Harnessing Love’s Power
to Stop Oppression

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Bringing Love to the Tea Party

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Apr 14, 2010

Susan LeslieSusan Leslie is the Director of Congregational Advocacy and Witness and a lead organizer for the Standing on the Side of Love campaign.

Over sixty people answered the call to join the Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) witness at this morning’s Tea Party rally on Boston Common. Our invitation read:

Standing on the Side of Love is calling for civility and respect in the public dialogue. We stand on the side of love with all those who are being shut out, oppressed or attacked because of their identities, from the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender (GLBT) community, to immigrant families, and people of color. We believe there is room for political discourse for everyone, including the Tea Party, but what there is no room for is racism, homophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, fear and hatred. And there is certainly no room for name calling, spitting, and physical attacks. Love can overcome hatred and fear and bring our communities together.

About thirty people gathered on the steps of the Unitarian Universalist Association headquarters. We carried a large SSL banner down to the rally and placards reading “Harness the power of LOVE to stop oppression, exclusion, and violence,” “Standing on the side of love for LGBT equality,” “Standing on the side of love with immigrant families” and “Standing on the side of love and civility in public discourse.”

We were later joined by another thirty people; some came looking for Standing on the Side of Love and others found us. We were Unitarian Universalist members and clergy from congregations in Belmont, Boston, Brookline, Cambridge, Lexington, Medford, Jamaica Plain, Salem, Waltham, and Wayland. We were joined by Episcopalian ministers from Cambridge, Catholics from the Paulist Center, and congregants from a United Church of Christ congregation, as well as by community peace activists, faith labor leaders, and students.

There were several people with whom I talked and whose stories resonated with me. An African American minister said that she had been afraid to walk through the Common to a meeting she had planned later in the day and had told a friend. The friend then sent her a Facebook message about the Standing on the Side of Love witness at the Tea Party. The minister decided to join us, put on her clerical collar, and grabbed an SSL sign to take with her and hold.

A young self-identified lesbian asked if she could stand with us as she walking by and saw the banner. One of the Tea Party demonstrators came up to tell us that he was for immigration reform. Many people thanked us for being there.

Our group was quiet and friendly. We talked with lots of people and handed out wallet cards, brochures, buttons, and bumper stickers (we didn’t have t-shirts and so many people wanted them!) Our spokespeople were interviewed by the Associated Press, Fox News, the Boston Globe, and community newspapers.

I told the Associated Press that public discourse is great – there’s room for the tea party – but there’s no room for racism or homophobia or anti-immigrant sentiment. I was thrilled when they picked up that quote and now people all across the nation – Fresno, Dallas, South Carolina – know that we were there, standing on the side of love.

boston tea party

6 Responses to “Bringing Love to the Tea Party”

  1. You present yourselves as non-doctrinarian and tolerant in all matters religious. I am told that one can even be an atheist and still be a universalist unitarian.

    I should think that, in coherence, you should not start being doctrinarian and intolerant in matters ideological and political.

    People who are against homossexuality and unrestricted immigration (among other things) must be treated with the same tolerance that you treat homossexuals and illegal immigrants.

    Eduardo Chaves
    São Paulo, Brazil

  2. I am proud to call myself a Unitarian Universalist. Thank you for this valuable work.

  3. James Hudson says:

    My wife and I were thinking of the adage “Silence is the voice of complicity” this morning in connection with the tea party movement and our dismay over the direction it seems to be taking. Congratulations Boston and SSL for finding the way to speak up.

  4. Thanks for your good work. Keep on keeping on. Love you. Namaste. UU folks from Wooster, OH.

  5. Debi Miller says:

    If we can all remember that the real focus here is “love”, than differences in doctrine and viewpoints will not lead to hatred. We “love” people and we agree or disagree with what they believe.

    Our home is a perfect example of how the two can be seperated. I love and respect my husband but we are as far apart on what we believe as any two people can possibly be. We debate at times and usually walk away without either one having changed their mind about what was discussed. However, becasue of the love we share, we have learned that respectully listening has created not only tolerence for each others point of view but has helped us to better love and tolerate those around us.

    If we could truly learn to love and respect the person, our differing views, doctrines and beliefs could actually lead perhaps a broader understanding of each other.

    Take it from me, if a Tea Party husband and his “liberal” minded wife can live and love under one roof for 25 years by simply remembering that love is about the person, I think there is always hope for our world and we have to keep on trying.

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