Controversy of Conscience

I belong to a Unitarian-Universalist Congregation where I attend during my winter stay in Florida.  Recently the annual meeting of the congregation was held and ratification of the following declaration was on the agenda.  The declaration was sent by the U-U Association, the central organization of the U-U churches throughout the country.

Declaration of Conscience

At this extraordinary time in our nation’s history, we are called to affirm our profound commitment to the fundamental principles of justice, equity and compassion, to truth and core values of American society.

In the face of looming threats to immigrants, Muslims, people of color, and the LGBTQ community and the rise of hate speech, harassment and hate crimes, we affirm our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of every person.

In opposition to any steps to undermine the right of every citizen to vote or to turn back advances in access to health care and reproductive rights, we affirm our commitment to justice and compassion in human relations.

And against actions to weaken or eliminate initiatives to address the threat of climate change – actions that would threaten not only our country but the entire planet – we affirm our unyielding commitment to protect the interdependent web of all existence.

We will oppose any and all unjust government actions to deport, register, discriminate, or despoil.

As people of conscience, we declare our commitment to translate our values into action as we stand on the side of love with the most vulnerable among us.

We welcome and invite all to join in this commitment for justice.
The time is now.

Not many among us were opposed to the words, although one person was distressed that the document took a negative stance — opposing rather than affirming.  I understand that, but it does not seem important enough an issue to send it back to committee for deliberation and rewriting.

Some objected to the political/partisan nature of the document. I suppose that is fair as well.  However, I would have to say I would favor actions to affirm the worth and dignity of all, to maintain equity in human rights, to protect the environment under any political climate.  Those are things I believe in.  My efforts may be different in religious community versus political activities, but believing in those principles are part of my being in this world.

There were a number of people who felt they could sign as individuals, but who were opposed to ratifying the declaration as a congregation.  Some felt very strongly that congregational ratification (by majority vote) was forcing them as individuals to sign something they were not comfortable signing.  I have to respect those strong feelings although I really don’t understand the reasoning behind them.

Democracy is messy.

The Declaration of Conscience was ratified.

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6 thoughts on “Controversy of Conscience

  1. I understand the UU “church” is a congregation of free thinking individuals who all form their own concepts of a supreme being. I like that. I also have no issue with them as a collective adopting these principles. And given the nature of the members, I also understand the objections. I think we should all sign on as a standard of morality.

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  2. I don’t have a problem with the statement, but I don’t understand the need for it. I’m such a rabid ‘separation of church and state’ person I probably would not have voted to approve it. I really don’t like mixing church with politics. it seems to be as much a political statement as anything. I’d be happy to vote for it as a political document but it doesn’t strike me as quite right as a church document. Once it’s approved is it going to bring about change to anything, or is it just more words?

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  3. I personally find the Declaration to be an excellent statement of values and beliefs. Partisan? Is it partisan or are we as a nation and society just acclimated to the religious right hijacking the Constitution and expounding values opposite to those stated in the Declaration? I would be proud to sign the Declaration.

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