On April 11th we had our first chance to discuss a congregational Anti-racism Resolution proposed by the Racial Justice Council which includes adoption of an 8th Principle. Understandably there were a variety of questions and there will be more opportunities for discussion. The 8th Principle states: “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote: journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.” To date 33 congregations have adopted this Principle. It is expected that the Principle will be voted on at General Assembly in 2022 and again in 2023 to make any change final. For answers to some FAQ’s please read the following:
Frequently Asked Questions about the 8th Principle
Question: How and why was the text of the 8th Principle developed?
Answer: Paula Cole Jones, at the time Director of Racial & Social Justice in the Joseph Priestley District of the UUA, realized that a person can believe they are being a “good UU” and following the Seven Principles without thinking about or dealing with racism and other oppressions at the systemic level.
Question: What’s the practical role of the Principles of Unitarian Universalism?
Answer: The Principles of Unitarian Universalism provide us with a common touchstone for our life together as Unitarian Universalists in community with one another. They offer meaningful guidance in living our daily lives with intention and, therefore, are more than a form of theological expression. The Principles do not tell us what to believe, they tell us how we should be.
Question: Why add an 8th Principle to the 7 Principles we already have?
Answer: The 8th Principle expands the concept of being a ‘welcoming’ Congregation to explicitly include all people of color, people who otherwise are missing, have left, or who are not fully seen or heard.
Question: Our 7 Principles are pretty broad and basically imply the 8th Principle, so why add to the Principles?
Answer: The Principles of our faith are a covenantal document that is in a constant state of evolution. The initial Statement of Purpose of our Association was a document that negotiated the merger between the Universalist Church of America and the American Unitarian Association, and was adopted in 1961 at our merger. In the 1970s, the women’s movement called for a re-casting of the Statement with an eye for the full inclusion of women’s leadership in our faith, and the seven principles and five sources of our faith were adopted in 1984 and 1985. That adoption included a promise we made to ourselves that every ten years, the principles would be re-examined. In 1995, an additional source of our faith—earth-centered traditions—was added. The Principles, as they currently exist, do not explicitly express the multicultural anti-racist anti-oppression vision we have for our community. It is time to have a common understanding and an ethical and spiritual framework that we can collectively point to and hold ourselves and each other accountable to. Adopting the 8th Principle is a starting point for building the Beloved Community we talk about.
Question: What do the words, “build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions” refer to?
Answer: “Beloved Community” is an aspirational concept and one that is deeply spiritual specifically embodying a vision in which all people share in the promises and potentials of a free and equitable existence. The term was popularized by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the 1950s. It was a vision for how the world could be.
Question: Isn’t it a lot of work to adopt a whole new Principle?
Answer: No. The Congregation’s adoption of the 8th Principle just requires a simple majority of voting members that vote in favor of adoption. To date, 33 congregations have adopted the 8thPrinciple.
Question: How might adoption of the 8th Principle affect members who are people of color?
Answer: There are numerous ways the adoption of the 8th Principle may positively affect members who are people of color. One is by making an explicit and unambiguous statement that TUCW can be home for all of us.