Thursday, July 12, 2012

Unitarian Universalists General Assembly

The Unitarian Universalists held a General Assembly in Phoenix last month.  They made headlines when the group decided to take the opportunity to lead a protest outside of Tent City.

You might recognize their signs.  We've seen them before. 

"Standing on the side of LOVE"

Who are the Unitarian Universalists?

Faith-based community organizing draws its inspiration from the 1940s movement led by activist Saul Alinsky, who organized residents of the old Chicago stockyards neighborhood made famous by Upton Sinclair's novel The Jungle. Alinsky died in 1972, but his idea of uniting neighborhood and community organizations, labor unions, and churches in a fight for social justice, keeps spreading. Alinsky's Industrial Areas Foundation now includes some 50 interfaith and interracial organizations from New York City to Los Angeles. Other umbrella groups work at the community level.

Within the UU, there is an Arizona Immigration Ministry whose Partners include groups such as:

The Arizona Advocacy Network
Arizona Worker Rights Center/Centro de Derechos Laborales de Arizona- Arizona Interfaith Alliance for Worker Justice
Border Action Network (remember BAN?  They received grant money from Rep. Russ Jones' Arizona Community Foundation Latinos Unidos Initiative. The leader of BAN, Jennifer Allen, is frequently seen protesting alongside Randy Parraz)
Humane Borders
Border Angels
Mi Familia Vota
National Council of La Raza
National Day Labor Organizing Network (NDLON)
Puente Human Rights Movement (this is the group who initiated boycotts on Arizona and organized protests)
Somos America (Lydia Guzman is the VP of Somos America.  Guzman has helped Tom Perez from the DOJ with the lawsuit against Arizona and SB1070)

Is it a coincidence that many of the groups listed above were the same ones that participated in a recent Arizona Emerging Latino Vote Conference whose panel members included Jerry Lewis?  But, remember, Lewis doesn't associate with "Saul Alinsky".  (wink wink)

Some of the teachings and lectures of the Unitarian Universalists include:

Bending Toward Justice: Race, Immigration and Religious Education: Learning to live comfortably and fairly with diversity begins in children’s early years. So, too, does the damage of racism and other “isms” to healthy development. Author/educator/activist Louise Derman Sparks explores ways to foster children’s positive identity and awaken empathy, critical thinking and life-long ability to stand against injustice.

Confronting Arizonification In Our Own Backyard: According to local organizers, “The best way to support Arizona is by challenging Arizona-style policies where you live.” While SB 1070 made the state a symbol of intolerance, similar immigration policies have spread to every corner of the country. Learn how your town may face Arizonification and how you can work to stop it.

Immigration & Environmental Justice: Environmental degradation (polluted air, land, and water; ocean acidification; severe storms and droughts; massive extinctions; melting glaciers) disproportionally impacts disadvantages communities and contributes to migration and injustice. Find out how your congregation and state advocacy network may work with environmental justice organizations and coalitions addressing these issues.

In their most recent assembly here in Phoenix last month, one of the issues presented was the "Doctrine of Discovery".  It is a blatant attack on the Christian religion.

Our Partners have requested that we learn about the Doctrine of Discovery, and that the General Assembly pass a resolution requesting President Obama remove it from our international policy.

Indigenous Peoples and Nations want religious movements to repudiate the Doctrine of Christian Discovery and to pressure our government to implement the United Nations (UN) Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (PDF).

The UU claims:

The DOD (Doctrine of Discovery) is also foundational in the ways in which our nation's policies on migration and immigration are formed and enforced. Preventing indigenous peoples from crossing the U.S.-Mexico border to inhabit lands that are historically theirs is justified in U.S. law by the DOD.

One of the events at last month's General Assembly included a panel discussion.  On the panel were Julie Erfle, Todd Landfried, Lydia Guzman, Daniel Montelongo and Carlos Garcia.

Videos of the conference can be found here.

One of the videos references the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

The IIC preaches:
Faith advocates and allies can join together to create teams across the country to call on and ask their local officials to not honor ICE detainer requests.

It may not be surprising to learn that affiliates of the IIC include:

United Universalists

NETWORK (Catholic social justice lobby)
PICO (Alinsky organization)
Islamic Information Center  ("Islam literally means to submit to the will of ALLAH (God)")

Muslim Public Affairs Committee (goal is to shape public policy and opinion by promoting Islamic values)

Soujourners  (Obama’s spiritual advisor, Jim Wallis is the CEO)

The UU President weighed in on the recent SCOTUS ruling over ObamaTax:

"Today, I am proud to say that we and our allies in social justice have been heard. Health care is not a luxury; it is a fundamental human right. And while we celebrate today's decision, we also will continue to advocate for this fundamental human right until it is available to all who seek it."

And the SCOTUS ruling over SB1070:

...we applaud the Supreme Court's decision to strike down several portions of SB1070, a law we have held as immoral and unjustifiable since its inception. It is heartening to see this unjust law begin to crumble, and for the Supreme Court’s decision, we are thankful.  However, I am deeply disappointed that the Court has chosen to uphold the 'check your papers' portion of SB1070. This is not in keeping with our country’s long tradition of striving for justice for all, nor does it reflect our collective moral obligation to protect and support vulnerable populations among us, including migrants and people of color. The thinly veiled racism inherent in SB1070 continues as long as this section of the law stands.