supposed to come up with a solution? What credentials does Susan Grey-Frederick have that makes her opinion valuable? For what it’s worth, if UU spaces were safe for police officers, maybe there wouldn’t be… Read more »
Rev. Mattis’s candidate site includes: > The UUA has gone from being an organization that supports its member congregations in our liberal religious work, to a highly centralized and insular group, disengaged from individual congregations, and disturbing in its dogmatism. I guess it doesn’t say so explicitly but the biggest change at the UUA recently has been its anti-racist emphasis and I assume that this is what is being criticized as dogmatism. The use of the word “dogmatism” in this situation makes the speaker sound like someone who is a-okay with racism. “A-okay with racism” may explain the responses that… Read more »
Do you feign ignorance and stupidity on this site?
That’s a serious question. Your regular clueless “I don’t understand this stuff/ Maybe you all can explain it to me so I can understand” about what is clear to everyone else here sometimes comes across as an act. After an accumulation of “I forget, what is the color of grass again?” questions, you’ve made me think you are a troll.
Either that or you really aren’t that sharp and really do have to regularly be re-reminded what is the color of grass.
I am not a troll. When I ask for further explanation, it is because I am in disagreement with what I have read, but I am open to the possibility that I have misunderstood something. Sometimes I learn something from this process. Often we remain in disagreement despite the further explanation. Others here approach the problem of disagreement differently. I am asked about (accused of?) being a troll, being stupid, of caring about impact only in selective scenarios, of refusing to buy Rev. Eklof’s book on false pretenses, etc. By watching me defend these attacks, sometimes maybe some of you… Read more »
Lee, I will give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you truly believe that everyone who rejects the authoritarianism of the UUA is a racist tool. However, I believe just as fervently that you and other similarly minded individuals simply cannot handle disagreements and must therefore tar and feather anyone who disagrees as vile. It’s a sad commentary on you, not those of us who raise legitimate questions.
I am very disappointed and sad at the degree of inflammatory rhetoric that is being used.Yes there is conflict and there are things that are amiss but the amount of vitriol that is out there is so discussing to me.
There are dissenting voices all around but that is our tradition. So to the dissenters I say, what do you propose we do to bring this gulf between groups together?
I don’t believe anything can be done. That’s why I quit the denomination and am only interested in joining something not connected to the current regime.
I’m sorry you find my rhetoric harsh but I believe the current regime deserves it.
(Former member and board member of a UU church in Michigan)
The marriage is broken. Unreconcilable differences.
However, congregations are independent and different. Each can approach it as they choose.
I agree with your disappointment and find ironic the nastiness of the replies of Janet and Joe to Lee, someone who to my observation has continued to seek mutual understanding and move discussions away from polarization.
The “edit” function is now turned off on my comment above, but my comment should have referenced Jon, not Joe.
A minister wrote those nasty notes?! How did that person get through a seminary with such a negative, finger-pointing, name-calling attitude? Or is the seminary part of the problem? Thanks for sharing the notes although they are embarrassing to our entire congregation. Thank you to Rebecca and Beverly for their willingness to endure such a gauntlet to try to save our denomination.
Recently, I resigned from the UU church where I had previously served as President and a Board member. I did so because the culture of “be nice and go along” has pervaded both the UUA and my former church. The work of anti-racism, anti-misogyny, and equity for all is hard, but no one should respond by closing their ears and pretending all is well. Latching onto a cause because it is popular is a poor rationale. We must be brave, using our hearts and minds to discern which causes we support as a faith. We also must use the democratic… Read more »
When one has invested serious personal commitment in a particular Theory, and believes that Theory places them firmly upon the moral high ground, then it is hard to considerer differing viewpoints about that Theory. To True Believers it is not just a theory; it is Absolute Truth, and cognitive dissonance, among other human frailties, causes them to judge differing viewpoints as, for example, a “fake and thinly veiled platform of hate and exclusion.” Or to resort to the sophistry of redefining a “theological mandate” as an “impassioned plea.” Or refusal to inform oneself of the issues at hand, like reading… Read more »
I don’t see how the “theological mandate” in WTCOC is anything but Orwellian UUspeak for “creed”.
Your criticism of this unnamed congregation’s minister is an attack on democratic process in our congregations and congregational polity. Maybe you’re the one here who is hostile to the democratic process in our congregations? Within our congregations, there are many persons in formal and informal leadership roles. Among these leaders, there are two groups that are directly tied to congregational polity because they are elected by congregational vote. The first group are UU ministers who are called by congregational vote. UU ministers are elected to this leadership position by a direct congregational vote. A minister’s authority in our tradition comes… Read more »
Your argument is chock-full of assumptions and pure speculations about the congregation. I know of no congregation that picks a minister to be a dictator who withholds congregants who is running for BOT. I also know of no congregation that approves their minister to use such language this one did. Clearly what they wrote was inappropriate and unbecoming of a UU minister, Your argument seems to be that what this minister says or does (including using KKK comparisons, killing a cat with their bare hands and/or stealing congregational funds) it is necessarily okay and approved by proxy because they sit… Read more »
Jon wrote: I know of no congregation that picks a minister to be a dictator Given that congregations can dismiss a minister through a democratic process called a “congregational vote,” your claim that a congregational minister is a dictator is just a bit over-the-top. Also, anyone who is serving as a General Assembly delegate will have access to candidate information for nominating committee candidates and petition candidates on the UUA Elections web site: https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections And nearly anyone who is a delegate also knows how to use Google for finding more information. It’s a pretty big assumption that GA delegates cannot… Read more »
The minister’s responses and actions were clearly inappropriate attacks unbecoming of a UU minister or any spiritual leader and undermining of the standard democratic processed. If you wish to defend them, so be it
You and I have been called rude fir speaking the truth. I want you to know I appreciate your writing but I personally am not interested in communicating with those who refuse to acknowledge what’s happening under their noses. Good luck! I’ll be cheering for you from the sidelines.
My response was to your comment “you and other similarly minded individuals simply cannot handle disagreements and must therefore tar and feather anyone who disagrees as vile. It’s a sad commentary on you..” to Lee. This accusation does not accurately describe Lee’s postings on this site (nor mine, for that matter). ,
Criticizing those in positions of authority is very much a part of the democratic process. Your attack on the commenter for criticizing unprofessional conduct by a minister shows a lack of understanding of democracy.
Hi, I’m trying to learn more about this group. I am a younger queer UU who has been UU their entire lives and been in denominational leadership since middle school. I am connected to many UU folks who are younger and/or have marginalized identities. It was painful and confusing to read these words from one of your candidates: “I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach.” The Rev Beverly Seese This “wrong approach”, for example anti racist anti oppressive transformation efforts,… Read more »
Thanks for posting. That would be a good question for you to ask at the last “meet the candidates” town hall tomorrow, if you are so inclined.
Thanks, but I won’t be able to participate. I hope questions and concerns will be answered here, since this group is trying to direct folks here.
I agree it would be great to see public answers here, but I am also interested in hearing “live” replies. I might be able to attend, so if you want to give a nutshell version of a question, I can try to pass it on. I am also interested in knowing if the other candidate agrees or distinguishes her position from this candidate’s.
I am unable to participate. Feel free to submit whatever question you would like, including if you share my questions or concerns above.
Greg, thank you for a very thoughtful and well considered post. The Fifth Principle Project Discussions provide UUs an opportunity to share thoughts and discuss topics of common interest. Before offering observations on your opening comment about the “wrong approach,” we want to answer your question about the Fifth Principle Project membership. Our Join page states that all are welcome. “The Fifth Principle Project strives to foster a climate of purposeful inclusion of all people. We value the diversity of racial and cultural identity and background, nationality, sexual and affectional orientation, gender identity and its expression, religious background and belief, marital status,… Read more »
“Webmaster” (sorry, do you have a name?) Thank you for responding. And for using a different tone than many of your members. This seems like a more hostile and divisive “UU” space than others I know, and less welcoming. Which is too bad, if you want to “provide UUs an opportunity to share thoughts and discuss topics of common interest.” You say all are welcome in your membership. But I get the impression that this group lacks diversity compared to many UU communities. If that’s the case, any thoughts on why? Do you think some people feel more welcome than… Read more »
Hi David. Could you say more about your belief that “the new national UU is not as welcoming to most minorities as you may think”? Thanks.
Greg, your relitigating of the 1970s and 1980s runs afoul of the website’s Code of Conduct. “When using facts and statistics, make sure they’re right. Show your source.” Your point, however, is clear that you “believe” that the “majority of UUs did not support the struggle for UU Black empowerment during the 1960s civil rights movement.” There was wide divergence both in American society at large and UUism on the approach to achieve civil rights. The 1960s were a tumultuous time with the assassination of public figures, a raging war in Vietnam, a Cold War with imminent nuclear war just over the… Read more »
Hopefully the general membership, uninterested in what’s happening in Boston and who tend to toss the UUWorld after a few glances, is beginning to wake up to this situation. But there is a baffling array of rhetorical deceptions awaiting their attention should they begin to try and sort out what is happening. Take this, from the 8th principle website: The UUA has just gone through a crisis related to inclusive hiring practices, especially related to whites being hired over highly qualified Latinx candidates, resulting in the resignation of the UUA President. How to reconcile this with what the resigned UUA… Read more »
Aw, hell, that didn’t work. Here’s the link, hopefully it will make it through.
And here’s a more contextual commentary on these things (which some have considered to be “too strident”)
Re your comment, “How to reconcile this with what the resigned UUA President Peter Morales said (from his Facebook post) :”–Rashômon effect, maybe?
Not in this case. Rashomon effect is a nice try, but I’d say Peter Morales was in a position to know the real facts of the matter, just unable to release them due to, as he says, rules of personnel confidentiality.
You mean the way that the UUMA was in a better position to know the facts of the matter and whether Todd Eklof was removed from the MFC for his views or his actions at and after the 2019 GA; the then-Board at UUCS was in a better position to know the facts of the matter about whether the issues with him subsequently related more to his views or his actions within the congregation; and Mead-Lombard was in a better position to know the facts of the matter about its decision not to continue his adjunct position and whether this… Read more »
I see you are trying to change the subject, nevertheless… … if you believe those absurdities about the treatment of Todd Eklof – which I certainly don’t – then, yes, your analogy holds, given your beliefs: Peter Morales was, indeed, in a better position to know the facts of the matter and the 8th principle site is promoting, as Morales says, a “false narrative.” There have been people who once said, you believe incomprehensible, contradictory, impossible things, because we have ordered you to do so; therefore do unjust things because we order you to do so. These people reasoned wonderfully.… Read more »
Not changing the subject at all. My point is that subjectivity and biases exist in all situations and systems. I think it’s an ongoing problem with trying to resolve the rifts in UU that we so easily fall back on an “I have a philosophy, you have an ideology” mindset. It’s not a question of whether I “believe those absurdities,” and this then colors my perceptions of what you want to say is a false narrative for Morales but maybe not in Eklof’s case; to me, it seems you maybe want to claim objective and actual facts for those you… Read more »
Here is the link to the statement from Inland Northwest Unitarian University about the history of their congregation being formed and the split from UUCS:
Regarding the hiring event in 2017 for the Southern Region Executive Director position, there really is knowable information from public statements. I know Peter and without revealing confidence I can attest that the public statements noted below provide an accurate understanding of the 2017 event. Facebook post May 7, 2017, by our past and only Latino UUA president. The two topics which compel me to speak are the acceptance and repetition of a false narrative and, as a result of that narrative, the terrible way a number of colleagues have been treated . . . The narrative is that she… Read more »
Hi, Jay. The thing is, people who were also in some way present and/or involved have, also without revealing confidence, affirmed that there were problems with the process, and they support Ms. Rivera. From my own observations of the complexity of human interactions, I believe both can be true (and this is the point in fact of Rashomon), and that these differently perceived experiences of that process can have led to a decision that many in UU found a frustrating setback. I don’t know that much about what happened afterwards (unlike at the Spokane congregation and pulpit, where, as noted,… Read more »
Here is a link to Cindy Landrum’s piece:
This is a response to Rev. Landrum’s essay on Rev. McCarty’s blog. I would have posted it there but his firewall blocked me. Odd that too, as I don’t recall ever posting there. Cynthia, first and foremost, you are to be thanked for engaging in the discussion. Too many UUs remain silent on the sidelines. To begin with, if your intent is to trivialize the concerns of the gadfly movement then your title is appropriate. However, one is left to wonder why, if the gadfly movement is as you characterize it, that a day after Rev. Dr. Eklof distributed his… Read more »
What you just did is rude and dismissive. If you want to address my views about anything, address them to me, nobody else.
The answers were related and made more sense in one paragraph. They could have equally well been put into a paragraph that started out addressing you and referred to Jay’s response in the second part. However, if it bothers you, I would be happy to edit into separate posts if you turn back on my ability to edit my own posts.
No-one turned off your ability to edit your own posts.
You’re mistaken–they can only be edited within a few seconds after posting. Perhaps it is that way for everyone on the website, although I have seen other people delete their posts, which I also can’t do.
It is terribly sad – a tragedy – this Theoretical nightmare; this Hobbesian conflict where the most powerful impassioned plea dominates, since reason and logic have been banished as “white supremacist cornerstones” (see “epistemic oppression”). Evidence and facts no longer matter; identity trumps all in this neo-segregationist, neo-racist Theater of the Absurd, wherein a majority of supposedly liberal GA delegates enthusiastically play their assigned roles as “historically privileged identities” and compete to see who can self-flagellate the most virtuously. I see little hope of recovery for this doomed faith which has voluntarily – and enthusiastically – sacrificed its commitment to… Read more »
We at the Fifth Principle Project would appreciate it, Jim. If you would stop pulling your punches and tell us how you really feel. 😏
Thank you for your feedback. I will take your encouragement to heart; no more sugar-coating. Heh.
There is nothing by which to surmise that the UUMA was in any better position to know the facts of the matters you refer to than was Rev. Eklof himself. This is something your simply assert. The truth about why Rev. Eklof was removed, whether for his views or his behavior, was stunningly and clearly established when that letter of condemnation went out from leadership the day following Eklof’s distribution of the book and subsequent expulsion from GA. That letter was accompanied by an introduction written by Rev. Ashley Huran urging her ministerial colleagues not to order or read Eklof’s… Read more »
Numerous members of this site have posted their opinions and made generalized historical statements. Many of them (maybe most of them) are unsupported, and the suggestion to ban links possibly makes it harder to cite to sources. I suggest if you want this site to remain a place of actual discussion, it would be helpful to make an effort to respond in a similar way to people from varying points of view. If Greg now becomes someone who is going to be banned from this site for “violating the Code of Conduct,” I will know that discussion of all viewpoints… Read more »
PS: While I agree UUs are divided, I disagree that it is (in reality) an either/or question.
If I can jump in here, per the comment above about needing sources from Greg. there is plenty of documentation available about UU support, or lack thereof, During the 1960s and 1970s. If you’ll allow me to post links, I’m happy to do so. Two sources I recommend are the report “In Their Own Words” Published by Starr King School for the Ministry, and the film “Wilderness Journey”. There are other sources available as well. I encourage all to read up on our UU history with regard to issues of race, racism, and antiracism. On another note, I’m surprised to… Read more »
I would recommend Thandeka’s 1999 article “Why Antiracism Will Fail” to gain some perspective on the issues underlying the disagreements about different approaches to antiracism.
I’m familiar with the article, thanks. Read it around when it came out, was part of discussions about it.
The petitioned candidates for the UUA Board were given a detailed neutral paragraph in the weekly UU congregational e-mail in my midwestern town.
Looks like my comments are resonating with others. I know this is something a lot of folks are concerned about.
My friend just let me know I was quoted in this minister’s new piece. The Rev Rothbauer makes some great points. Liz Roper too.
I responded to Chris Rothbauer at his medium website. Here is what I said: “I personally would not have advised Beverly Seese to make this statement, as it raises more questions than it answers. However, I think one of the key points is that she says the following: that any split might need to occur ” if attempts to respectfully discuss differing positions continue to be thwarted.” Now, I think if we’re going to have dialogue within UU circles, an opening step might be to have people seek to describe the position of the opposing side in a charitable way… Read more »
Beverly Seese did, as far as I could follow in both this evening’s debate and the third town hall, state that she wants those whom she sees as not affirming her ideas of UU values to be “helped” to form their own branch, even while claiming she has been misquoted. This approach should sound familiar to anyone who followed the Spokane/Gadfly matters without simply taking Todd Eklof’s version of events at face value. Regarding those events, with your interest in understanding the complexity of these issues and exploring sometimes equally important yet competing values, you might be interested in reading… Read more »
The underlying tension is due to the divergence of Critical Race Theory based antiracism from the traditional civil rights approach as I pointed out in my response to Rothbauer. The so-called “gadflies” favor the traditional liberal approach of the civil rights era rather that the CRT approach advocated by self described “radical leftist thinker” Rothbauer. This is an honest difference of perspective. The dissidents don’t deserve to be tarred by insinuations of “racism” because of their philosophical differences with the approach favored by the UUA hierarchy.
This group, and one of your candidates in particular, keep using the term Critical Race Theory. I do not think it means what you think it means. (Same with “the traditional liberal approach of the civil rights era”.)
Check out some info what “Critical Race Theory” is and how it is misused. Here’s some.
I have read these articles and I think that although they raise some valid points about the prevalence and persistence of racial inequality they gloss over the origins, history, and ideological influences of Critical Race Theory. My comment was based on a passage from “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Delgado and Stefancic: “Unlike traditional civil rights, which stresses incrementalism and step-by-step progress, Critical Race Theory questions the very foundations of the liberal order, including equality theory, legal reasoning, Enlightenment rationalism, and neutral principles of constitutional law.” (emphasis mine) Starting on p. 26 of the book is a “Critique of… Read more »
For those who are curious about Critical Race Theory, Greg (who tells me he now requires post approval) suggested these to me:
These articles focus heavily on conservative attempts to ban Critical Race Theory, and I disagree with these attempts. I prefer the middle path: Ideas should be discussed, analyzed, evaluated, and debated, not banned, or imposed as dogma. The conservatives are at one extreme while it appears the UUA is at the other. I disagree with CRT but I defend the right of educators to present it and discuss it as long as it is done in a spirit of free inquiry and freedom of belief.
I am an active anti-racist but I don’t know much about critical race theory. I am perplexed when I am asked to defend CRT. I am thinking that if you don’t like what I am doing then maybe talk to me about what I am doing instead of asking me to defend something I know little about.
(Posting this on behalf of others, who tell me their comments are being screened, and aren’t appearing on this page along with others’ comments.)
For folks curious about what Critical Theory is and how it’s currently being used in political rhetoric, here are some resources:
For folks who prefer sources besides UU World, here are a few:
I think the problem is, we have “critical race theory” in its original sense, as a set of ideas in law schools that were regarded by their creators as “radical” ideas. Then we have “critical race theory” adjacent stuff about race, for example by Kendi and DiAngelo. These authors have themselves stated that they are very influenced by CRT, and in turn they have influenced some folks writing in CRT. Then you have further adjacent philosophies and political approaches about which we have no agreed upon name — “wokeism” is now regarded as insulting, and Wesley Yang’s term “successor ideology”… Read more »
In case Cathy Young’s essay is behind a paywall, her bottom line is stated at the end of her essay: “So, bottom line: Is “Critical Race Theory” a misnomer for many of the practices targeted by the anti-CRT backlash? Sort of; but CRT is more connected to those practices than the counter-backlash is often willing to admit. Are most of the anti-“critical race theory” bills just as crude and illiberal as the ideology they target? Probably. Are many of them unconstitutional, in that they can be easily read as restricting the academic teaching of “divisive concepts”? No doubt. Are some… Read more »
And in case Yglesias is behind a paywall, he essentially takes up Cathy Young’s challenge (although he wrote his essay earlier than she did) of a better approach to racial equity issues, by arguing, counter-intuitively, that the MATERIALIST school of CRT would in fact argue that there are serious limits to the CULTURAL emphasis of much CRT-adjacent activity. Yglesias quotes from the standard book on CRT, “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic. Delgado and Stefancic say: “A persistent internal critique accuses the movement of straying from its materialist roots and dwelling overly on matters of… Read more »
I posted some quotes from Young and Yglesias. They triggered a hold by the website, and are awaiting approval. In the meantime, their main points include: Both the CRT and anti-CRT people are distorting things — the anti-CRT people by seeking to classify everything they don’t like as CRT, and the other folks by not admitting that some of this stuff is RELATED to CRT. And Yes ,some anti-CRT people are clearly racist. On the other hand, some of the questioned, supposedly CRT practices are really questionable, even if they not LITERALLY CRT. And there are other ways of approaching… Read more »
Tim, we have no policy to “hold comments.” There is a bug in the process that occasionally and without explanation “hold comments.” We welcome all comments that adhere to our Code of Conduct.
i understand that it is not your intent to hold comments, and I am not concerned about these occasional glitches. It does seem to be triggered by links, or by cutting and pasting material, maybe because those are signs of spammers.
Thank you for the links, I will read these articles. I have read “Critical Race Theory: An Introduction” by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic and that is what I based my comment on, but we can never know too much about this subject.
It’s difficult to know where to begin here. In Rev. Rothbauer’s lengthy broadside against both Rebecca Mattis and Beverly Seese, I see a nearly complete representation of their views wrapped in a series of pure projections. Just for openers, look at his second paragraph of Rev. Seese. His chooses there to use the word “rhetoric” to characterize Rev. Seese’s views, ie, “language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.” It is a harbinger of his attitude, pejorative and disrespectful, and the rest of what he has… Read more »
Rev. Rothbauer’s pronouns are they/them/their — which you’ve known for some time and yet continue to misgender them. Difficult to take your response seriously when couched in such obvious disrespect. (And before you say I don’t know what you know, remember I was present in more than one on-line space when this was brought to yours and others’ attention more than once.) Never mind how your response misrepresents what Rev. Rothbauer’s piece says. Here’s the link again, for those who’d like to know what it does say — https://crothbauer.medium.com/whose-unitarian-universalism-is-it-a-reply-to-beverly-seese-f22cd5dff602
I parked this note on a Facebook page but it seems applicable here as well: What’s striking and painful, as well as embarrassing, are the continued vicious attacks against these two women taking place across all of social media, mostly by UU ministers or people attached to our seminaries. They have no chance of winning of course, but that doesn’t matter; because they and others have a difference of opinion about church governance and strategy that isn’t approved by The Elect, they must be completely destroyed. Scorched earth. BURN THE WITCH. Why are these attacks so personal, so mean-spirited, and… Read more »
I posted the press release of the demonstration at the UUA GA on my church’s website, the Unitarian Church in Westport. After the post got a few likes, the church’s Website Administrator informed me that the press release had been taken down and that I should expect a call from the Minister with regard to the posting offensive language, political statements or profanity. The action of the Website Administrator is just proof of the need for the demonstration at the GA. Is there anyone still out there who will listen with an open mind?
(Posting this on behalf of others, who tell me their comments are being screened, and aren’t appearing on this page along with others’ comments.)
Paul de Moor mentions Critical Race Theory in his comment here.
For folks curious about what Critical Race Theory is and how it’s currently being used in political rhetoric, here are some resources:
For folks who prefer sources besides UU World, here are a few:
Betty-Jeanne, we reposted a comment from the top of this comment list regarding the posting of URLs. We thank you for participating, but ask that you do so in your own voice. —————————– Due to the recent posting of URLs as additional reading sources, we have updated our Code of Conduct. This forum is intended to allow individuals to share their voices and thoughts. Please take that opportunity and share your thoughts in your own words. The hope is that this forum is a conversation among UUs. Thanks to all for participating in this forum. Your voices are sincerely welcomed. If you… Read more »
Wouldn’t attributions to an original source involve URLs?
Due to the recent posting of URLs as additional reading sources, we have updated our Code of Conduct. This forum is intended to allow individuals to share their voices and thoughts. Please take that opportunity and share your thoughts in your own words. The hope is that this forum is a conversation among UUs. Thanks to all for participating in this forum. Your voices are sincerely welcomed. If you wish to have a wider conversation, you are invited to be a Guest Contributor. Please see the website menu. Changes to our Code of Conduct (effective June 4, 2022) All are encouraged… Read more »
Probably a good policy.
Seeking clarification. Is this new policy saying that should we find mis-statements and/or inaccuracies represented in people’s “own words,” especially when referring to published articles and other people’s words, we are not allowed to offer links to the the actual source/s to clarify said mis-statements and/or inaccuracies?
I’m so grateful for Bette-Jeanne’s commitment to making accurate information easily accessible so that we might better inform ourselves. Still hoping for clarification from Webmaster.
The key word in the rule is discourage. It does not say prohibit. There is some kind of bug in the software we believe is triggered by links in posts that put the post on hold. If you post with embedded links your post might be put on hold awaiting approval. If you make such a post and do not see it on the page then this is likely what happened. We try to peruse the comments for hold status, but if this happens to you just alert us.
I understand we are trying to navigate a software bug, but I prefer when people sight their sources by providing URLs. It makes verifying what everyone is talking about way easier. Did I misunderstand?
Found this on the web and thought it applicable.
The candidates’ forum has been posted:
It seems there’s only a very few people at your protest outside General Assembly. This seems to signify little support for your efforts.
Meanwhile, energy for GA itself is high and positive. It should be a compelling and inspiring few days of UUs coming together. Can’t wait to catch some of the programming.
That’s strange because I heard the opposite from multiple sources. I was told that attendance at GA this year is markedly lower, and that pushback against the UUA within congregations is not only growing and commonplace.
I look forward to a report, then. Was there media present as hoped, which could confirm? Two separate attendees counted less than ten people in attendance at this demonstration. Perhaps the numbers swelled before or after they each passed by.
What were the results of the UUA Board elections?