Chortling with glee…

Oh, Mr. Crankypants is rubbing his little hands with unrestrained glee; he is chortling in anticipation; cackling even. As a bylaws geek, he has heard good news about the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA).

You see, Article XV, Section C-15.1, of the UUA bylaws specifies that Article II, the principles and purposes, of the bylaws shall be reviewed at least every 15 years:

If no review and study process of Article II has occurred for a period of fifteen years, the Board of Trustees shall appoint a commission to review and study Article II and to recommend appropriate revisions, if any, thereto to the Board of Trustees. [Link]

Way back in 2003, the UUA’s Board acknowledged that they were then already overdue with such a review. The Board Meeting Notes from the January 17-19, 2003, meeting say:

The bylaws call for a review of the Purposes and Principles (which were adopted in 1984) every 15 years, so we are three years overdue and the Board will consider ways of carrying this forward. [Link]

So why is Mr. Crankypants rubbing his hands with glee?

First, this is a classic case of the Board and the membership of an organization not living up to the organization’s bylaws. Whenever such a situation occurs, Fingers of Blame can be pointed, and then everyone possible will duck taking responsibility. Now really in this case, the Finger of Blame can only be pointed at the member congregations of the UUA which either don’t send delegates to the annual General Assembly; or which, for the most part, send delegates who less concerned with doing the business of the Association than they are in attending a five-day party and convention. As Fingers of Blame get pointed, Mr. Crankypants is really hoping someone will come right out and speak the truth, which is:

“Yeah, I’m responsible, but so are you! Where were you and your Finger of Blame six years ago? Where were you when General Assembly spent hours and hours on irrelevant discussions about political issues, and Actions of Immediate Witness that have no relevancy to our bylaws or our member congregations?”

Secondly, Mr. Crankypants is pleased by the faint possibility that the hated Article II, Section C-2.1, a.k.a. “the seven principles,” will be overhauled. The “seven principles” are puerile, self-centered, and above all they are not theological. (Even my stupid namby-pamby alter ego, Dan, has preached and written several times about how he thinks the “seven principles” are wishy-washy.) It’s time to revise them substantially.

Realistically, of course, the “seven principles” won’t be altered because they have taken on the status of a beloved creed among many Unitarian Universalists. So Mr. Crankypants will set his sights lower. How about altering Article II, Section C-2.4 to read as follows:

Nothing herein shall be deemed to infringe upon the individual freedom of belief which is inherent in the Universalist and Unitarian heritages or to conflict with any statement of purpose, covenant, or bond of union used by any congregation unless such is used as a creedal test. [Then add:] Nor shall any congregation require anyone under the age of 18 years to memorize any part of this article. Furthermore, wherever the whole or any portion of this article shall be reproduced in print, in speech, or in any electronic medium, it shall appear with the following disclaimer: “This represents an excerpt from the bylaws of the Unitarian Universalist Association, and shall not be considered a theological statement.”

If only Mr. Crankypant’s home church, First Universalist on the Beach, would allow him to become a delegate to General Assembly so he could propose such an amendment. But alas, his church dislikes his habit of speaking in the third person, and refuses to let him take on any leadership position.


If you’re a bylaws geek like Mr. Crankypants, you’ll want to read the following:

Article XV of the UUA Bylaws, Section C-15.1.

Article II — Section C-2.1 PrinciplesSection C-2.2 PurposesSection C-2.3 Non-discriminationSection C-2.4 Freedom of beliefRule G2.1 Democratic Process

Text of announcement of review of principles to the UUA email list (scroll down to second announcement on this page)

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