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Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Adding God to the UUA's Principles?

Yesterday's Fort Worth Star-Telegram says that the Rev. William G. Sinkford, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, announced plans to push for a revision of the UUA's Principles during a speech at the First Jefferson Unitarian Universalist Church in Fort Worth, Texas. The newspaper reports that Sinkford believes the absence of the word "God" from the Association's covenant statement "reduces the document's effectiveness in comforting people and also puts the denomination out on the fringe of religious life in America."

Sinkford says he believes that adding "God" to the denomination's principles would help attract members and would also increase the denomination's influence in world affairs.

Aside from the questionable assumption that God would improve the UUA's public relations, just how explicit was Sinkford's call for a revision, or for specific changes to the language? The article is short on direct quotes. (The two above are the reporter's summaries.) The most substantive statement directly attributed to Sinkford is this:

"We need to be able to say Unitarian Universalists believe there is one God, and that God is a loving God who would condemn no one out of hand."

Sinkford's affirmation is clearly consonant with the Unitarian and Universalist theological traditions, but he knows that Humanism provides the common theology of contemporary liberal religion. Spiritual openness characterizes most UU religious humanists today — but theism does not. Amending a statement won't change the common theology, unless it drives a whole lot of people away.

But the really interesting news comes at the end: "Sinkford said the statement of principles adopted in 1984 was supposed to be reconsidered after 15 years. He will ask trustees to reassess the statement during a national convention in June."

It's true. See the UUA Bylaws, XIV.C-14.1(c), paragraph 4:

If no review and study process of Article II [yup, the "Principles and Purposes"] has occurred for a period of fifteen years, the Board of Trustees shall appoint a commission to review and study Article II and to recommend appropriate revisions, if any, thereto to the Board of Trustees. The Board of Trustees shall review the recommendations of the study commission and, in its discretion, may submit the recommendations of the study commission to the Planning Committee for inclusion on the agenda of the next regular General Assembly.

The last revision of Article II was in 1984, so considering a revision is now in order. Any revision would require congregational review and at least two General Assemblies, so no one needs to panic. Sinkford may just have boosted the Commission on Appraisal's current study topic to even greater significance: "Where is the unity in our diversity?"

Copyright © 2003 by Philocrites | Posted 14 January 2003 at 2:13 PM

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