Posts Tagged ‘Illinois’

Standing on the Side of Love with Walmart Workers

1 Comment | Share On Facebook| Standing on the Side of Love with Walmart Workers Share/Save/Bookmark Oct 31, 2012

This post was written by Charlotte Droogan, Lay Community Minister and member of the UU Society for Community Ministries Lay Working Group and the Universalist Unitarian Church of Joliet, IL.

I am on the board of the Warehouse Workers for Justice Interfaith Action Commitee. My church is also deeply involved in supporting Walmart workers under the banner of Standing on the Side of Love. We plan to show Walmart workers some love by participating in a witness on ‘Black Friday’, the day after Thanksgiving, following our huge action earlier this month.

Standing on the side of love at the Elwood rally.

On October 1, we participated in a rally and act of civil disobedience to support the striking workers at the Walmart warehouse in Elwood, Illinois. We carried our banner and wore our now famous t-shirts. It was estimated that nearly 1,000 people were in attendance.

Along with more than a dozen others, I was arrested, wearing my clerical collar, for civil disobedience. Even though this was a planned peaceful protest, a Mobile Field Force Team in riot gear marched down the Walmart entrance towards us.

The police officer was a friend-of-a-friend and I joked with him that I felt like I was in a wedding, marching down the road with him. He chuckled and we just kept walking to the paddy-wagon (old Chicago term) without missing a beat. I felt like we were on a movie set. We were all charged with trespassing and given a $120 ticket in the parking lot of the Elwood Police Department.

The most exciting part of the whole demonstration was knowing that Walmart shut down the entire warehouse for the day. This intermodal facility in Will County is the third largest in the world after those in Hong Kong and Singapore. For our little band of warriors to shut them down for twenty-four hours and almost immediately have Walmart rehire and pay the workers their back wages was pretty close to a miracle.

Charlotte getting arrested.

As Jeannie Owen, another member of Committee on Lay Ministry, reported in our church newsletter:

“We marched for miles (or so it seems) for the Walmart warehouse workers today. The workers are paid $10 an hour for lifting backbreaking boxes in temperatures that can range from 0 to 120 degrees, there are no benefits, they never know how many hours they will work, and often get ripped off for overtime if paid at all. … The largest, richest company in the world that earns billions and gives millions to the Walton inheritors cannot be bothered with the wellbeing of its own workers.

“A number of people who recognized the Standing on the Side of Love banner as UU came over and spoke to us. Many unions and activist causes participated. It was estimated there were between 600 and 1,000 people there marching, walking, standing up for justice. Beware of little old lady activists…”

We plan to continue our campaign in Joliet with ‘un’-shopping days and a Black Friday witness in November. Learn more at our website. Wherever you are, please join us by participating in Black Friday Actions–you can deliver a letter to manager, hold a prayer vigil, organize or join a flash mob. Check here for registered events close to you or register your own event for a Walmart in your area!


Tell Rep. Joe Walsh: End the Vitriolic Rhetoric

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| Tell Rep. Joe Walsh: End the Vitriolic Rhetoric Share/Save/Bookmark Aug 17, 2012

Congressman Child SupportWe lament the recent rash of violence across the nation and decry the kind of language that makes excuses for, encourages, and even incites such violence. The fear-promoting words of Rep. Joe Walsh are a recent example of the sort of accusatory, bigoted rhetoric that betrays the cherished ideals of religious freedom and tolerance.

At a recent town hall meeting, Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois’ 8th District made a number of insensitive and inflammatory comments about the American Muslim community. These kinds of comments are not helpful to our national conversation and perpetuate a culture of violence against American Muslims.

The following weekend, two different Muslim houses of worship were subject to violent, hateful attacks and a number of Muslim graves were vandalized in nearby Chicago suburbs. Violent rhetoric, like the language so often employed by Rep. Walsh, normalizes and enables this kind of violence.

Please join us in speaking out against this kind of hateful rhetoric and sign our petition to Rep. Joe Walsh today.

As Chicagoland Unitarian Universalist ministers, we choose to Stand on the Side of Love and ask all people to follow the path of peace, justice, and goodness called for by their own faiths. We ask that every leader, civic or religious, speak the language of common good and understanding rather than hostility and ignorance. We hope that Rep. Joe Walsh will step back from his angry and hateful remarks, apologize to the thousands of peace-loving, moral, and devoted Muslims, and, even more importantly, recognize that he has the power to help build bridges and defuse violence.

Let us reclaim a more peaceful society where religious freedom is protected and our beautiful diversity is celebrated. Leaders like Rep. Joe Walsh must change the language they use and participate in civil discourse rather than make accusations.

Click here to sign our petition to Rep. Joe Walsh, and ask him to end his use of inflammatory, hateful language.

We write this, not to condemn Rep. Walsh, but to ask everyone, particularly our leaders, to take stock of our language and to question whether our actions promote the ideals for which we, as a nation, stand. We can all speak and do better.

In faith,

Rev. Hilary Krivchenia
Countryside Unitarian Universalist Church
Palatine, Illinois

Rev. Connie Grant
Unitarian Church of Evanston
Evanston, Illinois

Rev. Emmy Lou Belcher
DuPage Unitarian Universalist Church
Naperville, Illinois

The message above went out on Friday, August 17, 2012 to Standing on the Side of Love supporters. You can sign-up for these emails here.

Emerging Congregation Speaks Out on Marriage Equality

3 Comments | Share On Facebook| Emerging Congregation Speaks Out on Marriage Equality Share/Save/Bookmark Jul 17, 2012

Mt. Vernon UU Fellowship

The Mt. Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, an emerging, lay-led congregation in southern Illinois, is speaking up in favor of love and justice in its small, rural community. After the Jefferson County Board overwhelmingly passed a resolution expressing support for a definition of marriage as a sacred institution between one man and one woman, members of the fellowship’s Board of Trustees and Taskforce for LGBT Concerns drafted a letter to the County Board asking it to rescind the “divisive” resolution. The effort garnered the small congregation coverage in a local newspaper and now MVUUF members will participate in an upcoming grassroots protest at the next County Board meeting.

Paul Kent Oakley, a member of the Taskforce for LGBT Concerns says of the fellowship’s action, “While we, as a Welcoming Congregation, have had Pride Picnics in the city park and have had Pride services each year, as well as other services centered on LGBT concerns and equality, this is the first local situation which has explicitly called us to act quite this publicly on our principles and Welcoming commitments. It is a growth opportunity for our members personally as well as an opportunity to make our commitments and values more widely known in our small community.”

Here the text of the fellowship’s beautifully articulated letter:

To the Jefferson County Board:

On June 25, 2012, by a vote of 12 yes to 1 no and 1 abstention, you the Board of Jefferson County Illinois passed a resolution supporting marriage as “a sacred union between one man and one woman.” We ask you to reconsider your position as elected officials and rescind that resolution.

Mt. Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is certified by our denomination as a Welcoming Congregation. This designation signifies that we have gone through an extensive process to educate ourselves on sexuality and gender issues and that we have ensured that our bylaws and policies, as well as the worship and customs of our congregation, are fully inclusive and respectful of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) persons and their relationships. For the past two years in late June, our congregation has hosted a LGBT Pride picnic at Veterans Memorial Park. Our congregation includes gay couples, whose relationships we celebrate as equally worthy expressions of love as are traditional marriages between one man and one woman.

Our national denominational body, the Unitarian Universalist Association, has a long record of standing for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality in every aspect of law and society. We have proudly supported the ordination of qualified LGBT candidates since the 1970s, joined in the struggle for full legal and social equality of LGBT persons, and since 1996 we have advocated for legal marriage between members of the same sex, and our ministers are both free and happy to perform such ceremonies.

Unitarian Universalists are not alone among religious people in promoting these values. The United Church of Christ has taken similar stands on close to the same timetable. Reform and Conservative Judaism both stand for full legal and religious equality of LGBT persons, including marriage equality. Currently several American Christian denominations are in various stages of acceptance of LGBT persons as not being in violation of their understanding of God’s intentions for humanity. Among these are the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), the Episcopal Church of the United States, the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Presbyterian Church (USA), all of which ordain openly LBGT persons as well as advocating for greater legal and social equality.

The resolution you passed on June 25 stated, “Marriage is a spiritual union in which man and woman are joined by God to live together as one.” We do not doubt that those who voted for this resolution believe that. But we, as people of faith who do not believe as you do, hold that it is not your place as elected officials to render religious definitions of the legal institution of marriage. We also observe that your definition of marriage also would negate the validity of a great many legal marriages between a man and a woman in which there is, in fact, no spiritual union and no God-joined living as one.

We accept and honor the fact that each County Board member, as an individual, has the right to his or her own religious, social, and political beliefs. We do not ask you necessarily to agree with our positions. But we do ask that you honor the separate spheres of religion and elective politics. We ask that you honor the worth and dignity of your constituents whose personal and religious values are not the same as your own. We ask that you honor the worth and dignity of your LGBT constituents, of your constituents who are in committed same-sex relationships, and of your constituents whose children are living in such relationships. We ask that you our elected officials refrain from justifying a resolution with religious statements that are directly in contradiction of our religious values.

We urge you to rescind this divisive resolution on marriage passed on June 25, 2012.

In faith,

Mt. Vernon Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

DREAM Sabbath at Unity Temple UU Congregation in Oak Park, IL

2 Comments | Share On Facebook| DREAM Sabbath at Unity Temple UU Congregation in Oak Park, IL Share/Save/Bookmark Oct 14, 2011

by Shirley Lundin, Co-Coordinator of the Immigration Action Team of the Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation Social Mission Committee

Unity Church

Unity Church

The Immigration Task Force of Unity Temple Unitarian Universalist Congregation in Oak Park, IL, with full support and encouragement from Rev. Alan Taylor, presented two worship services on Sunday October 9, 2011, sharing impressions and activities relating to immigration justice. Each of four task force members briefly shared personal reasons for responding to the plight of undocumented people in our country.

Juan Ramirez, now twenty-five years old and of Mexican origin, was brought to the U.S. when he was a toddler. He went to school here, and earned his Bachelor’s degree from a Southern university, before being arrested by ICE officers on a bus headed for Rochester, NY, for not having proper documentation.

He described his treatment at the hands of Homeland Security: being jump-suited and locked up with no legal recourse, with bail set at $5,000. When his family struggled to make bail, he was released. He knew he would have just a few months before he wold be deported to Mexico, a country he has never known. With the help of Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, Juan was given one more year to become “legal.” Juan’s story was an elegant reminder of the plight of law abiding but undocumented people in this country. Rev. Taylor spoke about the upcoming Phoenix General Assembly, as well as UUA President Peter Morales’ arrest in Phoenix last July for civil disobedience.

The service begins a year of planned immigration actions for the congregation, including offering the UUA curriculum, “Immigration as a Moral Issue,” participating in vigils at the Dept. of Homeland Security building in Chicago’s loop, and more, culminating with a congregational vote to become an “Immigrant Welcoming Congregation.”

Editor’s Note: Congregations can still participate as the DREAM Sabbath has been extended through the end of October. Include a reading in your worship service, sponsor an event with a DREAMER, or host a table in social hour with information. See our webpage for resources.

Illinois Passes DREAM Act & Opts Out of ‘Secure Communities’ Program

No Comments | Share On Facebook| Illinois Passes DREAM Act & Opts Out of ‘Secure Communities’ Program Share/Save/Bookmark May 05, 2011

The following message came through from the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights, comprised of 130+ religious institutions, service agencies, community organizations, unions, and chambers of commerce that believe that we are One Nation, One Dream:

This afternoon the Illinois Senate passed the Illinois DREAM Act, SB 2185, by an overwhelming bi-partisan vote of 45 to 11! The bill creates an “Illinois DREAM Commission” appointed by the Governor, which will raise a privately financed scholarship fund for undocumented immigrant students; allow Illinois undocumented families to participate in the state’s college savings programs; and requires high school counselors to learn about the higher education options open to immigrant students in Illinois, including in-state tuition that passed in Illinois in 2003.

In addition Illinois Governor Quinn sent a letter to the Department of Homeland Security withdrawing from the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Secure Communities program. The letter states that the stated purpose of the Secure Communities program is the deportation of immigrants “convicted of serious criminal offenses.” The letter further states, “by ICE’s own measure, less than 20% of those who have been deported from Illinois under the program have ever been convicted of a serious crime.”

Illinois proves that it is a state with a big heart that wants serious immigration solutions, and does not support the cruel destruction of families through pointless deportations.