Meeting with Article II Study Commission

Shortly after the UUA Board of Trustees established the Article II Study Commission charging it “to revise, replace, or restructure” all sections of Article II, the Fifth Principle Project requested to be a stakeholder. The Board identified other stakeholders such as DRUMM, BLUU, TRUUst, UU Humanists, 8th and 1st Principles advocates.

Fifteen months later, we received a response.

The response was a May 7, 2022, Zoom session. However, 20 minutes before the meeting, Commission members canceled when we indicated we had questions. We worked through that disappointment, submitted questions,  received answers, and reviewed the Commission’s presentation. A 90-minute Zoom meeting was conducted on June 6, 2022. Attending were two Commission members and eight members of the Fifth Principle Project. The Commission moderator opened the session saying we are “eager to hear from you. . .your concerns as a group. . .”

Several themes emerged from the discussion.

Freedom of Belief

Article II, Section C-2.4. Freedom of Belief

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test. (bold added)

We asked for clarification on public statements made by Commission and Board members indicating that the Freedom of Belief statement was a “throwback.” This “throwback” comment was not an isolated, off-hand slip of the tongue. A Fifth Principle Project member shared the following.

I went to a Compass workshop webinar on Sunday December 12th. . . Becky Brooks (Commission co-chair) was speaking, and Cheryl Walker (Commission co-chair) was moderating the chat. And Becky said that the freedom of belief clause is a throwback to old ways of thinking making the rest of Article II meaningless. After she said that, someone in the chat asked, “What did she say about the freedom of belief?” And then Cheryl Walker responded “yes”. . . the freedom of belief clause is a throwback and it makes the rest of Article II meaningless.

I’m very, very troubled by that . . . [On] December 14th, the Board had an open house . . . I read that statement to them and asked what their feelings were on that. And they agreed with Becky Brooks and Cheryl Walker that this (i.e., freedom of belief) is a throwback that it makes the rest of Article II meaningless.

Another Fifth Principle Project member stated that freedom of belief is an essential characteristic of liberal religion. “Taking freedom of belief out of Unitarian Universalism is like taking resurrection out of Christianity.”

Although members desired more conversation on this topic, we agreed to move forward with the meeting.

What are the deficiencies of Article II?

We asked the Commission, “What deficiencies have been discovered in our Seven Principles?” The Principles are “too long and wordy, and not poetic or memorable.” None of these observations are sufficiently compelling to require a revision, replacement, or restructuring. A similar argument was made in 2009 to truncate our Principles. That proposal was rejected.

Addressing the lack of articulation regarding the deficiencies in our Seven Principles, we asked the Commission

What problems are we trying to fix with the Seven Principles? They seem to embody liberal thought. They seem to be the essence of what it is to be liberal. So, I could give you a better answer if you said, “OK, here’s what we’re trying to fix.” We might be trying to fix the same thing, but nobody has told me what problems we’re trying to fix.

Nor can the Article II Study Commission’s work be seen as happening in a vacuum. “You cannot divorce your work from all the other noise that’s going around in the denomination.” The rewrite of Article II is concurrent with the “unprecedented and widespread” campaign by our UU leaders to transform UUism to rid the denomination of what many UUs consider an unsupported allegation of complicity with white supremacy culture.

The Commission was implored to model their work on the 1985 Article II revision of our original 1961 Principles. That work gave us the essentials of our current Principles and Sources. The 1985 revision was the result of many years of discussion that incorporated wide social change in our language, the role of women in our society, and the maturing of the denomination from its original Judeo-Christian roots.

[This current] process is too fast. We have very divisive issues going on. . .this is a recipe for splitting our denomination. Why not slow it down and give congregations time to breathe and process these things and work through them together?

Love of our Seven Principles

Fifth Principle members universally shared that they were drawn to UUism and continue to see our Seven Principles as the identity of the denomination.

See this sermonette delivered during our Zoom session and re-recorded for this Discussion

Access to Communication Channels

Frustration was widely expressed regarding the lack of mechanisms available to UUs to communicate with one another. The demise of communication opportunities was illustrated by contrasting a 2004 issue of UU World to the current Spring 2022 edition. In 2004, there were seven pages of letters to the editor. Today there are no letters to the editor. Those who have attempted to voice concerns, especially ministers, have faced official rebuke. Administrative powers have been used in these silencing efforts.

To illustrate the last point, we discussed the June 2019 “Open Letter from White UU Ministers” condemning Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof for sharing his book, The Gadfly Papers. That effort was rapidly mobilized utilizing organizational structures not available to everyday UUs. The signature campaign also included an extraordinary plea that ministers not use their personal judgment, but to conform to a pre-determined group think.

. . . do not go out and purchase this book out of curiosity. Trust the hundreds of people who have seen it–especially our siblings of color and our trans kin–who have been hurt by this. It’s bad.

UU leaders have continued to be unconstrained in the use of institutional power to ban books at General Assembly, eject Rev. Eklof’s Good Officer from the UU Ministers’ Association and censure other ministers. Candidates running by petition face ad hominem attacks, many by ministers. Yet, UU leaders remain silent, never intervening.

Collection of Thoughts

“The concepts of covenant and of accountability. . . are both being used and harnessed to empower more enforcement of conformity.”

“We are in danger of becoming not a liberal religion but an illiberal religion and, in time, I even see, that it appears to me we are becoming an anti-liberal religion.”

“We are a liberal religion, not a covenantal religion.”

There was a challenge to a statement in The Widening of the Circle of Concern which asserted a “free and responsible search is done within the boundaries of communities.”

A responsible search for truth and meaning and that conscience should be subject to the community. That’s a new idea that’s out there. That is, of course, what happened to Michael Servetus. He was burned at the stake because of community conscience. Thousands of people were lynched in the 19th and 20th century. Black Americans were lynched on behalf of the conscience of the community.

UU could play a role in the future for lifting up individual conscience – that is the salvation of the goodness for all . . . to build bridges, to help us listen to one another and understand one another, rather than . . . putting people in categories of oppressed vs. oppressor.

There was a comment on the loss of congregational and personal connectivity following the disbanding of our district structure.

I would hope that you would start seeing how we can create connected congregations of people that have an institutional mechanism to join together, to communicate . . . So, I’m begging the UUA to reexamine what they’re doing and begin opening up, distributing power, having more elections, requiring elections, requiring debate . . . opening up the lines of communication that we need.

There was also a call to UU leaders to be less inwardly focused and have a broader vision for UUism. “Have a big vision, not a little bitty thing.” This lack of a wider lens removes UUism from focusing on global events such as climate change.

We are totally unprepared. . . And when you get a crisis. . . We retreat into identity politics and tribalism. We’re not even looking seriously at the real problems like the escalating inequality in our society .  . . To be a world religion, we need to broaden our minds dramatically.

Survey

Please take time to take an Article II Study Commission survey specifically designed for Fifth Principle Project members. This survey is an opportunity for Fifth Principle Project members to provide direct feedback to the Commission.

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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Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago

If you’re interested in the idea of the Dojo or “Way-place” and its connection with the UU “Way” presented in my short sermonette, you might enjoy these full-length sermons:

“The First Principle”:

http://www.wyeastuu.org/files/20170205morofirstprinciple.mp3

“The Chi-cago Touch”:

http://www.wyeastuu.org/files/20180218morochicago.MP3

“Eklavya”

http://www.wyeastuu.org/files/20180204moroeklavya.mp3

Robert Lamb
Robert Lamb
5 months ago

I am not clear on the structure of this discussion. Which words are the responses of the two Commission members to your statements and questions at the June 6 Zoom meeting?

Sally G.
Sally G.
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Lamb

I would also be interested in any reactions from the Commissioners, or was this just an opportunity for them to hear from FPP?

Paul Alan Thompson
Paul Alan Thompson
5 months ago

After I found out that the UU World allowed comments (as of 4-5 years ago), I began to comment. Being that I am GREATLY skeptical of the nonsense being promoted by the UUA at this time, many of my comments were on the critical side. Soon after that, comments were discontinued.

I put the blame on myself.

Sally G.
Sally G.
5 months ago

No, not at all—that is the purpose of a comment area, to have open discussion and, yes, to criticize. The blame is on those who shut that down.

Sally G.
Sally G.
5 months ago

“not poetic”
Interesting, that was one of the complaints about the proposed 2009 language; at that point, the current language was seen as more poetic than the replacement. Have times/language use changed, or is that just an easy charge to lay against less-preferred language alternatives in a religious body?

Sally G.
Sally G.
5 months ago

Excellent video, thanks for that as well as this report!

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
5 months ago

The UUA seems to have fallen under the control of the political correctness police and their top-down control. Anyone who dares disagree with the bosses is quickly labeled as racist and white supremacist. Reasoned debate is avoided, indeed forbidden. Intelligent and caring ministers and members are forced out because they refuse to click their heels to the party orthodoxy. I find it immensely depressing and am pondering my continued involvement.

Renate Bob
Renate Bob
5 months ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

Yes, it is very distressing!

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
5 months ago

I agree with Reverend Moro’s support of our Seven Principles but I am disappointed that no one has defended the integrity of our principles by rejecting efforts by UU Congregations to “adopt” an 8th Principle on their own outside of Article XV procedures.  For me that is an egregious breaking of covenant and an affront to a serious religious organization.   When a collection of individual groups decides to form an overall organization and all agree to covenant affirm and support a set of rules, or beliefs, or principles, then it is inconceivable that any one group in that organization can decide on… Read more »

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

It has been common for Protestant groups to splinter into smaller groups. Sometimes the splinters outgrow the original tree. This is also common among Shi’i Muslims. Most in Iraq and Iran are 12-Imam Shiites, honoring 12 great spiritual leaders. There are also 11-Imam, 8-Imam, 7-Imam, 5-Imam, etc. Shiites. Unitarians, Universalists–then later Unitarian-Universalists–were largely free of such fine splintering. Perhaps we are seeing that start to happen now. I think truly open conversation could help prevent it.

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

I agree completely. The leading edge of progressivism, in UU and in the wider culture, has become (in many cases) intolerant and regressive, with a misguided desire to tear down the foundation it’s built on. I think Rebecca Mattis is doing an excellent job of speaking up for the importance of our foundational liberal values without attacking those who are questioning them. An either/or approach will split us; we need the freedom that liberalism allows along with the greater sensitivity of today’s progressivism.

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Laura Gilliom

Laura,

Rebecca Mattis has publicly described viewpoints of many fellow UUs, for example those who support what she calls “Critical Race Theory” and “identitariainism” – as “deeply immoral”, a “double evil”, “deeply cynical”, “inhumane”, “perversely white-supremacist”, and making a “grave mistake” and “taking us down some very dark paths”. Her language is striking in its divisiveness.

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg,

I haven’t heard or read those statements from her, and if she made them – particularly if she is calling others evil, cynical or inhumane – I would agree that is not helpful.

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Laura Gilliom

Laura,

You can find Rebecca Mattis’ multiple public statements which this quotes are from by searching online for her name and “critical race theory”. I would include direct links but they might not be allowed by the WebMaster of this page.

I’m glad we agree this is not helpful. On the contrary, I would say.

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg, I found the quotes you referenced in the essay linked by K. Lusignan below, and it seems clear to me that she is using those descriptors in reference to CRT-based antiracist ideology and some of its consequences, not to people holding those views. One can have good intentions while supporting a (in Rebecca’s view and that of many others) flawed framework. As I said before, I believe we need to integrate the best of liberal and progressive approaches, not fight endlessly about right/wrong and good/evil. I believe we all care deeply about the UU faith and want it to… Read more »

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Laura Gilliom

Laura, there are multiple such essays using the language described. Yes, she is not directing the language at people but at their beliefs. In this case, beliefs likely held by organized groups of UUs targeted by racism in our society, as well as a many recent GA delegates and members of hundreds of congregations, based on many shows of support for UU anti racism efforts. It would probably be very challenging to build trust and collaboration with UUs whose beliefs she describes as evil, immoral, and the like. It seems to me like it conflicts with the goal of being… Read more »

Laura Gilliom
Laura Gilliom
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

It’s definitely tricky to point out intolerance without coming across as intolerant yourself. She is running because she feels certain important UU values are endangered, and her article(s) conveys the urgency she feels.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Perhaps the splintering is inevitable, but I attribute that to poor leadership. The UU leadership abandoned adherence to our laws and succumbed to grass roots activism. We have rules to follow to modify or add to our principles but they do not include allowing any congregation to add a new one on their own. It puts UU’s in the same category as the right-wing zealots who stormed the capitol. It says its okay to ignore the law to achieve your goal. That cannot be right. If you don’t like the laws then use the democratic process to change them. The… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

In my congregation, I put out a set of FAQs and responses explaining what a ‘yes’ vote meant on this proposed 8th principle, and how principles are actually chosen in our denomination. A ‘yes’ vote does NOT mean anything is adopted in any meaningful sense. It means that the person voting affirms something about those words — either the words in full, or the spirit/intent. Who knows. From my viewpoint, the whole framing of the so-called 8th Principle has been somewhere between intellectually sloppy and intellectually dishonest. There is no such thing as congregations “adopting” a principle, and yet, that… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Rebecca – I have no quarrel with the wording per se. I object to it being put forth as a “principle” and the ham handed undemocratic way it was promoted. No explanation like yours was given to my congregation. In fact, I recall Paula Cole-Jones telling us that we really had no choice but to vote “yes” to adopting it as a principle. And you are right, new congregants and most older ones, do not know how our principles can rightfully be changed. Some actually believe that congregations have the right to do whatever they want under the mistaken interpretation… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

wow, “Paula Cole-Jones telling us that we really had no choice but to vote “yes” to adopting it as a principle.” Wow. “No choice but”? wow. How did people in your congregation reply to that?

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

They either naively agreed or were too polite to confront and so the comment went unchallenged.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Can you clarify what you mean by this? “I see this as a failure of right relations in the church and we are addressing it as such.” Our congregation did discuss both the wording of the Principle and what it might actually mean for our congregation to vote to approve it. It may be a browser glitch, but your candidate’s website is not allowing me to post a comment/follow-up question, so I’ll do it here. Once again, this is a compound comment in response to several posts in several locations, so I’ll do my best to remember accurately. Here and… Read more »

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

K. Thank you for the link. There are several other such public statements one could link to, and which are easily findable.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Can you clarify what you mean by this? “I see this as a failure of right relations in the church and we are addressing it as such.” Our congregation did discuss both the wording of the Principle and what it might actually mean for our congregation to vote to approve it. It may be a browser glitch, but your candidate’s website is not allowing me to post a comment/follow-up question, so I’ll do it here. Once again, this is a compound comment in response to several posts in several locations, so I’ll do my best to remember accurately. Here and… Read more »

Rbka, just another UU
Rbka, just another UU
5 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I will answer part of the question but note I am NOT candidate. SO I will abbreviate my name to signal that.

I find it a failure of right relations when the side STRONGLY promoting and asserting the “8th principle” shames, silences and demeans the folk who have questions. THAT is what I called a failure of right relations.

Again I am not the candidate. I will change my name to signal that. I’m just a simple single non-running UU

Thank you David!!!!

Greg
Greg
5 months ago

Rev. Rick Davis voluntarily resigned from the UU Ministers Association, he was not “ejected” from the organization. You yourselves published his resignation letter on this very website. Please do not share false or misleading information. Speaking of false or misleading information, this post includes a statement that “we are not a covenantal religion”. The very nature of Unitarian Universalism, including its non creedal nature, is covenantal. Covenant is central to how this faith is defined, described, and practiced. This covenantal nature is explicitly stated in our principles and in the Article 2, which this groups seems to want to maintain… Read more »

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I would like to see a survey of Unitarian and Universalist sermons and other writings from the 19th and 20th centuries documenting how and how often “covenant” was held up as something of primary–even decisive–importance for UUs.   My own short search reveals no index entry for “covenant” in Russell Miller’s comprehensive history of Universalism, The Larger Hope nor in Hosea Ballou’s Treatise on Atonement. There is one short entry in Vol. 2, p. 380 of Earl Morse Wilbur’s History of Unitarianism that mentions covenants indicating a minor role as “simple voluntary mutual agreements with God’s help to lead a Christian life” in some New England churches.… Read more »

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Thank you for this history. As you describe, our faith is a living and evolving tradition within a changing society, now well into the 21st century.

Suzanne
Suzanne
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Saw no mention of covenant in a 1912 book called, “Unitarian Thought” by Ephraim Emerton. In a pamphlet called, “The Unitarian Attitude Toward Theology” published around that time by Crothers said a typical Covenant of a Unitarian Church: “In the love of truth, and the spirit of Jesus Christ, we unite for the worship of God and the service of man.”

Mary Ringer
Mary Ringer
5 months ago

A “free and responsible search is done within the boundaries of communities” to me refers to the new model being promoted which takes us from a “family” paradigm to a “community of communities”. Therefore the free and responsible search could be taken to mean an ongoing process within the boundaries of each identity group.

Sally Davis
Sally Davis
5 months ago
Reply to  Mary Ringer

A free and responsible search goes beyond family OR community if it is valid for me. In both my family and in my community in KY in the 1940s and 50s when growing up I would have believed that a segregated unjust system of living with the very loving and kind Negro people I knew was appropriate rather than cruel and unfair.

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 months ago

Hi, could someone help me with learning how to delete my photo that appeared automatically with my comment? The settings tab only says, “delete all comments.” Help? Ok, we’ll see. I went to gravatar.com, added the email address, and deleted pic. it seems to take time to refresh, so we will see…..

Last edited 5 months ago by Rebecca
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Athena’s bird, not a bad avatar, LOL.

Rebecca
Rebecca
5 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

David, oh yea!!!!! yea!!! haha. this made my day…. Whooooo knows!!!

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago

It appears that you link above to one brief slideshow presentation from the UUA Article II Commission and then summarize only the Fifth Principle’s concerns that were presented in the meeting, correct? Is this because your members are avoiding representing what was said by the Article II folks? What would be most helpful and informative, I believe, would be a complete recording or transcript of the meeting. Was the meeting recorded or not, and if so, what was the agreement as to posting or publishing it? I will also renew my suggestion that the Fifth Principle Project post in their… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
5 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Our meeting with the A2 Commission representatives was recorded by them. If you want a copy I suggest you contact them. If you want a copy of Ms. Mattis’s sermon I suggest you ask her. The Fifth Principle is not running her campaign. She is. As to the recordings of our town halls, while it is true they are relevant to their candidacies, it is also true that you, Rev. McCarty, and Rev.Landrum do not need them in order to make up your minds. To paraphrase you, your request “raises the concern that you and others may address those who… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

I am puzzled why you recapitulate Ms. Mattis’ views on CRT and the COIC report if you are not, as you say, running the campaigns. I asked in various spots for her to clarify her own views. You’ve also managed to attribute, while opposing groupthink, a lot of views to me that I have never expressed.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Addendum: I have requested the recorded video of this meeting from the Article II Study Commission.

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Frank, a respectful correction:

Rebecca Mattis has made multiple public statements, which delegates have become aware of in their research, about “CRT” including using the words “evil” and “immoral” among others to describe it.

While I understand she has been avoiding such language in her campaign, instead shifting to “identitarianism”, her public expressions of her views seem divisive, derogatory of other views, potentially harmful, counterproductive to her stated goals, and passionate about disagreement.

Last edited 5 months ago by Greg
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

I read the essay she wrote that was posted here on the subject of CRT. She finds virtue in that theory even while she criticized it when it drives public policy. In the world that debates the virtues and vices of CRT, her views are anything but controversial or divisive.

Greg
Greg
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

There are multiple public statements about what she calls “CRT”. Full of, as David puts it, inflammatory (and divisive) language. This will probably make it significantly more difficult to build bridges and trust across differing viewpoints and constituencies.

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Yes, let’s avoid inflammatory language. It does make it difficult to trust. That said, I must say I completely agree with her stated views on CRT and I found her analysis accurate and well researched. And, as others have said, it is easy to find much more “inflammatory” objections to CRT – on the part of black thinkers. These objections about inflammatory language are requiring me to bite my tongue when I see them coming from those who would defend the UUA positions. One only needs to look at the response of Leslie Mac to Mel Pine when he stated… Read more »

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I continue to be confused about why Critical Race Theory (CRT) is a topic of discussion here. Does the COIC report Widening the Circle of Concern ever mention Critical Race Theory? Has a UUA or UUMA publication ever mentioned CRT (other than in response to a direct question on the topic)? Sure, I get that some things in Widening the Circle of Concern bear a resemblance to some things in CRT, but couldn’t we address the former directly? The intermediate step of labeling the former as CRT opens the discussions to all sorts of things about CRT that are outside… Read more »

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Here’s Dr. Elias Ortega, one of the lead members of the COIC who authored the report.

The UUA-GA 2020 season is in full swing. With the release of the Commission on Institutional Change Report, “Widening the Circle of Concern,” I imagine that some folks will be reading it looking for flaws to dismiss it from the outset. I imagine this will happen primarily because the report mobilizes aspects of Critical Race Theory to engage the impact of structural racism and call us deeper into living our shared Unitarian Universalist faith.

https://www.facebook.com/Dr.EliasOrtega/posts/10158167584968819

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Thank you both for the pointers to the connection between the UUA and CRT. I will take a look.

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I have a PDF of Widening the Circle of Concern, so it was trivially easy for me to search for “Critical Race”. It appears exactly twice, in an included letter that criticizes the report, but there is no use by the report’s supporters. It looks like we can happily adopt many of the recommendations of Widening the Circle of Concern without worrying that we are also signing on to supporting Critical Race Theory. I again request that if you have critiques of Widening the Circle of Concern, please address them directly. The arguments that instead attack Critical Race Theory have… Read more »

Rbka
Rbka
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, a concern I have with Widening the Circle of Concern deals with its notion of “centering” and “decentering.” Thus, in the preface, “We need to center the experiences of Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color” (viii). In my experience with discussions around the proposed 8th principle, that translates into “Black people wrote this, so to change or challenge the wording is to disrespect and demean Black people. You must accept exactly as written.” I’ve heard this multiple times, in multiple places, including from one of the proposed principle’s co-authors, Bruce Pollack-Johnson. Withdraw your comments about wording, he… Read more »

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Rbka

> However, I do agree that marginalized groups should get a larger voice than they have and be listened to more. There’s no question that they bring unique and important perspectives, including on structures and racism, that should be heard. Yes, I think that’s the intent of Widening the Circle of Concern. Does that mean that nothing done by a Black person can be questioned — absolutely it does not mean that. But does it mean that we would should consider deferring to Black voices even when we do not agree 100% — yes, sometimes it can mean that, especially… Read more »

Rbka
Rbka
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

David, what a relief to hear you say this — “ I also know that you know you do not achieve the previous two sentences via unilateral theological mandates, dogmatism, expectations of ideological and political conformity and call out and cancel culture. Theological mandates and dogmatism are the antitheses of diversity, multiculturalism and “listening to the diversity of voices.””

Thank you!

Rbka

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Surely context matters to the deference policy you recommend, Lee? I am talking with a respected Black peer, such deference may well be patronizing. But I’m talking with a Black student (for instance) that makes refraining from minor criticisms a good idea. Then again, why not the same approach to white students?

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Sullivan

Totally agree. Very well said!

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve Sullivan

(I accidentally replied to the wrong post. I have moved the text that was here to the correct location.)

Last edited 5 months ago by Lee
Sally G.
Sally G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Steve Sullivan

Thanks, David, I agree—at GA when that was happening, I pointed out that SURJ asked disabled advocates about using the phrase Standing Up for Racial Justice, and the advocates were O.K. with it (though I think they chose to use “Showing Up” instead, and they did it before going public with the name, which makes much more sense than not having that discussion until well after a campaign is established).
BTW, I agree with your full post, not just the SSL comments.

Lee
Lee
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

(I had accidentally replied to the wrong post. This is the correct post. Apologies if you see this twice.) > I also know that you know you do not achieve the previous two sentences via unilateral theological mandates, dogmatism, expectations of ideological and political conformity and call out and cancel culture. What is under debate is whether what the UUA is doing is accurately described by this or not. As a specific case, if you know of one then please quote a piece of Widening the Circle of Concern that should be described so adversely and please describe the concern.… Read more »

Jim
Jim
4 months ago
Reply to  Lee

What gave you the idea that you could set the terms of the debate?

Try reading this:

https://www.uumuac.org/_files/ugd/51a1b4_874d65723f0e4078a167f6897520ab29.pdf

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Thanks so much for this link, Jim. The analysis it provides is thoughtful and fair, or so it seems to me.

Lee
Lee
4 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I apologize that my words came across as setting the terms of debate. I was trying to convey that answering my questions would be of use to me, not that they are the only questions that deserve to be answered. I will try to do better next time. Thank you for the link; it is informative! A few thoughts…. > Note, I am not asserting that the claim of substantial and common harm is untrue. I am asserting that the information and data presented in the report did not demonstrate it to be true. I agree that if we ever… Read more »

Sally G.
Sally G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Lee

(I did not reread the analysis, so I am not sure of the specific last-paragraph suggestions, but hope that this comment is relevant)
In restorative justice circles, the victim can choose to be present or to be represented by another; that seems like good practice to me.

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
5 months ago
Reply to  Rbka

Agreed. This needed to be said….

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  Rbka

Well said….Another 8th Principle advocate told me that white people must accept any claim from a minority person as “valid”. I pointed out that some African Americans reject her views about white supremacy, the 8th Principle, etc. so that her point leads to conflicting “validities.” No response.

Jim
Jim
5 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Trivially easy investigations lead to trivial and nonsensical conclusions.

Jack Reich
Jack Reich
3 months ago
Reply to  Lee

“Cats are felines; mountain lions are felines; mountain lions make bad pets; so cats make bad pets.” Aha! You’ve been reading your Todd Eklof!

Jack Reich
Jack Reich
3 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Yes, Jim – after she posted one of the most hateful, vicious, racist diatribes i have ever heard, apparently in the pursuit of what the woke UUs call “beloved community”. And it might be noted that Meg Riley, one of our new co-moderators, signed the “White Ministers’ Letter” condemning the Rev. Eklof. BTW, Leslie Mac’s vulgar video has been taken down, but i have it, if anyone wants it.

Jack Reich
Jack Reich
3 months ago
Reply to  Greg

Greg (whoever you are): I have not read language more divisive and inflammatory on this website than that coming from YOU. You’re full of blame, accusation, mistrust, and denigration, but nothing evidencing even a hint of a desire to be in a “beloved community”. You’re not trying to understand Rebecca’s views, or Beverly’s, or ours, but just to spread as much negativity as you can as efficiently as possible. Your ‘contributions’ do not help the discussion forward.

Renate Bob
Renate Bob
5 months ago

What exactly was meant by the statement that the Freedom of Belief section of Article II is a “ throwback “ and “old thinking”? Doe it mean that we now have to subscribe to some “new” thinking that is handed down to us? Freedom of Belief and Freedom of Religion is one of the cornerstones of any democracy ..does the UUA now tell us what to believe?Will there be. a UU Pope?

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago
Reply to  Renate Bob

Thanks for the questions! They connect to some clear ideas of what we’re all about, explained in religious terms most Americans will understand–sort of an “elevator speech”. It’s a way to start a conversation that, of course, would continue on to the 7 principles and then just keep on going in a feast of free expression and discourse: •Unitarian Universalists affirm the spirit of  the first Commandment, the first Amendment, and the Golden Rule.  The Bible’s first commandment says idolatry means slavery, so, no thanks, I’ll take freedom!   The Constitution’s first amendment links freedom of religion to freedom of speech and expects us… Read more »

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Or maybe I should say the 1st commandment links idolatry and slavery. Idolatry can happen without involving any obvious “gods”. You can idolize a book, a theory, a community. Ahab idolized/obsessed over Moby Dick and sacrificed his crew to it. I bet you can think of a lot of contemporary examples of this kind of thing happening.

Rbka
Rbka
5 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Craig, question. While there are many versions of the 1st Christian Commandment, the basic gist is “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” I don’t see how us UUs can anchor off of that. The second has to do with not making any graven images. Say more about how you are seeing our elevator speech anchoring in the 1st Christian commandment?

Thx,
Rebecca, not the candidate

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
5 months ago
Reply to  Rbka

Great question! In the Hebrew Bible the “commandments” are actually called devariim–“words”, “matters”, “things”–and they don’t come in a neatly numbered (or even punctuated) list. (They also come long before there were any Christians and before the people in their target audience were even called “Jews”.) The first of these “matters” runs into the second, linking idols/gods/graven images to the experience of slavery. The main idea the I’m getting at here is idolatry. If you review the language of our current Sources statement–right after the Principles–you’ll find that they mention only one “sin” by its classic name: idolatry. That comes… Read more »

Jack Reich
Jack Reich
3 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Beautiful, Craig!

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
3 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

Thanks much for this thoughtful comment…

Sally G.
Sally G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Renate Bob

I do find that extremely disturbing, and any attempt to weaken that will make me seriously question my connection with the UUA. I presume that it will not stand, but who knows?

Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
4 months ago
Reply to  Sally G.

At GA, they explained the weaknesses in the “freedom of belief” clause in a few different ways. One was that it gave people (that is us, the dissidents) the freedom to be racist. I will look that up in the GA recordings and hope to actually provide a cite.

The other problem they see with “freedom of belief” is actually, something they (the Article II Commission folks) see in Article II as a whole. The language is “Enlightenment” language. This is the language of “White Supremacy Culture”. They want to shift to “Post Modern” terminology.

Sally G.
Sally G.
4 months ago
Reply to  Renate Bob

I am reminded when this topic comes up of the German resistance song “Die Gedanken sind frei”, which translates to My Thoughts Are Free. Lyrics here: https://allpoetry.com/Die-Gedanken-Sind-Frei-(Our-Thoughts-Are-Free)
[I have always seen this as My thoughts, not Our thoughts, but. . . this is the translation used on Dan Barker’s “Friendly Atheist” album]

Greg
Greg
5 months ago

Whom are you referring to as “1st principle advocates”? Is this an organized group? Are there people who oppose the 1st principle?

Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
Rebecca P (another Rebecca)
4 months ago
Reply to  Greg

In the charge to the Article II Study Commission, they specifically instruct them to review the First Principle. They point out that there was strong support for changing the First Principle several years ago. That proposal was in support of the personhood of animals.

Steve Sullivan
Steve Sullivan
4 months ago

Just read Thomas Edsell’s important NY Times article “Democrats Are Having a Purity-Test Problem at Exactly the Wrong Time” (6/29/22) and found it relevant to our UU rift with woke progressives. The article is much broader in focus than the Democratic Party: it’s really about progressive organizations generally, including nonprofit advocacy groups, that are beset by identity politics and DEI issues. And it tries to provide balance. I highly recommend it.