Voting Rights, Election Reform, and Democracy
One of the fundamental principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) is the use of the democratic process. As an expression of our faith, many Unitarian Universalist (UU) congregations engage in voter registration, election reform, and protecting voting rights and democracy.
Defending the right to vote has been central to the work of the UUA and at the core of Unitarian Universalism for decades—from expanding enfranchisement for women and Black people to advocating for a path to citizenship for immigrants; from our history of civil rights engagement to taking on the New Jim Crow and white supremacy today. As a faith community UUs are vocal and active about voting rights and have contributed to change throughout history. In the past few years, UUs have been part of a groundswell of voting rights, electoral work, and democracy movements that have emerged and gained even more momentum since the 2016 US elections.
Election Engagement 2020 and Democracy
- Spiritual grounding: Our prayer is for democracy to be a spiritual practice of accountability that resists fascism. -Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen
The Fifth Principle of Unitarian Universalism calls for the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.
- Why now? With the increasing control of our government by corporate and special interests and the alarming rise of authoritarianism, we face many challenges to ensure democracy. At GA 2019 delegates will vote on a Statement of Conscience on the Corruption of Our Democracy.
- What you can do: Join Us for a Webinar on Democracy & Electoral Justice 2020 on Wednesday, August 14th, 7 pm ET/4 pm PT. Speakers include:
- Adam Eichen--Co-Author of Daring Democracy (Beacon Press, 2007)
- Charlene Sinclair--Center for Race, Religion and Economic Democracy
- Everette Thompson--Side with Love Campaign Manager
- Susan Leslie--Congregational Advocacy & Witness, and others.
We will explore strategies from now through Elections 2020 and beyond, focusing on three phases of engagement from massive voter registration, ballot initiatives and advocacy, and all out Get Out the Vote! Register now.
2016 - 2020 Congregational Study/Action Issue: The Corruption of Our Democracy
Delegates at the 2016 General Assembly in Columbus, OH, selected "The Corruption of Our Democracy" to be the 2016-2020 Congregational Study/Action Issue (CSAI) of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) of Congregations.
The Congregational Study/Action Issue is an invitation for congregations and districts to take a topic of concern and engage it, reflect on it, learn about it, respond to it, comment on it take action—each in their own way. A CSAI is NOT a statement—it is a question. Download the Corruption of Our Democracy CSAI Study Guide (PDF, 24 pages), (Word, 24 pages).
Voting Rights Organizing Videos & Webinars for UUs
- Mobilizing Towards Electoral Justice: Strategizing for the 2018 Mid-Terms July 12th, 2018 Webinar with UUA justice staff and UUSJ (UUs for Social Justice: Your Voice in the Capitol) Adam Eichen, co-author of Daring Democracy (Beacon Press, 2017) and Everette Thompson, Lead Organizer, Interfaith Organizing Initiative. There is much we can do to support people of color led organizing, ballot initatives for racial justice, and expanding democracy.
- Marching in the Arc of Justice – 50th Anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign Toolkit
- Getting Involved without Getting in Trouble: Understanding the IRS Election-Year Guidelines for Clergy and Congregations
Led by Rev. Rob Keithan, Faith Organizing and Training Consultant, former director of the UUA Washington Office for Advocacy, and author of the UUA publication: “The Real Rules: Congregations and the IRS Guidelines On Advocacy, Lobbying, and Elections” and Rev. Rob Hardies, Senior Minister at All Souls Unitarian Church in Washington, DC, speaking on the James Reeb Voting Rights Project. A UUMA & UUA Webinar held jointing with the UUMA Clara Barton Chapter on Oct. 5, 2016. Download the PowerPoint presentation.
Find a Partner
UU congregations and organizations are working with partners to protect the vote, register people to vote, and get out the vote!
- American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Let People Vote
- Bolder Advocacy
- Brennan Center for Justice, including their map of where voter suppression measures have passed
- Color of Change Democracy Alliance
- Congregation-Based Community Organizations
- Democracy Awakening and Democracy Spring
- Democracy Initiative
- Earth Day Network: Registering Climate Justice Voters
- Movement for Black Lives Electoral Justice Project
- National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), This Is My Vote
- Ohio Organizing Collaborative
- Poor People's Campaign
- Project Vote
- Second Chances Florida
- UU State Action Networks
- UUSJ: Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice: Your Voice in the National Capital
- Join the Facebook Groups UUs Forward Together: Voting Rights & Mass Moral Movement and UUs & the Poor Peoples Campaign
- Subscribe to our UUA Just Acts Newsletter
- The UU Funding Program has grants of up to $500 available for UU congregations participating in voter projects.
- Take a collection, make a donation, and apply to the James Reeb Fund for Multicultural Ministries and Leadership
Theological Grounding and History
- UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick Gray Sunday Morning Worship at General Assembly 2018 – This Is No Time for a Casual Faith.
- In March 2015, the Living Legacy Project and the Unitarian Universalist Association, presented the Marching in the Arc of Justice Conference, to honor the 50th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Campaign. This was a time for us to remember our past, honor our martyrs and their families, and recommit to the struggle for racial justice in the United States. A new Marching in the Arc of Justice Toolkit has just been released for use in your congregation or community group that includes videos from the conference, discussion guides, and small group ministry sessions.
- Rev. Robert M. Hardies: Sermon—“The Fierce Urgency of Now” and “Oh Freedom”
- Rev. William Barber, II: Sermon—Bothered and Baptized by the Blood
- Rev. Lisa Schwartz: Sermon-- "If Not Now, When: For Such a Time as This"
- Rev. Mark D. Morrison-Reed, The Selma Awakening: How the Civil Rights Movement Tested and Changed Unitarian Universalism
- Susan Leslie: Blog—"Why Registering People to Vote Matters"
- UUs have passed numerous GA resolutions on voting rights.
- All Souls Unitarian Church Reeb Voting Rights Project
- Brennan Center for Justice
- Daring Democracy by Frances Moore Lappe & Adam Eichen (Beacon Press, 2017)
- UUA Daring Democracy Common Read Discussion Guide
- Field Guide to Democracy
- Indivisible Guide - A Practical Guide for Resisting the Trump Agenda
- Move to Amend: The UUA objects to the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United (see 2011 and 2013 Actions of Immediate Witness), and has endorsed the move to amend the Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.
- The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II (Beacon Press, 2016)
We know that too often people are excluded from this process due to economic and racial bias. Ironically, the right to legislative representation is denied to the residents of the U.S. capitol, Washington, DC. The UUA works to make sure that those who are eligible to vote can do so, and to extend the right to vote to the citizens of the nation's capitol.
We invite you to learn more about Unitarian Universalism and our commitment to voting rights as an issue of economic and racial justice.
More Information on Voting
- “Fighting for Democracy: Brendan’s Story,” Ben & Jerry's
- Read about the partnership for voting rights between Charlotte NC UU congregations, All Souls UU Washington, DC and the NAACP: “We affirm and promote the use of the democratic process”.
- Ending the New Jim Crow
- UUs Support Voting Rights Amendment Act
- Why Registering People to Vote is an Act of Faith