Dick Burkhart for UUA Nominating Committee

The Fifth Principle Project is extending its support to Dick Burkhart in his election bid by petition to become a member of the UUA Nominating Committee. This committee identifies candidates for UUA leadership positions, except Moderator or President.

The Nominating Committee exerts significant influence on who represents UUs at the national level. Due to a provision in the UUA bylaws, the Nominating Committee can effectively select our national leadership. That bylaw provision reads, in part,

Voting shall be by ballot, except that if only one person has been validly nominated for an elective position at large the persons so nominated shall be declared elected and no voting shall be required. (Article IX Nominations and Elections, Section 9.10, subsection (a).)

The Nominating Committee is under no obligation to present more than one candidate for an elected position, which means that the Nominating Committee is essentially selecting people who may serve on the UUA Board of Trustees. There is only an election if a UU submits a petition to have their name placed on the ballot. The bylaws further prohibit write-in candidates.

We applaud Dick’s petition effort and willingness to serve the Association.

Candidate Statement for the Nominating Committee

Dick Burkhart

After 6 years, controversies continue to erode trust in the UUA, signaling failures of leadership, but also spurring new champions for our 7 principles. Congregations across the continent have fractured, with hard feelings, major losses of membership, and ministers resigned. And it’s not just poor training to handle conflict, or the lack of due process, or that the controversies over identity politics in the larger society have disrupted many congregations.

 It’s actually worse:  Some leaders and staff are being taught that it’s OK to display highly ideological positions on certain issues, such as race or gender. Even principled criticism may be deemed “harmful” – to be censored or punished, with accusations substituting for dialogue. Whatever happened to our 4th principle – “a free and responsible search for truth and meaning?”  Or the “democratic process” of our 5th principle?

 As a member of the Nominating Committee, I will seek candidates who understand effective conflict resolution and are passionately committed to the ethics of our 7 principles. This leadership must seek practical, not ideological, guidance and training of staff, grounded in mutuality and evidence – to turn conflict into opportunity. It must accommodate diversity of thought and viewpoint, independent of identity, and heed legal due process.

 Already books and podcasts are detailing how our “liberal religion” is acting in an increasingly “illiberal”, or authoritarian manner. Why not go back to our roots and become a “liberal beacon” for a fractured society? Organizations like “Braver Angels” are showing how to conduct open and honest discussion across partisan divides, finding both common ground and mutual respect.

 We too can bridge those divides:  Multiple crises are calling us to cooperate on unprecedented scales, guided both by science and expanded visions “for the interdependent web” of life on planet earth.

Candidate Bio

Dick Burkhart – petition candidate for the Nominating Committee (3-year term ending at GA 2026)

Dick is a life-long UU, Ph.D. mathematician, scientist, and citizen activist. He has served the Saltwater UU Church near Seattle, and later the Rainier Valley UU Congregation, in numerous capacities, such as Chair of Social Responsibility, Canvass, and Board. He lives in Seattle and took early retirement in 2002 from Boeing, where he had worked in applied mathematics and scientific computing. His second career became “UU advocate for justice.” He is a long-time board member of UUs for a Just Economic Community, a professional critic of economic theory and practice, and has participated in 20 General Assemblies.

He led the 2014 Congregational Study Action Issue on “Escalating Inequality” and the 2019 Action of Immediate Witness on the “Green New Deal.” He was on the board of Washington UU Voices for Justice for many years and earlier helped lead the PNWD Adult RE Committee.

Dick and his wife, Mona Lee, promoted the Earth Charter on their “Bike for Global Democracy” on months-long tandem tours in India, Brazil, Europe, and North America from 2003 to 2006, organizing events at world social forums and other venues. This led to his leadership of the “Coalition for a World Parliament and Global Democracy,” now a non-profit called “Democracy Works.” Since then, he has worked with numerous local groups to advocate for limits-to-growth, peace and justice, tax equity, public transit, transit-oriented development, and affordable housing – especially for the homeless.

Dick’s first marriage was Thai-American – from 2 years teaching in Laos. His African friendships include leaders from both Kenya and Somalia. Now he is a community activist in a splendidly multicultural zip code, coming from a family that played a key role in promoting racial justice in nearby Tacoma.

Recently Dick has been reading widely, learning how cultural wars and identity politics have become divide and conquer tactics, disrupting our efforts to engage the existential earth crises of climate, ecosystems, natural resources, governance, and equity.

 

Two Important Things

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Jim
Jim
1 year ago

What an impressive bio and statement!

It will be a great loss to the UUA if their misguided priorities get in the way of putting such an impressive candidate on the Nominating Committee. They should be grateful he’s willing to serve, given the dysfunctional state of affairs their bien pensant ideology has produced.

Steve White
Steve White
1 year ago

Thank you Dick. You are appreciated greatly.

Barbara Kidney
Barbara Kidney
1 year ago

Yes, indeed, an impressive resume and statement. The fact that Dick collected 98 signatures in just a few days says a lot. I certainly am hoping that Dick will get voted in. It would be beneficial to the cause of democracy in UUA to have a member like Dick on the Nom Comm.

Jack królik
Jack królik
1 year ago

I appreciate running for office as a gesture. Despite having no chance at winning it gives you a nice platform.

Randy
Randy
1 year ago

How does one support the petition that Dick has submitted?

Tim
Tim
1 year ago
Reply to  Randy

I would like to learn the answer to Randy’s question.

John Eichtodt
John Eichtodt
1 year ago

I am immensely grateful that Dick has decided to be a candidate, and that he has said what had to be said. In my opinion, he provides an opportunity for our whole UU community to reaffirm the heart of our faith, and thus to remain legitimate.

In gratitude,

John Eichrodt
Member CLF

Tim
Tim
1 year ago

Bravo Dick Burkhart. I agree with your perspective.

The UUA under Susan Frederick-Gray’s leadership has caused damage. Hallmarks of Unitarian-Universalism have included a willingness to discuss (or at least a tolerance for reasonable dialogue) as well as the right for us to hold a range of beliefs as long as our seven principles are embraced and people’s rights aren’t infringed upon; these tenets have been disregarded. Furthermore, in lieu of being accountable for its actions, UUA leadership attempted to “just sweep all of it under the rug.” We need all voices that can help get it back on track.

Last edited 1 year ago by Tim
Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago

Mr. Burkhart, thank you for your candidate statement. I note that you give little mention to your leadership with the UU “Multiracial Unity Action Council” or your extensive criticisms of UU initiatives intended to empower people of color and address racism in UU spaces. I hope you can put some of your opinions into context for voters. For example, in criticizing a book by UU elder Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison-Reed, you have had much negative to say about the Black Empowerment movement of the 1960’s. You write of the “lasting damage” caused by the movement and a “toxic combination of… Read more »

Chuck
Chuck
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Trust and healthy relationships do not require that one agree with “the other side”. Trust requires honesty and authenticity. Healthy relationships require a respectful attitude toward those with whom we disagree. UUs have a history of acknowledging the importance of and willingness to address the worldview differences of small identity groups. So yes, groups with acronyms like BLUU, DRUUM, and LGBQT+#&* are permitted to exist – even though their numbers are trivial and insignificant in relation to the overall population of UUs. However why haven’t we (within the UUA) formed identity groups such as – FGMUUWJF+CM, or FGFUUWJM+CF?(First generation male… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Chuck

Chuck, DRUUMM and BLUU are two growing and diverse communities that include UUs of all ages, many perspectives and backgrounds, affiliated with hundreds of UU congregations and other UU communities, in formal partnership with many multiracial UU groups. Religious professionals of color, for example, largely belong to DRUUMM and BLUU alongside UU professional organizations. They support each other – just as they support many UUs of color “in the pews” as part of their ministries – through various means, including the Finding Our Way Home retreat which draws hundreds each year and has sustained the UU involvement of many. POC… Read more »

Paul D De Moor
Paul D De Moor
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Isn’t DRUUMM just for BIPOC folks? ARE is just for “white” folks, correct? I believe that the UUMUAC group does endeavor to empower people of color and fight racism, it just has a somewhat different ideological orientation from the approach favored by the UUA. Yes I hope that Dick will address the goals and vision of UUMUAC. I think that FPP will welcome your perspective and your contribution to the discussion.

Last edited 1 year ago by Paul D De Moor
Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Paul D De Moor

DRUUMM, BLUU and ARE have positive working partnerships with each other and with many other UU groups. UUMUAC does not partner with any of these organizations or other UU groups working on race issues, as far as I know.

I do not know much about the UUMUAC organization but it seems insular and isolated from most UUs and our democratically decided-upon commitments as a movement.
My perspective is based mostly on reviewing UUMUAC materials, so Mr. Burkhart’s firsthand expertise will help.

Thank you for welcoming me to the discussion Paul.

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

In the groups I’ve been active with, I’ve built positive working relationships with individuals, regardless of identity, just as individuals. This has included a quite a number of individuals of color over the years. I know that neither DRUUMM or BLUU has reached out to UUMUAC or sought to build a positive working relationship with UUMUAC. In fact, the exact opposite is true – they’ve been highly antagonistic. This is because the black elder who founded UUMUAC, Rev. Dr. Finley Campbell, has had a much different way of doing “antiracism” workshops. Specifically, Finley embraces “multiracial unity” (= the black and… Read more »

Jack Królik
Jack Królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

With all due respect mentioning UUMUAC as an example of how you can deal with minority people is a bit of a false argument. They tend towards the intellectual and conservative.

Have you ever actually had a good faith discussion with any of the people you might term as antagonists ?

If not, i am here and i am listening. Warning, i am rough and tumble. Dealing with me is dealing with free speech in the fullest sense.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Królik

Despite your insinuations to the contrary no one here is afraid of or tries to avoid a good faith discussion with opponents. But you’re in a pretty piss poor position to appeal to good faith when you’re posting here with a fake email address. We have rules here. One of them is that you must identify yourself and use a valid email address. If you cannot do that, then go somewhere else. You’re on the wrong page here.

Jack Królik
Jack Królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

It’s seems you have no desire to have any peace between radical social activists and yourself. It seems you are more tied to your anti-crt, anti-SJW rhetoric than in actual dialog.

I reached a hand out and you used your rules to spurn my sincere attempt to talk and maybe even resolve some issues.

I don’t trust you. Maybe if you showed me a reason to trust you i would be more forthcoming with my identity.

Do we need Mairead Maguire to negotiate a peace ?

The olive branch is still extended.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Królik

So, just because you find our rules onerous, like identifying yourself, you say we/me do not desire peace between the camps? How does that accusation express an interest in actual dialogue? Let me answer. It doesn’t. Quite the contrary, in fact. If you don’t trust me, don’t post here. Anonymity is not grounds for trust of any kind. If you insist on remaining anonymous, take your olive branch elsewhere.

Frank Casper
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

No. I simply want you to abide by the rules here and identify yourself. Apparently that’s too much to ask. So, I’m blocking any further posts by you.

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack Królik

I find it easy to engage in discussions with people who have much different positions on controversial issues provided that they are willing to engage in civil discourse. For example, as a long time activist for peace and justice, especially social and economic justice, I come from the left end of the traditional political spectrum. (The UUMUAC Board ranges from strong left to center left). But I really appreciate it when we have a few conservative voices on our email lists who put forward rational arguments based on their principles – it gets us outside our thought-bubbles. I also read… Read more »

Jack Królik
Jack Królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

Comment removed due to repeated violation of Code of Conduct.

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

Thank you, Mr. Burkhart.   It sounds like your relationships with UUs People of Colorolor are with assorted individuals, like Rev. Dr. Finley Campbell, rather than with organized communities like DRUUMM and BLUU which represent a wide range of UUs. It’s clear you have strong criticisms of these organizations, as well as strong criticisms of a range of anti-racism activities many UUs engage. In my experience, the Nominating Committee is served best by members who nurture positive working relationships with all sorts of UU communities and organizations. Would you be able to (re)build trust and relationship with these UUs, as… Read more »

Jack królik
Jack królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Very good questions, though i don’t expect this comment to stay up long on this forum. The mods don’t seem to like pointed questions and comments.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 year ago
Reply to  Jack królik

Yes, Rebecca’s are good questions. Mr. Burkhart should expect such questions and respond accordingly. Why would you suggest the “mods” would remove them? Also, let’s be clear, the Fifth Principle Project does not object to or work against groups of any makeup to form for their own purposes. However, we reserve the right and responsibility to critique those purposes and the methods employed to achieve them. The objections some here may have to forming such groups are expressing their own opinions.

Jack Królik
Jack Królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

Likewise, we can object to what we see are flaws in your ideas.

Salute to you all for leaving this rather pointed discussion up on your board. I really object to a lot of what you stand for but i respect that you are starting to be willing to take hard criticism.

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I was not criticizing the Mark Morrison-Reed book. To the contrary, if you read it carefully you will discover that he is critical of the Black Affairs Council and implicitly (not directly) with some of its heritage in DRUUMM and BLUU today. So I agree with the Morrison-Reed critique, which is compatible with the UUMUAC critique. But to me all this is a secondary issue. I want our leadership to move beyond its obsession with identity politics. For example, right now I am reading a very courageous book by the “nominally black” author Carlos Hoyt who asks us to “transcend… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

Mr. Burkhart, thank you for joining the conversation and for the willingness to engage voters and other concerned parties. Would you mind responding to the questions I posed? “I am interested in whether and how you have built trust with UU People of Color, such as the organized and growing communities like DRUUMM and BLUU. What has that trust building been like, given the criticisms you have made? What kind of relationship are you cultivating with these groups?” I ask because I believe it is imperative that a Nominating Committee member, and a UUA elected leader in general, be able… Read more »

Jim
Jim
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Your cherry-picked out of context quotations nonetheless are quite accurate descriptions. More context would fill out the very accurate analysis Dr. Burkhart provides.

I doubt very much you are struggling to understand his perspective. Trust is supposed to be mutual. How are UU People of Color building trust with the majority of UU’s? An alliance is supposed to be founded upon mutual respect. (See Rev. Thandeka’s 1999 sermon at GA “Why Anti-Racism Will Fail.”)

Jack Królik
Jack Królik
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

Trust is hard earned and cannot be demanded. In these days where there is so much bad faith debate it is hard for people to talk. Perhaps this is a start but folks in embattled minorties will not trust people debating their rights or the manner in which they demand rights.

David Willkomm
David Willkomm
1 year ago

Dick, glad you are running & I feel you are very articulate in sharing your viewpoints !

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago

I am interested to learn more about UUMUAC, which I understand Mr. Burkhart is a key leader of.

If not DRUUMM, BLUU, and ARE, what other UU groups does UUMUAC collaborate with, and how? So far I only know of the Fifth Principle Project, and have trouble distinguishing it from UUMUAC. Is UUMUAC a multigenerational group, and if not, why not)? How does its membership reflect or not reflect UUs as a whole?

Thank you in advance. I appreciate the responsiveness.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Perhaps you could give me some advice. What would collaboration with those groups involve? I’m sure Dick is very skilled in collaboration and he doesn’t need this advice, but for those of us less capable than he maybe you could enlighten us?

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

I’d like to first wait and hear from Mr. Burkhart or other UUMUAC leaders, so they can describe UUMUAC in their own way.

But if you’re looking for examples of inter-organizational collaboration, UUMUAC and the Fifth Principle Project and the North American Unitarian Association might be an example. These organizations share some goals and leaders, promote and/or sponsor some of each other’s activities, etc.

Jim
Jim
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I wasn’t asking you to describe the nature of UUMUAC, I was asking you to describe what a collaboration would look like. How would, for example, BLUU expect this collaboration to function? How could UUMUAC meet these expectations?

Rebecca
Rebecca
1 year ago
Reply to  Jim

Sharing goals and leaders and programming are examples of collaboration. I don’t know the particular organizations I mentioned well enough to know the details, but the organizations clearly overlap and collaborate. I won’t speak for BLUU, even as an example. But you can learn about BLUU’s collaborations with other organizations, both UU and not UU. There are many other examples of UU organizations that work in partnership. I don’t want to dump a bunch of acronyms here, but they include religious professional organizations, identity based organizations, youth and young adult organizations and adults who work specifically with young people, theologically… Read more »

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
1 year ago
Reply to  Rebecca

Right now UUMUAC has strong overlap with the Fifth Principle Project, NAUA, and Save the 7 Principles. There is also some overlap with UUJEC. It is interesting that DRUUMM has never reached out to UUJEC (I’ve been on its board for 15+ years), even though you’d think DRUUMM would have a strong interest in economic justice, which would disporportionately benefit people of color (one of my primary motives, also chamionped by blacks like Toure’ Reed). UUJEC has a long-time African American board member and friend, Carl McCargo. But Carl was never a part of the DRUUMM crowd, which has often… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
11 months ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

Mr. Burkhart, you seem to lump many different UU People of Color – DRUUMM is a far reaching group of diverse UU’s – together. You describe them as coming across as “segregated”, “secretive”, “off-putting” and “anti-white”. Mr. Burkhart, can you imagine how your comments might strike your fellow UU’s? Not only People of Color, but other delegates/voters, and other people whose leadership applications would be reviewed by the Nominating Committee? I hope you can answer my other questions about UUMUAC. Is the organization multigenerational (and if not, why not)? How does and doesn’t it reflect UUs as a whole? Thank… Read more »

Rebecca
Rebecca
11 months ago

Mr. Burkhart, it has been brought to my attention that you have made a number of negative comments, primarily in online UU discussion spaces, about your fellow UU’s and the social justice efforts UU’s are engaged in. You have referred to UU anti-racism activities as “offensive”, “aggressive”, “very dangerous”, “bigoted”, “unfair” and more. You have stated that ‘the UUA anti-racist program has, in fact, been racist from its inception 25 years ago. That’s a key reason it has been such a spectacular failure.” You extend this critique to other efforts, like the UU the Vote campaign, which you express concern… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
11 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

I’m not speaking for Mr. Burkhart. He can do with your questions what he wants. But your behavior is beginning to resemble “Just asking questions” (also known as JAQing off). It is an attempt to make accusations acceptable by framing them as questions rather than statements. Once he answers your latest insistent string, you will come back with more. It’s a technique that tries to shift the burden of proof to one’s opponent, putting them in a constant defensive mode, rather than having to prove that your opponent is what your questions imply. We’ve seen this behavior before, here and… Read more »

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
11 months ago
Reply to  Rebecca

When I talk about the UUA anti-racism program, I’m often referring to a few individuals with outside influence, such as those who went after Rev. Todd Eklof with false accusations. Many of us who read the Gadfly Papers (I read it twice looking for the evidence, finally realizing it simply wasn’t there) were shocked and very upset by this smear campaign. And, yes, DRUUMM was part of this – I read their statement attacking Eklof – again with no evidence cited. The smear campaign against Rev. Peter Morales and his administration 2 years before was similar and equally disturbing. And,… Read more »

Jay Kiskel
Jay Kiskel
11 months ago
Reply to  Dick Burkhart

Well spoken.

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
11 months ago

Please join me on Zoom for the Candidates Forum for the UUA Nominating Committee, Wed, May 31st, 5:30 pm ET…2:30 pm PT, for 90 minutes of question and answer from the 5 candidates for 4 three-year positions on the UUA Nominating Committee. Zoom registration: https://uua.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_JA4mrPwIQK-b8mbWPHJA9w#/registration or from the “Register Now!” link on the Candidate statement page below. Candidate statements (Nom. Comm. only): https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections/contested-election-2023 Candidate bios (all candidates for all positions): https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/elections/volunteer-nominations-ga-2023 or pp 89-90 of the Final Business Agenda: https://www.uua.org/ga/program/business-agenda Note: You may submit short questions (subject to editing) in advance to elections@uua.org, or in the chat. Each candidate will… Read more »

allan foster
allan foster
11 months ago

A bit of hope. A ray of light. Still given certain trends I half expect loyalty oaths to the UUA in our future.

Dick Burkhart
Dick Burkhart
11 months ago

Here’s a link to my edited transcript of the Candidate Forum for the UUA Nominating Committee: https://earth0democracy.substack.com/p/uua-candidate-forum-2023 Note how the other candidates claim we are “swimming in a sea” of “white supremacy culture” whereas I say that I don’t see any good evidence for beliefs in white racial superiority in the UUA, and little outside either. [and it seems crazy to even associate UUs with such justly reviled beliefs] Note also how they sing the praises of the Article II Study Commission, while denigrating the 7 principles that so many of us love, but never give good arguments for why… Read more »