Comments on proposed UUA Bylaws change for Social Witness process
by Neal McBurnett
The UUA is proposing changes in their Social Witness process, the
one run by the
Commission on Social Witness: http://uua.org/csw/
See background and details at this UUWIki page and add your own insights:
That page includes a background: survey from 2004, the text of the proposal,
information on previous reports, minority reports, and proposals that failed
in the past.
The bylaws change would reduce the frequency of Study Action Issues
to just one every 4 years (rather than one new one per year),
lengthen the process, etc.
I think we need to reject the bylaws change at this time.
for these reasons:
- The world is increasingly
complex. There are lots of issues out
there that UUs should study, consider,
and be prepared to act on when necessary.
- The quality and level of
detail of UUA Statements of Conscience are good now, and provide
useful education and guidance. Don't
reduce their length. The UUA survey said 1 per year was the best.
So don't reduce the frequency to one every 4 years.
- If you think 1 every 4 years is the right pace, which three Statements of Conscience from the last 4 years would you propose eliminating or delaying
perhaps a decade? Criminal Justice? Moral Values for a Pluralstic Society?
Threat of Global Warming? Civil Liberties?
- We should use a separate process for
recommendations of strategic direction for UUA staff, (budget, etc)
- We should also use a separate process for
building synergy among congregations on implementation of existing
Statements of Conscience
- Need more transparency:
put input from congregations up on web site
- Why were two SAI
proposals dropped this year ("Media reform for a more humane and democratic culture" and "Constitutional right to vote"), leaving
only one choice ("Peacemaking")? The congregations that submitted
them haven't gotten a very helpful answer.
- UUA should more actively
promote and support collaboration by congregations, e.g. with wiki sites like uuwiki (see also http://wikipedia.org)
- Don't stop mailing out
ballots, SAI resource guides, etc, as specified in bylaws change
We need more participation, not less!
- Use "approval voting" or
"instant runoff" to select from among proposed SAI's in plenary vote.
"first past the post" is terrible for
- Selection of "expert
panel" may tend to centralize process - be careful
- We must retain
congregational polity, avoid unnecessary centralization