Tuesday, May 3, 2022

My Position

“A member wondered if I am advancing a new vs old UU approach to the stresses we all see within our denomination. 


I am not promoting a "divorce" between new and old approaches in the Unitarian Universalist Association. 

I am a progressive; I want us to continue to improve the ways we interact with other UUs and with all the people in our communities and the world. I maintain strong respect for and value our Liberal Religion. (See sermon by Rev. Rick Hoyt McDaniels)

Unitarian Universalism is a liberal religion, not because of our progressive politics but because of our commitment to the ideals of liberalism. Liberalism in the classic sense is not an ideology, but a method for resolving conflict, gaining knowledge, and advancing toward truth. Our liberal approach to religion and to all that concerns us as religious people is a precious inheritance. Rev. Rick Hoyt-McDaniels


But some of the spokespersons of the new approaches do not seem concerned with adhering to our UU principles, not to mention appropriate civil discourse.                    


Civil discourse is engagement in conversation intended to enhance understanding;

  • It is discourse that "supports, rather than undermines the social good.
  • Civil discourse has also been defined as "robust, honest, frank and constructive dialogue and deliberation that seeks to advance the public interest by an assortment of national leaders in 2011 during a conversation at the U.S. Supreme Court. 
  • Uncivil discourse is "language characterized as containing direct insults, willful misattribution of motive without due reason, and open contempt".

I have observed over the last few years: 

  • Increasing intolerance of some participants' dissenting voices in National Zoom meetings while accepting crude and derogatory language from those hosting the meetings, 
  • Deletion of all "Letters to the Editor" in the UU World (Is someone afraid of criticism?), 
  • Condemnation of carefully thought out books and pamphlets written by ministers and other leaders in our association, slander and threats of de-fellowshipping of ministers and other leaders for disagreeing with controversial actions and statements of our UUA Leadership.

I believe, that such a destructive divide has developed between these perspectives of our religious community, that it is not wise to continue butting heads over different approaches.  Too much harm is being done to all members and all our congregations and to UUA standing in the wider religious world. 

It seems more productive to take some sort of "trial separation" where the opposing sides set up different leadership bodies and stop hurting one another with their accusations. There needs to be a time for healing and then counseling for the estranged parties.


  1. Hi, I’m trying to learn more about this campaign. I am a younger queer UU who has been UU their entire life and have been in denominational leadership since middle school. I am connected to many UU folks who are younger and/or have marginalized identities.

    It was painful and confusing to read these words of yours:

    You wrote “I acknowledge the desire of many, especially younger and/or marginalized-identifying members, to take our religion in a profoundly different direction. I believe this is the wrong approach.”

    This “wrong approach”, for example our anti racist anti oppressive transformation efforts, have been part of many young UUs faith for many years. It was back in the 1990s that UU young people started officially organizing this work. We have been mentored by elders who, among else, were youth leaders during the Black Empowerment movement in the 1960s which tore our movement apart and prompted countless Black UUs to feel pushed out of our faith. That pain is still there and the losses are many, but the work for transformation and building a just and inclusive community continues.

    You also wrote “I would wholeheartedly support helping another branch of UUism to be formed, that is more attractive to the aforementioned folks.”

    So That leaves me wondering, Do you have Gen Z and millennials In support of your campaign? If not, what relationships do you have to UU youth and young adults? What is your vision of a multigenerational denomination? How would you go about building that? If you are not interested in working with youth and young adults and supporting their efforts, why? And. If elected how would you relate to the marginalized groups, which you singles out as having a “wrong approach” and suggests leaving our denomination?

  2. A friend just notified me that the Rev Chris Rothbauer wrote a piece related to my comments above, titled "Whose Unitarian Universalism Is It Anyway?"