#249 | Kara Stebbins | Inclusive Democracy

Submission 249
Kara Stebbins
UU Fellowship of Madison County (Richmond, KY) 3726

What is your suggestion or idea?


Justice. We work seek to be build and re-build diverse multicultural Beloved Communities the foundation of justice for all communities where all thrive.

We support the use of inclusive democratic processes. We covenant to dismantle racism and seek increase awareness of all forms of systemic oppression**, and learn how to replace them through love and fairness.** We support the use of inclusive democratic processes to make decisions.

Without editing marks, the Amended version would read:

Justice. We seek to build and re-build the foundation of justice for all communities.

We support the use of inclusive democratic processes. We increase awareness of all forms of systemic oppression and learn how to replace them through love and fairness.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Our Fellowship spent the most time trying to edit this Value. Some were concerned that we were mixing together the value of Pluralism/Diversity and Equity with the value of Justice. Many were uncomfortable with ill-defined “Beloved Communities.” Some felt that democratic processes should come before discussion of systemic oppression (and that democratic processes are not limited to decision-making). Many felt the word “dismantle” was neither defined nor do-able. Many preferred not to list racism as a separate item, or at least to list it after “all forms of systemic oppression.” Some did not “resonate with” the UUA “frequently asked question” explanation for why racism should be singled out.

Some pointed to a broader principle: Congregations should be supported to work on the specific issues that seem most pressing in their communities or that have the most support from their members; for example, some congregations, like ours, went through the formal process of becoming “Welcoming for LGBTQ” but that doesn’t mean we think LGBTQ issues need to be specifically mentioned in the By-Laws. Some congregations have been through a formal process to be “Green Sanctuaries,” others have not. And some congregations have focused on anti-racism, including adopting the 8th Principle, while others feel the original 7 Principles are consistent with anti-racism and therefore don’t need to be modified.

It is notable that the Proposed Revision REMOVES an entire list of specific Sources, but in the Justice Section it ADDS just one specific example of systemic oppression. That doesn’t seem consistent.

Overall, it seems apparent that we would need to “use inclusive democratic processes,” “increase awareness” and “learn” before we at UUFMC would know how to “replace” racism – or perhaps any type of systemic oppression. So that’s why we suggested the edits above.

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

Our Fellowship had a democratic approach to the Amendment process. While a straw poll indicated a slim majority would prefer to keep Article II as it is, the other votes indicated we should try to come up with Amendments that could conceivably change some “no” votes to “yes.” We began writing this Amendment in response to input from the Fellowship during two Sunday Services. We later word-smithed a suggested Amendment with our weekly zoom group. Finally, the full Fellowship had an opportunity to review this written Amendment. No objections were voiced.


I love this amendment and agree with most everything, The only additional change I would make is dropping the word “systemic” before “oppression.”

Rationale: Are we OK with non-systemic oppression? Besides, what exactly is “systemic” oppression? In our societies there are oppressive policies, practices, institutions as well as people who exhibit oppressive behaviors and attitudes. On the other hand, our society also already includes just, even liberators policies, practices, institutions, as well people who strive to bring about a more just world. Most policies, practices, etc … are neither wholly oppressive, nor wholly just.

To speak of “systemic” oppressions reifies a negative abstraction.

I agree with your additional change. Thanks!