#45 | Judith Barisonzi | Accountable to Our Individual Consciences

Submission 45
Judith Barisonzi
Blue Hills UU Fellowship (Rice Lake, WI) 8426

What is your suggestion or idea?

My proposed amendment concerns Section C-2.2, Values and Covenant. In the second paragraph, I propose to change the second sentence, reading, ““We are accountable to one another,”” to read ““We are accountable to our individual consciences.””

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

If we value the ““inherent worth and dignity”” of every individual, then we must recognize and respect that individual’s moral judgement. All have the ability and responsibility to arrive at truth and live their lives accordingly. None of us is accountable to a higher authority. I believe this belief is the essence of Unitarian Universalism.

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

My congregation has intensively discussed the proposed revisions to Article II. We have not yet examined specific suggestions for amendment. This proposed amendment is based on the values we discussed.


I’ve seen UU leaders hold people “accountable”, and it’s not pretty. My little family didn’t join a UU congregation 25 years ago so that we could be accountable to UU leaders or to social-justice caucuses.


Very much agree with proposed amendment. We do not want to become a religion where people feel they must account to their fellow congregants for their actions or be called out for not being purely enough in covenant on this or that. Begins to veer a bit towards piety.


I was about to agree, but I don’t quite know to what “social-justice caucuses” refers; I tend to be in such groups.

@Sally Paula Cole Jones advocates “People of Color Caucuses” that would hold white UUs accountable. And the UUA is setting up two accountability teams to monitor the board and the staff. That’s what I had in mind by “social-justice caucuses”.

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The referenced “social-justice caucuses” are actually identity caucuses - tiny groups who claim to represent their whole identity group where dissidents are diregarded because they are deemed to have “false consciousness”.

Yeah, that was my fear. I do believe that caucuses have their place—and I was reluctant to include them at all, for fear of fragmentation, but have come around to understand the efficiency of groups working with others of similar perspective to then go back to the larger group for final decision-making—but they should be broad rather than narrow, and the final authority must be in the largest group.

(answering from e-mail; I remember the sense, but not the exact context of the discussion)

I agree that it is important to talk about our own individual consciences!

I also want us to look at how we come together.

What do you think of the following? It’s a little bit longer, but I think it expresses more clearly what process we are struggling with:

“As Unitarian Universalists, we covenant, congregation-to congregation and through our association, to support and assist one another in our ministries. We draw from our heritages of freedom, reason, hope, courage, and love. We challenge and support each other to choose, express, and embody our own individual values. We also come together to seek, articulate and act on shared values. In our living tradition, our currently-articulated shared values are Interdependence, Pluralism, Justice, Transformation, Generosity, and Equity."

This is a crucial distinction of UU. We recognize and respect each individual search for truth and each arrive at our own judgements of how best to live our values. The UUA is intended to serve its member congregations and thus is accountable to them. We are not accountable to the UUA now, but could be if the proposal goes through without significant changes.
Thank you for addressing this.

The proposal seems to omit the “responsible” part of our individual free and responsible searches for truth and meaning. My understanding of “responsible” in that context is that my search is not solitary or devoid of accountability to existing truths, reason, and science, for example. Holding oneself accountable only to oneself in a covenantal relationship seems irresponsible to me. The proposed language change also seems out of context in the sentence in which it appears.

You may also want to consider #245 “Love connects us to each other, and it keeps us accountable to our values.” We strive to uplift each other and nurture our values rather than judge whether others are living up to them in the right way.

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Note re amendments that weren’t prioritized or presented: This forum is closing for comment tomorrow, but our lay-led public Facebook group, Blue Boat Passengers, will remain open for another few weeks for commenting (and still be viewable after that).

People who want to find others to coordinate about the 15-congregation amendment process may use the group to do so while it is open. There’s now a specific post for this,

Please read both the rules and the pinned post before posting or commenting there.


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