1996 Resolution of Immediate Witness

WHEREAS acts of desecration and destruction, including vandalism, fire bombing, and arson, have been perpetrated against more than 60 religious institutions and sacred sites in 16 of the United States since 1990, with a significant increase since January of 1996;

WHEREAS churches, mosques, and synagogues are sacred institutions;

WHEREAS the vast majority of the destruction has been against Black or interracial churches; and other churches that have taken a stand for racial justice;

WHEREAS the Black church has historically been a center for organizing for racial justice and is one of the few institutions owned and controlled by African Americans in the United States;

WHEREAS these acts against Black churches not only destroy property, but also attack the spirit of an oppressed people;

WHEREAS fewer than a dozen people have been arrested in connection with these crimes;

WHEREAS the media have responded to these crimes slowly and inadequately, and have thus failed to increase understanding of racism; and

WHEREAS the cultural climate in the United States condones acts of racial injustice and neo-fascism contrary to our principles in respect for the inherent worth and dignity of all people and religious freedom and tolerance;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the 1996 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association expresses outrage at the desecration and destruction of churches, synagogues, mosques, and other houses of worship and sacred sites in the United States, particularly African-American churches, by calling on Unitarian Universalist congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to:

  1. Speak out in pulpits and public squares condemning acts of desecration and destruction;
  2. Send letters to the President of the United States, the Attorney General, members of Congress, and state and local elected officials, urging a more thorough investigation of these acts of destruction, bringing their perpetrators to justice, and taking appropriate steps to protect those sites that are most vulnerable;
  3. Urge the President of the United States to host a National Summit on Race Relations;
  4. Participate by funding and volunteering in the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee in repairing and rebuilding houses of worship and other sacred sites; and
  5. Urge individual Unitarian Universalists to offer legal and other services on a pro bono basis in support of these efforts.

For more information contact socialjustice@uua.org.

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