News from the fight to ban torture

The National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT) — of which the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a part — has some new action items up.

You can sign a petition to close Guantanamo Bay, and you can watch a video series on why torture is always wrong. Please share and pass these links on if they speak to you.

The Reproductive Justice Advocacy Community

Are you interested in reproductive justice? Then you might be interested in the UUA’s monthly webinars and conference calls on reproductive justice.

The next webinar is November 4th, at 3:30 pm EST, and is entitled “The Embodied Border: Reproductive Justice and Immigration Reform.”

If that sounds interesting, check out the full schedule.

You might be asking, “What is reproductive justice?” From the UUA:

Within the framework of ‘reproductive justice,’ the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) works against the cultural, political, economic, and structural constraints that limit women’s access to health care and full reproductive choice. Reproductive justice, a concept put forth by coalitions of women of color, promotes the right of all women to have children, not to have children, and to raise their children in safe and healthy environments.

Immigration Reform

This country was built by immigrants (after they stole the land). But on their stolen land, the immigrants and their descendants built a great democracy, the likes of which the world had never seen before. Now, new immigrants are shut out of this country. If they do come, they are treated like pariahs. Is this the legacy we want to be remembered for? I know I don’t. Amidst the shutdown, a bill has been introduced into the House of Representatives for comprehensive immigration reform, HR 15. Sign this petition today to ask that the bill be brought to a vote.

Justice in the Court System

We believe ourselves to be a just society — that is part of what it means to be American — we are a meritocratic, democratic, melting pot of a just society. It’s like motherhood and apple pie — essential.

Unfortunately, that is not always true. Minorities of every type can tell you that we do not live in a truly just society. And one of the greatest indignities against justice is our so-called justice system. Our laws and courts are meant to create justice — to punish the guilty and release the innocent. None of that is guaranteed any longer — the innocent languish in prison and the guilty suffer undue punishment and become victims themselves.

A thorough overhaul of our prison and court system is needed — so that perpetrators of minor crimes receive light sentences, the innocent are not pressured into pleading guilty to avoid a heavy sentence, and those who are truly guilty are rehabilitated, not cruelly punished.

The ACLU is one organization working towards this end. There are others. If you are interested in the topic, watch this blog, or read The New Jim Crow.

World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day. I received an email from the Center for Victims of Torture, describing a little bit of the work they do.

They enter the room quietly and take a seat in a small circle. Avoiding eye contact, they hesitate to connect with others, some appearing frozen, faces impassive. Emotion is avoided.

This is how small group counseling sessions might begin when survivors meet with CVT counselors for the first few weeks. Their experiences of torture and war atrocities have left many immobilized, struggling to get through a day.

Midway through the counseling cycle, a transformation begins. Feeling safe in the presence of the group, they are able to connect with their thoughts, feelings, bodies, surroundings, and loved ones. As they discuss experiences with each other, they cry, they support, they smile, and sometimes they laugh.

I receive regular emails from the Center for Victims of Torture, and while they sadden me because of the terrible things that happen in the world, they also uplift me for the good work they are doing.

Today is World Mental Health Day. If you have a mental illness, I hope you are getting the treatment you need. If you do not have a mental illness, spend a few moments learning about the signs and symptoms of mental illness, and consider how you might help those suffering.

October 5: National Day of Dignity & Respect

On October 5, all over the United States, groups will be marching for immigration reform, and against the deportations of illegal immigrants. You can learn more here: octoberimmigration.org

There are no events planned in the Idaho Falls area at this time. Contact me today if you are interested in holding one.

From the Standing on the Side of Love email I received:

The crisis of record deportations continues to separate families at alarming rates, impacting our communities and congregations in dire ways. Parents are torn from their children, spouses fare separated from one another. The time has come to stop the deportations. Indeed, it is long past time.

Immigrant justice groups of all stripes are putting a call out to people of faith to take action on the National Day of Dignity and Respect on Saturday, October 5th. Will you join us? Click here to find an event near you.

On this day, people in more than 40 cities across the country will mobilize for compassionate immigration reform. I will be at a march near my home in Sarasota, Florida, calling for reform that recognizes the worth of my family and so many others like mine.

The following week more than 200 faith leaders from 45 states, including your own Rev. Peter Morales, will fly to Washington, DC to advocate for immigration reform, culminating in a mass mobilization on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol.

Holding Working Meetings?

We are thinking of holding regular work meetings for the Social Justice Committee. We would meet somewhere comfortable with our laptops and contact legislators and officials, write letters, and generally work on social justice issues.

Please answer in the comments: Would you be interested in attending such a meeting in Idaho Falls? If yes, do you think it should be instead of or in addition to our current monthly Sunday meeting? Where would you like to meet and how often? What is a good time for you to meet?

 

Interested in Workers’ Rights? A website to check out

IWJ Prayer Vigil for Employee Free Choice

IWJ Prayer Vigil for Employee Free Choice (Photo credit: aflcio)

Economic Justice: When all workers have equal rights, fair pay, and good working conditions, regardless of race, religion, class, age, gender/sexual identity, or any other factors.

If you are interested in working for economic justice, then you might be interested in this organization: Interfaith Worker Justice. They are currently working for the rights of Walmart workers, hotel workers, and home care workers. Check out their blog, and sign up for email updates!

Private Prison Operators Forcing Governments to Imprison More People

Prison Industrial Complex #occupysanquentin

Prison Industrial Complex #occupysanquentin (Photo credit: @bastique)

I found a shocking article today on Alternet, claiming that private prison operators are demanding that state governments contracting with them must maintain high quotas of prisoners in the prisons they operate. These quotas are usually 80-100% of capacity and force the governments in question to arrest and imprison more people or pay money to the private prison operators (in effect, a tax on low-crime).

Read the entire article.

Meeting Next Sunday

Next Sunday (Sept. 22) at 3 pm at the UU Church in IF, the UUCIF Social Justice Committee will meet. Please come! We have lots of exciting projects to work on.

  • Postcard project to send to the Idaho Board of Correction
  • Reaching out to restaurant owners — what do they need from employees? Long-term, we want to create a training program for low-skilled workers to gain the skills they need for successful employment at restaurants
  • the Social Justice Calendar of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

Come make a difference in your life and your community!

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