USG adopted the 8th Principle on June 16, 2019.

The Unitarian Universalist Association bylaws state that the Principles must be re-examined every 15 years. The last time time they were re-examined, they were not changed. They are due to be re-examined again.

A question many people had ahead of adopting the Principle was what does it mean to be accountable? The website 8thprincipleuu.org states:

“White UUs hold themselves accountable to communities of color, to make sure whites do what they say they will do. In practice, that can mean having a People of Color Caucus within congregations, districts, etc., to discern and express needs and concerns to the rest of the community. Black UUs hold each other accountable and help each other see and dismantle signs of internalized racism. We need an effective mechanism or structure to ensure this. Similarly for other oppressions.”

Additional information regarding the background and purpose of the 8th principle can be found at 8thprincipleuu.org/background.org

The proposed 8th principle:
“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.”

At the 2017 General Assembly, the UUA created a study commission to consider adding an 8th Principle. There is also a possibility that all the Principles will be examined. When the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church America merged in 1961, they created the first set of Unitarian Universalist Principles. A Bylaw requires that the Principles be reviewed at least every 15 years. They were updated in 1984 and modified in 1995.

“Beloved Community” is a term first coined in the early days of the 20th century by philosopher-theologian Josiah Royce. It gained popularity through the prophetic work of Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights movement. Beloved Community happens when people of diverse racial, ethnic, educational, class, gender, sexual orientation backgrounds come together in an interdependent relationship of love, mutual respect, and care that seeks to realize justice within the community and in the broader world.

Our Seven Principles have not been enough to prevent the cumulative impact of implicit bias over time. While we currently recognize the inherent dignity of every person, and are committed to justice, endorsing the 8th principle, asks for a commitment to undertake a dedicated journey to achieve justice for all oppressions starting with racism. We as UU’s have made progress with equality for women and gays and lesbians, though not so well with the trans community, but racial issues have been problematic within the UUA since literally the beginning. We have not made much progress over the years, which is why we need to be explicit now.

Within Unitarian Universalism our problem is not conscious, aspirational White Supremacy, which seeks to intentionally create a more racist society. Yet, despite our best intentions, living in a racist, sexist, classist, heterosexist, ableist society has caused each of us to internalize and perpetuate systems of oppression in various ways.

We are hoping adopting the 8th principle will help us consciously work to end racism and other oppressions while becoming accountable to those within our congregations who are being oppressed. If you have more questions, look for people with “Ask me about the 8th Principle stickers” on Sunday mornings or reach out to the following people who are happy to answer questions: Eli Scearce, Gail Mershon, Nancy Anderson, Dev Howerton, Lois Murphy, Andrea Durham, Treva Burger or Rev. Kent.

More information at 8thprincipleuu.org

Sermon by Sarah Richards of the Carbondale (IL) Unitarian Fellowship

Blog post excerpted in May 12 Order of Service insert

Notes from the 8th Principle Conversation April 14, 2019

Update on status of USG re the 8th Principle following the Annual Membership Meeting of May 19, 2019