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Economic Justice

Unitarian Universalism is deeply committed to helping economically-disadvantaged individuals and communities. The principles of our faith call us to respect “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” and to work with compassion for equity, peace, liberty and justice for all. Our faith also draws upon “Jewish and Christian teachings which call us to respond to God's love by loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

Unitarian Universalist congregations have responded to these calls by passing more than 20 official resolutions since 1961 on economic justice topics including affordable housing, workers rights, unemployment, and tax reform. Congregations live out this work in their local communities by hosting day-care centers, homeless shelters, and soup kitchens, by offering tutoring to children and adults, and by advocating for better workplace and government-sponsored services for low-income communities. Unitarian Universalists also have spoken out recently to raise the minimum wage and to demand working rights for immigrants.

One branch of the UUA works on these ideas on the other side of the world.  The Unitarian Universalist Holdeen India Program (UUHIP) works with organizations of India's most excluded and oppressed peoples: women; dalits ("untouchables") who fall outside the caste system; and India's indigenous peoples, especially migrant, bonded and landless agricultural laborers. For more than twenty years, UUHIP has supported their efforts to participate fully in the social, economic and political life of India.

Unitarian Universalists are interested in doing more than just fixing current problems relating to disadvantaged communities. We also work to change the systems that caused the economic disparity to begin with, and to ensure as best we are able that our communities do not further contribute to economic injustice.
Unitarian Universalists are committed to being responsible consumers. We try to make sure that the money we spend goes to support good companies that have sustainable practices and pay their workers fair wages.  For instance, almost half of all UUA congregations participate in the Fair Share coffee project run by the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), which gives participating congregations and their members the opportunity to buy coffee and related items directly from farmer cooperatives. This ensures that low-income farmers earn a fair price for their products.

Other recent examples of our commitment to change can be seen in our faith’s response to disaster. The funds raised by the UUA and UUSC to help the victims of the 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia were directed to help under-recognized victims including lower-caste people and women, as well as to help rebuild fishing fleets and rice patties to allow residents to gather their own food again. Unitarian Universalist donations to help the Gulf Coast region recover from the 2005 hurricanes are being used to build a more just and equitable region, with a particular focus on supporting the voice and participation of communities of low-income people and communities of color to transform their situations.

Other forward-thinking Unitarian Universalist economic justice work includes sustainable community investing, international economic support, and education about how economic disparity relates to racial discrimination and other forms of oppression.

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This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Monday, May 2, 2011.

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