#164 | JoAnn Mulready-Shick | Add "Reason"

Submission 164
JoAnn Mulready-Shick
First Parish in Lexington (Lexington, MA) 4625

What is your suggestion or idea?

Values: Pluralism Covenant
NEW WORD to be added: reason

Pluralism. We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture,experience, and theology.We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search fortruth and meaning. We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love,curiosity, and respect.
revise to:

We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love,
curiosity, reason, and respect.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Many sources inform our faith. Many UUs identify as Humanists and came into UUism and are deeply committed to UUism because reason was often missing from their faith of birth origin and remains central to our concerns in the larger world- witnessing lack of reason within our current society, (unreasonable gun laws , unreasonable positions on people of faith: Islamic, Jewish, BIPOC, also LGBTQ and other marginalized identities, unreasonable reproductive rights, unreasonable attacks on erasing our history of enslavement and slaughters of Native American peoples, etc.

Adding in reason within this Value and its related covenanting language makes sense for our current times

(in addition to its one and only mention in section C2.2 (…draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, and courage…)

and will provide ‘some’ semblance of ‘balance’ with Love curiosity, and respect- Embracing our differences and commonalities with love, curiosity, reason, and respect.

Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?

YES- within our congregation particularly members of social justice committees, leadership and the Board. Many are concerned that ‘Reason’ is more prominently positioned and at the same time value the centering of Love.


“Reason” is one thing that sets us apart from liberal Christian denominations and from New Age movements. Some people say that “reason” is bad because it’s part of white-supremacy culture, but most UUs value reason, dialogue, science, etc.


I agree strongly with this suggestion, the use of the word “reason” indicates a path to follow in the search for truth and meaning. It does not negate the emotional, transformative experiences we may have as we travel through life, but exists alongside it as another human ability that we should acknowledge, nurture and exercise. Reason requires first having an open mind, striving to understand other’s experience, and being generous in listening to other’s opinions. Reasoning well is something to strive for all our lives.


Thank you, JoAnn for this contribution. I linked your remarks to another thread on the same topic #255.

While I empathize with the concerns here, I also wonder if focusing on reason does not also (ironically) contribute to reifying it into a sort of “Truth” that we believe we UUs have unique access to (after all, many New Agers, Christian, Muslims, and other non-UUs would consider their beliefs “reasonable” too. Who shall judge and by what metric—especially in regard to ethics?).

Science, and reason, are central to my understanding of my spiritual path. Without this being acknowledged in UU, I would probably go elsewhere.


I’m hoping we can add reason as a value, something more than a sideline under Pluralism. Wherever we can do so, I feel strongly that we need it emphasized in our values.
Thank you for speaking up. Are you interested in working on it further?

See Article II Amendment: Add “Reason” to UU Values - Google Docs reason uplifted as it’s own value

I personally believe it should replace Transformation (or Generosity–why is generosity a more important value than integrity or courage or humility?)

JoAnn, @JonathanTSeattle @AmandaP @M_Eg @Rayna
I proposed, and a delegate has now submitted, an amendment to add Reason as a value, and in it we emphasize the search for truth and meaning.
REASON: We search for truth and meaning, informed by both reason and values. We covenant to search responsibly, thoughtfully considering the results of science and other evidence, while remaining open to new ideas and others’ viewpoints. Motivated by wonder, curiosity, and compassion, we strive to use our capacity for reason to engender better outcomes for all in our interconnected world.
If any of you or your delegates would support it, and sign on to the link below or on my #483 page, it would be greatly appreciated! Each signature matters in considering which of the submitted amendments go forth to the final step for selection. I know from comments like yours and others that Reason matters to many UUs including the majority of my congregation, UUCLB.
LeRae Niell

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Not a delegate, so I can’t officially support. But I am glad that there are delegates who do!

I see that the UUA id not see fit to allow delegates to vote on your amendment

I could see this coming, and in retrospect, I can see some things that could possibly have helped us. Let’s see if the 1-2 dozen of us working on/supporting Reason can keep in touch and work on this for next year.

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@diebela @KAC @Sally @rwhite @BekWheeler @RussAraujo @ALesperance @Laura_Cipriano @DebJ @jholland @Belladonna @uuockrev

First, I want to thank all of you for your contributions, encouragement, and support as we worked toward including reason in Article 2. As Jonathan pointed out my amendment #483 was not discussed, and as far as I know, none of the reason amendments made the cut.
Even as we celebrate many good things about article 2, it feels sad to just set our efforts aside, if more can be done to make the document more complete, concise, and inclusive.
Near the end of the mini assembly, it was said that amendments could be submitted next year. The criteria is set at a higher bar though. Fifteen congregations will have to support an amendment for it to be submitted. Delegates from 11 congregations signed my delegate support sheet (for #483), and many more members commented favorably on our various amendments for reason, science, and the free and responsible search for truth and meaning!
Together, I believe we can present an awesome combined and well-supported amendment next year. if any on us would want to pursue an amendment next year, we should start early on. The first thing we need to do is not loose track of each other!
I would like to arrange a way to exchange emails before our minds take a vacation from article 2.
How might we communicate? Any ideas? Does anyone know if this discuss site will remain open and if we will retain our user names and continue to receive notifications?

Grateful to be a UU among you,

I don’t know the answers to your questions, but I am quite disheartened that the majority of proposed amendments were not allowed to be discussed or voted on. My expectation is that the same thing will happen next year, yet it is important enough to continue the work to improve the document.

I remember throughout the 1970s all the work that was done at congregation and federation level to replace he/his, mankind, and brotherhood with gender-neutral terms in 1985. We also added the 7th principle at that time. By 2020, in the midst of a global pandemic and Trump presidency, changing the wording in some legal document called Article II just didn’t seem very important. It wasn’t until last winter that I knew what sweeping changes were proposed.

Less than half of the delegates voted, and delegates may not really be representative of our UU membership nation-wide. Maybe the time has come to change the way we vote. It is now possible to allow every member to vote electronically so all voices are heard and counted.

Growing up Unitarian and then UU, the most crucial aspect of my religious education was the charge to seek the truth and understand. This was expressed well in “the free and responsible search for truth and meaning.” It was not something we could do if we felt like it. It was our moral responsibility to seek the truth, be guided by the principles to create our value framework, and find ways to live our values. It was an individual responsibility, supported by our community. Nobody else can tell you your truths and your feelings are wrong, but they can help you see things differently by sharing their perspectives.

It is a sad day when a UU leader voices disrespect for individual growth in favor of the collective good because that is a false dichotomy. Both are possible together and that should be our goal.

Note to authors and proponents of amendments that weren’t prioritized or presented: This forum is closing for comment tomorrow, but our lay-led public Facebook group, Blue Boat Passengers, will remain open for another few weeks for commenting (and still be viewable after that). People who want to find others to coordinate about the 15-congregation amendment process may use the group to do so while it is open.

Please read both the rules and the pinned post before posting or commenting there.

Thank you.

Blue Boat Passengers: Info & Constructive Discussion re Article II, etc. | Announcement: This group will soon be suspended | Facebook

To all who are interested in continuing the effort to see Reason represented as a UU Value, please see this link on another thread that can potentially keep us connected to work in an ongoing fashion throughout this year toward another Amendment to hopefully be considered @ GA 2024:

Thank you for the wonderful message, and for pointing out the false dichotomy. I feel at a loss for words trying to respond adequately. There is now a slack site Christine Denario established. UU Article 2 Amendment Work Group Also you can write to me at 483. Just search #483 on the discuss.uua.org site.

People will only be able to respond to you directly on your thread for about one hour more, @Concerned , so I suggest you post contact info there if you have not already.