Rev. Dr. Michael Tino, UUA Trustee
In 2010, the General Assembly directed the UUA Board to create a different kind of General Assembly for 2012. This “Justice GA” was to be planned in accountable relationship with partner organizations who had invited us to Arizona as part of their ongoing struggle for human rights and equality.
When our Association’s Arizona Immigration Ministry met with our partners, we received one clear request for an agenda item at GA2012. Our partners said that the single most important piece of business we could do at GA2012 was to study and repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery and support the full implementation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People. Further, they asked us to have our congregations study this issue and how it is related to the ongoing oppression of indigenous peoples whose lands straddle the US-Mexico border.
Given that the charge from our congregations was accountability, the UUA Board felt it imperative that we honor their request and take up this piece of business at GA2012. Given that we are prohibited from making justice statements through Business Resolutions and that Actions of Immediate Witness are not on the GA2012 agenda, our only option was to craft a Responsive Resolution to our own report.
What makes this an even more unusual Responsive Resolution is that the Board submitted it to the congregations six months prior to General Assembly, rather than at the Assembly itself. This is because of the request from our partners that our congregations study and discuss the issue.
Items submitted for consideration at the General Assembly itself (including Actions of Immediate Witness as well as typical Responsive Resolutions) do not get the consideration that congregations can give resolutions sent to them in advance. For this reason, they carry less weight as statements and are less useful in advancing any cause of justice than statements our congregations discuss, deliberate and amend.
The UUA Board decided that the resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery needed congregational deliberation and input, and for this reason we took the unusual step of submitting it in advance. We hope our congregations take this matter seriously and that together we follow through on our pledge to be accountable to our partners in Arizona.
For more information on the Doctrine of Discovery, including the Board’s report and resolution and a wonderful set of congregational workshops, visit http://www.uua.org/ga/2012/189502.shtml.