BYM-FUM Minute Revision: A Little Better, Not Much

Late this morning, BYM sent out a revised version of the Proposed Minute on money to FUM.  The text has been tweaked and reshuffled, and a bit of the offensive text has been edited out.  But not enough. Here’s how the key paragraphs look now (as of 1:15 Pm Friday October 15), with some quick comments inter-leaved:

Our witness on the use of money

In the course of our deliberations we have come to see that money is not really the issue. >>

No, Friends, we have NOT come to see that. Let’s review: if money is not the issue, then it doesn’t matter if we send it or not. But if they want us to send money, then money IS the issue.

Perhaps a syllogism might help:

If they want us to send money, then money is the issue.
They want us to send money.
Therefore, money is the issue.

Another way to put it is in query form: If money is “not really the issue” here, then what really IS the issue? Is there more than one? And why not deal with the “real” issue(s) and forget about the money?

There are lots of ways this statement could have been rewritten to make it more accurate and acceptable. But it wasn’t. That spells trouble.

Back to the text.

We believe that an undue focus on money . . .

There it is again: money is “not really the issue,” but still we have an “undue focus on money.” [Really; which makes it an issue.] Having it both ways seems to be a key part of what this minute is about. Whch doesn’t help.

<< . . . is getting in the way of the work we are called to, work which includes being present with lesbian and gay Friends in FUM-only yearly meetings, and engaging actively with the rest of FUM in working and witnessing for peace and equality.>>

As mentioned in the earlier blog posts, not sending the money has by no means stopped BYM from the “work we are called to do,” including the activities mentioned. Quite the contrary. This statement is false to the record, and attempts to smuggle in an unwarranted condemnation of the witness. Loading the dice. Not gonna fly.

<< Money is a clumsy form of communication that cannot convey the transformational power of our spiritual concern. >>

Balderdash. Money is no less clumsy or “transformational” if we send it than if we don’t. This is more covert trashing of a successful witness; and self-contradictory to boot.

We trust that the Holy Spirit is working among us, for purposes that we do not yet fully understand. We know that it is the Inward Teacher who transforms hearts.

This may mark the biggest change in the present draft: the words “have come to” before “trust that the Holy Spirit is working” have been deleted. For the record, that does improve the passage; it was thus shorn of the insulting insinuation that only those who wanted to send the money were truly ready or able to “trust the Spirit.” But that’s pretty small beer.

<< In the spirit of seeing our relationship with FUM, not as a problem, but as an opportunity to witness actively for peace, equality, and compassion, >>

Unchanged, and more covert ad hominem attacks. Our witness to FUM since 2004 HAS been active, and HAS been for peace, equality and compassion. The minute remains loaded with slaps at those who actively pushed back against hate, and such passive aggressive junk is just unacceptable.

we approve the following action:

We will resume payment to FUM, with a portion sent unrestricted and an equal portion for a designated program of FUM, starting with the 2011 budget.

Not on this basis we shouldn’t. What part of, “our witness has been something to celebrate, not some shameful transgression to be apologized for”, don’t some understand?

And one other point. Much of the text has been shifted into what is now called a

Report on our recent activities with Friends United Meeting

One wonders about the significance of the shift. Does this mean it is simply in the record, and not subject to our approval? In any event, here is part of the first paragraph, which still includes a crucial omission:

< For a number of years BYM has struggled to discern our role as a member of Friends United Meeting. While few objections were raised by us in 1988, the FUM General Board, with BYM representatives present, adopted a personnel policy which set the expectation that its staff and volunteers would restrict their intimate sexual relations to marriage, understood to be between one man and one woman. Many BYM Friends find this policy, effectively excluding same-gender relationships, to be offensive and discriminatory. As a consequence, in 2004, BYM continued its membership and continued to send Board members, but withheld our contributions to FUM while we sought discernment. We felt torn: many among us find a spiritual home in FUM and are blessed by an opportunity to participate in its ministries; at the same time, many are uneasy as a matter of conscience about financially supporting an organization that engages in employment discrimination. >>

This text still continues to silence and suppress the record of the crucial events that climaxed in 2004, as pointed out in earlier posts. That’s just not right; it wasn’t right before, it’s not right today, and it won’t be right tomorrow.

Added up, the tweaking of the minute doesn’t look like anything able to break the impasse BYM has faced. That doesn’t dismay me much. If we’re still divided about this, there’s no disgrace in that.

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