Posts Tagged ‘Used to Be UU’

Book note: Used to Be UU

June 19, 2021

USED TO BE UU: The Systematic Attack on UU Liberalism by Frank Casper and Jay Kissel (2021)

This is the last of three books I recently read on the crisis of liberalism within the Unitarian Universalist Association, which is the abandonment by self-described liberals of historic liberal principles.

I think the UU crisis is the echo of a crisis of liberalism generally in the USA and other liberal democracies. As such, it may be of interest beyond UU membership.

Used to Be UU covers much the same ground as the Rev. Todd Eklof’s The Gadfly Papers and Anne Larason Schneider’s White Supremacy Culture, and goes more deeply into issues of UUA governance.

If you only have time to read one of the three books, Used to Be UU is the one I recommend.  If you don’t even have time to read one book, I recommend you check out the Fifth Principle Project web site.

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The first part of the book is an account of events that began in March, 2017 when Scott Tayler, the director of congregational life, filled the position of Southern Region director by appointing the Rev. Andy Burnette, a white man who lived outside the region, and passed over the Rev. Christina Rivera, a Hispanic woman who lived inside the region.

There was a great outcry by religious professionals of color, which was followed by the resignation of UUA President Peter Morales just two and a half months before the completion of his six-year term.

(Rev. Morales, for what it’s worth, is Hispanic, and his predecessor, the Rev. William Sinkford, is African-American)

The Board of Trustees met by Zoom on April 3, and determined that the UU culture harbored “structures and patterns that foster racism, oppression and and white supremacy.”

The board issued a formal call for a process to analyze structural racism and white supremacy within the UUA.

This action resulted in the creation of the Commission on Institutional Change, which delivered a report, Widening the Circle of Concern, to the 2020 virtual General Assembly.

Of course this didn’t come out of nowhere. It reflected tensions that had been building up in the denomination for some time.

But still: It was a major change in direction that was decided on at a 90-minute meeting without a vote or discussion by the UUA membership.

Furthermore it has being treated as an official doctrine from which you are not supposed to deviate.

It is to be discussed at the upcoming virtual UUA General Assembly June 23-27, but the current issue of UU World says “the UUA is already adopting its policies and practices to embody its antiracist and anti-oppressive commitments and urges congregations and other UU organizations to do the same.”

So evidently any General Assembly vote is just a formality to ratify something already decided on.

The board of trustees also created an Article II Study Commission, whose mission is to revise the portion of the UUA bylaws that have to do with the purpose of the association.

The board’s charge to the commission is that it is free to “revise, replace or restructure” all sections of Article II, including the Seven Principles.

An Eighth Principle, having to do with “accountable” diversity and multi-cuturalism, is under consideration.

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