UU Fellowship of Newark Receives Get Out The Vote Grant

Catriona, Dounya, one of the involved youth, and Karen working on their Instagram outreach.

The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark in Newark, Delaware, led by members Karen Barker and Catriona Binder-Macleod, recently applied for and received a $500 grant from the Fund for UU Social Responsibility to collaborate with the Delaware League of Women Voters in working with youth to Get Out the Vote in 2018. They will be educating and empowering not only their own yoUth groUp to help the public get information they need and register to vote, but also students from Newark High School, Newark Charter School and the University of Delaware.

The youth participating in the program will be trained to register voters and will be spreading the word about VOTE411, the League of Women Voters’ fantastic new website (http://www.vote411.org). In October the congregation will also be working with youth on getting out the vote.

Grants like this are available to any congregation. The Fund for UU Social Responsibility is awarding grants of up to $500 are available for congregational 2018 Get Out The Vote projects! Unitarian Universalist congregations frequently support the democratic process in a nonpartisan manner by participating in voter registration drives, providing nonpartisan educational materials or forums for voters, or by volunteering to help registered voters get to the polls on election day. The deadline is rolling and you can apply between March 15 and November 1, 2018. Grants will be available until the fund is depleted. Applications and more information are available online. You can also contact them at [email protected] or (617) 971-9600.

Congratulations to Karen and Catriona and the UU Fellowship of Newark for successfully completing their grant request and for this great project.
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Defending our Freedom of Religion for All

“People say, what is the sense of our small effort? They cannot see that we must lay one brick at a time, take one step at a time.” I remember these words of Dorothy Day as I think about the work we must do- all of the small and large steps we must take –  to end hatred and bigotry in our nation.  And the small victories that we celebrate, such as the recent cancellation of the ACT for America anti-Muslim rallies.   The cancellation of these anti-Muslim, Islamophobic rallies is one small step toward building the inclusive, welcoming society we dream about.

The city of Columbus, my home, and our nation are at their best when we come together from all faith traditions, all ethnicities, all backgrounds to support one another in creating a positive future for our children and ourselves.   We know that we can do better when working together to address the issues that hold us back from the promise of progress.

ACT for America was originally scheduled to gather in Columbus on Sept. 9.  This rally and others like it have been cancelled, mostly likely in consideration of assured counter-protests by people like me.  ACT for America is now one of the largest anti-Muslim groups in America.  They falsely claim that American Muslims cannot be loyal US citizens and that they want to impose religious law on all Americans; Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Jew and others alike.   This would be a huge surprise to the Muslim Americans who serve faithfully in our military, in our state and local governments, in the US Congress and more.   Years ago, bigots said the same thing about Roman Catholics, like President John Kennedy, and Catholic canon law.  They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

ACT for America is one of many hate groups that are trying to force us to give up our bedrock, historical American commitment to freedom of religion. All the while, the hide behind twisted claims of freedom of speech designed to cover over destructive hate speech.

As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I trace my own religious ancestry back to the Pilgrims.  Freedom of religion is etched into the deepest DNA of this religious heritage, and it is etched into the foundational DNA of our nation.

We know we can do better.  We know we can bring together the strengths of all of our people and all of our faith traditions to address the many social issues we face today.  Only by realizing that we are truly stronger together can we truly make our city, state and nation the land of love, peace and progress that my Pilgrim ancestors and we dream about.

We need to stand up together to put an end to hate.  Together, we have that power. As Dorothy Day also said: “A pebble cast into a pond causes ripples that spread in all directions. Each one of our thoughts, words and deeds is like that. No one has a right to sit down and feel hopeless. There is too much work to do.”

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere
Columbus OH
Executive Director, UU Justice Ohio and CER Congregational Life Staff

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Singing Our ‘Broken Hallelujahs’: The Prophetic imperative in a Messy World

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Election has done more than upset the political world. For Unitarians and Universalists—and many others—it has challenged the soul. Its meaning is far more than political. There are also moral, spiritual and religious meanings in what has happened and is happening. What are those meanings and what are we to do with them? Leonard Cohen has caught the spirit of the age in his phrase ‘broken Hallelujahs.’ While we may wonder what he meant, it is more important what that phrase may mean for us.”   The Rev. Richard Gilbert.

On April 1, 2017, the Rev. Richard Gilbert offered the 2017 Gould Lecture, titled: “Singing Our Broken Hallelujahs: The Prophetic Imperative in a Messy World,” at the May Memorial UU Society, Syracuse NY.    This was part of the St Lawrence 2017 Spring Gathering, which also included the UUA Presidential Candidates’ Forum, livestreamed from Bethesda MD.

The lecture was a no-pulled-punches analysis of the presidential election and the current political state of our nation.  Rev. Gilbert examined the rise of the President’s personality cult and the expansion of misinformation in society.  Reason and truth, he said,  are no longer dominant in the American culture and compassion is out of vogue.   “The enlightenment for so many is dead.”  In its place, he said, a “survival of the fittest ethic “has been set loose upon the land.

In this address, Rev. Gilbert challenges us to honestly discern what is happening around us but not to despair, because “despair is a luxury beyond our means.”  Instead, he calls us to become the conscience of the community, learn to suffer through this time, and rise to the call to repair a broken world.  Our current political situation, he noted, has “awakened from slumber those who took politics as rhetoric rather than challenge.”   And we must remember that democracy is not a spectator sport.  Rather, it is a messy work in progress that challenges us to the core.

Watch it below:

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Standing for Justice

The West Virginia House of Representatives has passed a “Religious Freedom” bill. You can read an article about this on the Think Progress website.

The bill still has to clear the senate and the governor, but one of our local UU ministers has already written a letter to the editor addressing the issue. Rev. Rose Edington, Minister Emerita of the UU Congregation of Charleston wrote the letter below. You can also read it on the Charleston Gazette-Mail Website.

Religious Freedom act restores discrimination

Rev. Rose Edington and partner, Rev. Mel Hoover

Editor:

I have been an ordained minister since 1975. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act has nothing to do with religious freedom and everything to do with discrimination.

In our democracy, religious freedom is the freedom to worship (or not) according to your choice and your conscience. This means that the state cannot dictate how to conduct any denomination’s or religion’s worship service, nor what may be said during worship services, nor how you choose to worship, whether it be in a grand cathedral, your humble home or any place of worship in between.

No “restoration” to freely worship is needed because nothing has been taken away. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has not changed.

For those who need to discriminate to practice their religion, they may freely do that within their places of worship. Businesses, which are open to the public, are not free to discriminate. Business owners could choose to practice their religion based on their answer to the question: “Who is my neighbor?” as found in the story of The Good Samaritan, and the teaching from Hebrews 13:2 “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for some have thereby entertained angels unaware.”

Personally, as a member of a multiracial family, I am all too aware that the statements being made today by people who use religion to discriminate against others because of their sexual orientation are the same kind of statements used by people to discriminate against others based on the color, or perceived color, of their skin a generation ago. It was wrong then. It is wrong now.

The Rev. Dr. Rose Edington (Unitarian Universalist)
Charleston

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