Liberty is at the core of our Unitarian Universalist
faith. Civil liberties are at the heart of our American experiment in democracy.
Those civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights, Amendments I through X
to the Constitution of the United States of America, are as fundamental to our
practice of democracy as freedom of conscience is to our actions of faith.
...Democratic process is at the heart of
Unitarian Universalism. Our Unitarian Universalist Principles are grounded in
freedom, reason, and tolerance...
Unitarian Universalists are gravely concerned with the current erosion of
American civil liberties. Our criminal justice system has seen increases in
police brutality, harsher sentencing, racial profiling, and a call by our
leaders for quicker resort to the death penalty. The “War on Drugs” has given
the United States the dubious distinction of having the highest incarceration
rate among economically advanced nations. Federal funding for faith-based initiatives has threatened religious liberty by compromising the independence
and equality of different religious groups.
The attacks of September 11, 2001, created a climate of fear that has
escalated these threats to our liberties and made possible an ill-defined “War on Terrorism.” The message from our government is that the United States cannot
be both safe and free. Building on a pre-September 11 current of diminished civil liberties, the USA PATRIOT Act was signed into law on October 26, 2001.
This Act permits the unlimited detention and deportation of foreign nationals on
the basis of suspicion and without due process of law. It redefines the scope of
terrorism law to include domestic associations, rendering citizen organizations,
including communities of faith, subject to secret surveillance and
investigation. It allows the FBI to investigate American citizens without
probable cause if the agents consider it for “intelligence purposes.” It permits
law enforcement agencies to conduct secret searches, including phone and
Internet surveillance, and grants access to medical, banking, employment,
library, and other personal records with fewer considerations of due process.
As people of faith, and as Americans, we are called
to action. We are called to reclaim our heritage as Unitarian Universalists and
become vigilant stewards of our democracy. We are called as individuals, as
congregations, and as an association of congregations to let our leaders know
that some current policies are unacceptable. Therefore:
We hold public officials accountable and insist that they refrain from
supporting policies and legislation that further limit civil liberties.
We demand repeal of the USA PATRIOT Act and call upon local officials to
adopt resolutions urging its repeal and declaring their intention not to enforce
its onerous provisions.
We oppose the proposed Domestic Security Enhancement Act (PATRIOT II),
whether proposed as a separate legislative act or as parts of other legislation.
We oppose implementation of the “total information awareness” data-mining program of the Department of Defense; efforts to revive the Terrorism
Information and Prevention System (“TIPS”) program of the Department of Justice,
which sought to recruit Americans to spy on other Americans; and profiling based
on nationality, ethnicity, or religion. We oppose nominees to the federal appeals courts or the Supreme Court whose
records demonstrate insensitivity to the protection of civil liberties.
We affirm the right of foreign nationals to due process and the presumption
of innocence, and we oppose unwarranted tracking and reporting requirements that
abridge those rights. We appeal to public officials and the media to support constitutional
protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
WHEREAS, the Unitarian Universalist Association
opposes any kind of surveillance of private citizens or government employees;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Army Intelligence and others have had at least a few of our
Unitarian Universalist churches under surveillance;
BE IT RESOLVED: The Unitarian Universalist Association go on record as
opposing any governmental abuse of surveillance whether by means of professional
data gathering systems, census forms, federal questionnaires, interviews, Army
investigations, wire tapping, or data banks; and
WHEREAS, the United States is founded on the principles of individual rights
and civil liberties, embodied in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution; and
WHEREAS, for several years these individual rights and civil liberties have
been under attack by various elements of our society, resulting in the need for
continual vigilance and positive action; and
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: That this General Assembly of the Unitarian
Universalist Association calls upon the President, Attorney General and all of
the duly constituted authorities to act decisively and at once to protect the
Constitutionally guaranteed civil rights of American citizens throughout the
United States, and to call to account those who violate these guaranteed civil
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Last updated on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
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