Comments Due for UUA Reproductive Justice CSAI

The UUA comment period for the Reproductive Justice Congregational Study Action/Issue closes March 3rd.

A Congregational Study Action/Issue (CSAI) is an issue chosen by the delegates to the UUA General Assembly (GA) for UU congregations to study, ponder, think about, and act on. The current CSAI on Reproductive Justice was chosen at the 2012 GA. The comments that are currently being taken will inform workshops to be presented at the 2014 GA. Later, in November, a draft Statement of Conscience will be prepared for congregations to vote on in 2015 and to be presented at the 2015 GA. If approved, the Statement of Conscience will be acted on by UU congregations in 2015 and 2016. A new CSAI will be chosen for consideration at this year’s GA to be the possible Statement of Conscience for 2016.

The Reproductive Justice Issue (from the UUA website)

Reproductive rights and health services are seriously under attack nationally. Reproductive Justice represents a broader analysis of racial, economic, cultural, and structural constraints on women’s power. The right to have children, to not have children, and to parent children in safe and healthy environments is a human right.

Follow the link above to read the entire CSAI. If you have thoughts on the CSAI, leave them in the comments or contact me.

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Today: Thirty Days of Standing on the Side of Love Begins!

From the Standing on the Side of Love website:

Standing on the Side of Love is a community of people compelled to speak out against oppression, united in the common belief that love is the ultimate guiding force of our world. Join us for the Thirty Days of Love, a period for intentional action, service, education, and reflection running from January 19 to February 17, 2013.

Sign the pledge to participate and get daily emails about how you can!

 

Thirty Days Standing on the Side of Love Starts Tomorrow

Thirty Days of Standing on the Side of Love starts Saturday! Sign the pledge to participate and get daily emails about how you can!

From the Standing on the Side of Love website:

Standing on the Side of Love is a community of people compelled to speak out against oppression, united in the common belief that love is the ultimate guiding force of our world. Join us for the Thirty Days of Love, a period for intentional action, service, education, and reflection running from January 19 to February 17, 2013.

“Justice, Blind Justice and “God Damned” Social Justice”

Let’s start our conversation about social justice with the sermon by Reverend Lyn Stangland Cameron on March 27, 2011. This is a two-part series. The second part will appear tomorrow.

Glenn Beck on Social Justice

Excerpts from Glenn Beck on Social Justice

Here’s my definition of social justice: Forced redistribution of wealth with a hostility toward individual property rights, under the guise of charity and/or justice.

On my radio program, I said if your church is promoting… “Social or economic justice,” you should run from it or at least get educated on what progressives mean by this.

Voluntary charity doesn’t go far enough? Give to the poor by taking from the rich? Unfortunately that means theft.

You can boil these justices down to one thing: It is a fancy name for socialism, which is forced redistribution of wealth, which is a fancy name for Marxists.

Excerpts from Beck. March 23, 2011

So what do you think of those accusations that describe churches with social justice agendas as evil? Though people like Beck and other extremists claim and criticize in the name of freedom, or the constitution or Christianity — their language and their malicious attacks, are carefully targeted and crafted to undermine the true spirit of American society – to pit citizen against citizen.

I have long suspected that the real reason that Acorn, and Van Jones, the unions and Rev. Jeremiah Wright have been targeted and denounced so viciously is quite simple— the work done by those individuals and organizations has been on behalf of the poor and disenfranchised; they, Acorn, Van Jones, Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the unions all address matters that have to do with justice –social justice!

I believe that the condescending attitudes and attempts to discredit President Obama’s years of experience as a community organizer are not only racist but are also tied to efforts to discredit that work itself. The work of a “community organizer” is most often “social justice” work and for some “social justice” inspires vicious outrage.

Even though the massive triple disasters in Japan and the latest series of Middle East crises, have somewhat re-directed the nation’s energies, the anti-social justice rhetoric keeps getting nastier.

If you were to “Google” “Social Justice” you would discover that some of the most prominent places that term is displayed are on the websites of Unitarian Universalists churches.

For instance, the web page for All Souls UU in Washington DC prominently displays a page entitled,

A History of Social Justice at All Souls” and is underscored with this quotation.

“Let them be remembered in the Church of All Souls with him who took his place among the lowly and went about doing good.”
– Frederick Douglass, 1892

And, the text continues,

The congregation that is now All Souls was founded in 1821 as the First Unitarian Church. From its opening days, the church has answered a call to serve others and to offer a prophetic voice for justice in the nation’s capital. The following are some highlights from this long history of social justice at All Souls. And then the All Souls webpage has links to their church history under these headings

1821 -1865 A Call to Service, Stands Against Slavery

1865 -1925 Education, Women’s Rights, WWI

1925- 1950 Early Civil Rights, Youth, Helping Europe and Japan

1950 -1975 Civil Rights, Helping the Neighborhood, Vietnam

1975 – present, Central America, South Africa, Continuing work.

As a matter of fact not only does Google direct you to Unitarian Universalists churches and the UUA website, but it also leads to many other mainline Christian and Jewish religious groups, and to a wide variety of Non-governmental organizations which all share what appears to be the goal of helping people. So, if Glen Beck is right and the term “social justice “ is an evil, an un-American “socialist” code term — then he must also be correct in asserting that the evil goals of “social justice” are pervasive.

Perhaps the best place to begin to understand why the idea of “social justice” has become such a polarizing term and its opposition a rallying cry for many libertarians, tea partiers, conservatives, and cranks is with a quick history of the idea of “justice.” “Justice” would seem to be something that everyone can agree is a good thing?

So what is justice? A few weeks ago some of us watched the “Justice” session from the Necessity of Virtue video series by Rev Dr. Galen Guengerich – “Justice” Guengerich says relates to loyalty, citizenship, teamwork, fairness, equality and equity. And,

“is a process; a procedure we follow in our political lives to ensure that all of us are maximally free to pursue whatever goals we choose in life. Justice is also a purpose, a set of goals we pursue in our religious lives to ensure that all of us fulfill our potential.”

One legal dictionary defines the noun “justice” as “fairness” and “moral rightness” as a “scheme or system of law in which every person receives his, her, its due from the system, including all rights both natural and legal from the system. It goes on to explain how the nature of law and the courts often leads to those with power and money having advantage and influence on the nature of legal justice. (1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill)

The Center for Economic and Social Justice explains “justice” this way,

Functionally, “justice” is a set of universal principles, which guide people ( in judging) what is right, and what is wrong, no matter what culture and society they live in. (CESJ website)

The center also distinguishes charity from justice by explaining that justice is distinct from the virtue of charity …While justice deals with the substance and rules for guiding ordinary, everyday human interactions, charity deals … cases where (one gives) to relieve the suffering of a person in need…True charity involves giving without any expectation of return. (and it continues) But it (charity) is not a substitute for justice. (CESJ website

So if justice is the system that guides people in judging what is right and fair – then “Lady Justice” is often pictured wearing a blind fold to remind us that all people deserve to be treated equally by the law; old people, and young, that the law provides a level playing field where everyone has equal access to the same rules. Justice is “blind” because whether you are Joe Shmo or Lindsey Lohan it is not OK to take things that do not belong to you!

Blind justice makes for a level playing field, —which fosters justice,— except, of course, even if the playing field is level, chances are that not everyone arrives with similarly equipped or with equal training or physical abilities and that is where “Social Justice” enters the conversation.

According to the Center for Economic and Social Justice,Social justice is the virtue, which guides us in creating those organized human interactions we call institutions. In turn, social institutions, when justly organized, provide us with access to what is good for the person, both individually and in our associations with others. Social justice also imposes on each of us a personal responsibility to work with others to design and continually perfect our institutions as tools for personal and social development. (CESJ website)

A most interesting demonstration of a truly “just” society would have each one of us write down our lives – the salient features – our net worth; financial resources, access to health care, education etc. on a piece of paper and then for all those papers to be placed in a giant jar and then to imagine that each of us were to blindly draw one out – and in a just society the wealth or resources would be pretty evenly distributed and we would then each be fairly content with the life we had drawn!

Back from Summer Hiatus

Good news! The UUCIF Social Justice blog is back from its unplanned summer hiatus. I’m sorry I wasn’t posting regularly, I got overwhelmed with some other stuff going on this summer (including an overflowing inbox in the email account that sends me my justice news).

Anyway, onto the social justice news:

Breaking News:

Correction: There will be a delay of a week while motions are filed with the appeals court. If the court does not take it up, gay marriage will resume. The judge in the Proposition 8 case in California has decided not to approve a stay of his motion while appeals are heard, so gay marriage is legal again in California!

Immigration:

UUA President Peter Morales was arrested, along with 28 other UUs, on July 29th in Phoenix for civil disobedience in conjunction with the Day of Non-Compliance with Arizona’s new immigration laws. Learn more at uua.org.

College students brought to this country illegally as children often face deportation. The DREAM Act would change that, but first it has to pass Congress. Learn more and sign the petition at Citizen Orange. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram had an excellent editorial on the subject.

Mountain-Top Removal:

Appalachia Rising, September 25-27, 2010, in Washington, DC: People from Appalachia and from across America will join together in Washington, DC, in an effort to ban mountain-top removal mining. Learn more at the Appalachia Rising website.

Bulletin Board: Standing on the Side of Love

Today’s bulletin board is about the Standing on the Side of Love program organized by the UUA. Next week’s service is also about Standing on the Side of Love and reimagining Valentine’s Day. I also included a newspaper article about the 50th anniversary of the sit-ins.

Ethical Eating Forum Tomorrow!

Don’t forget, the ethical eating forum is tomorrow afternoon. See you all there!

Links to handouts and bulletin board materials will be posted after the forum!

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill

You’ve probably heard by now about the bill in Uganda to imprison homosexuals for life if they engage in homosexual acts, including touching. This is meant to be a summary of some of what I have been reading.

On the Post Register’s opinion page, local columnist Dino Lowery writes:

It appears that the impetus for this bill emanates from American evangelical ministers who have been speaking and stirring things up in Uganda. At a seminar in Kampala, the three main speakers were Scott Lively (a noted anti-gay activist and president of Defend the Family International) and two other conservative Christians, Don Schmierer and Caleb Lee Brundidge.

[snip]

I suspect these evangelicals do not represent the bulk of conservative Christians in the U.S., but it only takes a few hateful, misguided souls to trigger a holocaust.

Those three men’s roles were first reported in the New York Times, but they are now distancing themselves from the issue. From the Sacramento Bee*:

Three American evangelical Christians – two with ties to the Sacramento region – have become embroiled in an international dispute over anti-gay legislation in Uganda that would, in some cases, carry a death sentence.*

The two with Sacramento connections said Wednesday they have been flooded with hate e-mails and are now trying to distance themselves from the legislative efforts in the African country.

[snip]

Last March, Schmierer, Scott Lively, a former Citrus Heights resident who now lives in Massachusetts, and Caleb Lee Brundidge of Phoenix presented a series of talks to packed audiences in Uganda. They lectured about “curing homosexuality,” and the “dangers of the gay agenda,” and how homosexuality is threatening the traditional family.

After their public talks, a Ugandan politician proposed a bill that would, in some instances, carry the death sentence for homosexuals. The legislation has been denounced by world leaders, including President Barack Obama.

And from Standing on the Side of Love, campaign manager Adam Gerhardstein writes*:

When I was 18 years old I spent three months in Kenya for a service learning opportunity. During one long weekend we traveled across the border to Kampala, Uganda. I was blown away. Our hosts were incredibly hospitable, the streets felt safe, and the city was rich in culture and well developed. I have nothing but positive memories of my time in Uganda.

[snip]

Perhaps it is these positive experiences that have made the latest news out of Uganda*  so hard for me to hear. The Ugandan Parliament is considering legislation that would make homosexuality illegal. Anyone caught having homosexual sex would be condemned to life in prison. If HIV positive, they would face a death penalty. Furthermore, any witness of homosexual sex that does not report it within 24 hours would face three years in prison.

[snip]

I recently signed a petition calling on Pastor Rick Warren to publicly denounce the anti-homosexual legislation. I encourage you to sign it as well as it is the best action I have found so far.

The petition for Pastor Rick Warren has been closed. In its absence, I’m not sure there are concrete actions we can take against this bill, but please hold the homosexuals of Uganda in your thoughts and hope the bill does not pass. Let me know if you hear of any other petitions.

*Note: Some of the links and quotations mention a death sentence for homosexual acts while HIV-positive, but as I understand it, the death sentence has been removed from the current version of the bill.

UUA Award Nominations Due Soon!

From the Unitarian Universalist Justice Action Network:

Nominations and submissions for several Unitarian Universalist social justice awards are due March 1, 2010!

* The Bennett Award is for the Unitarian Universalist congregation that has done exemplary work in social justice.
* The Holmes-Weatherly Award is given to an individual or organization (not necessarily UU) whose life-long commitment to faith-based social justice is reflected in societal transformation.
* The Skinner Sermon Award is presented to the preacher of the sermon best expressing Unitarian Universalism’s social principles.
* The Social Witness Sermon Award is given to the sermon that best speaks out on any dimension of our current Congregational Study/Action Issues.

For more information on the above awards, please see: http://www.uua.org/giving/awardsscholarships.

UUA Congregational Study/Action Issues

UPDATED! PLEASE VOTE ON MY POLL!

I want to know what you see our congregation doing. Please comment on this post, and use the link below to vote on a poll I made.

Should UUCIF do more with the CSAIs?

The UUA is continuing to work on the peacemaking and ethical eating congregational study/action issues. Below, you will find the information from the UUA and what congregations are supposed to do next.

And the UUA information:

Beginning Friday, November 13, congregations will have the opportunity
to participate in a number of social witness decisions. Congregations
can vote in the Congregational Poll (deadline Feb 1), which decides:

1. whether to admit a revised Draft Statement of Conscience (SOC)
on Peacemaking to the Final GA Agenda for 2010 (Draft SOC provided
online) and
2. which Proposed Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAI) for
2010-2014 will be admitted to the Final GA Agenda for 2010.

In Addition: Comments and suggested amendments to the Draft SOC on
Peacemaking (deadline Feb 1) and comments on the CSAI Ethical Eating
(deadline Mar 1) may also be made online during the same time period.

Go to www.uua.org/csw for links to the Poll and Comment Form on the
Draft SOC on Peacemaking and to view the proposed CSAIs. At least 25%
of congregations must participate in Poll for the Draft SOC or the
Proposed CSAIs to go on the Final Agenda.

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