Banned at General Assembly

The Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly will convene on Thursday, June 20, 2024, but there are some things participants and delegates will NOT see at this virtual assembly because UU leadership banned them.

To be clear, banning materials, people, and groups is nothing new for UU leadership.

The Banning Begins

In 2019, UU leadership’s treatment of the Rev. Dr. Todd Eklof at the Spokane General Assembly over the free distribution of his book, The Gadfly Papers, is legendary for mistreating a host minister. It could be argued that this mistreatment marked the beginning of the formal protest of the 2017 declaration that the denomination was complicit with white supremacy culture.

A prequel to Rev. Eklof’s banning occurred just a few months earlier in the Spring of 2019 when the Unitarian Universalist Multiracial Unity Action Council (UUMUAC) proposed a program, “The Nature of Racism.” This program was rejected because it did not align with the UUA’s view of racial caucusing and white supremacy culture. Shortly afterward, the UU leadership, after having accepted, later rejected UUMUAC’s booth at the MidAmerica Annual Regional Assembly. The banning was based on UUMUAC’s open challenge of the declaration of the denomination’s alleged alignment with white supremacy culture.

Try Running for a Position on the UUA Board of Trustees

Rebecca Mattis Petition Candidate Portland GA

In 2021, Jay Kiskel, a co-founder of the Fifth Principle Project, ran by petition for a slot on the UUA Board of Trustees as a Fifth Principle Project candidate. His virtual booth, The Fifth Principle Project, was banned because it reportedly caused “harm.” A convoluted compromise was reached granting Jay a booth, but his book, co-authored by Frank Casper, Used to be UU, The Systematic Attack on UU Liberalism, was banned at General Assembly.

The following year, at the 2022 Portland General Assembly, UUA Board of Trustees petition candidate Rebecca Mattis was ejected from the conference hall when she attempted to distribute literature supporting her candidacy. She was relegated to standing outside the building to distribute her material.

2024 General Assembly – UU the Conversation

UU the Conversation, an advocacy group of everyday UUs, was formed to engage and educate UUs on what is at stake at the June General Assembly vote. UU the Conversation purchased a Platinum Level Sponsorship virtual booth ($4,000) at the 2024 virtual General Assembly.

UU the Conversation urges UUs to become General Assembly delegates and vote to reject the proposed Article II language.

When this group submitted advertising material granted by its Platinum Level Sponsorship, the Executive Vice-president of the UUA rejected those materials—effectively banning them from the view of General Assembly participants and delegates.

Outrage

General Assembly participants and delegates should be outraged that they are routinely denied access to competing ideas and information.

Unfortunately, there is no mechanism to appeal such decisions or communication channels to share this information with UUs, especially GA delegates.

Banned Materials

The UU the Conversation advertising materials were rejected because they advocated for a No vote on Article II.  Again, convoluted compromises were made; each revision of the advertising material needed the “approval” before being “accepted.”

However, the Fifth Principle Project has offered to distribute the material banned from the 2024 General Assembly. All this material may be freely shared.

Full Page Ad General Assembly Book

This ad appears with other sponsors in the General Assembly program book. Rejected because it said, “Delegates should vote NO on the proposed Article II Language.”

Pre-Roll Slide

This single-page image appears during General Assembly between sessions. Rejected because it said, “I’m Voting No on Article II.”

Direct Mail Advertisement

This image was rejected due to the cross-out of Congregational Autonomy (to the right). UU Leadership argued that Article II does not impact Congregational Autonomy. However, the removal from the proposed Article II language of the commitment “to serve the needs of its member congregations” from the purpose of the Association is a “red alert” of things to come. It is not a secret that the UUA’s committee assigned to rewrite other articles in the Association’s bylaws has, in its sights, Congregational Polity as described in Article III.

 

Social Media

This submission admittedly pushed the envelope (Why hold back?), introducing the concept of a loss of trust with our UU leadership. This loss of trust was tied to an amendment to the proposed Article II language, Amendment 52. The 2023 General Assembly delegates passed Amendment 52 that removed the phrase “we work to repair harm and damaged relationships” from the Independence value. However, that delegate vote was simply ignored and the deleted phrase was returned to the proposed Article II language.

The text of the post also references June 23, 2023 remarks by the former UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. In her farewell address, Rev. Frederick-Gray alluded to those who oppose Article II in the following way.

Even more dangerous during times of significant change, some people begin to cling to some fabricated imagination of a mythical past. We see this among white nationalists in our country.

To be “acceptable,” this social media post was substantially revised.

Three-minute Video

The amended version of this video is scheduled to be played at the start of General Assembly. The first half of the video celebrates the value of our liberal religious heritage. The second half outlines the negative impact on our liberal religion and the Association if Article II passes. The second half of the video was rejected and had to be reworked to be accepted.

The amended video is found on the homepage of UU the Conversation.

 

Two Important Things

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Vernon Chandler
Vernon Chandler
1 month ago

Please read and consider signing the Open Letter to UUs. Click link to read letter. https://bit.ly/4bXgXUu

Burton Brunson
Burton Brunson
1 month ago

I would sign the letter, but it’s not accurate. It repeatedly refers to Betancourt as president of UUA. She is not president of UUA. She is pretender. The UUA has specific rules for selecting a president. She was not selected according to those rules. Therefore, she is not president. Sometimes, we’re to inclined to tolerate nonsense. This is not the time for that.

Helen Borland
Helen Borland
1 month ago
Reply to  Burton Brunson

The UUA would disagree with you. Her name was on a ballot and delegates either checked her name or not. Same with all the board members that ran unopposed. They are actually appointed by the Nominating Committee, but to make it look “democratic,” they have a sham “election” so they can say these people were “elected.”

Theresa Santmann
Theresa Santmann
1 month ago

Is there any way to get this information in an independent and verifiable format so that I could share it with my congregation without it being sourced from the Fifth Principle Project? If I sent it to my community sourced from FFP, all hell would break loose.

Connie
Connie
1 month ago

Uutheconversation is one of the few groups that has hosted those for the proposed a2 and those for keeping principles. If your congregation has not voted on how your delegates will vote and they will decide themselves, i would copy the uutheconversation info and provide the link to uutheconversation.org. and discuss.uua.org article 2. Then explain this is concerning to you. A vote NO means something similar can not be voted on again for 2 years. If this is the best direction for UUs, a full discussion over 2 year will unite UUs and build concenus vs. Divide an already tiny… Read more »

Theresa Santmann
Theresa Santmann
1 month ago
Reply to  Connie

Thanks for the info, Connie!

Elizabeth DeCoux
Elizabeth DeCoux
1 month ago

Theresa, UU the Conversation is, by their own description, opposed to the Article 2 revision. Please don’t expect to find objective information there.

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago

But you will not find objective information on the UUA site. You need information from both sites to see the full picture.

Elizabeth Decoux
Elizabeth Decoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Pace

I read/watch everything I can find on the topic. I think that’s a good practice, if time allows.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago

UUtheConversation has a position on A2 so that means they have no “objective information?” Well, the UUA also has a position, and according to your logic, it would follow then that they too are free of “objective information.”

Elizabeth Decoux
Elizabeth Decoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Frank Casper

My concern is that UU the Conversation was suggested in response to a request for objective information, when in fact, they are opposed to the revision and publish only things that support their position.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago

Excuse me? UUtheConversation was suggested in response to a request for objective information, but are in fact opposed to the rewrite? In other words, they lied? If that is what you’re trying to say, then prove it with some “objective information.”

Jim
Jim
1 month ago

I’m confused. Are you saying there is no objective information that supports opposition to Article 2 ? And, therefore, the only objective information is that which supports a “Yes” vote ??

Steve White
Steve White
1 month ago

It tears my heart out to see UUs not paying attention while everything they think they stand for is flushed away.

Mark Perloe
Mark Perloe
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve White

I believe it is already too late.

Helen Borland
Helen Borland
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Perloe

Are you a delegate? You may think it’s too late, but many of us will fight for what we believe in until the very end.

Terri
Terri
1 month ago
Reply to  Helen Borland

Amen to that, Helen! I know more and more UU minds and hearts changing every day, once they know the facts. So, everyone, please take the time to share what you think about the proposed revision, to anyone who will listen. It may pay off big come this Saturday night!<3

John Bostrom
John Bostrom
1 month ago
Reply to  Mark Perloe

Good point Mark. I stopped going to my service three weeks ago. The silence at Quaker meetings has been very healing, and the atmosphere at UU has been just totally full of turmoil. Words, words, words. Every discussion pre-hamstrung with control mechanisms from above. Words, words, words. Important to realize that there’s a control mechanism already in power, and that we are free to vote with our feet. Indeed that may be our only option if the UUA pushes through Article II. It’s a wonderful free world out there, and we can create our own options. The name means nothing.… Read more »

John Bostrom
John Bostrom
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve White

   I know how you feel, Steve.     I  came to UU with my wife in 1989.  We’re activists.  Our main concern was that Reagan’s Navy wanted to “homeport” UP TO 700 NUCLEAR WEAPONS about a mile from our home in Staten Island,  The UU Social Concerns Commitee were the only voices on the entire Island raising a word of concern.  We also had just adopted three young siblings, and we liked the RE program.  Those were the reasons we joined. My wife is Jewish. I have a very strong Catholic background including seminary. Both of us have extensive searching afterwards. I‘d… Read more »

Judy
Judy
1 month ago

I went to discuss.uua.org. Yesterday I saw a post with many links to materials citing ,reasons to keep the principles. The post seems to be gone now. Did anyone else see it? Did it get banned too?

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Judy

It was my post, and the administrator removed it, saying it was “off-topic.” I disagreed but am not the administrator.

It was a reprint of the below post:

The True Believers: UU is in Danger of Becoming Just Another Church (substack.com)

Ron Strange
Ron Strange
1 month ago

We are the Borg(read UUA), you will be assimilated. Your biological and technological distinctiveness will be added to our own; your culture will adapt to service us.Resistance is futile!

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago

If you are a delegate to GA, please contact me through WHOVA. Our concerns are getting noticed. A recent straw poll of delegates showed 55% approve of the revision, 34-35% oppose it and 11% are undecided.

Robert Wallace
Robert Wallace
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

For information: What is WHOVA?

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Wallace

Sorry. WHOVA is the application platform on which the virtual 2024 GA is being run.

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago
Reply to  Robert Wallace

Whova is the UUA’s substitute for the personal interaction missed with an on-line only meeting. It looks something like Facebook, but clunky. Anyone who is a fully paid registrant has access. You do not have to be a delegate to participate in Whova community. The reach is limited, because only fully paid registrants are included. If you want your posts to reach a wide audience, discuss.uua.org will get you further. On both forums, moderators can remove posts.

Michael McAtee
Michael McAtee
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

I’m a business only delegate to GA. I don’t have access to the WHOVA app. Is there another way we can connect? I plan to vote no on the proposed Article II. I’d like more information on this straw poll.

Elizabeth DeCoux
Elizabeth DeCoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Steve, I’m interested in that straw poll. Do you have a citation or a link to it? What delegates were being polled? I am a delegate, and I was not included in the poll. So I’d appreciate having info about it. Thanks.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago

You are welcome to participate. The polls are open to all. You can find them on the WHOVA Community Board under the POLLS listing. https://whova.com/portal/webapp/uuage_202406/CommunityBoard/topic/1817353 There are many polls listed. Three were initiated by me.

Elizabeth DeCoux
Elizabeth DeCoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Thanks for your reply, Steve. I went to the polls, but did not see any poll, under your name, which asked delegates whether they were in favor of or opposed to A2 revision. You describe such a poll, above, and even give results. I am very interested in seeing it. Any info you have which points me to that poll would be appreciated.

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago

Whova works differently on a cellphone than on a computer screen. Search on “Community Polls” on the computer screen. On the cell you have to go to a specific community. Some communities have the words “new poll” on the left below the “community” icon. Look for these communities: Thinking about the Article II Rewrite and Are we losing our liberal religion.

Elizabeth DeCoux
Elizabeth DeCoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Pace

Thanks for trying to help me find it, Rebecca. I am using my MacBook and still did not see the poll Steve described. It’s certainly possible that it’s there and I’m just missing it.

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago

Use the link I posted above. Then scroll down. There are three polls but none ask anything about A2. Rather they ask about how delegates were selected, if they volunteered or were elected, if their congregation held a vote on A2, and if they must vote to represent their congregations or vote their conscience and do what they feel is best.

Elizabeth Decoux
Elizabeth Decoux
1 month ago
Reply to  Steve Myles

Thanks.

Lee Baldwin
1 month ago

As I read these notices of social atrocity I wonder what it is that people want. It seems clear that there’s a power elite with its singular view of the story line they want to develop for UU. It seems that a good portion of the UU membership and leadership is interested in a completely different brand of political thought and posture. Good for some, not for all. Many people have devoted years of energy, work, and treasure into growing UU to the point it’s reached these last several years. I feel great compassion for those good-hearted souls who gave… Read more »

Steve Myles
Steve Myles
1 month ago
Reply to  Lee Baldwin

Well said. You last sentence is perfect.

Sean
Sean
1 month ago

I left my “other” church long ago due to hypocrisy and and overall just bad politics and policies. Now I have been a part of UU for nearly 5 years, and geez UU is giving its members a big FU. Well done guys, nearly just as bad as all the other religions.

Terri
Terri
1 month ago

Such well-written, attention-grabbing, eye-catching materials! I especially loved the statement on the video at the 2:23 point: “The replacement Article II is really a failure to recognize the strength and capacity of our faith.” You’re doing a very good job of reminding UUs of that strength and capacity, and turning more and more people every day toward a “NO” vote! Thanks so much for all you’ve done and continue to do for our beloved Unitarian Universalism.

K. Lusignan
K. Lusignan
1 month ago

A couple points or questions of clarification. Does this ban on stating a vote apply to all advertisers, regardless of whether the ads urge a “yes” or a “no” vote? While I don’t think people will ever agree on the events at and after GA relating to Todd Eklof’s presentation and distribution of the book, my understanding is that the problem with the book AT GA was not its ideas, but that the book referenced other people present at GA with specific narratives supporting the points the book wished to make (I read the book shortly after GA 2019 but… Read more »

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

Thank you for this link. It really helped me understand what happened at that milestone event. Even so, I think the UUA’s collective response to the Eklof book took off on another tangent, was extremely overblown, and laid the foundation for the mess we have today.

I attended the 2020 GA specifically to get balanced information about the uproar, but everything was swept under the rug. UUMUAC was even banned. We should have been hearing about both perspectives all these years.

Jim
Jim
1 month ago
Reply to  K. Lusignan

I think Aria missed the point. (7 years ago) Buddhism has an image of metta – lovingkindness, compassion – as a gentle rain. A gentle rain that falls equally upon all beings without distinction; no matter the labels that are applied to them. All humans experience suffering and are worthy of compassion.  NVC approaches this in their own weird, quirky way. All humans have needs that don’t get met and cause them pain. It isn’t “colorblindness” it is an attempt to express this universal aspect of being human. All humans. Segregating one group out as less deserving of compassion –… Read more »

Robert Wallace
Robert Wallace
1 month ago
Reply to  Jim

Thanks, very well said.

Louis Merlin
Louis Merlin
1 month ago

What was the reasoning behind the ejection of Rebecca Mattis from the convention?

Helen Borland
Helen Borland
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis Merlin

I helped and supported Rebecca Mattis as a petition candidate (there was one other woman who also ran as a petition candidate). Rebecca was expelled from the conference hall for handing out literature. She had bookmarks with her photo, name, and reasons to support her candidacy. She was told she couldn’t pass out literature unless she was on the agenda. She said, “I AM on the agenda. I’m a candidate.” They escorted her out and told her not to come back. She and her supporters feel she was kicked out because she was a petition candidate, not the one selected… Read more »

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago
Reply to  Helen Borland

They also did not like her perspective and how she expressed it.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
1 month ago
Reply to  Louis Merlin

It’s a well established rule that candidate literature cannot be distributed in the plenary hall. Other candidates followed this rule.

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

She was not in the plenary hall. This was not during a business session. She was simply in the building. In the common area of the lobby, as I recall.

Rebecca P
Rebecca P
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca Pace

She appeared on camera during plenary session displaying her materials, if I recall correctly.

Rebecca Pace
Rebecca Pace
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

As I recall she was wearing a button that said vote for Rebecca Mattis. She was in the Con line and was making a comment. They called her out for her button. I think that’s pretty extreme. The literature incident was a different time.

Frank Casper
Frank Casper
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

You’re saying she’s was on camera, “if you recall correctly”? Seems to me that would be something it would be easy to recall and verify. Perhaps you’d be willing to provide more than your doubts about what you recall. Also, are you trying to say that this alleged infraction is sufficient reason for kicking her out?

David
David
1 month ago
Reply to  Rebecca P

Bad rules are meant to be broken

Justin Lapoint
Justin Lapoint
1 month ago

The high handedness of the current leadership is incredible. Does anyone know why the UUA picked Whova for GA?

John Calvin
John Calvin
28 days ago

After signing into the UUA General Assembly (GA) meeting today, what I worried might happen had become a reality; they banned me from the delegate chat rooms. The chat moderator claimed my access to those rooms was revoked because some of my earlier posts were determined to be harmful. Really? Were my comments truly harmful or just conveniently labeled as such to provide a justification for silencing a dissenting point of view? I suppose we can only speculate on the answer to that question. The UUA claims their process in this regard is justified because it is serving to protect people from harm. However, given… Read more »

Genevieve Rohan
Genevieve Rohan
24 days ago

I watched the recording of the Post GA discussion. I am one of 5 people in my congregation who voted No on A2 for our congregational vote. Our minister has been teaching the A2 revision to new members for the last 18 months.I do not believe my congregation fully grasped what A2 revision is about. I have met with my minister to one on one discussion (he is wonderful, BTW). My plan is to wait and watch for a year before I withdraw membership.