Thank you for taking the time to take a serious look at the 8th principle. It is so important to engage in this conversation with respect and love for one another.
Yes, for many the wording does not align with that of the other principles. Its style is intentionally different in order to call the church to take on a different approach. This is because in the previous 60-plus years of having the six Principles (the seventh was added in the 1980s) has not resulted in the UUA or its more than 1000 congregations becoming anti-racist and counter-oppressive.
The 8th Principle is meant to trigger the type of discussions and actions that have been occurring in our congregations. Discussions unlike any prompted by other curricula, book studies or sermons. I am delighted and humbled at the increased awareness by our white siblings, of the pain that our beloved BIPOC siblings have been enduring for so very long. Many Black and African American friends have left our faith because of overt and subversive racism and oppression. Those who have stayed have done so because of their love for our mutual faith.
I invite you for a moment, to allow that pain to impact your heart. How does it affect you?
The wording is supported by many Black UU leaders, including organizations like Black Lives UU. They have said this is the wording that tells them that UUs are ready to engage in serious commitment to eradicating white supremacy in our personal lives and in our faith. They have asked us to pass the wording as is, which almost all the US congregations that have voted have done (The exceptions are the Canadians, who voted on different wording).
Our resistance to the wording has some basis in what is known as white supremacy culture and our strong reliance on the written word and perfectionism. White culture uses the written word and perfectionism as a means to control those outside cultural norms and invisible caste boundaries (please read Isabel Wilkerson’s “Caste: The Origins of Our Discontent”). You can read more about characteristics of white supremacy culture here: https://www.whitesupremacyculture.info/
This does not mean that we can’t discuss or critique in the interests of good and clear communication. However, there is a practical process in play. Having the same wording as other UU churches who have passed the 8th Principle, helps ease the day when the Principle finally arrives at the UUA’s General Assembly. A mash up of over 250 congregations with different statements might drop even the mightiest of editors to the mat.
By coincidence, not designed to time with the 8th Principle, two years ago, the UUA initiated a required review of Article II of the UUA’s bylaws. The Principles are contained in Article II. The first revision of the Article II, including the Principles, has already been released and comments are welcomed in their long process, as we lead up to a first vote during General Assembly held right here in Pittsburgh in June of 2023. The final version will be voted on in June 2024.
The commission that is reviewing the UUA’s bylaws is accepting comments on Article II right now. Information on how to participate can be found here: https://www.uua.org/uuagovernance/committees/article-ii-study-commission.
In the meantime, for those who just can’t accept the current wording, perhaps accepting the spirit of the wording is enough. Whatever wording is finally approved in 2024, and I suspect it will change, will then make its way back to the congregations.
Because our Black and African American siblings have offered the language, and because I want to help create a place for reconciliation and healing, I support the wording as is. To undermine the request of these beloved members of our community who have been marginalized for centuries, is a place of power and privilege that is based on our dominant white culture. That white culture is what I want to transform into Beloved Community.
Thank you for staying engaged in this important conversation with respect and love.
Cheers, Rev. Kate