UU blogs on immigration, boycotts, and Facebook

Taking action against Arizona’s immigration law

UU bloggers have been extremely vocal on the subject of Arizona’s new immigration law and calls for a boycott of the state by the UUA’s General Assembly. If readers have not been following the conversation, there are any number of places you might jump in (and you can see all the blog posts mentioning Arizona that have been cataloged by UUpdates.net).

The Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, minister of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix, shared a call to join Standing on the Side of Love and a coalition of organizations in Arizona at a “National Day of Action Against SB1070” on May 29.

The Rev. James Ishmael Ford, minister of the First Unitarian Church of Providence, R.I., will be answering the call—and plans to preach about it the next day back in Providence! (“Monkey Mind,” May 14)

The UU Congregation of Phoenix has a letter “to all of our Unitarian Universalist sisters and brothers” about what UUs outside of Arizona can do to help with immigration.

We urge our fellow UUs to please contact your congressional representative or senator in support of Comprehensive Immigration Reform. The federal government, not state governments like Arizona, is the most appropriate level to address immigration. Let President Obama, Attorney General Eric Holder, and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano know that you agree immigration is a national issue and that federal action must be taken now to prevent SB 1070 from taking effect.

We urge you to be aware of and get involved in immigration in your local area, with your local leaders and your local UU congregations. . . .

For those who are willing and able to come to Arizona, we ask that you lend your voice and your strength to our efforts. Please participate in the National Day of Action against SB 1070, May 29, 2010. This is be a big event that will draw nationwide attention and send a message to politicians across the country. . . . If you cannot come to Arizona, find a local event near you, or start one with your congregation.

Finally, as Arizonans, we strongly ask that you remember the great things about our state, and the great people of all colors who live here. As a whole, we are not a people driven by hate, intolerance or bigotry. Arizona has potential to be a multicultural, multiethnic, socially compassionate state. The UUCP and Unitarian Universalists throughout Arizona are working everyday toward this—our dream. (“Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix,” May 7)

David G. Markham believes the larger question is not about immigration, but about “the rich and powerful manipulating the weak and poor.”

This is a moral and spiritual issue more than a legal and political one. How will we treat our fellow human beings? How will we treat our brothers and sisters on this planet. Jesus was pretty clear about this and the right wing’s response to this is anything but Christian. (“UU A Way of Life,” May 13)

Arizona boycott discussions

UUA trustee from the Pacific Central District Linda Laskowski writes about the special board meeting held May 6 to discuss pulling the 2012 General Assembly out of Phoenix, Ariz. (See uuworld.org coverage at “Board calls for General Assembly Boycott of Arizona,” May 10)

Ever since SB 1070 was signed by the Arizona governor, the UUA board emails have been non-stop, primarily among ourselves, but also lobbying from various groups urging us to boycott Phoenix, site of the 2012 General Assembly. (“UUA View from Berkeley,” May 7)

Trustee Lew Phinney presents the resolution and questions to stimulate thinking, while encouraging members of the Mountain Desert District to be involved in the decision. (“Mountain Desert District, May 12)

The UUA Board of Trustees itself has set up a Facebook page, which includes summaries of their April board meeting and the May phone call.

The Rev. John Cullinan, minister of the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos, believes a boycott of Arizona by the UUA General Assembly will have little effect.

If we’re being honest about what we, as a national movement, bring to the fight, we need to admit that a high profile national image on par with the National Football League (and the $$ that comes with that image) is not one of the arrows in our quiver. We will not, in the long run, accomplish anything by our absence. No one will notice.

But, our presence on the other hand . . .

When our boots are on the ground and our hands are in the dirt, we can do things. We can make noise. We can be seen. Our history has taught us that it’s what we do best. We have congregations in the state already fighting the good fight. Should we not demonstrate some solidarity? Is the work theirs alone by virtue of geography? We kicked off “Standing on the Side of Love” with an immigration rally last year. Why not do it again in the heart of the conflict?  (“Returning,” May 11; also posted at the Unitarian Church of Los Alamos website.)

Deb Weiner expresses similar sentiments about the value of going and witnessing. (“Morning Stars Rising,” May 12)

The Valley Unitarian Universalist Church in Chandler, Ariz., has an active Facebook page, which includes a petition to keep GA 2012 in Phoenix. (May 11)

David Pyle wonders why the UUA Board is recommending a change of location from Phoenix but did not do so for Fort Lauderdale in 2008.

In Arizona, it is only one state government that has passed such a law, and there is every reason to suspect it will be declared unconstitutional (or at least under injunction) before the GA in 2012 anyway. In Florida, it was not the state government that demanded to see our papers, but the federal government. (“Celestial Lands,” May 13)

The Rev. Scott Wells questions whether the UUA could raise the money for which the Board resolution calls.

The Commission on Appraisal can’t merit $35,000 but this decision—made too quickly to be called considered (or transparent)—hopes to shift almost forty times as much. (“Boy in the Bands,” May 8)

Elizabeth questions the cost of the boycott.

I just can’t get my head around spending $615,000 to boycott Arizona. Not because I am somehow against the boycott of Arizona in general, and not because I don’t think that the law is just terrible in so many ways, but because I’m not sure that that would be $615,000 spent in the best way. That is more than half a million dollars. I wonder if we could somehow do very important work by holding GA in Arizona? How could our presence there be a move of solidarity with people there who are working for equality, justice, and the daily struggle for life and love and bread? (“Elizabeth’s Little Blog,” May 13)

Thinking about UU growth and structure

The Rev. Thom Belote attended the UUA Growth Consultation held May 5 to 7, and provides a full report on his blog. Start with the introductory post on May 10.

Above all, we shared a sense that the challenge of growing Unitarian Universalism could not be solved with “technical solutions.” The challenges we face are cultural and relational. (“RevThom,” May 10)

The Rev. Ron Robinson responds at length. (“Planting God Communities,” May 12)

“Chutney” wonders if UU churches should be using Facebook, in light of recent concerns about Facebook’s changes in privacy policy.

But as Facebook proves itself less and less trustworthy, should we be encouraging congregational life to happen in Facebook? At what point does Facebook cross a line that violates our values so egregiously that we take down our congregations’ pages? At what point does it become irresponsible to encourage people in our congregations to join Facebook so they can be a part of our congregational groups and pages, especially those who aren’t very web savvy and who won’t understand Facebook’s increasingly labyrinthine privacy controls? (“Making Chutney,” May 13)

The Rev. Dan Harper begins a four-part essay on “associationism.”

In this four-part essay, I claim that the central organizing principle of Unitarianism, Universalism, and now Unitarian Universalism, has less to do with theology, liturgy, religious practice, etc., and more to do with social and institutional structures. We are unified by an institutional approach which I call associationalism. (“Yet Another Unitarian Universalist,” May 13)

Around the blogosphere

Retired U.S. Navy Captain Thomas R. Beall writes about government claims that torture is necessary “to keep us safe.”

So I ask myself again and ask all of you, “Where is the outrage?” (“Living the Prophetic Imperative,” May 8)

UU seminarian, chaplain candidate, and Army veteran David Pyle shares 11 questions he asks himself as he approves or rejects comments on his blog.

Yet in all aspects of Celestial Lands, I have found a mantra that has been my guide . . . I must be true to myself. This website and its attached blog are a reflection of who I am, and I will work to make sure that it stays that way. It is my little space on the World Wide Web . . . and everyone else is entitled to their own little space. (“Celestial Lands,” May 8)

“Lizard Eater” is at first disappointed on her walk that she doesn’t see any animals, until “Humans are animals, breathed the wind.

There was a man with a dog down by the edge of the water. Both were well-behaved. I think the man was training the dog, but it might have been the other way around. (“The Journey,” May 8)

The Rev. Kit Ketcham decided to make some changes for health reasons, and discovers the virtues of slowing down.

Trouble was, I’d eaten the junk in part because it was faster than cutting up an apple or peeling an orange. And that caused me to wonder: how come I was so loathe to spend time slicing an apple so it would be available to me easily? how come I would rather eat a cookie than peel an orange? It was because it was so much faster to grab the cookie than to prepare the fruit. And the fruit was far tastier than the cookie, far healthier, far longer-lasting.

So now I’m noticing that lots of little tasks in my life can be done much more slowly and I am enjoying discovering what they are. (“Ms. Kitty’s Saloon and Road Show,” May 8)

Paul Oakley shares a poem about family history (and immigration).

He was a stowaway,” Mom whispers (“Inner Light, Radiant Life,” May 9)

The Rev. Sean Dennison praises the skill of being able to express appreciation.

Some people fear that appreciation is insincere and leads to a congregation that doesn’t see things clearly, but through “rose-colored stain glass windows.” I think it’s far more likely that people who feel appreciated and valued are willing to look at things honestly, assessing strengths and acknowledging weakness. (“ministrare,” May 9)

Jeff Liebmann describes life with a heart condition (and a defibrillator).

My condition makes life an interesting contrast of gratitude and terror, of caution and carefree. I am more committed than ever to making the most of my ministry, of telling people important to me exactly how I feel about them, and truly letting unimportant things go. (“uujeff’s muse kennel and pizzatorium,” May 9)