28 January 2009

Latest Revision to UUA "Principles and Purposes" Document Now Available

Update: There is no provision for absenstee voting on the proposed Article II revision. Here's the info that UUA Pacific Southwest District Trustee Tom Loughrey sent to me:
Well, after some research by the UUA Secretary, Paul Rickter, he has determined that there is no provision in the by-laws for an absentee vote on Article II. Everyone seems to acknowledge that the logic of an unamendable by-law would allow it but it is not the case and would itself take a by-law amendment.
Note: I have added the changed text from the January 2008 UUA Board of Trustees Meeting to the latest draft of Article II.

The changed text can be found in Section C-2.2 and is written in blue bold italic text to distinguish it from the Commission on Appraisal's December 2008 draft.

According to Tom Loughrey (Pacific Southwest District UUA Board Representative), the type of motion from the UUA Board to put this on the 2009 General Assembly Agenda is a motion that doesn't allow for General Assembly delegates to amend the Article II text. All they can do is vote for or against it.

This seems reasonable to me given that their process allowed individuals and groups from across the nation to provide their inputs to the Commission on Appraisal and the UUA Board.

The UUA Commission on Appraisal has released their latest proposed revision to the UUA "Principles and Purposes" section of the UUA Bylaws.

Below is the text of the latest revision (copied from the COA's 15 page report to the UUA Board and pasted into this blog post for easy reading):
Proposed Revision of Article II
ARTICLE II: Covenant
Section C-2.1 Purposes.
This association of free yet interdependent congregations devotes its resources to and exercises its corporate powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. It supports the creation, vitality, and growth of congregations that aspire to live out the Unitarian Universalist Principles. Through public witness and advocacy, it advances the Principles in the world.

Section C 2.2. Sources.
Unitarian Universalism is rooted in two religious heritages. Both are grounded on thousands of years of Jewish and Christian teachings, traditions, and experiences. The Unitarian heritage has affirmed that we need not think alike to love alike and that God is one. The Universalist heritage has preached not hell but hope and courage, and the kindness and love of God. Contemporary Unitarian Universalists have reaped the benefits of a legacy of prophetic words and deeds.

Unitarian Universalism is not contained in any single book or creed. Its religious authority lies in the individual, nurtured and tested in the congregation and the wider world. As an evolving religion, it draws from the teachings, practices, and wisdom of the world’s religions. Humanism, earth-centered spiritual traditions, and Eastern religions have served as vital sources. Unitarian Universalism has been influenced by mysticism, theism, skepticism, naturalism, and process thought as well as feminist and liberation theologies. It is informed by direct experiences of mystery and wonder, beauty and joy. It is enriched by the creative power of the arts, the guidance of reason, and the lessons of the sciences.

Grateful for the traditions that have strengthened our own, we seek to engage cultural and religious practices in ways that call us into right relationship with all.

Section C-2.3 Principles.
Grateful for the gift of life, we commit ourselves as member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association to embody together the transforming power of love as we covenant to honor and uphold:
  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement of spiritual growth;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of democratic processes;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Reverence for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.
As free yet interdependent congregations, we enter into this covenant, pledging to one another our mutual trust and support. Capable of both good and evil, at times we are in need of forgiveness and reconciliation. When we fall short of living up to this covenant, we will begin again in love, repair the relationship, and recommit to the promises we have made.

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 do all we can 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.

Section C-2.5 Freedom of Belief.
Congregational freedom is central to the Unitarian Universalist heritage.

Congregations may establish statements of purpose, covenants, and bonds of union so long as they do not require a statement of belief as a creedal test for membership; nor may the Association employ such a test for congregational affiliation.
Source document for this draft revision:
January 2009 Report From the UUA Commission on Appraisal to the UUA Board

The UUA Board met on 14-19 January 2009 and made one minor change to the COA's draft.

The full report provides background information on the decisions made by the COA in gathering and using inputs from Unitarian Universalist across the country.


Anonymous said...

This is not a latest revision, but rather a new format for the document they published this fall before releasing a survey. There are no additional text changes from the original PDF.

Steve Caldwell said...


Please check again -- the Fall 2008 revision can be found online here:

Fall 2008 Revision

The link for the most-recent revision can be found online here as part of the COA's report to the UUA Board:

Winter 2009 Revision

I have only looked at the new document briefly -- two significant changes are present in the more recent Winter 2009 revision:

(1) The Fall 2008 version lists our principles as bullet statements with additional amplifying and explaining text (Section C2-4). The Winter 2009 version has the principles as bullets without the additional text but it does have a short paragraph after the bullets (Section C2-3).

(2) The Fall 2008 version explicitly mentions cultural misappropriation in the Sources section (Section C2-3). The Winter 2009 version talks about it in the Sources section (Section C2-2) but doesn't use the word "misappropriation."

I'm sure there are more changes -- major and minor -- but I haven't looked that closely yet.

Any other thoughts about the latest revisions?

Anonymous said...

Ah, I went from the RTF file marked "new" on the first link in your post, which is identical to the PDF linked below it, rather than your direct PDF link to the new report.

This will take some chewing on, but so far at least it's better than the dreadful version from this fall . . .

ogre said...


Significantly improved; it lost a lot of clutter.

There are subtle but important improvements in Sections C-2.1 and C-2.2. I particularly like this version's claiming Unitarianism and Universalism as sources, and identifying something of their essential characteristics (even if the quotes that are referred to are questioned). But the listing of sources is much tighter, as well.

The nightmare reference on misappropriation got leashed to a form that's acceptable.

As for the Principles... I think that "inclusion" needed to be dealt with. But that critique coming from a range of people hasn't even been publicly addressed (that I've seen). Just shut down. Ah well... something to do at SLC or...

I'd also have liked to see "every person" changed to "every being"--connecting it to the seventh principle.

But overall? Big step up.

Robin Edgar said...

The inherent worth and dignity of every Ogre, troll, mosquito, tse tse fly, flea, amoeba, dust mite etc. etc. ad nauseum. . .


I for one am very gratified to see that my long standing public suggestion that Unitarian*Universalists should actually covenant to "honor and uphold" aka "honour and uphold" the Seven Principles, rather than quite emptily and insincerely "affirm and promote" them, was apparently paid attention to by some people in the UUA and incorporated into the revised draft of the Seven Principles of U*Uism. Hopefully GA delegates will vote in favor of these amendments but I can see them voting against them precisely because a whole lot of hypocritical U*Us, including no shortage of "less than excellent" U*U ministers and "far from perfect" UUA leaders, including UUA President Bill Sinkford. . . don't seem to be all that interested in actually honoring and upholding the Seven Principles of U*Uism to say nothing of other U*U bylaws aka rules aka guidelines. . .

Robin Edgar said...

BTW Ogre, U*Us would be opening a gigantic can of inherently respected and worthy worms if they did actually take up your "less than perfect" suggestion that "every person" should be changed to "every being". Interestingly enough just in the last few days I was thinking about the implications of changing "every person" to "every human being". . . While U*Us *can* and *do* try to argue that a foetus is not a "person" they would be rather hard pressed to successfully argue that a foetus is not a human *being. . . N'est-ce pas?

Robin Edgar said...

And in case anyone is wondering I do think that earthworms have plenty of inherent worth, possibly even some dignity, but I am less sure about tapeworms and other harmful parasites. Still, if U*Us were to actually broaden out the first principle of U*Uism to honoring and upholding the inherent worth and dignity of all *beings* I think they would have to give some very serious thought to just where the inherent worth, if not dignity of a foetus, or even a fertilized human egg, begins. Just a thought. . .

Anonymous said...

The Commission has published the board-amended version here: http://www25.uua.org/coa/ArtIIReview/June'09Proposal.pdf

Robin Edgar said...

Latest derision of UUA President Bill Sinkford now available. . .