Amendment 3 to Article II - Proposed by Eric Burch

Bold underlining indicate insertion ; [brackets indicate deletion.]

Add a section between lines 9 and 10 in the May draft of the Article II revision, between the proposed sections C-2.1 and C-2.2, titled “Principles” and add the words of the current Bylaws Section C-2.1 from “We, the member congregations” through “of which we are a part.” Renumber the sections appropriately.

9 transformation of the world through liberating Love.

Section C-2.2. Principles

We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist
Association, covenant to affirm and promote
• The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
• Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
• Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth
in our congregations;
• A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
• The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process
within our congregations and in society at large;
• The goal of world community with peace, liberty and justice for all;
• Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we
are a part.

10 Section C-2.[2]3. Values and Covenant.

44 Section C-2.[3]4. Inspirations.

50 Section C-2.[4]5. Inclusion.

57 Section C-2.[5]6. Freedom of belief.


I find myself waffling about whether I would like the old Principles to be inserted before or after the new Values and Covenants. But the more I think about it, the more I lean toward inserting before. My reasoning is that the Principles are shorter and more general, so they serve as an introduction to the longer and more specific Values and Covenants.

The following fifteen amendments also seek to add the current Article II, Section C-2.1 “Principles” (with some modifications) to the Proposed Revision:
#2 - Kenneth Button
#9 - Merridy McDaniel
#29 Jim Hall
#41 Dick Burckhart
#44 Nancy Henley
#49 Kara Stebbins
#58 Patrick Deak
#59 Lurine DeVos
#61 Jan Radoslovich
#66 Pablo deVos-Deak
#78 Marsha Bates
#79 Chris Stotler
#83 Linda Richardson
#84 Becky Sandman

Looking at some of the amendments noted above by @Merr , and as the author of amendment 3:

2 and 29 are almost identical in positioning the current Principles after the Values (slight additional wording in 29).

3 and 44 are identical in positioning the current Principles before the Values, 58 adds some historical context, and 59-61-66-84 are the same (I think) and adds the current Principles along with more words.

9, 41, 49, 58, 78, 79, and 83 additionally either reword the current Principles, add the 8th Principle, or remove the proposed Value section. A bit more work than adding the Principles and some optional historical context.

I would suggest that The Powers That Be consider reworking these amendments into:

  • Do we want to add the existing Principles into the proposed Article II before the Values and Covenant?
  • If the Principles are re-added, do we want this list after the Values and Covenant section, rather than before?
  • If the Principles are re-added, do we want to add some additional historical context wording? (and the exact wording will be the subject of additional debate)

(this Amendment 3 thread can be the nexus of the above discussion)

Amendments 9, 41, 49, 58, 78, 79, and 83 are a bit more involved and need discussion with those supporting those amendments. Those discussions can happen elsewhere.

(Tagging @kennethbutton @JimHall @dickburkhart @henleyn @klsteb2 PatrickDeak LurineDeVos @jrad2023 PabloDeVos-Deak @MKBates @ChrisS @Lrlexuu BeckySandman )

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I submitted my amendment (#79) with a revision to the Principles to include the 8th Principle and inserted it before the proposed values because it is easy for someone not familiar with UUism to grasp. The Principles are very important to provide to visitors to our faith. I would prefer to see the Principles as Section 2.1 and move the current 2.1 Purpose to 2.6 and rename it UUA Purpose.

Thanks Eric, for suggesting these 3 Amendments:

  • Do we want to add the existing Principles into the proposed Article II before the Values and Covenant?
  • If the Principles are re-added, do we want this list after the Values and Covenant section, rather than before?
  • If the Principles are re-added, do we want to add some additional historical context wording? (and the exact wording will be the subject of additional debate)

A 4th Amendment I would propose for consideration is this:

  • Do we want to modify the Principles to contain the ESSENTIAL elements of the Covenants, then DELETE the Values and Covenant section and/or edit it to be only about Values (and keep it as the Values section)?

@eburch and @klsteb2 Thank you for isolating the questions that could help surface a common understanding. I think it would also be important to ask whether we want to incorporate the 8th principle into the current principles.

The central important question is whether we want to incorporate the current 7 principles into the revision. Rephrasing your questions so that they can easily be answered yes or no with a clear consequence for each outcome I get 7 questions:

  1. Do we want to add the existing Principles into the proposed Article II ? (If the answer is “No,” then the remaining questions are moot.)
  2. Do we want an 8th principle added to the current seven principles? (cf. amendment #49)
  3. Do we want to reword the principles to make them more active? (cf. amendment #49)
  4. Do we want the principles before the Values and Covenant section? (If “No,” then they would be after.)
  5. Do we want to add some historical context to the principles? (cf. amendment #61)
  6. Do we want to reword the principles to incorporate covenants, and rewrite the proposed Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant section to focus just on the values?
  7. Do we want to delete the proposed Section C-2.2 Values and Covenant?

@CharlesD @MegRiley adding more emails to their queue to make them aware of some rearranging / combining / revising of some amendments. Hi there!

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The reason I began in Amendment #9, by deleting the Proposed Revision, in its entirety, is because it is not just the obliteration of the principles and sources that is unconscionable-- the Proposed Revision is just not an improvement over the current Article II, Section C-2. (And I did not merely insert the existing Article II, Section C-2 to replace it. See if you can spot the differences!)

The arguments: a) that it’s been 15 years, so A2C2 must be revised; b) that the Proposed Revision is more appealing to people who are not currently interested in becoming UUs nor members of a UU congregation; c) that those who do not support the text of the Proposed Revision are just old fuddy-duddies, set in their comfortable old ways, unable to appreciate the genius of the new text, or d) that the entire idea of having principles is evidence of an entrenched patriarchical (and/or racist) bent are just myths.

There were 487 suggestions for changes in April. 86 delegate authored amendments (which are just edits, as the Proposed Revision is not yet an amendment to the Bylaws) between May 22 and June 5th. Q0

We would all be thrilled and excited to endorse changes to Article II, Section C-2, if they were an improvement.

The fact that 15 amendments have been submitted to add back the Principles should be a clear indication that there is not widespread support for the Proposed Revision.

The UUA Board released the Study Commission Report in January, in which there is a revision, proposed by the Study Commission. The Board has provided several venues to propose changes.

The Board could opt not to put the Proposed Revision on the agenda, recognizing that rather than growing support, there is growing resistance as more people read it. But, since the Proposed Revision also eliminates growing and assisting in the creation of new congregations… maybe the sentiments of the pledging members of UU congregations, (who, after all, are not mntioned as stakeholders in the Report) are of no concern to the Board.

Merridy McDaniel

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Thank you. I have seen your message.

Hi Merridy, your point in c) resonates with me! I do worry that my preference (inclined towards the 7/8 principles with just a bit of the A2SC-influenced language) will be seen as merely the product of my elder-ness, and dismissed accordingly.

Keeping the 7/8 with only modest use of Study-Commission-inspired language would improve traceability, which is very important to me.

My thought here, and I hope I’m understood to be saying this in a collegial and respectful way, is that the A2SC has kind of inadvertently changed the subject.

We had the 8th principle proposed, in great part arising out of a painful surfacing of particular concerns about prejudice and racism in our culture as UUs. There’s a postponement of its consideration; the A2SC is formed; and then the subject becomes something quite different.

It’s as if a painter took their brush to an existing canvas and made a quite different piece of art, with only the faintest details of the original still visible in spots.

Was the prior artwork painted over because it was too painfully detailed? Obviously we don’t know, and I don’t at all want to think that the answer might be yes.

But I keep worrying that it might play a role in the undeniably appealing qualities of what the Study Commission came to create.

And I think we might want to be wary of that appeal, to resist that appeal unless we really understand it.

So I’m thinking if we keep the 7, or 7/8 plus, our acknowledgment of all of this history will be that much more visible, that much more transparent.

(I hope this isn’t too off topic. I’ll take another look and move it if so.)

Lost in the copying from the initial Article II discussion forum to this forum are some of my words I wrote there. I’ll repeat some here, and add some more thoughts.

First and most fundamentally, I really like the proposed Article II revision. If it is adopted as-is from the Study Commission proposal, I, and many others, will gladly support it. Ours is a living tradition and two generations of changes in society need our basic tenets to be less ossified.

By not including the word “principles” anywhere in the proposed text, the Article II Study Commission hints they are aware that the current Principles are held in high regard by many (most?) UUs. UUs do have many symbols and words that are not codified in the UUA Bylaws (e.g. the chalice, “Spirit of Life”, “loving the hell out of the world”) so at first dropping the Principles from the proposed Article II wasn’t that concerning to me, especially with the January draft which added echoes of the Principles. But now I see that those 103 words are really key–I can quote them right off the top of my head, as I would guess many others. They have been part of the UU story for decades.

My Rockville Congregation (UUCR) has discussed Article II all this year. A few have attended the last two GAs where the Article II work has been reported, and with the draft last September a few from UUCR became more involved in the work. Since the January draft, a UUCR Article II committee has held almost a dozen meetings with groups in my congregation, discussed these changes during congregational meetings, and held a few zoom sessions open to all. As a representative from my congregation I introduced my amendment because several members were not comfortable dropping the Principles at this time, but overall supported the Study Commission work. The Principles do provide a concise, quick “elevator speech” on what UUism is about. Adding the current Principles at this time will help more members accept the changes, especially since I would expect many people will first hear about this work when the congregations discuss and vote on these changes–including many delegates upon seeing the final vote on Saturday at GA next year.

I know that many congregations have barely discussed this, and I think without the Principles added, this change will be even more disruptive. I know that the first time I read the Article II Study Commission proposal I was not enthused about it, but after a few slow reads, taking it all in, I could see the new vision the commission created, and I like it. There are groups here at the General Assembly who are actively trying to stop the adoption of the Values and Covenant and encourage others to just not put the work into reading and understanding a few more words.

I think adding the Principles will help many accept the new Article II. In the future the Principles can be dropped and we will work entirely with the Values and Covenant, or maybe the Principles will be kept and transformed and expanded. We can see what will happen in the next 12 months if the wording is approved; passing the motion starts a set of efforts and communications for the next year.

Finally, the current Principles say we will “affirm and promote.” In the front of the sanctuary in Rockville we have eight panels–7 of them are the current Principles (a graphic, 3 or 4 large words, and the full text running along the borders), and the 8th Principle (Rockville was one of the first adopters). We have groups rent our sanctuary for meetings or recitals or concerts, and individuals, never before inside a UU space, have then visited us on Sunday and now attend regularly. I would say that we have successfully “affirmed and promoted” with just those panels, we don’t need to do more. But at UUCR we do more, and we should do more, either as a single congregation or a larger UU movement. The new Article II demands that we do more, and we should do more. People say Unitarians can “believe anything” and if we don’t hold our congregations accountable through the new Covenant then we are as spineless and ineffective as our critics claim.

Oh, and keeping the discussion going here, sometimes drawing outside of the lines, and working the list of questions about the Principles, is fine.

Though the above list, I think Questions 6 and 7 should be discussed elsewhere. And some of the exact wording of 2, 3, and 5 need some discussion.

Thank you for your thoughts.

We each bring to this discussion our unique history.

Living in the Deep South for over 40 years left me with an abiding distrust of the any religion that tried to inculcate guilt, particularly guilt arising from my mere existence or from any of the attributes that I had no control over.

If a religion can sell guilt, then it can hold its followers in thrall. Once its followers accept their guilt, the religion offers to alleviate the guilt with promises, blessings, eternal life, ‘a world transformed by liberating love’, but only if you jump through whatever hoops the leaders establish. Which inevitably involve providing financial support or other forms of human sacrifice.

When there is no longer a religion that centers reason and logic and evidence, where will we, who do, go?

And the Proposed Revision is a fundamental shift from reason and logic to feelings and emotions.

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Yes, and many are reading “accountability” as having the potential for being the sort of guilt inspiring that (very rightly, in my opinion) concerns you. Some of us are also concerned with the purposes change from the association serving congregations to a less concrete purpose, part of accountability possibly going in the wrong direction; the congregations via GA are the authority, not the board and staff. Will that still be true under the revised Article II?

Thank You, Eric (and others) for proposing this. I will support whatever amendment has the most ability to place the 7 principles back into article II.

I think we can — and should — include both our existing Principles and the proposed “Purposes and Covenant” in a new Article II that will, in fact, be a better and more comprehensive statement of our fundamental UU beliefs. I set forth the reasons I urge us to do so at my Amendment #29. I welcome your thoughts about my amendment and my statement.

Thanks, Jim Hall, Amendment #29

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