The feedback collected by the Article II Study Commission from its online form is available at discuss.uua.org. It is difficult to determine how many suggestions have been submitted, but it appears that over 200 submissions have been received.
The site administrator has offered some tips to sort through the submissions. We encourage everyone to review the submissions and comment. To reply to a submission, you must have login credentials to discuss.uua.org. See the Sign-Up option at the top right-hand corner of the webpage. Your comments will help to build a community around these suggested changes.
The online form will remain open until April 30.
These “feedback suggestions” are NOT official bylaw amendments. More later on that topic.
What Has Been Suggested
The suggested changes reflect the diversity of thinking within Unitarian Universalism.
One grammarian argued that the word “which” should be replaced with “that.” A higher-level suggestion argued that replacing our Six Sources with a paragraph narrative was a bad idea. Several people suggested retaining “serve the needs of its member congregations” as the primary purpose of the Association. Others argued that the phrase “individual freedom of belief” should appear. There are many rewording suggestions.
One of the most concise suggestions was “Scrap the entire thing.”
I See What You Said
This process of public feedback on the Article II Study Commission’s work is good. It is also the first time in the 2 ½ years since the Commission began its work that UUs have had an opportunity to have direct access to the thinking of other UUs. This sharing is a step forward to engaging more UUs in the discussion, a process that would have had more benefit if it had been adopted earlier. But let’s celebrate that we now have a more open approach.
In 2009, the last time Article II was up for a vote, delegates complained about the inability to amend the proposed Article II language. Delegates then had only an up-or-down decision on the submitted language. Now amendments will be entertained.
It appears the solicitation of feedback and the public sharing of that feedback has become a conduit for formulating amendments to the proposed Article II language.
One suggestion solicited a reply from Charles Du Mond, a UUA co-moderator. The suggestion (#23 Name the Seven Principles) said, “The bottom line is that, no matter what else they want to include, the Seven Principles must all be there intact as such and not buried in other verbiage.”
The co-moderate wrote.
Dear Mona Lee (#23), Eric Burch (#29), Kenneth Button (#30), Ronald Schaeffer (#42), Diane Conrad (#132), Jerald Ross (#156), and Virginia Nixon (#183):
Your suggestions are all very similar. You all appear to want to add the 7 principles back into Article II. You are encouraged to work together, combine your suggestions into one proposed amendment, and decide who will be the delegate to sponsor it.
There is a lot to unpack in this comment.
The good news, amendments to the proposed language open the process to public debate. The bad news is that the actual language placed on the floor of the General Assembly will emerge only a few days before the vote. Amendments will be discussed at the mini-assembly preceding General Assembly. This amendment process also narrows the number of people involved. Only General Assembly delegates can submit and vote on amendments.
With only delegates offering and voting on amendments and final language, it can be asked just how representative is General Assembly of the will of UUs across the country.
This problem was recognized more than 20 years ago by the Fifth Principle Project Task Force and re-emphasized in the 2020 Widening the Circle of Concern report. General Assembly “is not really democratic in that delegates are neither representative of their congregations other than being members nor are they accountable to them.” (page 31)
When making changes to the core elements of Unitarian Universalism, such as our Principles, Sources, and Freedom of Belief statement, it is essential that no UU be disenfranchised.
What to do?
We recommend that each congregation, during its delegate selection process, ask how the votes of those delegates will reflect the will of the congregation as a whole. It can be appropriately argued that delegates will need some flexibility since the final language of Article II is subject to last-minute changes.
However, macro-level guidance is equally valid. That is, if the will of the congregation is to retain the Seven Principles or to ensure the primary purpose of the Association remains to serve the needs of its member congregations, then delegates can vote in accordance with this general guidance.
A great deal is at stake at the upcoming June General Assembly. Let’s ensure every voice has a vote.
Below are two recommended videos hosted on Save the Seven Principles website. These videos can be shared on social media.
This short video provides a well-argued reason to retain our Seven Principles.
The 55-minute video is well worth watching. It is structured as a two-part video that provides an in-depth review of the “behind the scenes” motivation for actions taken by the UU national leadership.
Two Important Things
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