Article II again (sigh)

I received yet another email from someone who is concerned about the proposed revisions to Article II.

On the one hand, we’re merely revising the principles and purposes section of the Unitarian Universalist Association(UUA) bylaws. You have to have a section on principles and purposes in any nonprofit organization’s bylaws to help demonstrate to the regulators that your organization does in fact comply with the requirement for running an organization that doesn’t pay taxes on income.

On the other hand, many Unitarian Universalists have come to treat the so-called seven principles as a profession of faith — after all, they’ve been arranged as a responsive reading in the 1993 hymnal; they’re printed on wallet cards; children are forced to memorize them (which I consider to be a waste of children’s time); they’re responsible for many “conversions” to Unitarian Universalism; and many people have structured their entire experience as a Unitarian Universalist around their reading of the seven principles.

So a problem arises. We’re using a process designed for changing bylaws. Yet for many people, what we’re really doing is changing their profession of faith. And if you’re going to change a profession of faith, you really want to be using a different timeline. Changing bylaws should be a time-constrained process. Changing a profession of faith should take all the time it needs.

The result? From one side, I’m hearing conspiracy theories about UUA leadership and even comparisons between “the UUA” and totalitarian states. On the other side, both lay and professional leadership within the UUA don’t seem to be fully aware of how emotionally fraught this issue has become for a great many people. I’m also seeing both sides digging in their heels — reflecting, I suspect, the wider society where digging in of heels has become the norm in an increasingly polarized society.

Personally, I’ve decided I don’t really support either option, but I can tolerate either the seven principles, or the proposed Article II revision. Ignoring my personal reaction, though, I can see how this conflict has the potential for escalating. I can only hope someone with wisdom and top-notch conflict management skills steps in to do some conflict managment….

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