The Power of Presence: Your Struggle is Ours

The Power of Presence. Your struggle is ours

Note: In keeping with our deepest values of radical interconnection and the inherent worth and dignity of all people, Unitarian Universalists have a long history of providing and supporting humanitarian aid--even when that puts UUs in conflict with law enforcement. Whether humanitarian aid looks like providing sanctuary and life-saving supplies to migrants crossing the militarized border or to protesters fleeing state violence during uprisings, more and more UU communities are taking risks and embodying our values by flanking communities of color and Indigenous and Native communities when facing systemic racism and defending the right to demonstrate and resist oppression. Our Universalist principles firmly support the understanding that humanitarian aid is never criminal. As UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray wrote in 2018, " is an act of conscience, the practice of deeply held religious beliefs."

This statement is co-authored by Unitarian Universalist Association and Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

As Unitarian Universalists, our faith calls us toward moral action affirming the sacredness of all life, regardless of repressive laws and legal consequences designed to criminalize our actions. As we have witnessed recently with the Border Patrol raid of the No More Deaths humanitarian aid camp in Arizona, and the dispatching of armed federal forces to cities where uprisings have occurred in the wake of police killings of Black people, the militarized power of the state is actively being used to quash dissent and repress protest. We affirm that humanitarian aid is never a crime, and that it is a clear mandate of our faith. Such aid will manifest differently depending on where we are located—from putting water in the desert for migrants to opening our congregational space to protesters who are being tear-gassed outside our doors.

As our congregations, members, and partners grapple with tough choices in a country where protest, humanitarian aid, and organizing are met increasingly with violence and persecution, we want to be clear that if and when you are targeted by law enforcement agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security, police, or federal agents for living our shared values, we are committed to flanking you and braving this journey at your side. Similarly, we pledge to partner with you in thinking through how to respond to situations that do not involve law enforcement, as we deepen our shared commitments to creating safety beyond policing and the carceral state.

The UUA and UUSC see and honor the many ways people of faith are showing up for the Movement for Black Lives and Indigenous-led resistance to extractive industries and environmental destruction; providing aid on the U.S.-Mexico border; advocating to move resources from policing and incarceration to community programs; valuing people over property and telling the stories of nonviolent resistance in a way that centers life and the collective good; and defending democracy and human rights.

These actions are living into the principle of interdependence as increased state repression impacts us all.

Bold and decisive action against oppression and rising fascism comes with real risks—from the potential of Border Patrol or ICE raids in our sacred spaces around the nation to direct violence by white supremacists—and we want to make clear to our congregations, members, and partners that if and when such actions occur, we will be by your side not only in spirit, but also in all of the material and practical ways we can offer.

UUSC & UUA commit to:

  • Amplifying the on-the-ground struggles as they are happening, elevating their visibility not only among UUs but in the world more broadly;
  • Providing material support and showing up whenever asked and needed for our people, congregations, and partners who face risks for bold and courageous action; and
  • Getting resources to where they are most needed and will be most impactful.

We also encourage other UUs around the country to support those who face the biggest consequences for taking these risks—whether via fundraising, rebuilding efforts, public awareness campaigns, providing spiritual sustenance, sharing resources and capacity, or other direct requests. We affirm the leadership of Black AND Indigenous PEOPLES, people of color, and OTHERS on the front lines within and beyond the UU community who are bearing the most severe brunt of state repression and violence to resistance.

This statement is not an end, but an opening—a commitment to continuing this journey together and building power within and for our communities.