Unitarian Universalist Policy
Civil Liberties 2004 Statement of Conscience
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.
Call To Action
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.
Civil Liberties 1971 General Resolution
WHEREAS, the Unitarian Universalist Association opposes any kind of surveillance of private citizens or government employees; and
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
Civil Liberties 1963 General Resolution
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 rights.
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Last updated on Tuesday, August 23, 2011.
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