Update from GA on Article II Study Commission

Update on GA Elections

Neither petition candidate was successful in their bid to win a seat on the UUA Board of Trustees. Rebecca Mattis, a UUA Board candidate, will provide a reflection in the next Fifth Principle Discussion post.

About the Article II Study Commission

At the Portland General Assembly, the Commission provided information on the direction it is pursuing. Charged with the power to revise, replace, or restructure Article II, still left unexplained is “why” are substantive changes needed. There is counsel worth noting in the U.S. Declaration of Independence “long established [bonds] should not be changed for light and transient causes.”

The Legitimacy of the Commission after August 2022

The Commission originally planned to present its findings on new language for Article II at this year’s 2022 General Assembly accompanied by an initial vote. None of that happened. This failure to adhere to its schedule is significant because the Commission’s term of service is limited to two years by the Association’s bylaws.

. . . the Board of Trustees shall appoint a commission to study Article II for not more than two years . . .

The UUA posted on August 7, 2020, (Correction: originally incorrectly noted as 2022) the following announcement, “The Article II Study Commission is hereby charged to review Article II of the UUA Bylaws. . .” The posting date was confirmed by the Internet Archive Wayback Machine. Taken together, the bylaw’s defined term of service and the date of the posting means that the Article II Study Commission expires in August 2022.

A sitting UUA Trustee was apprised of this situation and was fully unconcerned. After this conversation, the Article II Study Commission, it was reported, publicly announced that it had a three-year term of service!

Article II is the heart of Unitarian Universalism and any effort to alter its language should scrupulously adhere to the procedural rules established for such a process.

Getting the Answer You Want

The Commission made available a survey soliciting input on topics such as the purpose of the Association, freedom of belief, values, covenant, inclusion, etc. Like other UU leadership efforts, this survey lacks the intellectual honesty required for a discussion as serious as changing the heart of Unitarian Universalism. We had seen this lack of honesty in the Commission on Institutional Change when it “evaluated” the experience of People of Color in UUism by asking,

In what ways have you or your group or community been hurt by current racist and culturally biased attitudes and practices within Unitarian Universalism?

Inclusion

The question in this section posits a situation that is insulting and disrespectful of the many UUs who welcome and greet visitors with open and loving arms.

Article II Commission survey question:

Unitarian Universalists have an understanding of ourselves as a faith for all, that all are welcome. But our congregations and communities sometimes treat inclusion like “we” are inviting someone else to “our” party. We often resist understanding welcoming to be an invitation to evolve together. So let’s look at how it feels to belong.

The current Article II Inclusion statement has its own history too lengthy to include in this post. That statement is:

Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons and commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.

“Systems of power” is applied postmodernist language.  Helen Pluckrose, a liberal humanist, observed about applied postmodernism that “[p]eople are born as blank slates into a system of discourses and positioned by their race, gender, class, and sexuality within systems of power.”

The use of postmodernist language in the Association’s Inclusion statement is even more disconcerting when it is compared to the language it demoted to Rule G-2.3.

The Association declares and affirms its special responsibility, and that of its member congregations and organizations, to promote the  full participation of persons in all of its and their activities and in the full range of human endeavor without regard to racialized identity, ethnicity, gender expression, gender identity, sex, disability, affectional or sexual orientation, family and relationship structures, age, language, citizenship status, economic status, or national origin and without requiring adherence to any particular interpretation of religion or to any particular religious belief or creed.

Freedom of Belief

In an earlier Discussion, we saw that the Article II Study Commission is moving to diminish the concept of freedom of belief. The Commission, in its survey, contends that freedom of belief needs to be constrained so as not to sacrifice “communal care and common good.”  This linkage strategy has been seen previously. The Widening of the Circle of Concern report observed “that a free and responsible search for truth” now must be done “within the boundaries of communities.”

Article II Commission survey question:

Freedom of Belief has long been a cornerstone of our faith. So too, has covenanting together. The Article II Study Commission is confident that honoring the sacred individual doesn’t need to come at the cost of sacrificing communal care and the common good (and vice versa) but language can be tricky. What do you think?

The current Article II Freedom of Belief statement is:

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.

Draft Language for the Purpose of the Assocation 

The current purpose of the Association in Article II:

The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its corporate powers for religious, educational and humanitarian purposes. The primary purpose of the Association is to serve the needs of its member congregations, organize new congregations, extend and strengthen Unitarian Universalist institutions and implement its principles.

The Article II Study Commission presented two draft statements on the purpose of the Association.

Draft A

The UU Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its organizational powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are to equip congregations for vital ministry, to support and train leaders both lay and professional, to heal historic inequities, and to advance UU values in the world. We do all this consistent with our theological pluralism.

This draft is a variation of the UUA president’s standard stump speech. After five years, it is difficult to identify any substantive results. The notion of the Association as a service organization is only weakly preserved.

Draft B

The UUA’s purpose is to grow and resource faith communities that support people through their lives’ journeys and transform the world by liberating ourselves through love. We make that love real through care and justice for ourselves, for our communities, and for the larger web of existence that we are all in. We are called upon to risk ourselves for love.

This draft eliminates the Association as a service organization to its member congregations. If the Association is not a service organization, it begs the question what motivation is there for a congregation to allocate funds in its budget for annual dues payment through the Annual Program Fund (APF)?

There is also the irony of the obvious. UUism already provides a framework for individuals to pursue their “lives’ journey.” That framework is accessible to all UUs to fashion into a model appropriate to their experiences and spiritual needs. The guide to any journey is our Seven Principles, Six Sources, and a commitment that we have the freedom to explore our belief systems without constraints. Substitute these liberal guideposts with a prescriptive model of behavior and results, UUism becomes just another dogmatic, creed-based denomination.

After five years of haranguing UUs about our complicity with white supremacy culture, the need to focus our full attention on being anti-racist and fight oppression, draft B appears timid. Where is the fiery language so frequently highlighted by our UU leadership about “liberation theology,” accountability, and the follow-up to the challenge offered in the Widening of the Circle of Concern, “As a people of faith, our call to collective justice work, through accountable partnerships, is our salvific path.” Was all that talk, just that. . .talk?

Final Thoughts

Most distressing was the General Assembly attendees’ sheepish and uncurious response when presented with the Article II Commission plan for UUism. It is painful to witness the eager willingness of GA attendees to dismantle liberal values and traditions forged over centuries. The strength of our Principles is that they did not just appear when Unitarians and Universalists agreed to merge in 1961. Liberal values such as individual dignity, justice, equity, religious tolerance, democracy, and personal liberty emerged in the Age of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries.

Rather than liberal values, it is argued that a non-unique concept of “love” should define UUism.  Love is foundational to many religions. That love may be defined as “love” for a deity or the desire to seek the best for others. If the latter, then our current UU Seven Principles provide a pathway to achieve that aspirational aim and we are already a denomination defined by love.

The Article II Study Commission, given all the angst that has roiled UUism for the past several years, appears to be stumbling.

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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Robert Lamb
Robert Lamb
2 months ago

Is it that the Commission is stumbling, or that it is listening? I thought that parts of the commission’s draft proposals seemed to be directly influenced by complaints the Fifth Principle Project has made.

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Robert Lamb

I think that they are listening to Unitarian Universalists. They have extended the time available for giving feedback on the Article II feedback web site through 18 July 2022.

The chances for small group discussion during General Assembly (in person and online) allowed me to better refine my thoughts on this.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

I agree with you and Robert Lamb that the Commission is listening. I believe they extended the deadline specifically because many contacted them saying they wanted to share the presentations with their congregations. Ours did make an effort to get all this info to our congregation in time for the previous deadline, and it was pretty tight for any busy people. I finished my own responses just before midnight of that deadline. I also believe that rather than or as well as condemning the Commission’s work, language, and presumed goals, UUs should do their best to reply to the survey.… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

P.S. Here is the current clause with my suggested changes below, for comparison (as an example of questions on the feedback forms): Our current Inclusion Clause Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons and commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation. How might you change it? My Suggested Inclusion Clause We are each… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  WebMaster

(1) I think you mean sheep-like, not sheeplish. (2) I was referring to the deadline for responding to the Article II Commissions’ feedback forms, which was extended to July 18. (3) No one who knows me would accuse me of either being sheep-like or incurious, and if you are unable or unwilling to quit calling names, we don’t need to continue this conversation.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago

I am not surprised you wish to attribute this drop solely to the actions of those with whom you disagree, but as the COIC report pointed out, and as I have personally witnessed, UUs have also been leaving their congregations and/or UU because of the actions of people like you. Personally, I am always saddened when someone leaves because of a feeling of betrayal or being pushed out. These are issues I have grappled with myself. I also find the explicit recommendation of using one’s money (or “voting with the checkbook”) to try to force one’s own side to prevail… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Really? This statement, “The UUA had better start listening to UUs. Or, perhaps even better, it could have started by asking and listening to UUs,” in conjunction with your frequent insults directed towards people who believe differently than you do (calling them whites with low self-esteem or minorities who seek infantilizing; deriding UUs who don’t disagree with the UUA’s direction–a significant number, as we have just seen with GA–and comparing them to sheep, etc.); your statements about what “most minorities” really want; comments about who are “normal” UUs; and your disregard of the COIC report (which was EXACTLY the UUA… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

“Listening” is an interesting way to describe the deeply flawed sampling employed by the COIC. I wonder what would have resulted if instead of that biased question – the only one – they asked, a question like this was asked: “In what way have you or you community been harmed by the current anti-racist approach taken by the organization and by accusations of racism or white supremacy when you sought to dissent from the current methods employed?” I’m fairly sure that there would have been at least as many – and probably more – responses to this, also biased, question.… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

I agree that the UUA has continued work to do to make GA more accessible (and perhaps also more appealing, although I enjoyed it the one time I was able to attend fully). However, GA this year was a mixed platform of virtual and onsite, so travel was not required. Also, delegates could attend all Business sessions, where the voting takes place, for no charge I understand. This, to me, is a big step towards making the voting more democratic and accessible. These concerns about GA may also have to do just as much with congregations themselves finding ways to… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Here are my objections with the COIC Report: In statistics, sampling bias is a bias in which a sample is collected in such a way that some members of the intended population have a lower or higher sampling probability than others. It results in a biased sample of a population (or non-human factors) in which all individuals, or instances, were not equally likely to have been selected. If this is not accounted for, results can be erroneously attributed to the phenomenon under study rather than to the method of sampling. (Wikipedia) Reporting bias involves a skew in the availability of data, such that observations of a certain kind are more likely to be… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Tom C
K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

Sorry, I didn’t see this before, though it says “3 days ago”–maybe it got hung up when the site was briefly blocked. Thanks for the clear listing of possible problematic biases you believe relate to the COIC report. I think Tim Bartik addressed some of this also when making a case that a small randomized sample would give better statistical results than a larger volunteered sample. This is interesting and actually supports beliefs I have about the dangers of making overly “objective” claims for data. I think one bias has been left out here, though, if we are talking about… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I am not aware of any surveys, biased or not, that indicate how many UUs are “Gadflies.” Both sides claim that the other side is small. It seems like an important question to answer before going forward. I am not sure how “majority rules” or “cancel culture” relates to statistical bias. If you want to have a conversation about how to implement a democratic process, majority rules is just one possibility. I volunteered in an organization that used consensus to make group decisions and have some insights. There are also other different voting systems that would be better suited to… Read more »

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

My point was that we all have inherent and confirmation bias (so that everyone, meaning me and you, not only you, would interpret any poll or report through are own lens) and yes, the Jan. 6 hearings are uppermost in my mind right now as an example of extreme confirmation bias, but that wasn’t meant to draw a parallel between you and the far right, sorry. I do think majority is not the only or complete answer if we want to live by UU values. There was supposed to be a workshop on consensus at GA this year, and I… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  K Lusignan

Statistical bias is a systematic tendency which causes differences between results and facts. There are conventions that statisticians use to reduce bias. You imply that my objections to the CIOC report is “just my opinion,” and since I am a “gadfly”, I am just confirming my bias by rejecting the COIC report as statistically flawed. You also imply that since I reject the report, that I think conclusions are false. The conclusions of the COIC report are inconclusive. They might be true, but they might not be true. I don’t know. And if we just get to use feelings and not… Read more »

K Lusignan
K Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

What I asked was if the concerns and objections and data that “gadflies,” people from the Fifth Principle Project and UUMUAC express are somehow more statistically sound.

If not, why are “your” complaints valid while “theirs” are not?

As far as more detailed discussion of the report, again, I know I have seen discussions about the methodology from others but don’t recall them. So maybe someone else can weigh in.

Last edited 2 months ago by K Lusignan
Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  K Lusignan

RE: What I asked was if the concerns and objections and data that “gadflies,” people from the Fifth Principle Project and UUMUAC express are somehow more statistically sound.

No. If the Fifth Principle Project put together a study, I would look at how that data was collected. and look at the claims being made.

For example, if a poll was on the Fifth Principle Project website and claimed that most UUs are against CRT, I would be skeptical.

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

There are multiple problems with the COIC report. The conclusion from a flawed study is used to validate that all of Unitarian Universalism suffers from White Supremacy Culture. Since all UUs are racist, the solution is to implement the CRT/Anti-Racism/White Fragility inspired solution based on that flawed study. And then, as David points out, anyone who disagrees is called a racist and risks being ostracized for causing harm. Ok, that’s not quite right, anyone whose skin tone is on the lighter side is racist and should just STFU. And really, even if you were OK with the whole CRT/White Supremacy… Read more »

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
2 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Fun to read ! Always wondered what it would look or sound like if someone made a musical about this conflict that has happened within the past 3 years ? Also, additional political cartoons that condense the issue into a visual, would be interesting !

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

Tom. Yes, yes, and yes. That pretty much sums it up… Exactly.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

> There are multiple problems with the COIC report…. Thank you Tom C for your words. You cover a lot of ground. If I may try to clarify why your arguments are failing to convince me: You may not like it being called “White Supremacy Culture,” which apparently means something different to you than to the writers of the Widening the Circle of Concern. I agree that you are not forced to use their terminology but, the way I see it, criticizing their conclusions by assuming that they are using the terminology the way you would is not effective criticism… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Where in the COIC report do the authors define white supremacy?

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

I agree, I cannot find it either. Page 55 of Widening the Circle of Concern notes that “Terms such as white supremacy culture have dramatically different meanings across generations.” Also, there are several quoted examples of competing definitions, but I find no place where the report defines which meaning it intends. This omission is unfortunate.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I asked because of the following quote from you to Tom C. “You may not like it being called “White Supremacy Culture,” which apparently means something different to you than to the writers of the Widening the Circle of Concern. I agree that you are not forced to use their terminology but, the way I see it, criticizing their conclusions by assuming that they are using the terminology the way you would is not effective criticism of their conclusions.” Since the writers of the COIC report never really define what they say they are against but want nonetheless to dismantle it,… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

The omission from the report is unfortunate. I had assumed that they were using the phrase the way that I and many people in my congregation are using it.

We are comfortable proceeding with our goal to dismantle processes within our congregation that are causing disproportionate harm to marginalized people. We don’t think of that as bizarre. I know that you don’t like the “white supremacy culture” phrasing but do you think that the goal of ridding ourselves of processes that have disproportionate adverse impact is bizarre?

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

It’s not a mere omission of some ancillary point. The entire report purports to be a plan to dismantle something that is never defined. That means that none of their recommendations can be trusted to accomplish what they claim is their goal, be that goal morally worthy or otherwise. What’s bizarre is following a leadership that seeks to remedy or defeat something that they do not themselves grasp. I know it may sound like they do, but they clearly don’t, and that is what critics are gravely concerned about, even while they share the goal.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

> It’s not a mere omission of some ancillary point. Agreed. There is value in improving the document. We each get to choose which priorities to focus on and, if that is your focus, I hope that you make progress. My priority is to focus on discovering and changing processes in my congregation that currently have disproportionate adverse impact on People of Color. For that purpose, I find Widening the Circle of Concern to be useful. I am trying to understand the extent to which you wish me to halt my efforts pending the outcome of your efforts. I strongly… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

You’re twisting things. First, of course, there is value in improving the document. But the existing document is what we have and it is what you’re basing your efforts on. You’re perfectly free to do in your congregation as you see fit, even if it means following a document that is so fatally flawed as the one you’re defending. That leads me to your second twist. I never even suggested you should wait. I never suggested you should halt your efforts. That’s you trying to put words in my mouth. For what I can only suspect. But it’s disingenuous.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Thank you @Frank Casper! I think this is good news because I think that I now understand a second reason why the communications between the Fifth Principle Project (and its supporters) and the UUA (and its supporters) is so hard. (The first reason is that various terms mean different things to the different groups.) The second reason is that, at least to me, all those negative adjectives that are used to describe Widening the Circle of Concern, the UUA, the UUMA, etc. sounded like they were also meant to be applied to the work I am doing in my congregation… Read more »

Tom C
Tom C
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I don’t like this language but here it goes. I am being harmed by the UUA/anti-racism/CRT/White Fragility. The migroaggressions I have experienced at church are like 1000 cuts. I don’t understand why this in not important to you. Am I not an expert in my own life experiences? Why do you feel it ok for you to trivialize, scrutinize and redefine my life experiences? Anyway, the COIC report is based on flawed data. I find it kind of ironic that the UUA is presenting the Widening the Circle of Concern as academic/scientific when reason and logic are foundation of white… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tom C

Thank you again for speaking up. If I may: How the 1000 cuts affect you is very important to me for reasons ranging from altruistic compassion to the pragmatic practicality of losing you as an ally in my anti-racism efforts. I hear you say that your definitions of phrases are different from mine and I see that as the essence of our problem. Words matter and we should try to find some that work for as many as feasible. Logic and reason are quite valuable; that is not in dispute. One aspect of life that disproportionately affects People of Color… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

The COIC should do an anonymous random sample of UU congregation members. They should pick a stratified random sample of congregations (stratified by congregation size and region), and among those, pick a random sample of congregation members, working with the congregations to get that list. They should strive to get a sample size responding to the questions of at least 400, and ideally 1,000, with ideally at least a 50% response rate. This can be done if they remind people multiple times and offer incentives for completing surveys. Then the resulting survey should attempt to assign some sampling weights so… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Or alternatively, now that I think about it, as far as I know, UU World already has an address list of congregation members — I THINK that if one is a member of a UU congregation, UU World gets sent to each and every member. But I’m not absolutely sure of that. So, the address list from UU World could be used as the start of a sampling frame. And then you make every effort to get a high response rate among those sampled, with reminders and various positive incentives. Now, getting a random sample that is large enough of… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

woulda shoulda coulda … as long as we’re fantasizing, I want a pony…

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Hi, Tim: Thanks for answering my question. Interesting points. I have a few thoughts and questions. First, as to the UU World suggestion, I believe this is sent only to active and pledging members (could be wrong). If one of the purposes in taking such soundings is to determine what is making UUs stay or go, it seems a mistake to exclude those who have already left UU or at least left a congregation. I would assume that simply by someone leaving a congregation and being dropped from its active members list, the UUA has no way to know if… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

“What is the best way to collate and present collected data?” They should have a set of “neutral readers” read through a sample of texts, and try to figure out a reasonably objective classification system for grouping the answers to each question into several group. Then, they should train a machine learning algorithm using the “neutral readers’ classification”, and the computer will process all the answers following that algorithm. This is now pretty standard stuff in social sciences. The challenge is in having a set of neutral readers agree on a classification of answers. So, you would need to find… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

My answer on machine learning assumes that the number of responses to their surveys is high enough that it would be prohibitively time consuming for human beings to attempt to classify all the answers.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

To be honest, my discussion of “random surveys” is really more appropriate for the original COIC report. I think their entire report would have more credibility to the extent they could back up statements with quantitative evidence with a large scale random survey, rather than just with avatars, where it is highly unclear whether these represent reality or the Commission’s perceptions. But as someone else said, it’s a little late now. For the Article II Study Commission, I think their current method is OK, because they are not really attempting to collect representative data, they are just trying to generate… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Very interesting points, thanks, Tim.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago

Where did you get 2021 statistics?

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

OK, I did the same thing. Is the data source for 2021 the same as of 2020? That was my question — where do the published numbers come from for 2020 and preceding years? Same source as this 2021 calculation?

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I wonder if the shut down congregations provided any data about why they closed, for example, due to the pandemic probably, in some cases. For people who returned to a “new normal” or never lost income because their jobs allowed them to work from home, they might not realize to what extent the pandemic was catastrophic for some who never fully recovered, and pledges may have plummeted for this reason in some congregations. I am sure there has also been a decrease in volunteers attributable in part to how much more complicated life became for many in the pandemic. Anyway,… Read more »

Carol Reich
Carol Reich
2 months ago

It seems a cabal, a unified group fearful of new candidates and still needing to study? Who and what UU is, reflective of not much…..discernment, growing edge, and honest dialogue is welcome at the 5th principle, and my few acquaintances who have passed on or friends who left local churches? Are met with exclusion and judgement. Pre rehearsals and clinging to ….makes me think of the 1-6 committee where it is evident that big money, dark money is organized to intimidate or hide people coming forward with their true stories. Silly and sad meet ups like Portland seem a tad… Read more »

A Unitarian Universalist
A Unitarian Universalist
2 months ago

Systems of power, privilege, and oppression have traditionally created barriers for persons and groups with particular identities, ages, abilities, and histories. We pledge to replace such barriers with ever-widening circles of solidarity and mutual respect. We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons and commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.“Systems of power” is applied postmodernist language. Helen Pluckrose, a liberal humanist, observed about applied postmodernism that “[p]eople are born as blank slates into a system of discourses and positioned by their race, gender, class, and sexuality within… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

> I like and agree with the words and the whole paragraph. However, it doesn’t mean anything and is simply transparent hypocrisy when the UUA and ministers don’t practice it. We have ministers espousing that dissenters be asked to leave their congregation.

If you have concrete examples of dissenters being asked to leave by their ministers, I would like to hear them. What did these dissenters do?

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Odd that you should ask for concrete examples because there are a few here who have leveled this exact charge at Todd Eklok. A faction of his congregation left, and at least one of them who has been prominently mentioned on this page claimed that it was because Rev. Eklof didn’t want them around. Did you express any skepticism about that when it was discussed? Believe us when we tell you there have been others, some were in our book while others experienced this post-publication. The point is, these folks were removed or punished for disagreeing. They didn’t do “anything… Read more »

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

I literally actually heard Todd Eklof himself, in a video that used to be publicly posted online (a town hall of his congregation, as I recall) state that he intended to do nothing to accommodate people who believed differently and they could go somewhere else (and I am pretty sure he also suggested getting mental health help). There is no ambiguity whatsoever. If you doubt this, find out what happened to that town hall meeting, maybe ask UUCS to post it again. His recent words in a UUMUAC video deriding those who left and saying “that would be great” if… Read more »

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

You also may want to consult what he and some on his board did by way of attempting to talk to those who eventually chose to leave. It wasn’t just a matter of them making such a decision and him approving. It wasn’t just a matter of him just telling everyone that opposed his views to leave and they accommodated, though one would get that impression from the way you render events. At a certain point in such debates the better part of wisdom might be to simply recognize reality, which is more like what actually happened. Those that left… Read more »

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

I am aware of what happened when a large part of the congregation (not a “small cabal”) left. I understand some people left immediately after the Spokane GA event, and this continued. There was a long process with the then-Board that Eklof tries to portray as a “Rogue Board” conspiring with the UUA, although the processes sound no different than what would happen in a congregation where some people, perhaps a minority, disagreed with actions from a minister they saw as “woke” and asked their Board to address the conflicts (unless they outright tried to use pledges to get their… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Your accusation, echoed by others, that Eklof and his supporters are perpetuating a “polarizing and misleading narrative” is itself a polarizing and misleading narrative, as is the narrative pushed by leadership that the situation as it developed between Eklof and leadership is all the fault of Rev. Eklof. This is reflective of what I see as among the core problems with the current leadership. They seek ardently to hold everyone but themselves “accountable,” to borrow their favorite word.


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

Narrative from departed UUCS members:
https://inuuc.org/about-us/our-stories/history/

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

Narrative from Todd Eklof: “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 majority rose up and said, no, we’re not going to do this, they took it… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

That does not in any way support your accusation.

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

To me, Todd Eklof flagrantly misrepresents what happened in his congregation, to support his narrative. I also included the link to the new congregation’s recounting of their history so people may judge how misrepresnting or polarizing they think it is. As I said, I think you and I have exhausted this topic, and I leave it for others to form their own impressions.

Last edited 2 months ago by K. Lusignan
Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

To me, you and others of your perspective flagrantly misrepresent what happened in his congregation, to support your narrative. Your quote and your youtube link do not support your view.

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

I don’t know anyone else who shares my particular perspective. Everything I recounted in my longer description above represents actual events remembered and recounted to the best of my ability, events which, again, to the best of my ability to recall, Eklof has left out or misrepresented in his narrative. This is polarizing and misleading. If you want to factually support that it was a “small cabal” who left and “never showed their faces again probably because they were embarrassed,” go ahead. But as I said, seeking to cast the conflicts in a one-sided and polarized narrative (while it may… Read more »

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

I don’t see the sentence containing a “small cabal” as sufficient reason to cast the man’s entire point of view as “flagrant misrepresentation.” Hyperbole maybe. But that’s about all. But if you’re concerned about casting conflicts in a one-sided manner then I suggest you talk with leadership. They’ve gotten very good at it.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

(Slightly edited for length, taken from this UUMUAC video:)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dn0GR7-Ljs0&t=947s

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I did the same thing in observing the UUCS congregation after the big blow-up as I did in ours–reviewed publicly available sermons and materials posted on UUCS’s website and listened to individual’s views, especially to people in the congregation to whom those holding more decision-making power did not seem to be listening. Indeed, my reason for following the Spokane conflicts was because I recognized similar issues as in our congregation (and in all of UU), as noted. This means that in addition to reading Eklof’s books, I spent many, many hours reading and listening to other materials, which I would… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I did the same thing in observing the UUCS congregation after the big blow-up as I did in ours–reviewed publicly available sermons and materials posted on UUCS’s website and listened to individuals’ views, especially to people in the congregation to whom those holding more decision-making power did not seem to be listening. Indeed, my reason for following the Spokane conflicts was because I recognized similar issues as in our congregation (and in all of UU), as noted. This means that in addition to reading Eklof’s books, I spent many, many hours reading and listening to other materials, which I would… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

^This one is my edited comment.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I agree that “We have ministers espousing that dissenters be asked to leave their congregation” is an unsupported generalization. You’d probably have to ask those dissenters what they did (or ask others in their congregations), for specific instances. There is also a general statement about “Gadflies” by Sarah Skochko, but I don’t recall its details. I think that there is a big difference between asking people to leave (or take a break from) a congregation over beliefs and doing so over behavior or actions. For example, on the extreme end of the range of behavior, let’s imagine someone (not especially… Read more »

Sally Davis
Sally Davis
2 months ago

Our July 3 service is a report on the Convention by our two delegates who “attended” by zoom. And suggestions for questions to ask would be helpful. Like for ex.

1. Were you aware of the petition candidates running for the board, why they were running, if they were given the opportunity to present ideas etc. there?

2.What are your thoughts re the Second Principle study Committee report of survey results and proposals?

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
2 months ago
Reply to  Sally Davis

I’m interested in viewing a recording of your service. Would I be able to see it on You Tube ?

Sally Davis
Sally Davis
2 months ago
Reply to  David Willkomm

No-vimeo.

Sally Davis
Sally Davis
2 months ago
Reply to  David Willkomm

No-vimeo. Sometimes they are saved and other times they are not. I am not sure why.

Stephen Caldwell
2 months ago
Reply to  Sally Davis

I suspect that most GA delegates were aware of the petition board candidates who ran against two of the nominating committee board candidates at GA. Candidates were not supposed to campaign during General Assembly general sessions. My understanding is that campaigning was not allowed during the general sessions and one petition candidate violated that by wearing campaign swag when speaking during a general session. There were plenty of opportunities to learn about the candidates prior to General Assembly (online candidate forums, candidate web sites, information about candidates shared by one’s UU friends via social media, etc). One candidate’s comments resulted… Read more »

Mark Reimers
Mark Reimers
2 months ago

I think the writer meant “The UUA posted on August 7, 2020” – not 2022

Craig Moro
Craig Moro
2 months ago

Many thanks to UUA Board candidates Rev. Beverly Seese and Rebecca Mattis for running under such difficult conditions! Here’s one example: On June 8, 2022, the UUA sponsored a “Meet the Candidates” (for UUA Board) event. Participants were invited to send questions ahead of time to an Election Campaign Practices Committee  (ECPC) member, who is also a UU minister. Both UUA-sponsored candidates—UU ministers themselves—had signed a group letter condemning the Rev. Todd Eklof on the very same day that his controversial book appeared at GA 2019, before almost anyone could have actually read it.  So I sent this question for all candidates… Read more »

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
2 months ago
Reply to  Craig Moro

As you acknowledged, they got many, many questions. They didn’t read my question either. I actually sent it to all the candidates afterwards, but I think only Rebecca Mattis replied.

Mike B.
Mike B.
2 months ago

I urge everyone to read this piece by Matt Yglesias:

https://www.slowboring.com/p/tema-okun

The UUA has bought hook, line, and sinker an intellectually vacuously document on “White Supremacy Culture” from professional grifter Tema Okun, that actually just reinforces anti-black stereotypes.

That claptrap is what they mean when they say “anti-racism.”

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike B.

David, (and everyone), have you read John McWhorter’s __Woke Racism: How a New Religion has Betrayed Black America__. I find it to be rather loosely reasoned and written, rather like he dictated the book, but his point is that this allegiance to the creed of anti-racism can only be explained if we look to the notion or religion or religious cult.

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike B.

Mike B. While personally, I completely agree with Matt Yglesias’s assessments (thank you for the article, I had lost track of it), citing to him in anti-racist circles is ineffective because he is widely dismissed as right-wing, retrograde. Of course, he talks about that dismissal in his article. And it’s a self-perpetuating closed loop if any criticism is dismissed as White Fragility or White Supremacy.

So, personally, I find him a source to identify the problems, but not to cite to the Woke Creedal Front.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

Have any of the passages from Okun’s work that are highlighted as flawed been cited by the Article II Study Commission or within Widening the Circle of Concern? If not, why is this relevant?

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I was replying to an earlier poster’s suggestion that people read the critique of Okun’s work. I do not know the answers to your questions, but I can tell you it’s relevant because Matt Yglesias points out the core claims/approaches of Okun that absolutely describe the modus operandi in UU discussions. Do not challenge language, it is white supremacy. Do not value education, that is hierarchical and white culture, do not challenge — that is White Fragility, etc, etc. etc. It is absolutely relevant. I am reading Widening the Circle now, so can address this another time, but as a… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by A Southern UU (she, they)
Lee
Lee
2 months ago

When I join a cause it is because I agree with it generally, not because I agree 100% with everyone else who has also joined the cause. For example, I wouldn’t expect supporters to abandon the Fifth Principle Project simply because there are a few forum replies by other Fifth Principle Project supporters that say something unsupportable. Can you give an example where the Article II Study Commission or Widening the Circle of Concern would not permit challenging language, did not value education, etc.? If so, please share! If all the evidence is that someone who shares some goals with… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

I already gave several examples of UU shutting down disagreement by dismissing as White Fragility, centering whiteness or White Supremacy. that’s it for me.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

I apologize that I missed the examples of UUs shutting down disagreement. Are you referring to:

> Absolutely. I have been admonished on those points myself by fellow UUs.

It would help me to understand better if you would share details about a concrete example of UUs shutting down disagreement.

Or do you primarily mean Yglesias’s page (linked above)? I find no mention of UUs in that. Or some other work that is referenced above?

I could be overlooking a loud and clear message that you have already written. If so, I am sorry for asking again.

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, For example, about a year or so ago (spring 2021), I wrote a letter to UU World to the Letters to the Editor section (which we still had, I think). It pertained the impenetrable phrasing of the proposed 8th principle, with several suggestions for lucidity and focus. I also copied the two co-authors of the proposed 8th. Bruce Pollack-Johnson, co-author wrote back nearly immediately asking me to withdraw the letter, because this was centering whiteness, and to do otherwise would be to disrespect and harm the minority members of our denomination. (I no longer have that email so I… Read more »

Jim
Jim
2 months ago

http://esr.ibiblio.org/?p=2122 I hope it is clear by now that the particular flavor of thoughtcrime alleged is irrelevant to understanding the operation of kafkatraps and how to avoid being abused and manipulated by kafkatrappers. In times past the kafkatrapper was usually a religious zealot; today, he or she is just as likely to be advancing an ideology of racial, gender, sexual-minority, or economic grievance. Whatever your opinion of any of these causes in their ‘pure’ forms may be, there are reasons that the employment of kafkatrapping is a sure sign of corruption.The practice of kafkatrapping corrupts causes in many ways, some… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

Thank you for sharing. I appreciate very much hearing of actual experiences because they are much more persuasive (to me) than many of the generalities that are shared but are insufficiently substantiated (in my opinion). I hope I am understanding correctly — please correct me where I am not. There were several times where you expressed an opinion and someone else expressed disagreement and asked you to change your opinion or action. Do I have that right? This is where I am probably not yet fully understanding. Instead of considering this as liberal debate, a vital part of a liberal… Read more »

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, very good questions. Let me try to respond. There have been MANY times when I challenge a presentation, a point, or a statement, and in response the proponent of White Fragility not just labels my comments, but dismisses, disdains, and seeks to shame me into silence. It’s not just labeling — it’s absolute dismissal. Convo done. In NO WAY is this part of liberal debate. There is no debate. No discussion. For example in the instance where I wrote to UU World and shared that fact with the Social Justice Facebook page at my church, one person stated/wrote that… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago

I believe I understand. I say that because I believe I experience something similar. When I ask what is wrong with Widening the Circle of Concern, the feedback is frequently labels such as Critical Race Theory. I cannot claim definitive answers for the situations that you faced, but I can relate my experience. What I did is not accept that the conversation was quashed. Instead, I found a time and place to continue the conversation as politely as I could, by asking for clarification. And, because it is part of how I am, I asked for specific examples. I wish… Read more »

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Lee, thank you. I will think about this.

Truly.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Yes, in one specific sense. The Widening Report cited Okun’s work on p. 53. More generally, the implication of the Widening Report and the Article II Study Commission and other UUA activities is that UUism needs a major cultural change. Often UUA sources seem to interpret this as needing to adopt Okun’s framework. For example, a report on revising worship practices, posted at the UUA’s website, centers its entire analysis around Okun’s framework. https://www.uua.org/worship/lab/dismantling-white-supremacy-culture-worship More generally, simply google “Okun” and “UUA” together, and you will find that her work is pervasive in at least some persons’ vision of the UU… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

> Yes, in one specific sense. The Widening Report cited Okun’s work on p. 53.

As part of its survey of congregations, Widening the Circle of Concern mentions several including Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist. Widening the Circle of Concern reports on Mt. Diablo’s document, which does include a footnote to Okun’s work.

As I see it, Widening the Circle of Concern is quoting that someone else had a footnote. That’s hard for me to parse as an endorsement by Widening the Circle of Concern of the specific passages that have been highlighted as flawed.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

You ignored all my other points.

You are really determined to only look at what you want to look at. Hence, you are unlikely to discover anything that disagrees with your prior beliefs.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

You do make many points, thank you, and I have not followed up on all of them. You are correct that I have a particular focus. There is much criticism of both the Article II Study Commission and Widening the Circle of Concern on this forum and both are of interest to me. So, I am definitely focusing on finding concrete examples of where the commission and document are worthy of that criticism. The other points are also worthy of discussion. I am hoping to get some resolution on my questions before they get lost in those other points. I… Read more »

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

Re-reading your points, I see that they are indeed relevant to my questions. I will take a look. I apologize for failing to do this earlier.

Lee
Lee
2 months ago
Reply to  Lee

@Tim Bartik Thank you for those leads. Here are my thoughts: > More generally, the implication of the Widening Report and the Article II Study Commission and other UUA activities is that UUism needs a major cultural change. Often UUA sources seem to interpret this as needing to adopt Okun’s framework. Getting rid of racism in society as a whole is a huge endeavor. Despite good intent, racist impact has seeped into UUism, and rooting it out is not easy. That’s the “major cultural change.” I do not see it as code speak for “go find the parts of Okun’s… Read more »

Last edited 2 months ago by Lee
Tim Bartik
2 months ago

Denouncing Matt Yglesias as “right-wing” is pretty ridiculous, as it is clear his politics are typical “moderate liberal”. So if someone regards Yglesias as “right wing”, then 85% or 90% of the country is “right wing”. At the very least, that’s no way to win elections.

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I was not ‘denouncing’ him as such. I am reporting how he is seen on university campuses nationwide, and reporting that his talks have been cancelled for that reason.

Tim Bartik
2 months ago

Oh, I’m sorry you interpreted my remarks that way — I knew you weren’t denouncing him, I was referring to the others you referred to. That’s the problem with social media interactions — it is hard to make it clear what you’re referring to. I didn’t mean you, I meant others. I am not aware of Matt Yglesias ever having any talks cancelled, or frankly I don’t think he gives many speeches. AFAIK, he just posts on Substack and Twitter, and sometimes meets up with his Substack readers at brewpubs. So I wonder if you are confusing Matt with someone… Read more »

A Southern UU
A Southern UU
2 months ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Wow wow, Tim you are RIGHT!!! I confused the name with Yiannopoulos who has been cancelled and protested. Sorry and thank you!!

But I did read the attached article from earlier criticizing or critiquing Okun. In my UU circles such critique would be dismissed as white supremacy and centering whiteness.

Thank you for the catch!!

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  A Southern UU

As Yglesias jokes, the Okun thing is so weird and counterproductive than one wonders whether it isn’t a right-wing plot to make progressive organizations less effective. He says the following: “In my more conspiratorial moments, I wonder if it’s not a psyop devised by some modern-day version of COINTELPRO to try to destroy progressive politics in the United States by making it impossible to run effective organizations. “ On a less joking note, Ryan Grim at the Intercept had an interesting column on June 13, 2022, where he covered that a lot of these cultural trends have seriously undermined many progressive organizations.… Read more »

Tim Bartik
2 months ago
Reply to  A Southern UU

I’m reposting this without links as my linked version got held up. As Yglesias jokes, the Okun thing is so weird and counterproductive than one wonders whether it isn’t a right-wing plot to make progressive organizations less effective. He says the following: “In my more conspiratorial moments, I wonder if it’s not a psyop devised by some modern-day version of COINTELPRO to try to destroy progressive politics in the United States by making it impossible to run effective organizations. “ On a less joking note, Ryan Grim at the Intercept had an interesting column on June 13, 2022, where he covered… Read more »

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
2 months ago

Regardless of your opinion of the intent of the 8th principle, it should not be adopted because it is not a principle. The dictionary says a principle is “a fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior.” The proposed 8th is most certainly not this. A call to action perhaps? Plus it is filled with meaningless politically correct double-speak, a linguistic horror. A most definite “no” to this.

John Collins
John Collins
2 months ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

Despite the different way the proposed 8th principle is worded, compared with the current 7 principles, the proposed 8th principle does indeed rest upon and articulate a core principle–the principle that are all people are created equal. It does this my committing UUs to build a diverse multicultural beloved community, and to dismantle racism. Our current 7 principles, all truly inspiring, do not directly affirm this most profound principle, that we are all created equal. White supremacy is founded on an opposite principle–that some people, identified by the color of their skin, are born superior to other people of a… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago
Reply to  John Collins

We still have a lot of work to do toward fulfilling the promise of that idea, yes. You go on to suggest that the principles, particularly the first, are insufficient for moving us toward that beloved community, and that this is why the 8th principle is needed. I gather that this is because the proposed language includes the idea of accountability, that is, that our member congregations will somehow be held accountable for their efforts. The question we have persistently asked is how and to whom will member congregations and individual UU’s be held accountable. We believe that is a… Read more »

A Southern UU (she, they)
A Southern UU (she, they)
2 months ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Frank, Actually, there IS an answer to the question of accountability — the “8th principle” webpage states that there should be a “People of Color Caucus” within congregations to whom congregants would be accountable, and who would express concerns to the congregation. Now that is pretty durned ill-advised, if you ask me, but there has at least been that explicit answer (https://www.8thprincipleuu.org/what-does-it-mean-to-be-accountable).

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
2 months ago

Yes, that is a proposal in the COIC report. So that begs the question, why does leadership declare that commissions made of minorities will hold us all accountable but provide no substance on just what we will be held accountable for and how? I’ll add that I know of at least one congregation that floated this idea and none of the minority members wanted any part of it.

Eichrodt John
Eichrodt John
2 months ago

Grateful for the update and information and analysis. Thanks for being present and active. Hopefully, most UU’s will strongly voice their attachment to our sacred principles and tradition. The principles and sources form a theological framework that is internally coherent, interconnected and interdependent. They have inspired and led us for generations. Hazardous to touch one part without compromising the whole. John Eichrodt