#430 | LeRae Niell | Clearer Pluralism

Submission 430
LeRae Niell
Unitarian Universalist Church of Long Beach (Long Beach, CA) 2224

What is your suggestion or idea?

  1. Substitute a simpler/clearer word for the value Pluralism. Section 2-2

Pluralism Diversity

or Pluralism Respect

  1. Amend the first sentence of the description to read: We celebrate that we are diverse in culture, experience, and theology.

We celebrate that we are all sacred beings diverse in culture, experience, and theology.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

  1. the value: Long-time UUs and new members alike found the word Pluralism unnecessarily obscure, and not inclusive. On page 8 of the report we are told “The language should be inclusive and welcoming.”

We often hear we should have any easy way to explain what our UU faith is, an “elevator speech” for others who may like to learn about us and our values. Using words like this is not inclusive for non-members.

Furthermore, many members find it off-putting, because they feel it excludes those with less formal education, those with cultural and linguistic differences, and others who simply appreciate clear, concise language.

  1. the description: Our revision is a more straight-forward sentence, indicating that we accept, respect, and celebrate our differences. We don’t have to believe that we are sacred beings in order to celebrate our diversity, yet inserting sacred beings into the sentence (and by implication into our relationships) implies such a belief. Many of us certainly don’t celebrate that we are sacred beings!

We need to be mindful that many of our UU congregations are home to a majority of non-theists, and many of us came to our UU churches because our thinking and reason would be acceptable here. Please note that page 10 of the report lists Humanists as stakeholders.

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

Three UU groups which meet regularly, and a few other members of the congregation, were involved in my conversations and are represented here.

  1. the value: A number of people said, “What does Pluralism mean?!” Most people want straight-forward, clear language, especially in the key words to represent our values. Shorter words are preferable to multi-syllabic words, when possible. Diversity is clearer than Pluralism to most of us. Respect, which is widely accepted as a value, is also clearer. Either of these words fits well with the description.

  2. the description: A large majority of the non-theists objected to the word sacred in this context, while less than a handful did not object, although they would not have chosen it.


Alternate change: Keep the key word Pluralism but do change the first sentence to read:
We celebrate that we are diverse in culture, experience, and theology.

I agree with omitting divine beings/sacred language (even if I think of people as sacred)… it is uncomfortable for many people AND it invites a spurious argument from the right- to- lifers. Pluralism is a bit elitist – I have a Masters and had to ask 'will someone tell me exactly what this means! :smirk:


For me, the “free and responsible search” for religious truth means that a good, thorough UU will fully investigate all possible sources of ethical, theological, and spiritual truths and decide what is it that is compelling (to the mind, spirit, or heart).

I think we should demand of ourselves to explore the many truths of the world in a free and open search, not just recognize that they’re out there and valid.

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In one of my discussion groups virtually everyone including the high-school educated, college grads and PhD’s wondered what it meant! And furthermore we felt it was not an inclusive, accesible word choice.

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I mean they wondered what Pluralism meant. I think having a stronger opening sentence like we’re working on (without sacred beings) is a good start at defining it.
I’m willing to go with “Pluralism” and promote the change in the first sentence.
Perhaps someone can propose the value name change separately.

I have the search for truth and meaning in my Reason amendment #483. I don’t mind one aspect of it is included in pluralism.

DIversity is definitely clearer than Pluralism, and as an athiest I’m happy to remove the sacred language,
Why not add diveristy in “identity and heritage”?

Hi Rayna,
It has already been posted by one of our delegates. There were a lot of people concerned about this, and this one change was what we could clear with everyone involved. I’m getting closer to understanding what they mean by pluralism and a few of us will write something up for our visitor table, to help explain it. I hope you can support it. Thank you for commenting!

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I like the change, but will hold off on signing until I see if there is an amendment that swaps out the term “pluralism” which, I agree, fails the commission’s charge to use inclusive and welcoming language.

Thank you, Emily. I also look forward to seeing what amendments will be available. I understand the list will be out on the 14th.

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