Standing with Love

Standing on the Side of Love for immigrant rights at a 2010 rally in San Diego.

If you're new to Unitarian Universalism, one of the things you will learn is that we are extremely proud of our history. In truth, our history is full of great things but it also has its share of shameful moments and embarrassing episodes. But we can trace our history and list the myriad ways that we have sided with love.

In the Northeast in the 1800s, prominent Unitarians were effective at convincing the public of the inhumanity of slavery, while in California Thomas Starr King was primarily responsible for keeping The Golden State in the Union during the Civil War. In advocacy for abolition, we sided with love.

We were the first denomination to recognize the ordination of a woman. It was in these Unitarian and Universalist congregations that recognized the religious leadership of women that the women’s suffrage movement was born. Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Olympia Brown are our religious forebears, but our congregations played a role as well, opening their doors for the suffragettes to organize inside and deliver stirring speeches. In standing for equal rights for women, we sided with love.

During the Civil Rights movement, when Martin Luther King issued his call to Selma, Unitarian Universalist ministers and laypeople across the country answered his call. One layperson, Viola Liuzzo, and one minister, James Reeb, were martyred in Alabama. In Selma we marched on the side of love and our blood was shed by violent hate while we sided peacefully with love.

Most recently, Unitarian Universalists have sided with love: with marriage equality. Were it not for the powerful organizing of Unitarian Universalists in states like Massachusetts, Vermont, and Iowa, the equal marriage movement would have moved more slowly than it did. By siding with love, we UUs sped up the realization of equality and dignity for more people in our country. The tides have shifted. Love will win out over fear, love will win out over bigotry, and love will win out over homophobia.

If you’ve ever sided with love, what motivated you? What inspired you? What swelled up within you and gave you the moral clarity and discernment to side with love?

Can we side with love rather than being a detached observer of love? Can side with love rather than having a discussion group about love?

Whether it's siding with love and with immigrant families; siding with marriage equality; widing with health care that is more equitable, more available, and better serves human need; siding with peace... let us ask ourselves from whence we derive the motivation, the courage, the commitment to side with love rather than sitting on the sidelines of love.

About the Author

Thom Belote

Thom Belote serves as minister of the Shawnee Mission Unitarian Universalist Church in Overland Park, Kansas.

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