GA delegates voted overwhelmingly Sunday afternoon for an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) that condemns racist mistreatment of young people of color by police. The AIW grew out of an appearance at General Assembly a year ago of Michelle Alexander, whose book, “The New Jim Crow” explored the extent to which people of color are incarcerated. The book labeled that practice “institutional racism.”
The resolution calls on congregations to condemn the pattern of mistreatment of people of color through practices such as “stop and frisk” by police. It asks congregations to work with other congregations and other groups to stop this practice.
Unitarian Universalists should join efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution to overturn the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court decision to eliminate corporate personhood. That’s according to an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) passed by delegates to the 2013 General Assembly in Louisville, Ky., Sunday afternoon.
The AIW is called “Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not persons and money is not speech.”
It calls upon the UUA to “make their endorsement formal and public, supporting efforts to amend the Constitution.”
It also asks member congregations or their social justice counterparts to pass resolutions of support to an amendment.
And it encourages UU legislative ministries nationwide to join the cause.
“Working together with other groups and other faith traditions, we can make a significant impact to further the progress of a constitutional amendment to preserve the constitutional rights that our founding fathers intended solely for human persons, restore the effective voice of the people and save our democracy,” the AIW said.
Sunday morning’s General Assembly worship service took several thousand Unitarian Universalists and local visitors on an emotional tour to the farthest reaches of the universe and back. The Rev. Dr. William F. Schulz, president of the UU Service Committee, preached a stirring sermon about our covenant with creation.
“I have never become reconciled to . . . dying,” Schulz said; “it continues to break my heart. But what the religious life has forced me to do is to look to the farthest reaches of those starry heavens and the murkiest depths of that moral law within and to ask myself what the connection there might be between the two.”
Midway through his sermon, he showed the congregation a video that takes the viewer soaring out away from the Earth until the entire cosmos can be seen, before zooming back down to the subatomic level. “You and I do not need to understand quasars or black holes or string theory or cosmic inflation to be stunned into silence by the majesty of Being itself,” Schulz said when the video had ended.
“We are each one of us held in the embrace of Creation,” he said. “But if that is true, then why do we feel so frightened? Why do we know exactly what that woman in the cartoon meant when she said, ‘I’m not religious; I’m just scared’?”
We are afraid, he acknowledged, because we are fragile and small and vulnerable, especially in the grand scheme of things. “Our fragility—as human beings, as a human race, and as a planet—that is the connection between those starry heavens above and Kant’s moral law within.”
The moral law compels us to stand with the vulnerable. And furthermore, he said, “because we are so fragile, so unlikely to be here in the first place, such a surprising twist of Creation, our wisest sentiment is gratitude and our smartest strategy is trust.”
Music for the service was provided by the General Assembly choir, conducted by Dallas Bergen, accompanied by a string quartet and other musicians from the Unitarian Universalist Musicians Network.
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The draft Actions of Immediate Witness that delegates will consider in this afternoon’s plenary session are available in today’s CSW Alert! (PDF).