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Tim DeChristopher's Conviction and Sentencing: Statement from UUA Witness Ministries Director

The Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) Director of Witness Ministries, issued the following statement on August 12, 2011, regarding the court conviction of environmental activist Tim DeChristopher:

On July 26, 2001, Tim DeChristopher, a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Salt Lake City, Utah, was convicted in court for his acts of nonviolent civil disobedience. For his "crime"—disrupting a 2008 auction of oil and gas leases on Utah public lands by posing as a bidder—he has been sentenced to two years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

At the trial, Tim was not allowed to explain to the jury the moral and spiritual reasoning behind his principled stance. However, he has said publicly that he believes the sale of those leases was illegal because a required assessment of the environmental consequences of drilling on those lands had not been conducted.

As Unitarian Universalists, we hold in our hearts seven principles, including "Respect for the interdependent web of all existence, of which we are a part." Tim asserts that global warming threatens this interdependent web, and that he had a moral responsibility to take action against the oil and gas leases in an effort to stop it.

“If the government is going to refuse to step up to that responsibility to defend a livable future," he says, "I believe that creates a moral imperative for me and other citizens.”

The Unitarian Universalist Association respects Tim's principled and nonviolent civil disobedience. As a religious community, we know the need to heal our world is great. As Tim has shown, our strength, our ability to heal, lies not only in our numbers but also in our willingness to act as individuals, if we are so moved.

If we are to have a livable future, we must step up to our responsibility as citizens to hold our government accountable and, as people of faith, to respond to the moral imperative of preserving the earth and uniting its people.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is a faith community of more than 1,000 self-governing congregations that bring to the world a vision of religious freedom, tolerance and social justice. For more information on the UUA, including recent press releases and news articles, please visit our online press room.

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Last updated on Friday, February 22, 2013.

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