Discuss Draft Article II Language

Draft language from the Article II Study Commission is now available for review and comment. Article II of the Association’s bylaws contains the Purpose of the Association, our Seven Principles, Six Sources, Inclusion and Freedom of Belief statements. Per a requirement of the Association’s bylaws, Article II is subject to review every 15 years. Accordingly, the UUA Board of Trustees in August 2020 established the Article II Study Commission for a two year term with the power to “revise, replace, or restructure” Article II.

The October 22, 2022 agenda of the UUA Board of Trustees meeting included a review of the draft language of Article II as submitted by the Article II Study Commission. Once the UUA Board of Trustees approves the structure and language for a new Article II, a vote will be taken at the June 2023 General Assembly regarding the revised Article II. It is important that all UUs, congregations, and fellowships are aware of the proposed changes to Article II and prepare to make an informed vote at the 2023 General Assembly.

Article II Discussion Forum

To assist UUs, congregations, and fellowships to make an informed voting decision, the Fifth Principle Project is sponsoring an Article II Discussion Forum on Tuesday,  November 1 at 8:00 PM Eastern.

All are invited. However, if you wish to participate in the discussion, make a comment, or ask a question you will be required to turn on your device camera and speak directly to the forum. In order to foster a free-flowing conversation, we have opted not to use the Chat feature for questions. In short, we ask that if you have a comment or a thought to share, please engage in the conversation and not use the Chat feature.

Pre-registration is required.

Follow this Pre-registration link to attend this Article II Discussion Forum on November 1, 2022 at 8:00 to 9:30 PM Eastern (7:00 PM Central, 6:00 PM Mountain, 5:00 PM Pacific.

Article II Study Guideline

An Article II Study Guide has been developed that provides background on Article II and its history.  Topics included in the Article II Study Guide include:

  • Why have an Article II discussion?
  • What is Article II?
  • What’s the background/history of the Article II sections?
  • Review 2009 Article II Recommended Revisions
  • Review Draft Language of Article II

The Article II Study Guide is available in PDF download format. You are free to share this Study Guide.  The Study Guide also contains the draft Article II language and voting procedures at General Assembly.

You are encouraged to share this Discussion Post URL on social media.

Summary of Changes

The draft Article II significantly revises the structure and language of the current Article II. Below is a summary of those changes.

  • Purpose of the Association: Replaced with new language.
  • Seven Principles: Eliminated. Replaced with value and covenant statements.
  • Six Sources: Eliminated. Replaced with a narrative description of inspirations.
  • Inclusion Statement: Unchanged.
  • Freedom of Belief: Retained most of the original language, but an appended statement outlines how beliefs must be expressed.

Draft Article II Language

Section C-2.1. Purposes.

The Unitarian Universalist 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 our Unitarian Universalist values in the world. We will transform the world by our liberating love.

Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant.

Love is the enduring force that holds us together.

As Unitarian Universalists in religious community, we covenant, congregation-to-congregation and through our association, to support and assist each other in engaging our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom and reason, hope and courage, building on the foundation of love.

Love inspires and powers the passion with which we embody our values. Inseparable from one another, these shared values are:

Article II Value Bubble Chart

Justice. We work to be diverse multicultural Beloved Communities where all people thrive.
We covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of oppression within individuals and our institutions. We are accountable to each other for this work.

Generosity. We cultivate a spirit of gratitude and hope.
We covenant to freely share our faith, presence, and resources. Compassionate generosity connects us one to another in relationships of mutuality.

Evolution. We adapt to the changing world.
We covenant to collectively transform and grow spiritually and ethically. Evolution is fundamental to life and to our Unitarian Universalist heritages, never complete and never perfect.

Pluralism. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, theology, and experience.
We covenant to learn from one another and openly explore the depth and breadth of our many wisdoms. We embrace our differences and commonalities with love, curiosity, and respect.

Equity. We declare that every person has the right to flourish with dignity and worthiness.
We covenant to use our time, wisdom, attention, and money to build and sustain a fully inclusive and accessible community of communities.

Interdependence. We honor the sacred interdependent web of all existence. With humility we understand our place in the web.
We covenant to care for and respect the earth and all beings by fostering relationships of mutuality. We work to repair the bonds we have broken.

Section C-2.3. Inspirations.

As Unitarian Universalists, we draw upon, and are inspired by, the full depth and breadth of sacred understandings, as experienced by humanity. Grateful for the religious lineages we inherit and the pluralism which enriches our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.

Section C-2.4. Inclusion.

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 who share our values. We commit to structuring congregational and associational life in ways that empower and enhance everyone’s participation.

Section C-2.5. Freedom of belief.

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Unitarian Universalist 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. In expressing our beliefs, we do so in the spirit of love, in ways that further Beloved Community.

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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Barry Andrews
Barry Andrews
1 month ago

I don’t see this as an improvement over what we have now. As a former religious educator I would find this difficult to explain to children. It seems pretty vague. Dropping the sources makes it more difficult to explain UUism to adults too. Also, I don’t know what liberating love means.

Sally G.
Sally G.
1 month ago

I am not a fan. I don’t see the point of a diagram in by-laws, nor statements of covenant.

Robert South
Robert South
1 month ago
Reply to  Sally G.

Who is covenanting? By being a member congregation are we covenanting?

Steve Shaw
Steve Shaw
1 month ago

One glaring tragedy of the principles replacement (values and covenant) is the extermination of the fourth pinciple. “A free and responsible search for truth and meaning” is the vital antidote to the rampant misinformation, disinformation and conspiracy kookery that threaten our democracy.  But oops!  The (democratic) fifth principle, likewise, is deep-sixed. Welcome to the thoroughly postmodern UU church, where there are no objective truths or big lies. This fuzzy rewrite is a summons to fall in love with falling in line — to humbly “understand our place in the web.” Many progressives who share UU values don’t share the prevailing identitarian obsession. They view… Read more »

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Shaw

I appreciate your comment about Truth being the first casualty of war. I often used that phrase, when counseling combat vets, who were anguishing over the unfairness to which they had been subjected.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Shaw

Well said. Thank you!

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

If I see another post like this from you, you will be removed from this page.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Shaw

If you have something specific you think is counter factual, state it. Otherwise, your post is just stupid name calling.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Shaw

Well said, I agree. These proposed changes are a true horror. Abandoning the Seven Principles is abandoning the heart of UU.

Chuck Schneider
Chuck Schneider
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Shaw

My beloved Jonathon, perhaps you should contemplate on the virtues of love, tolerance, respect, and generosity ( not to mention logic and rationality ) before commenting on someone else’s “ accountability” or covenant.

Jay Hamlin
Jay Hamlin
1 month ago

Our interim minister sent out the draft as soon as he saw it. He has held one discussion session last night. I am not a fan of throwing our 7 principles out. Below was my first response: Thanks Rev. Ben for distributing the draft and organizing a meeting to discuss. I disagree with and will actively support the rejection of this proposal. This is based on several points – I’ll list three below: 1.    I believe the values a person holds are derived from the principles they consider true. Consequently, I am totally against removing our 7 principles from our… Read more »

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
1 month ago

Section C 2.2 embraces certain attributes. It fails to identify with Honesty. Or, Logic. Or, Realism. All claims to equity, or pluralism, or generosity and the other embraced categories are meaningless without Honesty, Realism, and Logic.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

I would have thought that the thoughtful leadership on the Commission would have considered refining the very general term – “love.” It has been one of the central themes of human exploration and consideration throughout literature, art, music and philosophy for millienia. Or, maybe, just pick up a little flyer like the list a friend found in a flower shop about the “8 different types of love.” Here’s the list: Philia: Philia is love without romantic attraction and occurs between friends or family members. It’s commonly referred to as “brotherly love.”Pragma: Pragma is a unique bonded love that matures over… Read more »

Stephen Polmar
Stephen Polmar
1 month ago

I would like to point out two statements in the proposed draft of Article II that fundamentally abrogate the founding principles of the denomination which date back to the early 19th century: Section C-2.1. Purposes. “The Unitarian Universalist Association shall devote its resources to and exercise its organizational powers …… With this statement, the UUA gives itself authority over congregations, a clear violation of the concept of congregational polity which has been fundamental to Unitarianism since its founding. This statement clearly formalizes the authoritarian nature of the UUA. Section C-2.2. Values and Covenant. “As Unitarian Universalists in religious community, we… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago

The rich history of Unitarianism and Universalism has been reduced to banal pablum. It is the equivalent of taking sixty years of intellectual and spiritual thoughts, arguments, and discussions contained Article II and reducing them to the stature of a comic book. What religion does not put love at its center? Everything that once set UU apart from all the other religions has been lost to feel good slogans. The majority of UU congregants will likely never see this proposal until they wake up one day after GA and realize their beloved 7 Principles and 6 sources are gone. The… Read more »

Robert South
Robert South
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

This applies only to the UUA. Here is the preamble to my congregation’s bylaws. PREAMBLE Desiring to extend the heritage of this church, and to maintain a religious society restrictive of no person on grounds of race, color, disability, sex, affectional or sexual orientation, age, national origin, or prior religious commitment, and desiring to acknowledge our affiliation with and support of the Unitarian Universalist Association, we do accept and subscribe to its objectives as herein stated. Be it known to all therefore, that being dedicated to the principles of a free faith, we unite in seeking: 1)     To strengthen one another in… Read more »

Stephen Polmar
Stephen Polmar
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Your suggestion to make the members of congregations aware of the fundamental changes proposed by the Article II Commission is an excellent one and I strongly support it. I also would encourage others to also make other UU’s aware of the changes that are proposed and their potential impact on the foundation of Unitarian Universalism. In my initial attempts to do so, I have found that the lay leaders of my former congregation were completely unaware of these significant changes, e.g. elimination of the 7 Principles and 6 sources, etc.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
1 month ago

Has anyone seen any detailed explanation as to why Article II needs to be changed? I have found nothing beyond banal and meaningless statements of “we need to change with the times.”

Robert South
Robert South
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

As I understand it there’s a requirement that it be revisited every 15 years.

Robert South
Robert South
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

The justification for these particular changes is given on the UUA website is this: “Our Association has grown in its understanding of systemic oppressions, such as racism, ableism, and heteronormative beliefs. However, many people feel the language of Article II does not reflect these learnings. The Board believes we need an Article II which leads us into the future.”

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
30 days ago
Reply to  Robert South

Thank you. As I feared, this is reflective of the apparent takeover of the UUA by radical anti-racists and CRT extremists. The proposed 8th principle was an earlier sign of this.

John Veneruso
John Veneruso
1 month ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

.

Last edited 1 month ago by John Veneruso
John Veneruso
John Veneruso
1 month ago

Although a commission is convened every 15 years to review and possibly revise Article II, the bylaws state that this commission only has authority to perform this duty for a total of 2 years from its formation. Given that this specific commission is now presenting these changes well after the 2 years, everything that they’ve recently proposed cannot legitimately change Article II. Instead, their proposal can only be legally viewed as a suggestion to the next Article II commission. While it’s true that the UUA can choose to go rogue, defying their agreements and covenants with others, doing so egregiously… Read more »

Tamara
Tamara
1 month ago
Reply to  John Veneruso

Well said John.
the Seven Principles are what I was impressed with & why I joined UU.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago
Reply to  John Veneruso

The UUA will only change if there is a grass roots ground swell against their actions and that will only happen if the proposed changes are forced into the open and all members of all UU congregations get to see how the bedrock of UU is being shattered.

Pat
Pat
19 days ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

I don’t understand this idea that there is only a total of two years. Then it loses validity and people “go rogue.” It was a pandemic though, surely there is room for us to take our time and do it right. Surely someone must have taken that into accoun.

Paul Avery
Paul Avery
1 month ago

When I last looked last evening or so, there were 34 comments to this article. Now there are 22, not including this one. Did people delete some of their comments or did the Webmaster remove some? Inquiring minds want to know…

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago
Reply to  Paul Avery

I removed all the comments from one poster and blocked him from further posts. This was due to his insulting and profanity based trolling.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Bravo!

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Thank you.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

In reading through the proposed changes I can’t really find anything I am particularly opposed to. The language is fluent and the sentiments are agreeable. I mean, who could be opposed to love? The thing I find incomprehensible is why they found it necessary to cancel and eliminate the Principles and Sources. Why not just add another section – “Values and Covenants” – and put all this fine language about love and generosity in there. It doesn’t seem very generous or compassionate to just toss out those Principles and Sources which were what drew me to UUism and which drew… Read more »

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
30 days ago
Reply to  Jim

I find the proposed new language to be, in essence, meaningless banal pap — a big nothingburger. All this “love” stuff, really, who isn’t for love? It’s like being for fairness or oxygen. And the emphasis on covenant is worrisome. When they “defrocked” Rev. Eklof the cited reason was an ill-defined “breaking of covenant,” which suggests that the UUA and UUMA could continue to interpret this covenant or that covenant to have been broken as a mean of disciplining dissenters.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
30 days ago

Its been several days since this bombshell came out. I would like to know what everyone who reads these comments is personally doing about them? Is there any organized grassroots campaign to alert the common everyday faithful UU congregant what is about to happen to their religion?

Jim
Jim
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Three days ago I posted the link to the congregational e-mail list of the UU congregation I’m somewhat associated with (can’t really consider myself either a “member” or a “friend” anymore). A friend responded and also copied and pasted the wording in the e-mail, so even those who can’t be bothered to click on links might read it… One positive response from someone pleased as punch with the update to the “old” Article II. Nothing else since then. Personally, I’m looking for alternatives for community. Hard to find for someone who isn’t compatible with organized religion. Perhaps it’s time to… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
30 days ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

We are doing our part. There is and never has been a method for reaching the rank and file on the congregations, and the UUA haws never shown an interest in helping to make that happen. They seem perfectly happy to control communication paths between and among the congregations. So, everyone that reads this page might consider sending the A2 draft to everyone and anyone they know in their congregation and to others as well.

Jim
Jim
30 days ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

You know, a few years ago I was telling family, and everyone and anyone I knew, about the removal of “standing” from acceptable UU language usage – everyone, every single one, thought it was the silliest, most ridiculous thing they had heard of. Our kids, fine upstanding liberals, all thought, as one said, UU’s were a bunch of “wackadoodles” and they still wonder why we have anything to do with a bunch of guilt-ridden white progressives who are so timidly self-effacing as to be parodies of themselves.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
29 days ago
Reply to  Jim

Oh yeah–when I mentioned this to my wheelchair-bound sister she had a good laugh and then said it was among the stupidest things she had ever heard. Then I went thru the first 50 hymns in the gray hymnal and found that well more than half of them had a reference to some “ability” that some people lack–standing, hearing, singing, seeing, dancing, and so on. Are the loony PC censors going to eviscerate the hymnal?

Jim
Jim
29 days ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

“Eviscerate” is insensitive to people with guts

Tim Bartik
30 days ago

The Article II Study Commission asked that UUs read this draft 3 times through: “Read it the first time to observe how it makes you feel. Read a second time, observe what it makes you think. Finally read it a third time before thinking about any suggestions.” So, following their approach, I read the draft three times. How the draft makes me feel, first time through: Mainly, I was surprised that the Commissions moderated the “accountability” language, and included the important caveat that nothing in the Article should be interpreted as intefering with individual freedom of belief and expression. So… Read more »

P J
P J
29 days ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

This is brilliant. Please send it to the study commission.

-Someone who reads this site regularly, disagrees with most of the analysis and baseline assumptions here, supports the fact and mission of the Article II Commission, but also finds the draft that they’ve circulated disappointing and can’t imagine voting to move it forward if I’m at GA next year.

Tim Bartik
28 days ago
Reply to  P J

Thank you for the kind words. It is always hard to know whether your words have any impact, so it is nice to hear from someone who feels that I might have made some contribution.

Your words did prompt me to send these comments to the email address that they listed in their call for feedback, which I hope is the appropriate email address.

Robert Lamb
Robert Lamb
26 days ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I, too, was very impressed by your analysis. I hope the commission reads your words. The idea of two principles resonates with me. I was also disappointed by this product. I had hoped it would be much more succinct and less ambiguous.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
29 days ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

Excellent, thank you. As PJ said, the study commission should read your comments. Unfortunately I have a sense that the commission is to some extent a hand-picked creation of the UUA leadership, selected to do their bidding.

Tim Bartik
28 days ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

That could well be.

On the other hand, I would think the UUA leadership wants a revised Article II to pass — and I think that is by no means a certainty. So, I am sure they are thinking about whether this draft will work or not, in terms of getting a two-thirds vote to be enacted.

Barbara
Barbara
26 days ago

“Beloved Community” sounds like cult-language.

George Kimmich Beach
George Kimmich Beach
25 days ago

Regarding the “Draft Article II Language” as posted by the 5th Principle Project                        By George Kimmich Beach I want to call attention to what we will lose by the proposed total replacement of the Principles and Sources section of the UUA Bylaws. The existing language, dating from the 1980s (with a few additions since) has served our need for a UU platform that is unifying of our diversity and educational for new members and for our children. The new language being proposed undercuts our historically rooted religious diversity. A spiritual dimension, or sense of transcendence, is found in every religious tradition (and… Read more »

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
25 days ago

This statement, in C-2.4, is troubling:

“We strive to be an association of congregations that truly welcome all persons who share our values.”

In other words, if you do not share our values, you are not welcome?

And of course it is the UUA who defines these values, right?

Pat
Pat
19 days ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

Peter, It has always been like that. No Nazis allowed because they don’t share our values. Nazis can have ffree speech but not in my congregation. The problem is how do we prove we are ‘truly welcoming’ and what to do about it. After my stroke I lost most access to my congregation. I don’t drive or walk anymore. No one visits me because I no longer speak or write, and type so slowly it is awkward for them I think. So are they welcoming? Do we truly welcome people now? I don’t think we ever did a good job… Read more »

Tim Bartik
18 days ago
Reply to  Pat

I think it all depends on how we define “values”. I think it’s fine if we ban Nazis and similar folks by saying: “All are welcome who share our GOALS and BELIEFS in the inherent worth and dignity of all human beings, regardless of what group they are in. ” But if if we extend the ban further by saying: “All our welcome who share the UUA’s POLICY POSITIONS on the best MEANS to achieve our GOALS and IMPLEMENT our BELIEFS”, then the “share our values” rhetoric becomes more problematic. So while I think any group needs to define some… Read more »

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
17 days ago
Reply to  Tim Bartik

I don’t think it’s useful to bring Nazis into this. One way I see values is as a way to prioritize things, and the UUA leadership and the A2 commission have made no secret about racial justice being essentially their one and only priority. What about people whose first priority is something else, such as climate change, economic justice, gender equality, voting rights, hunger, etc? Are they not to be welcome? This is another symptom of the top-down approach I see coming from the UUA more and more. 

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
17 days ago
Reply to  Peter Aitken

Under the value “Justice”, it says we covenant to dismantle racism and all forms of oppression WITHIN individuals. Now, how the hell do we plan to do that? Surgery? Exorcism?  I guess we should welcome Nazi’s so we can dismantle the racism within them.

Peter Aitken
Peter Aitken
3 days ago

My fellowship held an open meeting about this issue. As I understand it, the process will be as follows: 1) The proposed bylaws from the A2 committee will go to the UUA board for their meeting early next year. 2) If the board approves the changes, the proposed new bylaws will be presented to GA for a vote in June 2023. 3) If the changes are voted down (by a simple majority) that will be the end of the process and the current bylaws will remain. If they are approved, the process will move forward. 4) The final vote will… Read more »

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