Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


The Nuns on the Bus for “We the People”

No Comments | Share On Facebook| The Nuns on the Bus for “We the People” Share/Save/Bookmark Sep 29, 2014

Yes, we “Nuns on the Bus” are on the road again, for the third year in a row, but I have come to realize that this new journey is different. Previous trips were all about convincing our elected officials that they should exercise their power in everyone’s behalf. Vote against the Republican budget! Fix our immigration laws!

This time we are focused directly on the power of the people. We are now all about how we, the community of voters, have the power to create justice ourselves.

Our current trip’s launch in Des Moines, Iowa, was more than memorable. We were surprised and honored when we were joined by Vice President Joe Biden, who supported our efforts to get out the vote.

Madison, a local 15-year-old, waited to greet the vice president, worried that he wouldn’t make it to her because she was at the back of the line. She was so excited that I did my best to make sure they had the chance to meet, and, when he reached her, she was trembling. She was especially thrilled when she got her picture taken with him and he hugged her and kissed her on the top of her head.

Her excitement inspired us.

It also served as a contrast to an experience later in the trip when a man in another Iowa community talked about how neighborhoods and blocks in his town were becoming single-party. In Republican areas, when a house went on the market, neighbors sought out potential Republican buyers. And Democrats only wanted to live around Democrats.

UUs have already been coming out in support of Nuns on the Bus. Here Terry Lowman greeted the bus in Iowa. Follow along for their next stops!

On this trip, we have heard how hungry people are for politics that are not polarized, for a political system that brings people together for the 100%, not just the rich and powerful.

Our shiny new bus is emblazoned with the words “We the People, We the Voters” because our trip is focused on how we, the community of voters, have the power to come together and make things right. It’s all about democracy.

Why did we select this theme this year? We hear everywhere about how sick people are of the power of big money in our electoral process. It has been clear for decades that wealth and income disparities in our country have grown exponentially. We now have billions of dollars pouring into election campaigns from individuals, families and corporations with the greatest wealth. Huge amounts are “donated” each election cycle in order to elect candidates “friendly” to the donors, who are allowed to remain anonymous. That damages our democracy grievously.

So what’s the answer? It’s simple, really. Reclaiming our democracy requires all of us to show up at the polls. Follow NETWORK’s Nuns on the Bus click here. For information about voter registration and Election Day reminders, click here.

To help reignite their excitement about voting, we ask everyone we meet to share stories about the first time they voted. We want them to remember their initial enthusiasm, and to again feel the excitement of 15-year-old Madison in Des Moines.

Vice President Biden reinforced our message on the first day of our journey when he reminded everyone what is at stake: access to healthcare, federal budget choices that serve that serve the needs of all, a functional immigration system, fair tax policies, “a decent living wage,” and more. “This nation is strongest when every voice is heard,” he told us. He was right. Let’s make that happen!

In faith,

Sister Simone Campbell- Seen here with Rev. Meg Riley, Senior Minister, Church of the Larger Fellowship at the Minneapolis stop


P.S. Members of the Iowa UU Witness Advocacy Network came out to greet the nuns and join their voter registration while they were in Des Moines and on Saturday the Michigan UU Justice Network greeted the nuns in Muskegon and joined their voter registration efforts at a local farmers market.  Stay tuned for more ways to get involved in our Voting on the Side of Love series here.

Sister Simone Campbell is executive director of NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby, and author of A Nun on the Bus: How All of Us Can Create Hope, Change, and Community.

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Why I’m Voting This November

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If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” –Emma Goldman

Increased voter turnout from People of Color, young people, and low-income communities in elections over the past six years has changed political alignments and power across the country. In response, new and additional restrictions on voting and voter registration drives have been passed or are proposed.

Last year, the Supreme Court of the United States gutted the Voting Rights Act, allowing states to set up restrictions on voting rights.  Now there are 22 states that have them and it could be coming soon to your state.

It can be overwhelming and hard to believe that change will happen. But if yesterday’s People’s Climate March where hundreds of thousands of people came out for climate justice was any indication, we have the power to turn out for justice. And UUs around the country are joining with partner groups to register new voters and Get out the Vote in November.

Are you taking action to support voting rights, stop voter suppression and build democracy? Click here to view our Voting Rights Webinar and learn how to apply for a GOTV grant by October 31, 2014 from the UU Funding Program (two page application with 1-2 week turnaround).

Even people that often vote in general elections are feeling fatigue with the mid-term elections and campaign gridlock. This fall, I’m committing to learning more about the issues that directly impact my community and invite you to do the same. Here in DC, that means supporting leadership that create anti-racist policies that address inequity, stop violence against communities, and ensure fair employment and compensation, housing and education for all residents of the District of Columbia.

Will you join us? Click here to list your congregation or group and tell us how you are voting on the side of love. 

In faith,









Nora Rasman

Campaign Coordinator

Standing on the Side of Love

P.S. Have you seen our Voting on the Side of Love resource page? Check it out here for our Voting Rights Webinar, additional ways to get involved and details about our Voting on the Side of Love video contest!

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Take Action to Stop Deportation of Rosa Robles Loreto

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As Co-Executive Director of UU Justice Arizona, I am called to stand on the side of love with my undocumented neighbors here in Arizona. For too long our communities have felt the pain caused by a misguided immigration system that separates families and tears communities apart. We must confront the crazy assumption that anyone with the misfortune to have been born south of our borders is a criminal, and that our neighbors without papers are simply less than human. As our Members of Congress continue to defer justice and a life of dignity for our undocumented neighbors and loved ones, I am standing with UUs from across Arizona to call on our government to close the deportation order facing Rosa Robles Loreto and to keep her family together. I hope you will join us.

Rosa Robles Loreto’s Family

I met Rosa on August 7, 2014, just before she entered into sanctuary at Southside Presbyterian Church in Tucson, Arizona with her husband, Gerardo, and sons, Gerardo, Jr., and Jose Emiliano. I was accompanied by 15 other faith leaders who committed to stand with her family and to do all we could to keep them together at home in Tucson, Arizona. You too can take action to stand with Rosa and help keep her family together and with their community in Tucson, Arizona.

Rosa is like tens-of-thousands of parents in our communities who are facing the threat of being torn from their families. As we grapple with how to meaningfully intervene with the dangerous and violent cycle of deportation in our country, thousands of UUs and other people of faith are standing with Rosa, her family and Southside Presbyterian Church as they take this courageous step.

I ask that you help to multiply our voices in support of Rosa by taking three simple steps:

1) Sign the petition to the Obama administration and let them know that you want Rosa to stay.
2) Send a fax and/or email to Secretary Jeh Johnson and tell him to stop Rosa’s deportation.
3) Make two calls every day to the White House and Secretary Johnson and let them know you stand with Rosa and that you expect them to stop her deportation.

We know we can be successful. This strategy was used effectively earlier this summer to stay an order of deportation for another Tucson family.

As we continue to struggle for love and justice, let us put our UU values into action and keep Rosa’s family together.

In Faith,









Rev. Lisa McDaniel Hutchings
Co-Executive Director of UU Justice Arizona Network, UUJAZ

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Why I am Voting on the Side of Love

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“We want to say the 100 percent are welcome to the table of dialogue. But leave your money bags outside the door.”

–Sister Simone Campbell

“Every piece of legislation should pass this test: How does it benefit the good of the whole?”

–Rev. Dr. William Barber II

Two of my heroes working for voting rights are Sr. Simone and Rev. Barber, and as I sit down to write this, I am keeping their words in my heart.

In just about seven weeks, we will be going to the polls once again. It can feel really exhausting remaining engaged with elections. We have heard, and taken to heart, that our options are often the lesser of two evils, and even the most optimistic among us experience real disappointment with how money and politics can often trump morals and policies that will benefit the 100%.

But, even with this stark reality, I believe in voting.

Even with all the ugliness of politics, with the all too often dashed hopes, with the need to rebuild through hard work again and again. Even with all of this, I believe deeply in the importance of voting. I know we have to keep faith in our fellow Americans to get to, in the words of Rev. Barber, get to higher moral ground. If we don’t act, if we give up on registering our fellow community members, if we give up on get out the vote efforts, we are giving up too much. If we give up on encouraging our friends and family and the people we believe in to run for local office, to support candidates who will vote on the side of love, we aren’t just giving up on ourselves, we are giving up on each other.

Let us keep up our hope and faith together, and vote on the side of love!

We have seven weeks friends. In some states, we have just a few more weeks to register our community members before registration deadlines close. I recently moved to California, and earlier today, I walked to my local library to pick up a voter registration form. I’m looking forward to doing my research in my new home state to learn about the major issues that will be on the ballot.

How are you called to work on voting rights, to work on our democracy together, to educate yourself and others on the ballot issues?

We have tons of resources on available on our SSL site. And, we are pleased to announce through the elections on Nov. 4, we will have a weekly email every Monday through our Voting on the Side of Love blog series.

We know that so many of the justice issues we care so deeply about are intertwined and intersectional. Our hearts can often feel pulled in many directions to work on many issues at once. For me, for the next seven weeks, I’ll be focusing more of my personal, professional and yes, even my spiritual energies on my commitment to voting on the side of love.

Will you join me? Share with us on facebook, twitter or via email what you will be doing to encourage others. One major way that you can inspire people to vote is through your personal efforts. Why not include making a video sharing your story about why you are voting on the side of love? Two years ago we asked people to send us their stories via video messages, and we loved the submissions! Check them out here to get inspired yourself, and especially the winning submission from Elliott Cennamo, of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbus. You will have the chance to win gift certificates from the UUA Bookstore.  Any format is welcome, and videos taken from smartphones are perfectly acceptable. Submission deadline is October 24. See more details here and get your cameras ready!

We at the Standing on the Side of Love HQ are excited to kick into high gear for voting on the side of love season. Can’t wait to work alongside you.

In faith,










Jennifer M. Toth

Campaign Manager

Jennifer M. Toth is the Campaign Manager for Standing on the Side of Love. In the next seven weeks, she will be: attending one of the largest mass naturalization ceremonies to register new Americans to vote, researching local ballot initiatives and making a voting on the side of love video too!

P.S.: Our friends at NETWORK are kicking off a new Nuns on the Bus Tour in just a few days and they might be swinging through your state. Check out their new page to learn more about how you can get involved, including joining them at a stop near your hometown!


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Take Action for Ferguson by Holding a Vigil in Your City!

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Take Action for Ferguson by Holding a Vigil in Your City! Share/Save/Bookmark Sep 09, 2014

I came home from the board meeting disturbed by the silence. It was Tuesday, just a few days after Michael Brown had been shot by a police officer in Ferguson, less than 20 miles from our church. Protests and rioting had already begun; police were already using tear gas and rubber bullets in response. It was already being called a war zone. It seemed like the whole country was talking about Ferguson except the people in my town of Kirkwood, Missouri. No one was saying a word. I was part of the silence; it was easy to do.

Part of the silence was pain. Kirkwood had been torn apart by violence and racial division just six years before when a black contractor, “Cookie” Thornton, came into city hall and shot five people, and was subsequently shot by police. I was not there, but I’ve heard the stories. No one commended Cookie for his actions, but they surfaced a lot of anger from Meacham Park, a historically black neighborhood in town. Whites didn’t really understand. Shortly after, people came together in groups to look for understanding and healing across the divides. By now, most activity stopped, and people talked about “moving past it”. And here was this odd silence.

We needed something we could do – for our church community, but also for our town. What did we have to offer? Eliot Chapel is located in the heart of our picturesque downtown, close to the Farmer’s Market, railroad station and city hall. In the late 1950s, our founders bought our old historic building from the Episcopalians for two reasons: one, they were selling it for a song! And two, because they wanted us to be of service to the community. Here was our chance. For some reason, I thought about our Christmas Eve services, which draw from the wider community. We would have a candle light service Thursday night.

People dropped everything to make it happen. Ushers used their Christmas Eve chops, hauling out candles and fire blankets. Our staff volunteered things I didn’t even think to ask. Different local groups, our community paper and local TV news helped promote it. The church was filled, with about 120 people, half from the church and half from the wider community, including about 20 from Meacham Park. After the service, we processed slowly and silently around the block with our candles. Two plainclothes police officers showed up to escort us. They had squad cars parked at all four corners, blocking traffic. We waited for the inevitable train to pass. We waded through a crowd assembled on the town plaza for a summer concert. Some asked what we were doing, but most probably knew. Afterward, people stood talking for a long time on the church lawn.

We invite UUs throughout the country to hold their own vigil in solidarity.


We have now committed to holding a vigil every Tuesday night from 6-7 pm on our church lawn. We will continue through the grand jury process and possibly beyond. We stand in our yellow t-shirts and hold signs that say “Black Lives Matter”, “We stand with Ferguson” and of course, “Standing on the Side of Love.” People honk, wave, and give the thumbs up. Some look resolutely away. But we’re there – many people who have never held a sign before in their lives. A white woman came up to us in tears and thanked us on behalf of her biracial daughter, whom she said was helped by seeing us on the corner. We may never know who we are helping, but we know that it helps us to be the church we want to be.

In Faith,









Rev. Barbara Gadon
Lead Minister, Eliot Unitarian Chapel

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