5 Action Items for Obama

by Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association, Huffington Post, 01/16/2013

On Jan. 21, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, President Barack Obama will be sworn into office for his second term as the first black President of the United States of America. I am reminded of these words from Dr. King:

“One of the great misfortunes of history is that all too many individuals and institutions find themselves in a great period of change and yet fail to achieve the new attitudes and outlooks that the new situation demands. There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.” (Spoken by Dr. King at the Unitarian Universalist Association’s General Assembly in 1966.)

The 2012 election signaled that the United States is again in a “great period of change.” The following five issues call out for “new attitudes and outlooks,” and I urge President Obama to rise to the challenges of leadership with responses based on justice and compassion.

1. Create a just and compassionate federal budget.

The effects of our country going over the “fiscal cliff” were minor, but we still face grave economic challenges. Our next federal budget should focus on job creation, revenue increases, a shared commitment to the common good and cuts in unnecessary military spending. Our elected officials need to stand up for those most marginalized in our society, to put partisan politics aside, and make a difference in the lives of all who live and work in this country. I call upon the Administration and Congress to work together to create a just and compassionate federal budget.

2. Prevent gun violence.

The horrific shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., was just one in a long string of tragic and deadly incidents of gun violence. The devastating killings in Aurora, Colo., Tucson, Ariz., Ft. Bragg, Texas, the Sikh Temple in Wisconsin and Virginia Tech make it clear that we must immediately take steps to halt the availability of assault weapons and high-capacity magazine clips. We join with Faiths United to Prevent Gun Violence in calling for change. For far too long, the National Rifle Association has been able to derail any discussion of how to prevent gun violence, but we must not allow them to obstruct the current movement toward change. We owe it to the memories of all those lives cut short by gun violence and hate to do all we can to make America safer. I call upon the Administration and Congress to pass legislation aimed at preventing gun violence atrocities.

3. Develop compassionate immigration reform.

Everyone agrees that our current immigration system is broken. Millions of undocumented immigrants are living and working within U.S. borders without a path to citizenship. The Administration’s focus on enforcement-only policies has not reduced that number but instead has led to the tearing apart of families, human rights abuses and even death. Legislative action is needed now to preserve families and save lives. The Unitarian Universalist Association is a signatory to the Interfaith Immigration Coalition‘s “Interfaith Platform on Humane Immigration Reform.” We affirm that immigration policy reform should uphold family unity as a priority of all immigration policies; create a process for undocumented immigrants to earn their legal status and eventual citizenship; protect workers and provide efficient channels of entry for new migrant workers; facilitate immigrant integration; restore due process protections and reform detention policies; and align the enforcement of immigration laws with humanitarian values. I call upon the Administration and Congress to work together to develop compassionate immigration reform.

4. Protect all women in their reproductive lives.

This year marks the 40th Anniversary of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Our country must commit to protecting all women and their reproductive lives with justice and compassion. Reproductive justice works to understand and address systemic inequalities as they relate to marginalized communities and people and their reproductive and sexual lives. As a human rights issue, reproductive justice promotes the rights of people to have the children they want to have, not to have children they don’t want to have, raise their children in safe and healthy environments, and express their sexuality without oppression. I call upon the Administration and Congress to protect all women in their reproductive lives.

5. Marriage equality.

Last year was a watershed year in the ongoing struggle for marriage equality. This spring, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding the constitutionality of California’s Proposition 8 and the Defense of Marriage Act. Though this is now a matter for the judiciary and not the legislative or executive branches, it is my fervent hope that the freedom to marry will soon be a right afforded to all.

In the days, weeks, months and even years ahead, there will inevitably be other challenges to face in the ongoing process “to form a more perfect union.” As we mark the 84th anniversary of the birth of Dr. King, I call upon the Administration, Congress, and all Americans to work toward the goal of “liberty and justice for all.” There is nothing more tragic than to sleep through a revolution.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-peter-morales/5-action-items-for-obama_b_2489762.html?utm_hp_ref=fb&src=sp&comm_ref=false

The Real Values Voters Summit by Rev. Peter Morales, UUA

Rev. Peter Morales is President of the Unitarian Universalist Association

HuffingtonPost.com, 09/24/2012

Excerpt

…”Values Voter Summit” recently took place in Washington. I went to the web site and looked at the list of speakers. Of the 73 speakers listed, only 13 were women. Only a tiny handful could be described as people of color. Even more amazing in a political gathering in 2012, I found only one Hispanic surname. One. ¡Dios mío! Take a look for yourself: valuevotersummit.org.

White. Male. Politically ultra conservative. Religiously fundamentalist evangelical. This is a summit of angry white reactionary men. Is this what passes for “values” voting in America? Whose values are being advanced here? And whose values are being rejected?

These people attempt to portray themselves as representing values of religious people. The reality is that the opposite is true. Most religious people do not share the values of the extreme right. As a former parish minister and as the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I have worked closely with religious leaders of many religious groups. I have worked with Christians who belong to evangelical movements, with Protestants of the mainline denominations and with Catholics. My work brings me into regular collaboration with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.

We are all values voters. Our values come from the core teachings of our various religious traditions…Here is a list of beliefs and values taught by all the great religious traditions:

Compassion

Everyone matters

Acceptance

Generosity

Peace

Stewardship of the earth

As I decide which candidates to vote for (and to support financially), I want to take my religious values to heart. These are decisions to be made prayerfully. As you and I prepare to vote, let us take our deepest religious values seriously. Let us ask which candidates are committed to building a world that is more compassionate. Which candidate will work to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity? Which one will seek peace among all people? Which one is committed to protect our natural environment?…The real values voters summit takes place on Nov. 6.

Full text

I read that the “Values Voter Summit” recently took place in Washington. I went to the web site and looked at the list of speakers. Of the 73 speakers listed, only 13 were women. Only a tiny handful could be described as people of color. Even more amazing in a political gathering in 2012, I found only one Hispanic surname. One. ¡Dios mío! Take a look for yourself: valuevotersummit.org.

White. Male. Politically ultra conservative. Religiously fundamentalist evangelical. This is a summit of angry white reactionary men. Is this what passes for “values” voting inAmerica? Whose values are being advanced here? And whose values are being rejected?

These people attempt to portray themselves as representing values of religious people. The reality is that the opposite is true. Most religious people do not share the values of the extreme right. As a former parish minister and as the president of the Unitarian Universalist Association, I have worked closely with religious leaders of many religious groups. I have worked with Christians who belong to evangelical movements, with Protestants of the mainline denominations and with Catholics. My work brings me into regular collaboration with Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and Sikhs.

We are all values voters. Our values come from the core teachings of our various religious traditions. We — Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Sikhs (and others, too) — share a core set of religious beliefs and values that should guide our votes in this election and in every election.

Here is a list of beliefs and values taught by all the great religious traditions:

Compassion — Every religion I know teaches that we should treat one another with compassion. Literally, we should feel one another’s pain and seek to ease that pain.

Everyone matters — I think of Jesus telling his followers that to help the most humble person (“the least of these”) is the moral equivalent of helping Jesus himself.

Acceptance — If we are to be compassionate and if every person matters, then it follows that we should accept one another. For me, that means I need to accept you as you are, whether gay or straight, white or brown, male or female, smart or simple, able bodied or handicapped, Arab or Chinese or African or Indian.

Generosity — All religions teach that we should share. They also teach that avarice is bad.

Peace — If we all matter, then we should live together in peace. And this peace is a lot more than the absence of war. We only have peace when we have some level of mutual respect, understanding and acceptance.

Stewardship of the earth — The great religions teach responsibility across the generations. I have long wondered why many people who believe that every unfertilized human egg is precious are so indifferent to the destruction of the natural environment that sustains all our lives.

As I decide which candidates to vote for (and to support financially), I want to take my religious values to heart. These are decisions to be made prayerfully. As you and I prepare to vote, let us take our deepest religious values seriously. Let us ask which candidates are committed to building a world that is more compassionate. Which candidate will work to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and dignity? Which one will seek peace among all people? Which one is committed to protect our natural environment?

The real values voters summit takes place on Nov. 6. I plan to be there. I plan to vote my religious values. Join me.

 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-peter-morales/the-real-values-voters-summit_b_1904450.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012