Examining the Proposed Changes
by Rebecca Pace
We are only months away from a vote on the proposal to change the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Bylaws. I fear that few UUs actually know this is happening, let alone understand what this may mean to those of us in the pews. For many of us, our perspective on this depends on our trust in the UUA. Most UUs are ready to believe that the UUA has our best interest at heart. Others are concerned that the UUA has a very narrow agenda, that actually alienates members and weakens our appeal to people seeking an independent spiritual home.
It is very difficult to find objective information on the proposed changes. It has been more than two years since the UUA magazine, UU World, published any submitted letters to the editors. Although an Amazon.com search will produce several books1 expressing alarm at what’s happening to the UUA, there is no opportunity for open discussion. The best, unbiased information was in a recent Financial Times article.2
I used to attend the UUA Board of Trustees’ Open Houses, but after too many uncomfortable questions about Board actions, these monthly meetings ceased. At the final Open House, I asked Board members for a side-by-side (or red-line) presentation of the proposed changes to the Bylaws. I was directed to a slick PowerPoint presentation3 designed to show that the changes are not really changes at all.
However the document length has grown from 442 words to 648. The current Principles are a clear and concise 112 words, but the text for the Values clause that replaces the Principles has swelled to 329 words. This is a massive change. The proposal deserves more light. When considering changes to a legal document, a straightforward side-by-side4 is standard procedure.
Please join us at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, January 22, 2024, in the Heritage Room, for what is anticipated to be a more balanced discussion on Article II, exploring both sides of the issues it poses. Laci Lee Adams, Jen Ciolino, and I, Rebecca Pace, will cast some light on the proposed change to the Bylaws, what we like about it, and what we find troubling.
1 Books on Amazon.com include: Used to Be UU: The Systematic Attack on UU Liberalism, by Casper & Kiskel (http://tinyurl.com/UsedToBeUU); The Gadfly Papers: Three Inconvenient Essays by One Pesky Minister, by Todd Eklof (http://tinyurl.com/GadflyPapers); The Gadfly Affair: A 21st Century Heretic’s Excommunication from America’s Most Liberal Religion, by Todd Eklof (http://tinyurl.com/GadflyAffair); and The Self-Confessed “White Supremacy Culture”: The Emergence of an Illiberal Left in Unitarian Universalism, by Anne L. Schneider (http://tinyurl.com/SelfConfessedWSC). Rebecca Pace has a “lending copy” of each of these.
2 Financial Times, December 9, 2023, “The Culture Wars Dividing America’s Most Liberal Church” https://www.ft.com/content/ec58bccb-668b-445f-ba7c-824297eb885d
3 Unitarian Universalist Association, “UU Values and Article II,” https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1bVJYh3nCjjd2QySqknjmh3Su2rtsk_lu/edit#slide=id.p32
4 “Markup Comparison of UUA Bylaws to the Article II Study Commission’s Final Proposed Revision,” prepared by Karen Brown for Savethe7Principles.org. (http://tinyurl.com/Article2-Side-by-Side)