Principles and Person
Yesterday the Unitarian Universliast Association’s President, Rev. Peter Morales, was arrested “along with 200 other faith leaders, members of Congress, union leaders, and immigration activists." This is big news for Unitarian Universalists - we tend to exalt people who get arrested. Just look at some articles from our national magazine: UUWorld. I was going to list some individually, but a search for the term “arrested” is pretty telling.
I have a concern that this attention is sensationalist and detrimental to the principles of our faith rather than beneficial and informative.
Civil disobedience is a useful way to increase public awareness of issues and call attention to legal activities which we do not agree with. The problem is not with the action, but the sensational way in which these issues are often talked about via social media, in person and reported on. The focus of the articles and Facebook postings remains on the arrest or sentencing with very little - if any - discussion of the issues at hand.
The slant of our reporting and discussion takes focus away from the issue. The focus has been shifted away from immigration rights or a proposed oil pipeline and centered on the people being arrested. I find myself knowing more about which Unitarian Universalist leaders were arrested than what I can do to help the issues.Do I need to have a criminal record in order to have my voice heard? Is the goal of social justice activity to be handcuffed and carted away? Is this the sort of activity we want to promote to our congregations, members and religious leaders? We are not helping others grow in their faith and live it out in the world unless the most effective activity we can do for social justice is be arrested. Our focus is dangerously skewed toward the negative and sensational. Read the entire post by the Rev. Andrew L. Weber on his tumblr, "Drive Like a Minister", here.
The Rev. Andrew L. Weber is the Settled Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark, Delaware.