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December 2022

It is the Glad Season.
Thunder ebbs to silence and lightning sleeps quietly in the corner.
Flood waters recede into memory.
Snow becomes a yielding cushion to aid us
As we make our way to higher ground.
Hope is born again in the faces of children
It rides on the shoulders of our aged as they walk into their sunsets.
Hope spreads around the earth. Brightening all things,
Even hate which crouches breeding in dark corridors.

~ Maya Angelou


Living One’s Faith and Values

[Editor’s Note: This is adapted from her introduction at last month’s UUSJ webinar on the Moore v. Harper case that included  Becky Harper, Common Cause NC, and a named party in the pivotal redistricting case concerning the balance of powers, and Chris Shenton, attorney, Southern Coalition for Social Justice.]

In a world increasingly divided by partisanship, by who plays for blue and what issues are thought of as red, I think of UUs as striving to work in the space of yellow. Yellow is the color of the flame at the center of the chalice, and the yellow t-shirts proclaim “Side with Love.”

There are principles and values that have guided us, that should guide us beyond who “wins.” These are more than just the rules of the “game.” They are rules of relationship, of how we choose to be in relationship with one another, not just interpersonally but as a people, as a body politic. These rules are fundamentally ethical; some might say they are even matters of faith. They include dignity, justice, equity, freedom, conscience, and dismantling racism and oppression.

[Read More]

Donna Scheidt
UUSJ Democracy Action Team
Living One’s Faith and Values - Donna's Video Clip
Full Webinar Recording
Slide Presentation by Common Cause
Amicus Brief, joined by UUSJ


David Beckmann
President Emeritus, Bread for the World,
and Circle of Protection Coordinator

Pushing for Social Justice in a Tough Political Environment 

Tuesday, December  6 - Online Event
8pm ET7pm CT6pm MT5pm PT
Sliding Scale Tickets Available 

Join us for an inspiring and informative talk by David Beckmann about how advocacy with the U.S. Congress is an effective way to push for social justice. And the importance of ensuring people adversely affected by injustice are heard and responding to the results of the November elections.

As President of Bread for the World from 1991-2020, David led people and churches across the country in successful advocacy with Congress. He testified before Congress over 20 times, authored 6 books, founded the Alliance to End Hunger, won the World Food Prize, and sat on an advisory council for President Obama and the Council on Foreign Relations, among other distinctions. He is a Lutheran pastor and an economist.

David is working in new ways to move us from the current crisis toward the end of hunger and poverty. He is now the Coordinator of the Circle of Protection, an advocacy coalition of church bodies and organizations that include 100 million people.

Hear David Beckmann’s thoughts on working for social justice in the federal context. This December 6 fundraiser will support UUSJ's work during the 118th Congress.  We deeply appreciate David's participation.

Vanessa Williamson, Ph.D.

Senior Fellow, Governance Studies Brookings Institute

State Of Our Democracy: 
Racial Oligarchy and Fiscal Conservatism, Ending the Anti-Tax Era

Tuesday, December 13 – Online Free Event
8:00pm ET ·  7:00pm CT ·  6:00pm MT ·  5:00pm PT
Register Here

The talk will highlight important links. How taxes demonstrate the legitimacy of democratic control of the economy. How this is what some political and economic actors cannot accept—and what dealing with our most complex problems requires. Also, how the cult of the “taxpayer” allows for racist attacks on that same democracy, on its progress towards more responsive governance.

Vanessa has written for Dissent, Washington Post, New York Times, the Atlantic, and Teen Vogue. She has appeared for NPR, CSPAN, CNN, and CNBC. Vanessa is the author of Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud to Pay Taxes and co-author of The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism

Dr. Williamson writes and speaks about school segregation, tax opinion, politics, democracy and organizing, taxpayer citizenship, philanthropy, austerity, and white supremacy. Her recent work focuses on the connections between the tax system and racial justice.

Vanessa is also a Unitarian Universalist!

New Congregational Partner In IL

UUSJ proudly welcomes UU Church of Bloomington-Normal, as a partner congregation. We celebrate and welcome them as new collaborators into our circle of members, friends, and supporters. We cherish the vital participation of all our Congregations.

UUBN has begun a mission and vision discernment, asking questions of why do we gather together and why do we matter. UUSJ is proud to be part of the answer, showing how UUs can shape a movement for federal engagement.

If you would like to explore how your Congregation, Church, or Fellowship can become a partner and deepen your federal engagement, review the details

Advocacy News & Events

for Dreamers Action Hour
by the Immigration
Action Team
Monday, December 5
12:00pm ET • 11:00am CT • 10:00am MT • 9:00am PT

Join UUSJ’s Immigration Action Team to make calls to Senators imploring them to provide desperately-needed certainty to Dreamers.

The fate of young immigrants brought to this country as children is at stake with the recent deeply-concerning court decisions on the legality of the DACA Executive Order and prospects of even more devastating court verdicts. Many have lived here for decades, started families, careers, and businesses, and provided essential services in communities across the land. The overwhelming majority of Americans support providing a pathway to full citizenship to these Dreamers with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status. This requires Congressional action now.

We will urge Senators to do this work now. We must rely on something other than the incoming class of the 118th Congress to bring home pending work for Dreamers. Senators in the 117th Congress need to finish this during the lame-duck session, if possible. Current members must act before immigrant skeptics take power in the House and some of the newer Senators replace previously supportive members.

During this no-frills action hour, calls will be made from personal phones. Best to have both a computer and a cell phone, or hardline, in proximity.

ECA Reform
Redux Action Hour
by the Democracy
Action Team
Tuesday, December 6
12:00pm ET • 11:00am CT • 10:00am MT • 9:00am PT

Join UUSJ's Democracy Action Team to remind Senators they must pass Electoral Count Act reform during the lame-duck session. Help make calls, urging them to get this done now and continue last month’s work.

Very little time remains on the legislative calendar, and Congress cannot leave this critical reform to the incoming 118th Congress. 

During this no-frills action hour, calls will be made from personal phones. Best to have both a computer and a cell phone, or hardline, in proximity.


UU News & Events

Georgia Runoff Engagement

For UUs interested in volunteering to help get out the vote for the Georgia Runoff election for U.S. Senate, consider the robust list of opportunities UUSJ sent out earlier.  HERE.


Moore v. Harper Rally at the Supreme Court

Steps of the Supreme Court of the United States
1 First St NE, Washington, DC
Wednesday, December 7 

9am-12noon ET
Event RSVP link

Join Common Cause and UUSJ in front of the U.S. Supreme Court as the nation’s highest court hears arguments in Moore v. Harper, a redistricting case where North Carolina lawmakers argue state legislatures should have near absolute power to run federal elections without checks and balances from the courts. Moore could make it easier for politicians to restrict the vote, draw rigged maps, and cast doubt on election results. 

We need you with us at the U.S. Supreme Court to show that folks all around the country are against attempts to destroy our well-established checks and balances and sow chaos and doubt in our elections! 

Becky Harper, a Unitarian Universalist in North Carolina, who spoke last month to UUSJ about the case (full video), will be on hand in DC. If she can attend the oral arguments before the Court, she will speak afterward to the crowd. If she cannot, she is expected to join us in the rally. 

Fire Drill Friday, with Jane Fonda in D.C.

Friday, December 2
11:00am ET ·  10:00am CT ·  9:00am MT ·  8:00am PT
In-Person RSVP / Livestream link: firedrillfridays.com

Fire Drill Fridays and Jane Fonda: Jane and friends are getting back in the streets for the first in-person FDF rally in almost three years at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. with an amazing lineup of electeds, celebrities, frontline fighters, and an award-winning brass band to sound the alarm on the climate crisis. Greenpeace and People vs. Fossil Fuels invite you to be part of it, whether in person or via Livestream!

Sen. Manchin (D-WV) is working to bring the Dirty Deal back (aka “permitting reform”) by attaching it to must-pass legislation before the end of the year. Just this past September, environmental justice groups led us in a historic effort to block the Dirty Deal. We won! Now we need to do it again. The FDF December 2 rally is a moment to show our strength and demand that Congress and the Biden Administration address the climate emergency, RIGHT NOW, starting by ending the Dirty Deal once again.

Debt Beyond Reason, with Bruce Knotts

Thursday, December 8 – Online Event
8:00pm ET ·  7:00pm CT ·  6:00pm MT ·  5:00pm PT
Zoom RSVP link / Facebook Live link

Hosted by UUs For a Just Economic Community (UUJEC), Bruce will speak of his experience in Africa where African nations are enticed to take loans they can never pay, but the servicing of the debt ruins all hope for progress. See more.

Defending Our Democracy

Fred Van Deusen, Democracy Action Team Convener (fredvandeu@gmail.com)

Fred Van Deusen
Democracy Action Team Convener

Commentary – Midterm Takeaways

[Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this commentary was published online last month in Medium]

The very good news from the recent midterm elections is that our democracy survived to fight another day. No significant disruptions occurred to voting around the country, and no loud cries of voter fraud. However, 70% of the people in this country believe our democracy is broken, and they are right.

The authoritarian anti-democracy movement, led by the previous president, is still alive and eager to strike back with better candidates for office. They currently have the power to block the drastically-needed reforms in the environment, economy, gun violence, escalating inequality, immigration, women’s rights, and voting rights. We need a functioning democracy to address these very serious and difficult issues. And we won’t get it if we keep electing people who oppose democracy and have no desire to solve these problems.

[Read More]

Immigration Justice

Steve Eckstrand & Terry Grogan, Immigration Action Team Conveners (seckstrand@verizon.net)

Crunch Time for Afghans During The Lame-Duck

The stakes are quite high as the 117th closes for Afghans, Veterans, and resettlement service providers, as well as the many private volunteers offering support. Passing the Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) now provides just enough time to achieve stability for Afghans.

The Text Messages from Desperate Afghans Left Behind: 'Show This to the People of America.' Review this powerfully motivating New York Times opinion video by Kirk Semple and Alexander Stockton.

The Next Afghan-Refugee Crisis Is Right Here in the U.S. Without congressional action, tens of thousands of Afghans we evacuated to the United States may be deported in the coming year, by Elliot Ackerman, for the Atlantic.

Take the UUSJ Action HERE.

UUSJ is a member of Evacuate Our Allies and has endorsed the AAA.

Final Advocacy Efforts during 117th Congress

With control of the next Congress divided between Democrats and Republicans, the Immigration Action Team is focusing on advocacy for a few important bills during the final session of the 117th Congress.

The IAT strongly supports three bills—the bipartisan Afghan Adjustment Act – which provides certain Afghans who reside in the United States and have passed the requisite security checks, a clear pathway to permanent status. And for Dreamers, on DACA, (action) the bipartisan bills in the House and Senate that provide undocumented immigrants, who were brought to the United States as children, a way to permanent residence. And we continue to tell Congress they must reform the Immigration Courts (action).

On December 5, the IAT will host its second Action Hour for the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act. Register for Lame-Duck Action Hour.

Last month, the IAT’s Action Hour for the bill attracted some 25 volunteers, who made nearly 300 calls to the offices of key Senators whose votes are critical to the passage of the Afghan Adjustment Act.

Environmental and Climate Justice

To connect with UUSJ about the Environmental Action Team (info@uusj.org)

Climate Change Means Climate Displacement

Scientists predict migration will grow as the planet gets hotter. Over the next 30 years, 143 million people will likely be uprooted by rising seas, drought, searing temperatures, and other climate catastrophes, according to the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report published this year.

Have you asked your Congregation or UU justice organization to sign the UU Statement? It acknowledges the reality of people being displaced by climate change while rejecting “the fatalism and defeatism that would deny the possibility of further collective action to forestall or address it.” And pledges to “share the power of our voices and influence with those who have less recourse to engage with decision-makers, be they elected, appointed or corporate actors.”

The joint statement was authored by Unitarian Universalist (UU) organizations—the UU Ministry for Earth, UUs for a Just Economic Community, Side With Love, UUA Office at the United Nations, UUs for Social Justice, and the UU Service Committee. It anchors our joint theme for collective work and solidarity through June of 2023 and links the causes and root harms to impacts and effects.  UUSJ played an important role driving this forward.

Review and join here: UU Statement on Climate-forced Displacement, Human Rights, and Community Resilience


At the recent United Nations global climate conference in Egypt (COP 27), an agreement was made to establish a Loss & Damage Fund. The fund would assist communities that have contributed the least to carbon emissions but bear the brunt of climate change. Work is needed to agree on the details – including how to finance the fund. What will we, the U.S. commit to? And can the U.S. be counted on to fund promises? 

The Loss and Damage fund is critical to address the dramatic impacts of the climate crisis on women, men, and children who have no resources to build resilience and adapt. Climate activists believe countries that have greatly benefited from the fossil fuel economy – such as the U.S. –  and many multinational corporations should pay more. Rich nations and corporate actors worry that proposed payments could make their nations liable for huge pledges, given the historical contribution to emissions from most-developed economies.

By some accounts, among rich nations, the U.S. was the last to stand down the opposition, perhaps being driven by "The Wall Street Consensus at COP27" (Phenomenal World).

Threading the Needle at COP27: Almost nothing – but something real – changed at this year’s climate conference; Ecoequity

“There is something in the modern radical mind that wants climate negotiations to fail. Such a failure, after all, would seem to prove that this wretched system cannot be reformed, that only a revolutionary break can re-open the human future.”  – Thomas Athanasiou, Specialist in global climate equity. 

READ the full post

Remember the Green Climate Fund?

In 2014, the United States promised the Green Climate Fund $3 billion, but only $1 billion was provided at that time, and no funds have been provided since then. While the Biden Administration’s proposed budget for FY2022 would have moved toward redressing past funding failures, a last-minute compromise in Congress virtually eliminated formal funding for the Green Climate Fund. (See UUSJ Action Alert).

Climate Change Impacts on the Developing World:

  • Fragility, Conflict, and Displacement: Extreme weather has contributed to conflict and terrorism in fragile states that have led to the displacement of 80 million people from their homes, now the highest level in human history
  • Food and Water Security: Of the 124 million people worldwide who face acute food insecurity, 76% were affected by climate shocks and extremes
  • Global Health: Warmer temperatures could expose as many as one billion people to deadly infectious diseases such as Zika, dengue, and chikungunya. In the U.S. alone, disease cases from mosquitoes, ticks, and fleas more than tripled

Economic Development: The World Bank estimates that the effects of climate change could push an additional 100 million people below the poverty line by 2030

Briefing: Federal Funding for Nonprofits and Houses of Worship

Thursday, December 8
4:00pm ET • 3:00pm CT • 2:00pm MT • 1:00pm PT

Interfaith Power And Light and the Environmental Energy and Study Institute are offering a webinar on the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Energy Efficiency Materials Pilot Program. 

The presentation will focus on how non-profits (including houses of worship) can access green energy benefits for clean energy tax credits for wind and solar, Electric Vehicles (EVs), efficiency upgrades, and heat pumps in the IIJA program. The IIJA  provides the Department of Energy with $50 million over five years for nonprofit organizations. This new program will provide grants of up to $200,000 to nonprofits to improve the energy efficiency of their facilities. Federal agencies are still developing guidance and programs for the IRA, but it is good to know what is possible.

Learn more about federal funding for energy work at houses of worship in this blog post and view this faith community resource spreadsheet that helps houses of worship identify federal available grant and tax credit opportunities

Manchin Still Pushing to Add Permit Deal to National Defense Bill

It seems that Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) has not given up on trying to put his proposal, the Energy Independence and Security Act (EISA), on the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA is one of the "must pass" chunks of federal legislation pending in the lame-duck session. Senator Schumer is still playing ball with him, helping to keep the prospect alive.

We must keep up the pressure against the proposal till the bitter end of the 117th Congress, confronting this effort to get the Schumer-Manchin proposal into a viable legislative vehicle.

People vs. Fossil Fuels has released a Post-Election Action Pack to help you engage.

Economic Justice

To connect with UUSJ about Economic Justice (info@uusj.org)

Tax Credits For Children Before Corporations

Calling for support of the Child Tax Credit (CTC) and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), UUSJ joined an interfaith letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, with all members of the House and Senate copied.

These programs have proven to be highly-effective in improving the lives of children and youth as well as working families. The letter demands including the CTC and EITC in the year-end tax extender package. It goes further to “insist that Congress not provide any tax relief to corporations without extending the credits.”

Review the letter here.

Food And Farms Raise Intersectional And Interdependent Justice Issues

The Farm Bill raises intersectional and interdependent justice issues for UUSJ.  We encourage more UUs to pay closer attention to this important legislation and work to ensure our UU values are reflected in the proposal.

The measure deals with three of UUSJ’s four issue areas, and last month’s news showed early signs that the emerging 2023 Farm Bill politics will be complex and rigorous to navigate. 

The Farm Bill deals directly with Economic Justice issues in the form of Nutrition and Social Safety Net spending – which includes food stamps – known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

It covers Environmental and Climate Justice issues with the impact of corporate agriculture and a need for more support of sustainable practices throughout the entire sector. 

It also touches upon Immigration Justice with climate-forced displacement, farm labor, and accessible pricing.

If you wonder about some of the ways these factors might play in terms of politics or economics: Why famine-hit Somalia didn’t get climate aid: it has no coal (Climate Wire), and Remarks by Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen at the Center for Global Development (U.S. Department of the Treasury).

(For more on hunger, poverty, and related trade, join us Tuesday, December 12th, for an exclusive talk by David Beckmann, President Emeritus, Bread for the World.)

Is The Farm Bill A Hot Potato, Again?

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says that U.S. commodity and farm organizations attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference ( COP27) are looking to see what role agriculture can play in reducing world greenhouse gas emissions.

 “I would anticipate and expect that climate will continue to be a focus, not because I want it or not because any member of the House or Senate wants it, but most importantly because farmers, ranchers, and producers recognize and appreciate the importance of it,” Vilsack said (Roll Call)

This seems to be in response to earlier reporting (see below) that Rep. G.T. Thompson (R-PA) – the presumed Chair of the House Agriculture Committee – wants a farm bill that is “on time and bipartisan,” yet he is already under pressure from the right flank of his party to strike the nutrition title from the bill (see the Republican Study Committee’s proposed 2023 budget). 

While passing the Farm Bill is often arduous, the 118th Congress looks like it will bring up the old conflict around splitting food stamps from the bill and previous tactics like linking the bill to immigration enforcement while adding a new contention around COVID-19 social safety net spending.

Republicans Get Stepped-Up Farm Bill Role After Flipping House (Bloomberg Government)

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