Skip to main content
Main Content

Unitarian Universalist Association

Feature Story

Waitstill and Martha Sharp, WWII Unitarians, defied the Nazi regime. Today, Unitarian Universalists carry on their legacy to defy hatred and fear.

Defying the Nazis UU Action Project

Across the country, Unitarian Universalists are getting inspired by Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, a Ken Burns documentary that airs nationwide on PBS on September 20, 2016.  It tells the story of two Unitarians, Waitstill and Martha Sharp, who helped hundreds of people escape Nazi Europe.  Resisting Islamophobia and the Syrian refugee crisis today, UU congregations and individuals carry on the Sharps’ legacy to defy hatred and fear.  

In Houston, TX, over 150 members of the Bay Area Unitarian Universalist Church and other nearby UUs gathered at the Clear Lake Islamic Center in solidarity with their Muslim neighbors. The Texas governor's attempts last December to keep Syrian refugees from settling in the state were an example of the bigotry that refugees and Muslims face in America today, and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) are working to defy that fear and hatred

The Defying the Nazis UU Action Project urges UUs to take action and share their stories. The project is co-sponsored by Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), and the Fahs Collaborative at Meadville Lombard, who have developed resources including an action guide for congregations and individuals, a refugee action toolkit and an interfaith discussion guide (linked below).  From interfaith gatherings to solidarity vigils and protests or hosting refugee families, Unitarian Universalists across the country are prepared to take action to defy religious intolerance and humanitarian disasters, just as the Sharps defied the Nazi regime.

For more information, to share your story and to download resources, visit UUA.org/sharpstory.  Follow the discussion on social media at #WeDefy.

All Souls UU Church in Colorado Springs, CO showed up with 120 members and friends at City Hall on March 22, 2016 to demonstrate their support of Syrian refugees.  In the wake of the Belgium attacks, which had tragically occurred that same morning, these UUs came together for peace, solidarity, and compassion. Rev. Nori Rost, minister at All Souls, was quoted in the Colorado Springs Gazette as saying the Belgium attacks are “what our Syrian brothers and sisters experience every day in their homeland.  This is what they are fleeing; this is not what they are.”

Today’s refugee crisis and rising anti-Muslim rhetoric run counter to Unitarian Universalist principles of the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the interwoven nature of existence.  In addition to watching the film and reading the book Defying the Nazis, UUs will be taking action to live up to the values that motivated the Sharps. UUs across the nation are called to continue the legacy of Waitstill and Martha Sharp by promoting interfaith justice and world community in this time of crisis.


For more information about the project, email outreach [at] uua [dot] org.

Join the #WeDefy Project

More Features

Standing on the Side of Love heart logo

Black Lives Matter to Unitarian Universalists.

Learn more

Emerging Ministries

Across the country, Unitarian Universalists are imagining new ways to live their values, create faithful community and change the world for the better. Hear their stories of emerging ministries and learn how you can start an emerging ministry of your own.

Walking the Crooked Path

A wooden path winds its way through a green forest.

Posted in: WorshipWeb

Walking the Crooked Path

Rev. Thomas Rhodes: Holy Spirit of Life and Love, you who are our source and our ultimate destiny, lead us this day on a crooked path.

The Road Back to Being Human Together

Moral Monday

Posted in: Voting Rights

The Road Back to Being Human Together

Rev. Robin Tanner, lead minister of Piedmont UU Church in Charlotte and Salisbury, NC, reflects on the power of multifaith collaboration and getting involved with the Moral Monday movement. 

UUA President: We must nurture hope

Peter Morales, speaking.

Posted in: Social Justice

UUA President: We must nurture hope

The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the UUA, issued this statement following the news of police officers killed in Baton Rouge: "Given the tragic events of recent weeks, many people will feel a sense of despair. Through these dark days, we must nurture hope. Guided by love, we must work for justice. There is no other way.”

Read Love Beyond God

Book cover with bold swirling colors

Read Love Beyond God

This timely collection of poems explores faith, race, love, identity, and more, and invites us to think deeply about our place and role in contemporary society. The latest installment in the popular Skinner House inSpirit series.

Don't Give in to the Politics of Hate

moral revival march

Posted in: Social Justice

Don't Give in to the Politics of Hate

"Hateful rhetoric by those who aspire to lead is contributing to the divisions in our country. Hate breeds violence, and violence creates more pain and more suffering. At some point, we have to say enough," wrote UUA President Peter Morales in the Huffington Post.

Third candidate enters UUA presidential race

Jeanne Pupke

Posted in: UUA Elections

Third candidate enters UUA presidential race

The Rev. Jeanne Pupke enters the 2017 presidential race by petition, joining the Rev. Alison Miller and the Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray as candidates. Read more in UU World.