The 8th Principle
Black Lives of UU Organizing Collective Urges Adoption of 8th Principle in Unitarian Universalism
The call to adopt an 8th Principle is rippling through Unitarian Universalism. The proposed 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.
Why an 8th Principle?
This Principle was developed by Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU), an organizing collective within the UUA. They found the systemic racism within Unitarian Universalism to be inadequately addressed by the 7 principles.
Paula Cole Jones, one of the people who drafted the 8th Principle, realized after working with congregations on issues of race and racism for over 15 years that a person can believe they are being a ‘good UU’ and following the 7 Principles without thinking about or dealing with racism and other oppressions at the systemic level. Our existing 7 principles imply this 8th principle, but do not explicitly hold us accountable for addressing these oppressions directly, especially at the systemic level.
I don’t like the language. Let’s adjust it.
The language was drafted and vetted by BLUU and has been adopted intact by more than 100 congregations and counting. This is a grassroots effort to modernize and change the UUA. It is not top down. Think of it like amending the Constitution. We will be voting on an 8th Principle to add to our 7. While UUs love to wordsmith, this proposed principle will not take final form until it comes before the GA via the UUA procedures. The most important question for us to answer now is: do we support what our Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) UUs are asking of us?
The 7 Principles are named in Article II of the UUA by-laws. The call for adding an 8th Principle comes at a time when Article II is being reviewed by the Article II Study Commission. So, the timing is good. Even so, if it weren’t in our by-laws, one of the gifts of Unitarian Universalism is our belief that “revelation is ongoing” as James Luther Adams wrote. We don’t claim to know all the answers. When Unitarians and Universalists merged in the 1960’s, they agreed on 6 Principles which they did not imagine as perfect and complete for all time. In 1985, through an intensive process, the 6 Principles were revised and a 7th was added. Now our faith movement takes up the question: will we add this 8th principle to help dismantle oppression and build the beloved community?