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A "No" uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a "Yes" merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble. — Mohandas Gandhi

In this session, participants are introduced to the fifth Unitarian Universalist Principle, the right of conscience and the use of democratic process. We introduce Maria Cook (1779-1835), an early Universalist preacher, who responded to a trumped-up vagrancy charge by practicing passive resistance and, when jailed, preached Universalism to those who shared her incarceration. In Maria Cook, participants find a model of someone who held fast to the teachings of her conscience in the face of authority and found peaceful, dignified ways to express her views even when those around her tried to shut her down. Participants role-play responses to situations that challenge their consciences or beliefs. We will add the signpost "Speak Out" to our Faithful Journeys Path.


This session will:

  • Strengthen Unitarian Universalist identity by introducing Maria Cook, a 19th-century Universalist minister and practitioner of civil disobedience, as an example of our second Source, words and deeds of prophetic women and men that challenge us to confront powers and structures of evil with justice, compassion, and the transforming power of love
  • Explore our fifth Unitarian Universalist Principle, the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process
  • Demonstrate how standing up to others, including those in power, in order to follow one's conscience can be an act of faith
  • Give participants inspiration, affirmation, and strategies for standing up for what they think is right in their daily lives
  • Teach children how their actions can and do express their faith — their ideas of right and wrong, their values and their beliefs.

Learning Objectives

Participants will:

  • Learn about Universalist history and the UU heritage of action for justice, through a story about Maria Cook
  • Build awareness of their own individual beliefs through the Move It! values continuum game
  • Learn about speaking out and nonviolent resistance as strategies for social change, and consider ways to employ them in their own lives
  • Experience "speak out" and nonviolence strategies by standing up for what they believe is right, in a role play
  • Name ways they might act that would reflect the signpost "Speak Out"
  • Name ways they did or could translate their Unitarian Universalist faith and/or Principles into action.

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