Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression


Immigration Reform: A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Immigration Reform: A Once-in-a-Generation Opportunity Share/Save/Bookmark Dec 06, 2012

Finally, all signs indicate that we will have the chance to pass humane, inclusive immigration reform in the coming months. This once-in-a-generation opportunity comes from the phenomenal work that immigrant communities, faith groups, and others have done to build partnerships and raise voices of compassion. Now that this moment is here, it’s important that grassroots migrant groups and faith communities have their voices heard–and lead the way.

Breaking Bread and Building Bridges is an interfaith campaign that will help us achieve Compassionate Immigration Reform (CIR) at the national level by building the power and capacity of interfaith coalitions at the local level. In addition to helping make CIR a reality, the campaign will help us continue to push for needed changes in local and state policies that affect migrants.

To learn more about the changed political landscape and how you can help roll out the Breaking Bread and Building Bridges Campaign early next year, join our conference call on Monday, December 10th at 4:00pm ET.

Click here to RSVP today.

At the heart of the Breaking Bread Campaign is an activity that every faith community is familiar with – potlucks! But these potlucks are special. We ask that one congregation in your area host a potluck to which members of every faith in your community are invited. In addition to other faith communities, invite members of migrant rights organizations to Break Bread together and Build Bridges between all our communities. We suggest that you schedule your potluck(s) between January 22 and May 22, 2013.

Now is the time for us to assemble and strengthen our local coalitions. The 2012 election created a significant shift in the dialogue on humane immigration reform and the voice of the faith community needs to be part of that conversation.

Please join our conference call on Monday, December 10th at 4:00pm ET and learn how you can be a part in this critical moment. Click here to RSVP.

Yours in a Shared Faith in the inherent worth and dignity of every person,

Rev. Craig C. Roshaven
Witness Ministries Director
Unitarian Universalist Association

The Breaking Bread and Building Bridges Campaign is sponsored by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition, a broad based national coalition of 32 faith communities in which the Unitarian Universalist Association plays a leading role.

The message above went out on Thursday, December 5, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Lives Are On the Line

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Lives Are On the Line Share/Save/Bookmark Dec 04, 2012

Activists at Uganda’s first Pride parade in August 2012. (Credit: David Robinson/The Advocate)

As a native Ugandan and life-long LGBTQ activist, it broke my heart to learn that the Ugandan Parliament is poised to once again consider a bill known as the “Kill the Gays Bill” or the “Anti-Homosexuality Bill,” that proposes jail terms for LGBTQ individuals, including a life sentence or even the death penalty in some circumstances. The bill is likely to pass the Parliament if it comes up for a vote, leaving President Yoweri Museveni’s veto as the only remaining hope that this hate-filled bill will not become law.

Please speak out against this terrible bill. Sign the petition and ask President Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

About 10 years ago, when I first came out to my guardian and, later, to my closest colleagues at the Daily Monitor newspaper in Uganda, I was nothing short of terrified of losing both family and friends. As I had anticipated, declaring my love for fellow women got me my own share of homelessness, verbal abuse, and alienation, even from people I trusted the most. Abandoned as a teenager and forced into maturity at a tender age, I always believed in the transformative power of truth, because the truth, as they say, sets us free. My “coming out” story as a Pentecostal-raised Ugandan lesbian woman mirrors the stories of dozens of other LGBTQ activists in Uganda.

This draconian legislation places LGBTQ Ugandans in grave danger in a country where having an LGBTQ identity is already illegal. In addition to the death penalty, the Anti-Homosexuality Bill requires parents to report their own children and doctors to report their own patients to the authorities or risk jail time. It also undermines the strides that Uganda has made in HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention over the last decade. Originally proposed in 2009, this bill has been delayed numerous times due to the brave advocacy of Ugandan LGBTQ activists and international allies. I pray that love will once again win out over hate.

Raise your voice with mine and ask President Yoweri Museveni to veto the Anti-Homosexuality Bill.

I have been involved with LGBTQ community organizing in Uganda long enough to observe how far we have come and what we have managed to achieve amidst very difficult circumstances. Earlier this year, activists held Uganda’s first Pride parade—may we continue on this path toward justice and equality for LGBTQ Ugandans. Please sign the petition today.

In faith,

Val Kalende
Ugandan LGBTQ Rights Activist

PS: A similar bill criminalizing LGBTQ people was recently introduced in Nigeria. Click here to take action and ask President Goodluck Jonathan to veto Nigeria’s bill too.

The message above went out on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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No Comments | Share On Facebook| Introducing… Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 30, 2012

I am so thrilled to introduce myself as the new Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Manager. I am humbled by all of the great work this movement has already accomplished and I can’t wait to see where else we can go from here.

I want to hear from you and learn more about what you envision for the future of this campaign. Feel free to contact me anytime at love@uua.org to ask questions, share ideas, or just say hi!

Together, let’s put our faith in action and stand on the side of love.

In faith & justice,

Jennifer Toth
Campaign Manager
Standing on the Side of Love

The message above went out on Friday, November 30, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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Black Friday Solidarity with Walmart Workers

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Black Friday Solidarity with Walmart Workers Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 28, 2012

In conjunction with Black Friday strikes at a over a hundred Walmart stores, Unitarian Universalists around the country answered the call to show Walmart workers some love.

As people of faith, UUs joined Interfaith Worker Justice in urging Walmart to:

  • provide a living wage and affordable healthcare to its employees;
  • establish a global responsible contractor policy requiring contractors to provide living wages, worker safety, and labor rights; and
  • sign a national community benefits agreement that ensures Walmart strengthens communities, protects the environment, and is responsible for the well-being of its employees in its retail stores and U.S. supply and distribution chain.

VUU member Rob Smith tries to deliver their letter to the local Walmart.

In Phoenix, members of the “Standing on the Side of Love Team” at Valley Unitarian Universalist (VUU) joined a numbers of partners in showing their solidarity and support for Walmart workers on Black Friday. Rev. Andy Burnette, VUU Senior Minister, signed the IWJ’s “Call for Jubilee at Walmart on Black Friday” letter, and the congregations board endorsed it as a formal statement from the congregation. Rob Smith and other congregation members brought the letter to their witness, though they were refused entrance into the store.

In his invitation to VUU Standing on the Side of Love committee members, Smith wrote:

“For me, spending a few hours away from my family on this day is a powerful reminder that many folks working at Walmart and elsewhere will not have the privilege of spending this long weekend with their loved ones as I do.”

For more on the Black Friday Walmart actions in Arizona, check out this video from the demonstrations in Buckeye and Tempe:

Across the country, UUs also participated in other Black Friday witness events:

  • First Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Terre Haute, Indiana, delivered a letter to their local Walmart manager.
  • Ministers at Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Foothills Unitarian Universalist Church in Eastern Tennessee organized with Interfaith Worker Justice of East Tennessee to send an interfaith letter to Walmart store managers in Knoxville, Alcoa, Oak Ridge, Maryville, and Clinton, Tennessee, and to Walmart’s corporate office in Bentonville, Arkansas.
  • Rev. Jim VanderWeele of Community Church Unitarian Universalist of New Orleans addressed a witness outside of a Tchoupitoulas, Louisiana, Walmart before leading the group to present a letter to the store manager.
  • Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul, Minnesota, held a Black Friday worship service.
  • Members of Unitarian Universalist Church of Yakima, Washington, witnessed at their local Walmart.
  • The Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, Illinois, continued their support of Walmart workers with Black Friday events.

    VUU members witness at a local Walmart on Black Friday.

  • The Geneva, Illinois, Unitarian Church also organized with local partners for Black Friday events.
  • Rev. Marti Keller of Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, Geogria, offered a sermon on Black Friday.
  • UUs joined a witness at a Walmart in Quincy, Massachusetts.
  • UU Mass Action promoted state-wide action on Black Friday.

Did you or your congregation participate? Tell us! See Interfaith Worker Justice’s roundup on their blog–they report organizing over 100 actions of the 1,000 that were held around the country!

This round-up was compiled by Audra Friend, Program Coordinator, Unitarian Universalist Association Multicultural Growth & Witness.

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A 30-Day Spiritual Journey for Social Justice

No Comments | Share On Facebook| A 30-Day Spiritual Journey for Social Justice Share/Save/Bookmark Nov 27, 2012

The election is behind us, but I’m still smiling when I think of all of the ways love won out at the polls. I’m thrilled that in just a few weeks, same-sex couples will finally begin marrying in my home state of Maryland, and a bill offering in-state tuition for young DREAMers—affirmed by a popular vote—will become law. I’m also really excited by another development that has emerged since November 6th: commitments by both Democrats and Republicans to move forward on comprehensive immigration reform. Within our grasp is the promise of a pathway to citizenship for the millions of undocumented individuals in the United States who currently live in the shadows. This is a tremendous opportunity!

The wheels in my brain are turning as I think about all the ways I might work with local congregations and community leaders to push Congress to make lasting, humane immigration reform a reality. Fatefully, National Standing on the Side of Love Month, our Thirty Days of Love, will begin just as Congress reconvenes in January. Our Thirty Days is a spiritual journey for social justice, and the ideal time for us to lift up our voices together for a law that focuses on real people, and on keeping families together.

Please start thinking now about how you can work with your congregation, local advocacy organizations, and migrant rights groups during the Thirty Days of Love, January 19-February 17, to make a difference.

If you belong to a UU congregation, apply for a Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grant now to support your congregational efforts ahead. Click here to learn more about these grants.

The Fund for UU Social Responsibility makes funds available as matching grants of $500-$1,500 to UU congregations participating in the Standing on the Side of Love campaign. These grants are an ideal way to augment your social justice efforts during the Thirty Days of Love, whether your focus is marriage equality, anti-discrimination laws, or migrant rights. One year, our UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland received a grant that enabled us to make a video showcasing the breadth of religious support for marriage equality, and deliver the video to every legislator in the state. Another year, the grant supported a prayer breakfast for LGBTQ equality right near the State House, with legislators and press invited to participate.

As the New Year approaches, I make commitments to dedicate and rededicate myself to building the beloved community. I ask myself what more I can do for the underprivileged, marginalized, and oppressed. I love that shortly after the New Year we have a dedicated period called Thirty Days of Love where we actively strive to make the world a better place by centering ourselves, connecting with others, examining where we have been and would like to go, and engaging in sharing the love that speaks to our core values.

Please join me in making commitments now for Thirty Days of Love, January 19-February 17. Learn more about Standing on the Side of Love Matching Grants and make a plan to apply for one today. Questions? Email love@uua.org.

In faith,

Rev. John Crestwell
Annapolis, Maryland

The message above went out on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

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