Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Help Save Scouting

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Help Save Scouting Share/Save/Bookmark Mar 15, 2013

Scouting was an integral part of my development as a young man. In the Scouts, with my moms leading the way, I learned all kinds of vital skills, personal habits, and core values that continue to define me some 15 years after I joined the Cub Scouts.

Nevertheless, I am acutely aware of the effects that the Boy Scouts of America’s long-standing national policy forbidding the participation of “avowed homosexuals” as scouts and leaders has on families like mine.

We are at a key moment in the movement for equality in Scouting.

The Boy Scouts of America has introduced a survey called “Voice of the Scout,” and the feedback it provides will be an important factor in determining the future of the BSA.

Click here to request the survey. You’ll need your (or your Scout’s) membership ID number to participate.

For those who don’t have a membership ID, you can contact the Boy Scouts of America directly here.

That the Boy Scouts of America continue to engage in blind discrimination is both disappointing and discouraging. The Boy Scouts have otherwise codified bravery into its value system, maintained a policy of religious diversity, and stressed the importance of self-enrichment instead of judging others.

It provided an experience that I found to be incredibly beneficial and an experience of which my mothers were thrilled to be a part.

This is a direct opportunity for you to make your voice heard in this pivotal moment. Completing this survey is the next step in making the Boy Scouts of America a community for all youth and parents.

Click here to request the survey and raise your voice for equality.

Thank you for your help in shaping a more welcoming and inclusive future for Scouting.

In faith,

Zach Wahls
Scouts for Equality
Eagle Scout ’07

The message above went out on Friday, March 15, 2013 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Webinar on Comprehensive Immigration Reform: An Update on the Status of CIR & Strategies

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This spring, we have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to pass compassionate, comprehensive immigration reform. As people of faith, we must raise our voices for an immigration reform bill that promotes justice, compassion, and keeps families together.

In this informative webinar, Standing on the Side of Love staff along with grassroots leaders at the state and local level, described the strategy for passing comprehensive immigration reform and provided tips

Click here to watch a recording of the webinar.

Click here to download the PowerPoint presentation.

Click here to download a transcript of the Q & A portion of the webinar.

Ready to take the next step? Visit http://www.standingonthesideoflove.org/cir to commit to doing an in-district advocacy visit and make your voice heard on this important issue.

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Reflecting on “The New Jim Crow”

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This post was written by Miles Davison.

I remember when I first read the brief, yet powerful article, Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack. I was a young and fairly naïve college student, and Peggy McIntosh’s words opened my eyes to the world of racial identity and privilege in ways I hadn’t considered. Few pieces have the power to shape our perception in this way – to illuminate a startling truth, which makes us question who we are, and how we live.

The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander, is a book that has this kind of power. Selected by the Unitarian Universalist Association as this year’s Common Read, Alexander’s book details the far reaching, disparate, and destructive impact of the so-called “War on Drugs” on African-American communities. In ways eerily similar to the eras of slavery and Jim Crow, African-Americans are currently being subjugated and oppressed. Under the guise of criminal justice, African Americans are being rounded up and locked away for non-violent drug offenses, resulting in a lifetime of negative consequences. Once labeled criminals, they effectively become second-class citizens. As such, it becomes exceedingly difficult to find honest work, and they are often stripped of their democratic right to vote, along with other consequences.

I was lucky to have the opportunity to read this book recently as part of an eclectic congregational study group. One of the members of our group, Matt Pillischer, recently produced a documentary on this issue entitled Broken on All Sides. When I asked Matt about our study group, he said “It reminds me so much of what I’ve read and heard about the beginning of the civil rights or women’s movements. All the times of radical upheaval and massive change in society have started with a few individuals coming together to talk about what they think is wrong and deciding collectively to do what they could to change it.” As long as injustice prevails, we, as a community, have failed to uphold the inherent worth and dignity of every human being. I sincerely hope you will read this book, and join us in this movement for justice.

This post was written by Miles Davison. Miles is a member of First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia, where he currently serves as the co-chair of the Ministry Leadership Team.

Are you looking for next steps in your work against the New Jim Crow and the mass incarceration system? Check out our “Addressing Mass Incarceration” page for more ways to get involved.

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“What I can do, I should do.”

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Ray Ables with daughters Linda and Brisa.

Earlier this year, I drove three hours with my two daughters Linda, age 10, and Brisa, age 12, to participate in a rally for the Affordable Care Act in Montgomery.

“But it’s Saturday,” Brisa complained.

“I know it’s Saturday, but this is important,” I replied.

“Why?” asked Linda.

“Because everyone should have the right to see a doctor,” I answered, having previously distilled the complicated issue of Medicaid Expansion down to a level I was sure they would understand.

“Did mom lose her health insurance?” asked Brisa with a hint of panic on her face.

“No,” I said. (We have family coverage through my wife’s employer).

“Whew,” sighed Brisa relieved.

“But there are lots of people who don’t have insurance and Governor Bentley is refusing to allow the state to participate in a program that would not only allow 300,000 people or so to have medical coverage, it would also bring a lot of money into Alabama.”

“Why? Why does he have to be so mean?” Brisa inquired.

“I think it has a lot to do with trying to make the President look bad,” I replied.

“I don’t want to go because the police might be there and will take us to jail,” said Linda.

“Yeah, I don’t want to go to jail because then we will end up being placed in foster homes and we will never see you again,” added Brisa, who has a flair for the dramatic.

“Look, the police will be there but they are mainly going to be there to keep us safe from people who disagree with us. Don’t worry,” I said. “Besides, you girls are going to help me make a sign.”

“What will the sign say, daddy?” said Linda who loves to draw and color.

“What do you think it should say?”

“How about: Everyone should have the right to see a doctor!”

“I think that’s perfect,” I replied, thinking how very proud I am of my daughters.

So we drove up to Montgomery, held up our sign, and I even ended up being interviewed by two local TV stations.

As I later explained to my daughters, there was a Unitarian minister named Edward Everett Hale who said: “I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do. What I can do, I should do. And what I should do, by the grace of God, I will do.” So even though we can’t make Governor Bentley change his mind, it was our duty to stand up and ask him to do the right thing.

This post was written by Ray Ables, leader of the Children’s Fellowship class and chair the Education Committee at the Unitarian Fellowship in Fairhope, Alabama.

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After Being Protested by Westboro Baptist Church

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This insightful reflection is from Katie Carpenter, co-president of the Unitarian Universalist campus ministry group at Vassar College. It is cross-posted from Blue Boat, the blog of the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Office of Youth & Young Adult Ministries. 

The Westboro Baptist Church protested Vassar College on February 28th, for supporting LGBTQ rights. In response, Vassar’s current and alumni community came together amazingly to denounce Westboro Baptist’s views, in part by raising over $100,000 for The Trevor Project, which provides crisis support and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth. Seeing people rise to meet the challenge made me incredibly proud of my community, and what it strives to stand for.

But what made me prouder was to hear Vassar alum Joseph Tolton, the National Minister of Social Justice from the Fellowship of Affirming Ministries in New York, speak about not just his love for the school but his desire to see it always improving. In the discourse over this event, I’ve heard students challenge the school and point out that homophobia, racism, sexism, cissexism, and other inequalities do exist here; they exist everywhere.

It was a strange experience, to be sure, seeing the Westboro Baptist Church members. There were four of them, and they looked just like you see in pictures; offensive posters, American flags on their clothing, the whole bit. But after you get over the initial surprise that they actually exist, it was easy to not take them very seriously. It’s easy – maybe too easy – to look at Westboro Baptist and feel safe because they’re extreme, and we can distance ourselves from their opinions.

It’s easier to confront hate when it’s in the form of four angry, irrational people on the other side of a police barricade, and you have over 500 people standing with you. It’s not so easy to look inward at your community and demand better. Denouncing the Westboro Baptist Church is easy, but it’s only the beginning of creating real change. Continuing down that path requires facing our own biases and assumptions. We may not agree with hate groups, but we do all have a responsibility for a world in which they can exist. Seeing many Vassar students try to take ownership of that fact gave me an enormous sense of love and appreciation for my community, despite its faults, and I think that’s a sturdy foundation to build from.

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