#66 | Dick Burkhart | New Wording

Submission 66
Dick Burkhart
Saltwater Unitarian Universalist Church (Des Moines, WA) 8135

What is your suggestion or idea?

The wisdom of the
world’s major historical religions, especially the Abrahamic faiths
(Christianity, Judaism, and Islam), but also eastern religions such as
Buddhism, Hinduism, and Confucianism.

The many prophetic
words and deeds, both religious and humanistic, calling for harmony and
justice, drawing from diverse historical, pagan, and indigenous cultures

Modern voices of
reason and science that warn us against the “idolatries of mind and spirit”,
voices grounded in both the natural and social sciences, skeptical of ideology
or dogma.

The voices of each
other, both in joy and pain, as we strive to craft a faith rooted in deep
ethics that inspires profound commitment.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

Most people I’ve talked to find that the
current wording is too general, disorganized, and uninspiring. It says nothing
about our central ancestral religions, let alone the second tier world religions
which have long influenced us. Thus my first sentence focuses on ancient wisdom.

My second sentence proceeds logically to current
threads of inspiration, humanistic as well as religious sources, also pagan and
indigenous. The wording also suggests our current call to justice by prophetic
voices - a key source of inspiration today.

My third sentence digs deeper into the liberal
values that distinguish us from most other religions, values which draw their
inspiration from science, reason, and skepticism.

My last sentence gets down to the personal
level – how we inspire each other to develop ethical communities that support
our spirituality, social engagement, and citizenship.

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

The need to improve this wording has been discussed with some in my congregation,who agree. Other UU groups I’ve contacted are likewies not inspired by the A2SC wording.


This is beautiful!

I especially like the last sentence about the “personal level.”

I have always thought that “Direct Experience” needs to include a lot more that what is in the current Sources. We have direct experience of our own body/mind (not just spirit). And we need to listen to each other’s experience of body/mind/spirit.

If we don’t listen to each other, we will never be able to “dismantle oppression.”


Dick, sincere question here. In contemporary Unitarian Universalism, do we REALLY draw upon “The wisdom of the world’s major historical religions, especially the Abrahamic faiths
(Christianity, Judaism, and Islam)”? I mean in my 40 years in UU. I can count on less than two hands the times christianity has come up in church services… Yes, these were heritage in the past, but that past feels long long long gone.

I agree with your characterization of the current “inspirations” wording. I would prefer to eliminate this section and keep our current sources listing after the current principles for now, followed by whatever version of the values is voted in by GA. I am also in favor of a future widespread process to update the principles and sources, regardless of the outcome of the GA vote. I don’t think the Art.II proposal accomplishes this because it has eliminated principles in favor of values statements. They are not the same thing. For me, action-oriented values, while important, are closer to mission, and they should grow out of our principles. The sources aren’t perfect, but they do contain some of our most inspiring language, which is a reason not to eliminate them. I think the principles plus sources are very helpful to newcomers’ understanding of Unitarian Universalism, while the proposed values are unlikely to inspire them.


I also am working on a proposed amendment that restores/edits Sources, and I’ve run into the same difficulties as most people, I think, when it comes to how does one reference and categorize historic, recently added, and as yet unnamed religions and spiritual traditions. I don’t feel this language gets it right in how it divides and lists things, but I agree with the overall need to cite Sources in a more specific and less generic way.

There are still Christian UUs, and it’s my understanding that many theist UUs have also been feeling excluded, as well as Humanists. I believe as those of us particularly concerned about this section try our hand, we run into the same difficulties the Commission did.

I do think it’s relevant we came from and moved away from Judeo Christian faiths but still share many values and perhaps elements of service. I also think it’s significant that we specifically welcomed “earth-centered” religions and traditions, and I understand the movement to include Islam. Likewise, it is important that we are welcoming to people of many other faiths (even if we don’t know how to refer to them in a way that does not wrongly label or group religions or values, or leave out all that are not explicitly named).

For me, the question becomes, how to you reconcile all these differing considerations in concise language?


We seem to pretty clearly derive our justice orientation from Christianity & Judaism, as well as our church structure. I’m not sure what, if anything, we derive from Islam, other than Rumi’s poetry (often mistranslated to serve the preferences of modern non-Muslims).

1 Like

Islam has actually widely been suggested as an additional Source, not one of our founding Sources, is my understanding. That was my thinking, as well as the thinking of some others, I believe, in changing from Jewish and Christian or Judeochristian to “Abrahamic,” but that term may also have its own issues, as well as the somewhat awkward positioning of a term trying both to look backward at our founding traditions and forward to more inclusivity.

1 Like

I like the wording of this Amendment as proposed. I think it covers all the bases that should be.
Allan Lindrup, delegate, UU Community Church, Park Forest, IL


I like the naming of specific sources of inspirations, while still being very open-ended regarding where inspirations can come from. One addition I would make would somehow be to add one’s own “Direct experience of that transcending mystery and wonder,” as expressed in the current Article II.

1 Like

Agreed about that direct experience (and many have said so)–that one is brought back in my amendment (coming soon)

Inspirations - means aspirational - and yes I am a pagan christian and the Athiests of UU reject my views because they reject Christian Religion. This denial is a coping mechanisim. I understand and I am in compassion. The idea is to heal the relationship so love can be heard again. In reply to the person saying their faith does not uphold traditional wisdoms.

@katole I am so sorry to hear that members of your congregation or other UUs “reject [your] views” because they reject the Christian religion. I just have to say … I am a devoted atheist, and while I do not share the beliefs of our local pagans, I do not experience myself as “rejecting” them. Instead, I recognize the pagan beliefs of my friends as their beliefs, and I listen with interest. I may not share the same beliefs, but that does not mean I reject those beliefs…

1 Like

This is inspired! It describes real sources of UUism. Use it instead of proposed Inspiration section.

I think the current Sources are fine. There seems to be a concern that they could become a laundry list but I think that could be dealt with more effectively by strengthening some of the language about them being historic sources than by replacing them with the vague statement we have been offered.


My version (or I should say “our” version, as the original draft has now been workshopped separately by two different congregations) starts from the current Sources but both condenses and expands them, and integrates them in with the proposed “Inspirations” language. You can see a few other amendment proposals that take a similar approach. Hopefully this will result in one or two proposed amendments at GA after further workshopping!

1 Like

I think this really depends on the fellowship. Some are much more Christian and church-y than others. In my church, I would say that the Judeo-Christian tradition informs about 10-20% of our talks/sermons at least on some level. This year for Easter we had something close to a traditional Easter service. I chose “Jesus Christ is Risen Today” as one of the hymns and lots of people loved it. Someone said: “I thought we’d never say the words “Jesus Christ” in here!

Signed, a dye-in-the-wool atheist who understands that religion (even Christianity) is important to some UUs.

The way that the religious sources are grouped here implies a hierarchy of worth more than an historical progression, which I find unwelcoming.

I also find it historically suspicious to group Jewish and Christian tradition together or Abrahamic faiths. The Judeo-Christian formulation was basically 1950s anti-communist propaganda, and it obscures a deep Western history of anti-semitism.

@AdrienneY I had a similar response to this particular way of listing the Sources, but I’m also still thinking about my own Amendment’s wording. I do recall your prior comments about Abrahamic (which I removed) and Judeo-Christian, which is what is our Amendment right now.

If one is trying to name only specific sources that were origins and were specifically added and leave the others as “world religions,” for now, what do you think about “Our Unitarian and Universalist origins?” That spells out the connection with the past without sort of sliding into “Judeo-Christian” lumping together.

1 Like

I think Unitarian and Universalist is a vast improvement, because it ties to our literal history.

1 Like