#65 | Dick Burkhart | Principles and Values

Submission 65
Dick Burkhart
Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church (Des Moines, WA) 8135

What is your suggestion or idea?

Replace the name of Section C-2.2, by “Principles
and Values”, and its wording by

“(a) Principles. We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association,
covenant to affirm and promote, in the spirit of love:

(1) (1) The inherent worth
and dignity of every person;

Justice, equity, and compassion in human relations;

Nurturing spiritual growth and
mutual respect;

A free and responsible
search for truth and meaning;

governance and ethical due

Diverse cultures
establishing a world community;

Sustaining the
interdependent and evolving web of all existence.

(b) Values

Our values flow from our principles and vice versa.
Our historic values feature the liberal values of the Enlightenment - freedom,
reason, and tolerance – values that continue to be challenged. Our developing
values embrace loving communities drawing from diverse cultural and religious
traditions. A key challenge is to ground these communities in values of
justice, equity, fairness, generosity, and learning.

Another historic value is citizenship, now expanded
from local and national to global. Our challenge is a rapidly changing world in
conflict, facing both existential ecological crises and wondrous new
technologies and scientific discoveries. We value responsibility, as citizens,
to future generations and to the Earth itself.

As such we value a new ethics of interdependence, both
with humanity and Earth ecosystems. We value practices that limit excessive
consumption and damaging impacts, mindful of both limits to natural resources
and the unintended consequences of escalating waste.”

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Most in my congregation and other UU groups
have expressed very strong support for retaining the 7 principles as a separate
list from the values. However several people have noted that small improvements
would be helpful, so I’ve written changes to principles 3, 5, 6, and 7 to both
shorten and broaden them.

Note that the value “transformation” has
been added into principle 7 as the word “evolving” and that the value “pluralism”
has been added to principle 6 as “diverse cultures”, along with the “multicultural”
aspect of the value of “justice”. Also ethics (from the value “transformation”)
and due process have been added to principle 5 and “mutual respect” (from the
value “pluralism”) to principle 3.

Wording that was removed is implied, such
as that actual world community could not exist without substantial peace and
justice, or it may be covered elsewhere, such as the “right of conscience”
which is covered by “freedom of belief”.

In addition I’ve numbered the principles
to reflect common usage and I’ve highlighted a word or phrase from each
principle to make it easier to remember and reference.

I’ve made the values into the second part of
this section but in much abbreviated form since most people have said that this
section is far too wordy. In addition, “covenanting” can be helpful for right
relations in organizations, but it has a bad historical record at the
denominational level, being used to impose dogma and justify purges or inquisitions.
At the UUA level many of us have already seen false claims that “you’re out of
covenant” over ideological disagreements, fueling cancel culture. Therefore
I’ve removed the covenantal wording from the values.

I’ve organized the values by historical context, including values which are only hinted
at in the A2SC proposal.

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

The proposal to make the principles a separate entity has been discussed with my congregation and strong support. This support includes several other UU groups, such as the UUs for a Just Economic Community.


I like the first half of the recommendation. But I think section (b) is too long and too wordy. I think just first paragraph is sufficient…


I do not want our Principles to be eliminated. I would like an Eighth added which describes our desire for Racial Justice. (but, one that does not describe a single approach) The “values” as proposed are not only written in a lengthy manner making it difficult to discuss but also does not include the vast numbers of values that are included in our Principles. It limits our faith to a secular social justice organization thereby precluding membership from persons seeking spiritual growth during times of racial division and unrest.


I agree that the principles should be retained. They are straightforward and easy to understand. Dick has proposed changes in the wording that further simplifies and clarifies the meaning of the principles. I also support the inclusion of due process in the fifth principle.


I very much want to keep the 7 principles. When anyone asks me what are UU’s about, that’s what I cite.


I and those I have spoken to at my congregation very much want to keep the 7 Principles. I feel that their presentation in section (a) of this Amendment saves and improves the wording of those principles. Section (b) on values is too lengthy. I would keep the first proposed paragraph and drop the second and third ones.
Allan Lindrup, delegate, UU Community Church, Park Forest, IL


Yes, I like this version of our principles. I don’t think the part on values is needed, however.

I think the definition of values and the statement of covenant that follows each definition is lively and actionable. The principles are contained in the values and even expanded on in section C-2.3 and C-2.4.

I agree that the 7 principles are sufficient, but I thought it would be acceptable to add a statement of values to acknowledge the work of the AR2SC, but a statement that is at once more concise, more historically grounded, and more visionary. As always, my wording is just a first draft.

Here’s a suggested rewrite of our 6th principle to include issues addressed by the proposed 8th principle:
(6) “Transcending identity to nurture a peaceful world community”


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