On Monday, October 31, 2011, the Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, Witness Ministries Director for the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), released the following statement regarding Occupy Wall Street and related events:
"Across our nation and around the world, thousands of people have taken to the streets to question the morality of our financial system. The movement that initially started as an occupation of Wall Street has now spread to cities, large and small, all across the land. It is a movement of people who are demanding a fundamental restructuring of how we distribute the wealth that we, the people, produce.
"There are good reasons for this outpouring of anger and discontent. The rich are getting richer, while everyone else is getting poorer. Since 1976, hourly wages have declined by 7% while the share of total income going to the top 1% of earners rose from 9% to 23.5%.
"Unitarian Universalists have a long tradition of calling for economic justice. We are especially concerned with justice for the most vulnerable. Hundreds of Unitarian Universalists across the country are participating in the Occupy movement in a variety of ways. We add our voice to theirs in demanding fundamental change.
"We call on law enforcement officials to respect the right of the people to freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. We condemn the excessive force and unwarranted arrests made by police officers in Oakland, Calif., and other cities.
"The decisions we make on how we raise and allocate government revenues are moral choices. This year, because of a ballooning deficit, the range of choices being considered is particularly stark.
"Programs for the poor such as the Commodity Supplemental Food Program, a federal program aimed at improving the health of pregnant women, new mothers, their children, and the elderly, are at risk. $800 million in cuts to federal nutrition programs have been proposed for next year’s budget. If those cuts pass, 150,000 low-income mothers and seniors would be dropped from this program. We must not let that happen.
"A so-called Congressional 'Super Committee' has been formed to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion by the end of November. To that end, some are proposing that we make cuts all across the board, even if it will have a disproportionate effect on those who can least afford it, particularly children, women, and the elderly. As people of faith, we are called to raise our voices in support of the most vulnerable members of our society.
"The Unitarian Universalist Association is a member of a national coalition of 25 mainline Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, and Muslim organizations calling on our nation’s lawmakers to enact a 'faithful budget.' As an interfaith coalition, 'We grieve at the soaring gap between rich and poor; faith and fairness require that we preserve and strengthen vital lifelines for people who are struggling to overcome hardship and poverty in the U.S. and abroad. The faithful way forward to fiscal health calls for a focus on job creation, revenue increases, a shared commitment to the common good, and cuts in unnecessary military spending.'
"To that end, the Faithful Budget Campaign is organizing prayer vigils not only in the nation’s capitol but across the country. On Sunday, Nov. 20, we are holding a national prayer vigil, a 'Super Vigil' at 3 p.m. in Washington, D.C., that will be joined by state and local prayer vigils throughout the country. We are organizing faith communities to join together in calling on members of congress in their local offices to enact a 'faithful budget,' a moral budget. Unitarian Universalists across the country are joining with other faith communities to ask Congress for a just and compassionate federal budget, a faithful budget.
"In many states there are Unitarian Universalist Statewide Advocacy Networks (SANs). A recent Washington Post article, Faith Groups Target ‘Super Committee’ on Poverty, details how a variety of faith communities around the country, including the Michigan SAN, are organizing vigils and visits to members of the Deficit Super Committee as part of the Faithful Budget Campaign.
"I call on all people of good faith to join in this effort. Together, we can make a difference. Together, we can begin the work of fundamentally changing how we allocate the wealth we, the people, produce."
Rev. Craig C. Roshaven, Witness Ministries Director
Unitarian Universalist Association
For more information or to learn what efforts are underway in your community, go to The Faithful Budget Campaign or contact Rev. Craig Roshaven at firstname.lastname@example.org or (202) 393-2255, extension 14.