Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Why you should care about Article XV

Fourth in a series of posts about the January UUA Board meeting

Article XV is one of those by-laws sections that is on the surface even more uninteresting than most -- it describes how to amend the by-laws, as well as mandates a periodic review of Article II, our Purpose and Principles.

When our U and U fathers (mothers appeared to be in the background on this) created the merged organization we affectionately call the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, they designated set up a specific process for amending Article II, which makes it somewhat more difficult to change. The procedure to amend the Purpose and Principles includes a) it is a two year process, b) a simple majority the first year will move the suggested changes to the second year, which then c) requires a 2/3 vote. What has given people pause is that d) the proposed changes cannot be amended on the floor of the delegate assembly, even in the first year, but must be accepted or rejected in their entirety.

The 2009 GA delegates rejected the changes, in spite of the fact that there appeared to be energy around some of the suggested changes, just not all of them. What is currently being considered is whether or not to remove the prohibition against amendments from the floor during the first General Assembly consideration.

On the surface this seems reasonable -- a classic "don't through out the baby with the bathwater". What this would do, however, is open up the deliberative and cohesive work of a commission that has ostensibly consulted with hundreds of congregations, to any floor amendment proposed in the heat of the moment. Those of us who have watched this process will want to consider it carefully.

Next post: Immigration

1 comment:

Tom Wilson said...

Two thoughts. First, I agree with your last paragraph that doing floor amendments to proposed wording on Article II just invites writing by committee, in the largest committe possible. If you want powerful wording (the only reason for caring about any revision to Article II) then the writing should be done by a committee of maybe three, two of whom simply watch Thomas Jefferson do the writing.

Second, while I understand the charge to review Article II every fifteen years, it doesn't seem all that compelling - don't we have other things to spend our time and energy on? It doesn't seem all that broken.