October 22, 2020
I hold you all in my heart in these unpredictable and volatile times. I know I am not alone in having moments of overwhelming grief for too many loved ones lost, and moments of acute fear and despair, mindful of all that is at stake in this coming election.
Sometimes it may seem that we, as religious leaders, are asked to project an aura of “calm certainty and strength.” But rather than appearing “strong,” what I believe our communities most need is our authenticity and honesty.
One thing we must be honest about is the reality that our democracy is under attack and has been for a long time. Almost daily, there are efforts, whether by policy or inflammatory rhetoric, to systematically undermine faith in our elections. Shameful examples of voter suppression and the trampling of rights are happening all across the country.
History teaches us that, in the United States democracy has never been available to everyone. Its expansion and protection have always come through struggle, organizing and protest. This time is no different.
The first, and most important thing we can do to make sure our voices are heard is to vote in massive numbers. We launched UU The Vote with a goal of reaching one million potential voters. By late September, we had already reached 1.3 million. This week is the National Week of Action for UU The Vote and there is still time to help us reach two million voters by election day.
And we must also prepare for how we will continue to work for justice, democracy, and the protection of our loved ones and our communities after November 3rd. So much is uncertain, and rhetoric that encourages white supremacists to threaten public officials, watch polling locations, and that questions election results is dangerous.
If the results of the election are challenged, if the integrity of the election is compromised, or if there is a refusal to respect the results, we must be prepared to join in collective, moral, faithful action to defend our democracy. Now is the time to prepare to act if need be.
Will we show up in the streets, set up or contribute to a bail or legal assistance fund? Will you open your congregation building to protesters needing sanctuary from state repression, for a medic station, organize fundraisers or tap into discretionary funds to make sure frontline organizers have the money they need to move the work? It’s more important than ever that we have bold spiritual imagination and audacious leaders and communities that show a new way forward.
As Unitarian Universalists, it is important to remember that our commitment to democracy is not just political or moral, it is fundamentally theological. It grows from our affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the Universalist understanding that we are all part of one creation, interconnected. These theological values of human dignity and interdependence are why we know everyone needs a voice in the matters that affect their lives.
Whenever I feel discouraged by the rhetoric of division, scarcity, and cruelty, I draw strength from our faith and from all of you. From the borderlands of Arizona, to the cities of Louisville, Rochester, Kenosha, Portland, and so many more—Unitarian Universalists are demonstrating that we have the courage, the heart, and the faith to meet this moment, together.
Yours in faith and gratitude,
Resources to Prepare, Learn, and Act
Use this asset mapping tool to frame congregational conversations and prepare for ways to respond to community needs and potentially dangerous post-election scenarios. Here’s a companion video that explains the tool.
Sign and share an interfaith pledge to defend the democratic process. It is open for sign-on by religious leaders and congregation members.
Read this recent UU World article to be inspired by the ways UUs are showing up in Louisville, Kenosha, and more. Learn how UU leaders and communities are caring for each other in the Pacific Western Region.
Act with the UU the Vote National Week of Action October 21-27. Join a phone bank in WI, PA or AZ; host a phone bank with your congregation; host a UU the Vote worship service.
For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org.