#88 | Tim Bartik | Actionable Freedom of Belief

Submission 88
Tim Bartik
Free range Unitarian

What is your suggestion or idea?

Section C-2.5 Freedom of belief

Congregational freedom and the individual’s right of conscience are central to our Unitarian Universalist heritage.

We need not think alike to love alike. Therefore, nothing in these Bylaws should be interpreted in a way that infringes upon the freedom of congregations and individual members to make their own judgments and express their own opinions, consistent with our core values of love and mutual respect. Furthermore, the UUA Board shall seek to uphold such freedom of congregations and individual members in its own actions, and in its guidance to UUA-affiliated organizations. Congregations may establish statements of purpose, covenants, and bonds of union so long as they do not require that members adhere to a particular creed.

What is the reason for your amendment idea?

The current version merely acknowledges that freedom of belief has been historically important. The amendment adds language calling on the UUA to interpret the bylaws, and take actions, in ways that uphold freedom of belief. This changes ““freedom of belief”” from being rhetoric to showing how it will be upheld by action.

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

Discussed at Blueboat Facebook group Blue Boat Passengers: Info & Constructive Discussion re Article II, etc. | Facebook


I appreciate my amendment being posted, but the provided title “contract or goal” does not well-describe the proposal. I would suggest as a title: “Upholding conscience”

Thanks for letting us know. A small batch of posts ended up being posted with the wrong titles, we’ve now corrected this.

Thanks for addressing this issue.

I offer that we retain the phrase “individual freedom of belief” vs. “individual’s right of conscience.”

Individual freedom of belief is a very direct statement and easily understood by UUs and non-UUs alike. And it is historically rooted in Unitarian, Universalist, and UUs heritages.

I support the reasoning for this change. “The amendment adds language calling on the UUA to interpret the bylaws, and take actions, in ways that uphold freedom of belief.”


I agree with you that “freedom of belief” is more easily understood than “right of conscience”.

“Right of conscience” currently exists along with democracy because the right of conscience is an important right for minorities in a majority-driven system. In this section, split off from democracy, the term “right of conscience” isn’t as good as “freedom of belief”. After the pushback from UUs in the fall, the UUA shoehorned well-loved phrases from the Principles into the revision, and “right of conscience” got put here probably so that the leaders could say “the right of conscience is still in there”.

Regardless of whether the term “right of conscience” is used, versus “freedom of belief”, the key provision of this proposed amendment is to reposition ROC or FOB as not just historical commitments, but as “principles/values” that the UUA should take ACTION to uphold.

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