On Accountability…

Accountability WILL Transform Unitarian Universalism — Every Member Should Form An Opinion About The UU Principles Rewrite

Kenneth Ing

Further down on this page is a link to a video that expresses numerous serious reservations about adding accountability and extra covenants to Article II of the UUA Bylaws. This is a point of view that seems to get very little attention.

The accountability statement being proposed is vague. The full statement is “We are accountable to one another for doing the work of living our shared values through the spiritual discipline of Love.

Are we agreeing to a soft version of accountability, where we decide among ourselves what it means? Is this just a statement of best intentions?

Or are we agreeing to be held accountable? Are we agreeing to be subjected to some kind of judgment of whether our actions, or our inaction, is acceptable? Are we agreeing to be exposed to the possibility of consequences for failing to act accountably?

This video argues that it is implausible that this accountability does not ask more of us than our ‘best intentions’. That is what we have now, with the covenant “to affirm and promote” the current Principles. Why add a new accountability statement if it does not expect more of us?

The video cites UUA documents and UU leadership speeches, going back to 2015, that show that serious accountability with consequences is a key part of a long-stated desire on the part of UUA leaders to transform the very nature of the denomination.

An example of this vision was expressed by incoming UUA President Rev. Dr. Sofia Betancourt during the Accountability, Justice, and Wholeness panel discussion at General Assembly last June, when she said “Covenant without consequences is not actually Covenant”.

The Bylaws governing membership are not in Article II – they are in Article III. We probably will not know exactly how accountability would work until next year because proposing changes to Article III will be the task of the Bylaws Renewal Team, and they are just starting their work.

What we know at this point is that the Bylaws Renewal Team is specifically charged with providing accountability in the rest of the Bylaws. It is logical to assume that they would not have been given that specific instruction in their charge if accountability in Article II is merely intended to be a statement of ‘best intentions’.

This video explores the ramifications of committing in Article II to be held accountable. It identifies many unintended consequences of serious accountability.

UU members and congregations have a responsibility to thoughtfully consider whether adding accountability to the UUA Bylaws in Article II is wise and would be beneficial. We feel that understanding the point of view of this video is an important step in deciding whether adding accountability is a good idea, or a bad idea.

Click/Tap here or on the image below to watch the video: Accountability WILL Transform Unitarian Universalism

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“I only planned to watch a few minutes but found myself unable to stop until the end. Every UU needs to see this and to vote no on the proposed revision of Article II”

Anne Schneider, Phd.  Retired political science professor and Dean, College of Public Programs 
Arizona State University.

“In my mind, this confirms my worst fears about the Article II rewrite — many of these raised in my analysis elsewhere on this site. If you are trying to form an opinion or are on the fence about the Article II rewrite, this is a must watch video.

Lincoln Baxter, an active congregational leader, and a fifth generation Unitarian born before the merger.