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Activity time: 5 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Worship or centering table
  • Chalice, candle, and lighter or LED battery-operated candle
  • Timepiece (minutes)
  • Chime or bell
  • Copies of Singing the Living Tradition, the UUA hymnbook, for all participants
  • Participants' journals (Workshop 1)
  • Optional: Cloth for worship/centering table
  • Optional: Microphone
  • Optional: Keyboard or piano

Preparation for Activity

  • Arrange the worship or centering table, including the chalice, so all participants can see it when they are seated.
  • Choose a social justice hymn from Singing the Living Tradition that is familiar to participants. Possibilities include Hymn 119, "Once to Every Soul and Nation;" Hymn 121, "We'll Build a Land;" Hymn 140, "Hail the Glorious Golden City;" Hymn 146, "Soon the Day Will Arrive;" Hymn 157, "Step By Step;" Hymn 162, "Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield;" Hymn 168, "One More Step;" and Hymn 170," We are a Gentle, Angry People."
  • Optional: Invite a musician to teach and/or accompany the hymn.

Description of Activity

Invite a participant to light the chalice while you lead a unison reading of Reading 449 in Singing the Living Tradition, "We hallow this time together by kindling the lamp of our heritage."

Lead the group in singing the hymn you have chosen.

After the song, explain that this workshop focuses on the idea of free speech and uses a case study from the 1950s, when a national fear of Communism, the enforcement of loyalty oaths, and the publicized hearings of the House Committee on Un-American Activities reached deep into the heart of our religious life.

Share this quote from a resolution passed by both the UCA (Universalist Church of America) and the AUA (American Unitarian Association) at their respective meetings in 1951:

Whereas certain men have persecuted many innocent persons with accusations of disloyalty, and in their fear, many are trying to censor free speech, free teaching, and communication, we resolve to affirm loyalty to the freedom of the mind to believe and of the tongue to speak what the mind believes. We condemn all persecution of persons for belief without evidence of treason, all enforced submission to doctrine, religious or political. And we assert that national security is guarded more through freedom and constructive criticism than could ever be through the silence of conformity and fear.

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