Commission on Social Witness Alerts, General Assembly 2013

Speak Out for Social Justice—Louisville 2013

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Actions for Today

Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs)

  • Debate and Vote on Three Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs), Plenary IX, 1:45 - 6:00 p.m.
    In the Sunday afternoon GA plenaries, you’ll have the opportunity to debate and vote on the three proposed AIWs. All three may be adopted if each receives the required two-thirds vote. The Rules of Procedure (Rule 13 J) state that up to 20 minutes will be allowed for debate, if needed. No amendment shall be in order unless there have been at least 12 minutes of debate, if needed, on the merits of the proposed Action of Immediate Witness. To move an amendment, come to the amendment table to the right of the stage as soon as the plenary session begins.
    The text of the draft AIWs is attached to this Commission on Social Witness (CSW) Alert, with the unincorporated amendments listed and lettered in order of priority according to the level of support generated in the mini-assemblies around these amendments. These three revised AIWs are:

    • AIW-1 Amend the Constitution: Corporations are not persons and money is not speech
    • AIW-2 Condemn the racist mistreatment of young men of color by police
    • AIW-3 Consider divestment from the fossil fuel industry.

    While Actions of Immediate Witness carry the authority only of the General Assembly at which they are adopted, AIWs reflect considerable thought, collaboration, and commitment.
    The revised proposed AIWs with line numbers (PDF) are included in the print-ready version of this Alert.

Future Actions

Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs)

  • Engage in study and action related to Reproductive Justice.
  • Engage in actions to implement the Statement of Conscience: Immigration as a Moral Issue and other previously adopted Statements of Conscience (SOCs).
  • Propose New Congregational Study/Action Issues

Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs)

  • Actions of Immediate Witness
    Use adopted AIWs to advocate in your congregations and districts.

The social witness process is our communal process.
Implementation of our adopted statements is everyone’s responsibility.

Saturday Afternoon Update

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Events: Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs)

  • Plenary VI
    After reading the 100-word summaries of 6 possible AIWs (below) and listening to 2-minute presentations by proposers, delegates will vote whether to admit up to three proposed Actions of Immediate Witness to the Final Agenda.
  • Mini-Assemblies on proposed Actions of Immediate Witness
    These Mini-Assemblies are your ONLY opportunity to suggest amendments to the text of the proposed Actions of Immediate Witness admitted to the GA Agenda during the morning Plenary. Debate on each AIW as amended occurs during the Sunday afternoon Plenary. The sites of the mini assemblies are Rooms 207, 208, and 209 in the Kentucky International Convention Center.
    Following the mini-assemblies, the Commission on Social Witness (CSW) will meet to consider all proposed amendments. A revised draft text, with all unincorporated amendments listed and prioritized, will appear in Sunday’s CSW Alert.

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association / Commission on Social Witness Sermon Award

  • “Reproductive Justice: The Issue that will Not Go Away”
    Roger Howe shares via pre-recorded DVD his over 40 years experience grappling with issues of reproductive choice and justice. His minister the Reverend Leslie Becknell Marx presents the children’s story. Following the recorded worship service, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Staff will share resources available from the UUA that congregations can use.

Plan Ahead for Sunday

  • Debate and voting on the amended AIWs are slated for Sunday’s Plenary IX from 1:45 - 6:00 p.m.

Proposed AIWs

  • Proposed AIW A: Consider Divestment from the Fossil Fuel Industry
    The fossil fuel industry controls reserves that, if burned, will produce more than five times the amount of greenhouse gas emissions required to raise global temperatures beyond 2°C, which is a threshold beyond which civilization cannot survive without enormous suffering. UU Principles and Sources and the 2006 Statement of Conscience call on us to act. A global movement “” is calling upon universities and religious institutions to divest their investments in fossil fuels. UU participation in this campaign will define us to the public now and for generations to come. We seek a denomination-wide conversation about divesting from fossil fuels.
  • Proposed AIW B: Stop Persecuting Whistleblowers
    UUs have long cherished the action of so-called “whistleblowers”, individuals who call out oppressive or improvident government (and/or corporate) action, often at the risk of high personal cost. The UUA, through Beacon Press, was instrumental in helping Daniel Ellsberg reveal the Pentagon Papers, for example. Today a new generation of whistleblowers is shining a light on illegitimate government action, and facing severe penalty, people like Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden. Yet our government—acting in our name—wants to silence these people and punish them severely. This must stop. We must speak up to make it stop.
  • Proposed AIW C: Support the proposed 28th “WE THE PEOPLE” Amendment to the Constitution: Corporations are not persons and money is not speech.
    Our democracy is in critical danger! Corporations today dominate our politics, our environment and our society. Since 1886, when corporations were inappropriately declared to be persons with constitutional rights, the Supreme Court has gradually increased their power. Citizens United in 2010 was the final straw: they can now spend unlimited money on elections. The UUJEC (UU for Just Economic Community) asks you to vote for the Action of Immediate Witness: “Support the proposed 28th “WE THE PEOPLE” Amendment to the Constitution: Corporations are not Persons and Money is not Speech.” UUs can lead the way to restoring real democracy “of, by and for” the People!
  • Proposed AIW D: Stop Force-Feeding Prisoners at Guantanamo!
    Force-feeding prisoners at Guantanamo is morally reprehensible! Held for more than a decade, 104 of the 166 prisoners on Guantanamo have joined a four month-old hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention without charges or possibility of a trial or release. The Government is forcibly restraining 44 of these prisoners in order to feed liquid meals through tubes inserted in their nostrils and down into their stomachs. This GA should oppose this cruel, inhuman and degrading practice that is unethical, violates the Geneva Convention, degrades and dehumanizes all of us as compassionate individuals, and diminishes our nation’s standing internationally.
  • Proposed AIW E: Protection of Digital Rights, including privacy and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.
    Recent news reports have reported several privacy intrusions into our digital lives from our federal government. It is the intent of this Action of Immediate Witness to state that our fourth amendment right to be free of unreasonable search and seizure be applied to both our digital documents, which we have secured through passwords and other techniques, and also to our physical digital personal devices, including but not limited to cellphones, smartphones, tablets and laptop computers.
  • Proposed AIW F: Condemn the mass incarceration, killing, and mistreatment of young men of color by police
    Would you want your mother, brother, sister, or father unnecessarily stopped and frisked? Would you want them to live in fear of being detained by the police who are sworn to protect and serve? Throughout communities, particularly communities of color, our mothers, brothers, sisters and fathers are harassed every day for no other reason than suspicion due to the color of their skin. This racist practice further marginalizes communities, promoting terror and fear instead of healing, inclusion, and resources. This AIW calls upon member congregations to petition government officials and demand an end to racist policies and encourage us to demonstrate alongside others who are fighting to change the laws.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Today’s schedule includes the Debate and Vote on the Immigration as a Moral Issue SOC.

Just arrived and glazing over about how to navigate the social witness process? An overview of the entire process awaits in living color at the Commission on Social Witness (CSW) booth #427. Remember that this daily CSW Alert is organized according to what’s happening most immediately for the draft Statement of Conscience (SOC), the current Congregational Study Action Issue (CSAI), and Actions of Immediate Witness (AIW). All related events are described below.

Event: SOC on Immigration as a Moral Issue 2010-2014

Event: CSAI on Reproductive Justice 2012-2016

  • Panel: Reproductive Justice in our Congregations and Communities: Friday, June 21
    In learning about and advocating for reproductive justice, our congregations are also transformed. This panel of congregation-based speakers, including youth, clergy, teachers, and advocates, will define reproductive justice and describe their work, while providing ideas and tips for specific opportunities to work for specific opportunities to work for reproductive justice this fall.

Deadline for Proposed Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) Signature Petitions—5 p.m. at GA Office!

  • As of 5 p.m. Thursday, text for each of the proposed Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) was posted at the CSW Booth. To be considered for placement on the Final Agenda, each requires 150 signatures (from at least 25 congregations in at least five districts). You can sign petitions at the CSW Booth (#427) on petition forms accompanying the text of each AIW or on the petition form of individuals circulating through the convention center. Only delegates may sign petitions. As a delegate, you may support as many as you choose. The signature petitions must be submitted as instructed by 5 p.m. at the GA Office—Room 116 in the Kentucky International Convention Center.

Plan ahead! Saturday, June 22

  • Plenary VI, 8:45 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
    We’ll debate and vote on whether to admit up to three proposed Actions of Immediate Witness to the Final Agenda.
  • Mini-Assemblies on proposed Actions of Immediate Witness, 1:45 p.m. - 3:00 p.m., CC 207, 208, 209
    These mini-assemblies will be your only opportunity to suggest amendments to the text of all proposed AIWs admitted to the Final Agenda during the morning plenary. Debate on each AIW as initially amended, debate on prioritized unincorporated amendments, and voting on each AIW as finally amended will occur during the Sunday morning plenary.
  • UUMA/Commission on Social Witness Sermon Award, Saturday, 5:30 p.m. - 6:45 p.m., CC Cascade B
  • Reproductive Justice: The Issue that will Not Go Away—Roger Howe

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Welcome to Louisville and General Assembly (GA) 2013! Hold on to this Summary Commission on Social Witness (CSW) Alert. It’s your first of four daily guides to our social witness work at GA. As delegates of member congregations, it’s up to you to participate in the workshops and plenaries. There is much at stake, including voting on adopting the Draft Statement of Conscience on Immigration as a Moral Issue, attending programs on our active Congregational Study/Action Issues on Immigration and Reproductive Justice, and seeing opportunities to propose and adopt Actions of Immediate Witness. Plan to participate fully, and ask about what you don’t understand. You can access CSW members at Booth 427 in the Exhibit Hall and up front, on the right, during the plenary sessions that include CSW business, or at Let’s bear social witness together!

How to Navigate Our Social Witness Process at GA

Check pages 72-75 of the Program Book (PDF, 136 pages) to find additional information on the social witness processes named below. At the CSW booth you’ll find a copy of the Delegates’ Guide to Social Witness and a large visual display on the process (which is also available on the About the Social Witness Process page).

Let’s first clear up the alphabet soup:

  • CSAI = Congregational Study Action Issue
  • SOC = Statement of Conscience
  • AIW = Action of Immediate Witness
  • CSW = Commission on Social Witness

The CSAI emerges first in a congregation, district, or sponsored organization and moves through a process of congregational and GA selection every two years. An SOC is drafted by the CSW in the third year and presented to congregations and delegates for comments, proposed amendments, and final approval.

You also will have the opportunity at this GA to speak out on specific issues demanding our immediate attention through AIWs. You draft them. You propose them (preference is given to group-originated proposals). Delegates support them by signing sponsors’ petitions and voting to admit them to the GA agenda. Mini-assemblies are slated for Saturday afternoon from 1:45 - 3:00 p.m. for up to three AIWs that you as delegates can vote onto the Agenda. At the Sunday afternoon Plenary, delegates debate and vote on whether they are adopted and carry the authority of this GA.

Each CSW Alert will be organized according to what’s happening most immediately for the Draft SOC, Active CSAI, and AIWs. Related events will be highlighted.

Questions? Visit the CSW at Booth 427 in the Exhibit Hall or contact

Events: Draft SOC on Immigration as a Moral Issue 2010-2014

  1. Mini-Assembly on Draft SOC
    Thursday, June 20
    Only opportunity to propose amendments. This is one continuous session. Come at the beginning.
    Off-site delegates will not be able to join this mini-assembly. However off-site delegates who wish to propose amendments to the SOC may do so by requesting an amendment form from and submitting it to by NOON Eastern time on Thursday, June 20. This is the only opportunity to propose amendments.
  2. What Congregations are Doing about Immigration
    June 20

Events: Active CSAI on Reproductive Justice 2012-2016

  1. Reproductive Justice: What Congregations are Doing
    Friday, June 21
  2. Social Justice Sermon Contest winner: “Reproductive Justice—The Issue that Will Not Go Away”
    Saturday, June 22
    By Roger Howe

Deadlines to Propose Your Group's AIW (By an Onsite Delegate)

  1. Thursday, June 20
    CSW Booth 427, Exhibit Hall
    First, check the CSW booth to determine if anyone else is preparing an AIW on the same topic. We encourage collaboration. To place an AIW on the Agenda, pick up the required cover sheet and petition form for signatures at the CSW booth and draft your statement. Submit a copy of the AIW at the booth by the Thursday deadline. Then begin to collect delegate signatures.
  2. Friday, June 21
    GA Office, Room 116 of the Convention Center
    Submit the AIW forms with the required delegate signatures to the CSW at the GA Office, Room 116, by the Friday deadline. Proposed AIWs must be submitted by this deadline to be considered.

More Information