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The background and origin of the proposed 8th Principle

The 8th principle was originally drafted by Paula Cole Jones (All Souls, Washington DC) and Bruce Pollack-Johnson (UU Church of the Restoration, Philadelphia) along with the UUA Central Region Group. They and a group of allies began working on this in 2013 and in 2017 recommended its adoption by the UUA that set up a commission to consider it. See UUA website for more information on the origin of the 8th principle and other related topics. (https://www.8thprincipleuu.org)

UUs and the UUA have done very good work in fighting racism, such as during the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s. Again in the1990s when the General Assembly passed a resolution to become an anti-racist, anti-oppression multi-cultural organization; however, the funding and support for these efforts started to wane in the 2000s. UUs also have a mixed record historically, e.g. there were followers on both sides of the abolition movement and some Unitarians were proponents of eugenics.

The 8th principle came from a feeling that we as a faith community need something to renew our commitment to the work of anti-racism, to hold ourselves accountable, and to fulfill the potential of our existing principles.


Why is UUCOD wanting to adopt this and why now?

The 8th Principle is a natural extension of our UU values and faith development. Unlike our other 7 Principles, it calls us to action, to not only be not-racist but to actively engage in anti-racist behaviors as individuals and as a faith community. And it calls us to be accountable to each other as we continue to work towards building Beloved Community.

Here at UUCOD the 8th Principle also flows from efforts that began anew in the summer of 2020 when Rev Don introduced us through three consecutive sermons to “Widening the Circle of Concern,” a report of the UUA Commission on Institutional Change. This Commission was charged with “conducting an assessment of the power structures and analyzing systemic racism and white supremacy culture within the UUA.” Following those sermons, several small groups met to discuss its implications for our congregation.

At the same time the UUCOD Board established strategic goals that included expanding our diversity, inclusion and belonging focus. Part of that included the formation of a BIOPOC support group and the Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging Ministry (DIBM). Additional related sermons were and continue to be delivered by Rev Barbara and Rev Ian in the ensuing years.

During 2020 and 2021 about 19 people including Rev. Ian, BIOPOC and White members participated in the Beloved Conversations Within program. This program focused on our own experiences growing up and living in a white dominant society and how those experiences impact our words, thoughts, feelings and behaviors regardless of our skin color. Now a group of 13 are participating in the Beloved Conversations Among program that focuses on our congregational life, policies, practices and culture with an eye towards practicing anti-racism in all aspects of our community.

It is clear, then, that the 8th Principle not only represents a natural extension of our UU values and history but also a logical extension of the work we have been engaged in for the past several years.

Become a part of our discussion.  Here are the articles that we’ve published.

So Where Do We Go From Here?

At our recent Annual Congregational Meeting our UUCOD members voted strongly to adopt the 8th Principle as one of our own.

But more importantly, and closer to home, what does passing the 8th Principle mean to us at UUCOD? Where do we go from here since adopting this principle is just the beginning of a journey that we will create and make together.

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Are we proposing this principle because we are doing something wrong?

This is one of the thought provoking questions we have been asked over the past several months related to the proposed 8th Principle. The simple answer is, No. However, this does not mean we cannot do more that is right. Remember, we are attempting to Widen the Circle of Concern and to become as welcoming and inclusive as possible so that ALL truly feel that they belong here. 

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Why do we need another principle about racism? Don’t our other 7 principles address this?

After many years of inconsistent work in the UUA regarding anti-racism, the realization that one can “live into” our existing 7 principles without thinking about or dealing with racism has become more apparent. In order to more fully live into the potential of our existing principles, over 150 UU congregations have already adopted the 8th Principle.
In our white-centered dominant culture it is all too easy to ignore racism and just regard ourselves as “not racist”,

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What does “white supremacy culture” mean?

At its most basic, white supremacy culture is based on the ideology that people with white skin are superior to people with dark skin, intellectually, morally, and physically, and therefore should dominate society, typically to the exclusion or detriment of other...

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What is meant by “white privilege?

White privilege is “having greater access to power and resources than people of color, in the same situation, do."  from Diversity in the Classroom and Understanding White Privilege: Creating Pathways to Authentic Relationships Across Race" by Francis E. Kendallin ....

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The 8th Principle – Let’s Examine What It Really Means

As we journey towards adopting the 8th Principle, throughout March we will present various words and phrases both within the 8th Principle language itself and those related to the work of anti-racism. We will begin to explore what they mean and invite your responses....

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The 8th Principle – Can we change the wording?

At this stage in the process, congregations need to adopt the proposed principle as it is written. The wording of the 8th Principle will be substantially debated on the floor of the UUA General Assembly and will likely be changed as a result. By voting to approve it...

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