#289 | Kirk Witzberger | Revisions to Make More Humanis-Friendly

Submission 289
Kirk Witzberger
Unitarian Universalist Society of Coralville/Iowa City

What is your suggestion or idea?

I recommend some revisions that make this more humanist-friendly. There are many ways this could be done, so I’m not certain that limiting my suggestion to a single section is the best way to do this because I’m advocating for the general tone of the revision be changed, not insisting on the precise way to do this. However I will provide these suggestions that collectively have the effect of changing the tone:
“Purposes.” The Unitarian Universalist Association will devote its resources to and use its organizational powers for religious, educational, and humanitarian purposes. Its primary purposes are to assist congregations in their vital ministries, support and train leaders both lay and professional, to foster faith formation a lifelong practice of aligning our values with our actions, to heal historic injustices, and to advance our Unitarian Universalist values in the world
“Pluralism.” We celebrate that we are diverse in culture, experience, and theology or lack of theology. We covenant to learn from one another in our free and responsible search for truth and meaning. We embrace our differences and commonalities with Love, curiosity, reason and respect. “Inspirations.” As Unitarian Universalists, we use, and are inspired by, sacred and secular religious, humanist and scientific understandings that help us to live into our values. We respect the histories, contexts and cultures in which they were created and are currently practiced.These sources ground us and sustain us in ordinary, difficult, and joyous times. Grateful for the religious and humanist ancestries we inherit and the diversity which enriches us our faith, we are called to ever deepen and expand our wisdom.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Many UUs are humanists. (Wikipedia states “the majority of Unitarian Universalists in North America identify as Humanist,” so it must be true). I think many future UUs will be humanists. Yet the proposed revision leans away from humanism, which I think will have the impact of having humanists feel less welcome. I notice that words such as “faith,” “spiritual,” “religious,” “ministries,” and “sacred” are used 11 times, yet “science” and “humanist” or “humanism” are not used, and “reason” and “secular” are each used only once (and I’d rather not use the word secular because I see it as a loaded term, and can be interpreted as anti-religion).
I see the proposed language as being out of balance, and I seek balance so that theists and atheists, mystics and agnostics, humanists and deists can feel equally welcome.
In addition, I think that my suggestion in the Purposes section, “a lifelong practice of aligning our values with our actions” fits well with the values being proposed.

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

I have talked with dozens of UUs at my congregation who have shared with me their displeasure regarding the perceived move away from humanism. Their response is that if UUA adopts the current proposal that they would not feel as welcome.

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