The Unitarian Universalist Society of Geneva, IL (Geneva, IL) 3316
What is your suggestion or idea?
Retain the First Principle as-is.
What is the reason for your amendment idea?
As it was explained to me, the Principles in general, are historical, aspirational, and definitional. The First places our tradition outside of, and in opposition to, traditions that center the doctrines of Human Depravity and Original Sin.Basically, the First Principle is us claiming out loud that God loves everyone, that all humans and not the few ““Elect”” are worthy of that love, and that this love is ours by right, and so is our relationship with Mystery, and that no one – no other person, no system, no fad, no law, no culture – can take that truth from us. Human lives matter in a fundamental and elemental way.
More, as a statement of Universalism, this is theologically true of all people, always, regardless of history, identity, culture, and oppression. It is a bold statement. And given that our society is very much wrestling with hateful policies springing from these two doctrines, the First is still very much current and very much relevant.
In the proposed changes, our bold statement becomes something broadly unobjectionable for most political liberals, but in contrast with the ““old language””, it is loses both our history and the fundamental ““why”” behind our opposition to systemic oppression.
More, dismissing it because there are many people across the world that are facing and suffering oppression is a non-sequitur. The historical fact of social inequality does not make the Principle, one which makes claims of theological universal equality, and our ultimate worth, false. At best, the gap just tell us where our next project lies. ““None of us are saved until all of us are saved”” would follow directly from the ““old”” First Principle – both theologically and socially. Good works flowing from good beliefs, as it were, but more – which good works, and why.
Have you discussed this idea with your congregation or other UUs?
Yes. Our congregation has discussed the proposed changes several times since they were announced in the Fall, and my comment above springs from my congregation’s concerns that we are trading broad and meaning-filled statements of aspirational orientation for ““political talking points””.
Regarding politics, we have been working through various ARAOMC programs, but we also talk a lot about the rise of authoritarianism at home and abroad, and meeting the challenges of ““Accelerationist Politics”” with not only protests, testifying, and voting, but also strong statements of identity and aspiration, statements that clearly and usefully separate us from other faith traditions, social movements, and political activist groups. And there is deep concern that the new words muddle the distinctions in ways that that harm and not help.