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Much Ado About Article II

Much Ado About Article II

The subtitle of this video, Why A Revision of UU’s Principles Was Predictable, reveals much of the content of this video. The video explores the “why” behind the changes to Article II are not a “revision” but a complete “replacement.” The answers are in the years of UUA reports and working group recommendations. Documents most UUs know nothing about. This video provides easy access to that information.

What We Gain, What We Lose

Observation on “What We Lose” if Article II Passes

A presentation from the UU the Conversation April 24, 2024 Town Hall Meeting entitled “What We Gain, What We Lose.” The proposed Article II rewrite has good new ideas that come with substantial modifications to the way UUs have been functioning.  This Town Hall will address what is gained and what is lost with the new proposal so UUs can decide if it represents the right direction for our faith.

Article II Teach-in

Part 1: What is at Stake?

This 14-minute video reviews what’s at stake with the proposed Revision. The original recording has been trimmed and edited for clarity.

Part 2: Parsing the Language

In this 39-minute video, an English teacher with decades of experience in composition and creative writing, parses the language in each Section of the proposed Revision. The original recording has been trimmed and edited for clarity.

Part 3: Implications for Unitarian Universalism

This 7-minute video reflects on the implications of the proposed language for Article II discussed in Part 2. The original recording has been trimmed and edited for clarity.

Continuing the Conversation

When this proposal was preliminarily approved at the General Assembly last June, the consistent refrain from UU leaders and delegates was that they were voting to continue the conversation about what UU is going to be about. This 7-part video series simulates conversations between UU members, exploring many of the questions that arise when assessing whether the proposed Article II revision would be a wise and prudent change. Each part is 4 to 8 minutes long.

Part 1: So Many Changes Lead to So Many Questions

Individual freedom of belief and congregational freedom are fundamental parts of what makes UUism unique and are only vaguely referred to in the rewrite. Why have both numbered principles and sources been replaced with paragraphs of values and covenants? It appears that the goal of the rewrite is to change the distribution of power.  

Part 2: Trying To Decode The New Words

How are words such as dismantle, systemic, oppression and racism defined? Is this really about critical race theory? Is this a call to abandon Enlightenment principles that UUism is based on, such as reason and tolerance? Is “healing historic injustices” a mandate for reparations?

Part 3: Searching For A Unifying Theme

Is limiting individual autonomy a goal of the rewrite? The collective is emphasized over the individual. Will congregations be told what to do by some governing body? If delegates at GA approve the proposed language and all congregations are obligated to do what was agreed to at GA, congregations would no longer be autonomous. 

Part 4: The Big Picture

It seems like the goal of the rewrite is to change the purpose of the UUA and transform UUism from a liberal religion into a social justice or activist organization. The UUA appears to believe that centralizing power is necessary to get all congregations to focus on the same social justice agenda, e.g., Action of Immediate Witness (AIWs) and then enforce accountability.

Part 5: Attempts to Amend

It is now our job to listen to a variety of opinions, evaluate the worth of each, then make an informed decision. Delegates voted against some wording in Amendment 52, but in the final reconciliation the Commission reinserted it. Is this the Commission’s idea of “inclusive” democratic process?

Part 6: Why Does This Matter to Us?

The UUA appears to want all congregations to take action on Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) and will make them accountable.

Part 7: Having Hard Conversations

The rewrite of Article II changes the purpose of the UUA and eliminates individual freedom of belief. Covenants would make congregations accountable, but to whom, and what are the consequences of being out of covenant? If our Seven Principles are eliminated, will UUism still be attractive to existing and potential members?

On Accountability

The accountability statements in Article II are vague. The full statement is “We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.” Are we agreeing to a soft version of accountability, where we decide among ourselves what it means? Is this just a statement of best intentions? Or are we agreeing to be held accountable? Are we agreeing to be subjected to some kind of judgment of whether our actions, or our inaction, is acceptable? Are we agreeing to be exposed to the possibility of consequences for failing to act accountably?

NOTE: This video was produced in April of 2023, before Amendments were applied to the Article II proposal. None of the approved amendments changed anything that affects the analysis presented in this video.

On Accountability

The video cites UUA documents and UU leadership speeches, going back to 2015, that show that serious accountability with consequences is a key part of a long-stated desire on the part of UUA leaders to transform the very nature of the denomination.

UU Minister’s Appeal to Colleagues

A UU Minister’s Appeal to Colleagues

UU Minister Rev. Richard Trudeau urges UU ministers to participate in the June 2024 General Assembly, in the hope that once they inform themselves about the proposed revision of Article II of the UUA Bylaws, they will vote “No.”

Rev. Trudeau’s hope is that folks will share this video with their ministers, and that ministers will share it with their colleagues.

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