#304 | Kathy Kerns | Keep 7 Principles with Revisions

Submission 304
Kathy Kerns
UU Church of Kent

What is your suggestion or idea?

I advocate for removing the new values statement and instead maintaining the 7 principles, with two additions.

  1. add an 8th principle (shortened from proposed 8th principle, so wording matches other principles better): We covenant to affirm and promote… “building diverse communities and working to dismantle racism and other oppressions in our world”
  2. I would drop the new value statements for reasons listed below. I do think it is worth including a statement about love underlying our work. I propose that after the statement of principles we add something like this:
    "Manifesting love in the world is one of our core values and a source and inspiration for living out our principles. Our efforts to realize our principles and create Beloved Community are rooted in the spiritual discipline of love.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

  1. I find the values statements problematic. The wording is clunky, and sounds both like corporate values statements (not religious or inspiring language) and overly political. I would drop these new value statements, they are not an improvement over the current language of the 7 principles. Note the charge to the commission specifically stated the need for inspiring language.
  2. The values descriptions are also long, and not as useful as statements of what we believe as the current principles. I like that the principles are short enough to remember, and can stand alone as what we believe when you are trying to explain to someone what it means to be a UU.
  3. Key ideas about what is distinct about UUism as a faith tradition are buried in the covenant statements, specifically the search for truth and meaning and right of conscience. In an effort to provide brief presentations of what we believe for newcomers (think bookmarks), I think the core part of who we are will get lost as people simply state the vague values. The fact that we are grounded in love and care about equality are not what is distinct, does not answer the question, why should you be a UU? What do we offer the world that they cannot find in another religious home?
  4. I appreciate the effort the commission put into trying to do something new. I think, though, the effort is oriented a bit too much to the activist vs. the religious seeker. Remember, people don’t walk through our doors because they can’t find a nonprofit where they can volunteer to create a better world, they are looking for a spiritual home and may be in crisis.
  5. There is very strong support for an 8th principle, that is needed.

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

I gave a sermon on the proposed changes from the frame of what they say about UU identity. I gave some of the critiques described here, and pointed out that we need to make sure our principles speak to the people who are not already here, the seekers. Let’s not write these for the echo chamber, write them for the people who are not yet here. Let article II tell them what is unique and special about us, what we can offer in a religious home that they will not find elsewhere. After the service, I led a small group discussion on the proposed changes. Members were concerned about the loss of the principles statement, and were not drawn to the statement of values. A young adult visitor joined the discussion. He really liked the principles, said he thought they were a clear statement of our faith and helped him understand who we are, but he found the values statements vague. Some people do like an explicit statement that our work is rooted in love, which is why I suggested that a statement along those lines be added at the end of the principles.


Kathy Kerns, your post speaks to me, especially in highlighting the search for truth and meaning and the right of conscience, and also your question at the end of the quoted text: ‘what do we offer the world that they cannot find in another religious home?’ Could the A2SC proposal speak to many of us, many UUs, as a journey that circles back to what we have now, with modest changes along the lines you have suggested? . . . I don’t know, of course! but I hope this might be possible.

Katherine Hyde
Unitarian Society of Ridgewood (NJ)

I like the suggested revision to the wording of the 8th principle.

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I agree that keeping the 7 principles, and adding the 8th, is a good idea. I found for myself, the “search for truth and meaning” was super important. This Article 2 revision process didn’t feel positive, clear, or spiritually uplifting. I think the resulting pushback against it shows that.

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Agree especially on point 4. But on point 5, perhaps the concerns that led to the proposed 8th Principle could be well addressed by modest rewording and augmenting of the current text that introduces the Principles.

I agree with Kathy Kerns on her proposed amendment to Article II to retain the current principles and sources. An 8th principle, to clarify that, in addition to affirming those 7 principles, that we will act in accordance with them would be fine.

I agree with this proposal and in addition, change this source bullet

Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by
loving our neighbors as ourselves;


Unitarian and Universalist teachings which call us to respond to God’s love by
loving our neighbors as ourselves;

I have discussed this with a large number of current members of our UU Fellowship and so far everyone has agreed with the position taken in this entry.