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November 2022


We Need ECA Reform While Also Fighting For Voting Rights

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s endorsement of the Senate Electoral Count Act (ECA) reform proposal is a significant victory toward reforming the vaguely written 19th-century law that opened the door for those denying the results of the 2020 Presidential vote.  And while it falls far short of the comprehensive approach UUSJ believes is needed to safeguard our democracy, such reform is needed.

Indeed, the ECA proposals from the Senate and the House are the most viable legislative ways to help defend our democracy at this time. We need to reform the ECA now since we cannot assume that incoming members of the 118th Congress will be equally committed and invested in this needed reform. Or that they will see the implications of January 6, 2021, insurrection in the same way as those in the 117th Congress who lived through it. 

So UUSJ celebrates McConnell (R-KY) finally getting behind this bill while we continue to push for the larger goal of free and fair elections and safeguarding the right to vote.  

We want an inclusive American democracy where “the inherent worth and dignity of every person” is cherished -- even in disagreement -- and works alongside “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and society at large.” And where we work “to build a diverse, multicultural Beloved Community by our actions” in alignment with the proposed 8th Principle, which UUSJ adopted in 2021.

Read More

Pablo DeJesús
UUSJ Executive Director


Becky Harper

Common Cause, NC

Supreme Court, North Carolina Moore v. Harper
Wednesday, November 16
8pm ET • 7pm CT •  6pm MT • 5pm PT

Register Here

The next major challenge to  U.S. Democracy comes before the Supreme Court in North Carolina's Moore v. Harper case. Join us for an in-depth look at what’s at stake with Becky Harper of Common Cause NC (a long-time member of UU Fellowship of Raleigh, NC), who will discuss arguments by Republican lawmakers on the case’s potential impact on our elections and what Unitarian Universalists can do to fight back. Becky will be joined by an attorney an attorney involved in the case from the Southern Coalition for Social Justice.

Experts say an extreme interpretation of the Constitution in this North Carolina redistricting case would make it even easier for state legislatures to suppress the vote, draw gerrymandered election districts, and subvert election results, among other concerns. At issue is a fringe legal ploy, the so-called “independent state legislature theory,” which has never been accepted by U.S. courts. While the Moore case will not affect the 2022 election voting maps,  it could have profound implications for the freedom to vote — and having those votes count equally in future elections — including the all-important 2024 presidential cycle. 

The Supreme Court is expected to hear arguments on the case on December 7th and make a ruling next year, in time for the 2024 elections. UUSJ has joined an Amicus Brief prepared and submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court.

David Beckmann

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

Save The Date

Pushing for Social Justice in a Tough Political Environment 
Tuesday, December  6
8pm ET • 7pm CT • 6pm MT • 5pm PT
Online Event

Tickets Available 

Join us for an inspiring and informative talk by David Beckmann, Bread for the World president emeritus. David will discuss how advocacy with Congress is an effective way to push for social justice, the importance of making sure that people who are adversely affected by social 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 founded the Alliance to End Hunger, which includes interfaith members, charities, corporations, and universities. He was awarded the World Food Prize for his advocacy contribution to the world’s progress against hunger. He is both a Lutheran pastor and a former World Bank economist. David is working in new ways to help move us from the current crisis toward the end of hunger and poverty. He is the Coordinator of the Circle of Protection, an advocacy coalition of church bodies and organizations that include 100 million people.

Attend on December 6th to hear David Beckmann’s thoughts on doing work for social justice in the federal context. This fundraising event will support UUSJ's engagement during the 118th Congress; we deeply appreciate David's availability for comments.

Advocacy News & Events

Climate Reality Check - Action Hour
Monday, November 14
12 ET • 11am CT • 10am MT • 9am PT

Join UUSJ’s Environmental Action Team
We still have climate work to do during this month’s last legislative push of the 117th Congress and the upcoming U.N. Climate Change Conference – known as COP 27. (Nov. 6-18 in Egypt.) We will advocate for the U.S. to budget for and make good on our financial responsibilities to the Global South as agreed to back in 2009, by funding the U.S. Fair Share of the Green Climate Fund, providing mitigation, adaptation capacity, and technology to the countries most affected by climate injustice. We are showcasing support for the Environmental Justice For All Act, which codifies some important protections for impacted communities. We oppose including the Schumer-Manchin permit fast-track side deal in any must-pass bill and suggest any permitting reform proposal should move through a transparent and deliberative process.

Electoral Count Act (ECA) Reform - Action Hour
Tuesday, November 15
12 ET • 11am CT • 10am MT • 9am PT

Join UUSJ’s Democracy Action Team
The Electoral Count Act was written in 1887. After more than a century, the ambiguous law continues to cause conflicts and upheavals—most notably after the 2020 Presidential election. Ensuring that every person’s vote is counted and protecting the peaceful transfer of power are core to who we are as a country and what its e Founders intended. With the future and destiny of the U.S. at stake, these reforms are needed now. We can’t wait until the next Congress.

Afghan Adjustment Act -  Action Hour
Friday, November 18
12pm ET • 11am CT • 10am MT • 9am PT

Join UUSJ’s Imm. Action Team
The Afghan Adjustment Act (SB 4787 and HB 6585) is bipartisan legislation that ensures Afghans brought to safety by the U.S. military may apply for lasting protection to stay in the U.S. long-term. Introduced in August, the measure was expected to gain support for the September Continuing Resolution (CR). It has robust support among interfaith groups, refugee and asylum service providers, and U.S. Veterans, particularly those who served in Iraq or Afghanistan. Nevertheless, the proposal met surprising opposition among some staff – primarily in Republican offices. We want to remind Senators of the importance of the U.S. keeping its promise.

UU News & Events

Facing The Climate Crisisthe Fall/Winter UU World focuses on environmental and climate justice work. Here are a few articles on grounding, movement building, and advocacy:

Strands of Compassion
Saturday, Nov. 5
4:00 pm ET / 1pm 

Multiplatform - Sanctuary & Livestream
UU Congregation of Fairfax, a UUSJ Congregation
Details at uucf.org/happening

Internationally-acclaimed concert artists and activist virtuosos Christoph Wagner (cellist) and Joanne Kong (pianist) will weave music, reflections, and imagery together in an inspiring event. A free plant-based supper will follow the program.

UUs Organizing for Reproductive Freedom
in the Washington, DC Area

Wednesday, November 9
7:00pm ET - Zoom
RSVP here

UUs have long been faith leaders in the struggle for reproductive health and rights in this country, and the current post-Dobbs moment calls us to a deeper level of engagement. How can we work to build a stronger, sustainable interfaith movement for reproductive health, rights, and justice?  How can we find ways that center and support leadership from communities of color? How can we help all of us transform and adapt to the times we are in? 

The event starts with a presentation on Understanding the Intersections: Reproductive Justice and Racial Justice, led by Jeryl Hayes, JD, LLM. Jeryl (she/her) is the Movement Building Director at If/When/How: Lawyering for Reproductive Justice and co-founder of All Souls Reproductive Freedom Project. 

The presentation will explore the concepts of reproductive justice, racial justice, and movement building so all people have the power to determine if, when, and how to sustain families with dignity and actualize sexual and reproductive well-being on their own terms. It will be followed by time for theological reflection, community building, and an overview of organizing needs and opportunities for work in the District, Maryland, and Virginia.

Sponsored by UUSJ Congregations: All Souls Church, Cedar Lane UU Church, and the UU Congregation Fairfax. Even if you cannot attend, RSVP below to stay in the loop! 

Defending Our Democracy

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

Last Days for Voter Mobilization

Members of our Democracy Action Team (DAT), like Deb Bauder, have been very active with their congregations in leading and supporting the UU the Vote program. In addition, the DAT organized two successful meetings of UU the Vote Congregation Leaders from around the country and provided updated information about additional available actions.

For those UUSJ members in DC, MD, or VA, check out our voter mobilization project calendar and note:

  • The last “signature event” on Saturday, November 5th, 10:00am - 1:00 pm, and the NoVA Canvass with New Virginia Majority (RSVP).
  • UU The Vote national will be hosting an in-person canvassing event in Philadelphia this weekend! UU the Vote will be spending 4 days of Get Out The Vote (Nov 5 - Nov 8th)sign up here and attend UUTV's office hours today, November 1st if you have any questions!

Status of Electoral Count Reform Proposals

The ECA, enacted in 1887, contains numerous ambiguous provisions that partisans may try to exploit, as we saw in the run-up to the January 6 insurrection. In September, the House passed the Presidential Election Reform Act (PERA), a bill to address these issues proposed by Sen. Liz Cheney (R-WY) and Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA).

In the Senate, a bipartisan group of 14 Republicans and 17 Democrats are co-sponsoring a similar bill, S.4573. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now a co-sponsor of the Senate bill and rejects what he calls “the partisan” House version. It’s unlikely that a Senate vote will be taken until after the midterm elections.  If passed, differences between the House and Senate versions must be worked out in a Conference Committee. 

UUSJ continues to advocate passing this bill during the 117th session of Congress. The Democracy Action Team is organizing an Action Hour on Nov. 15 at Noon ET to call Senate offices and deliver a short message that they must pass ECA reform now. Join us - RSVP.

You can also write to your Senators. Take action HERE

Press for Disclosure of Political Donations

Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC in 2010, corporations have been allowed to spend unlimited and undisclosed amounts of money to influence American elections and affect policy outcomes. This undisclosed secret money silences the voices of Black, Brown, young, and new Americans and gives unchecked power to the wealthy few. 

On the Freedom to Vote: John R. Lewis Act, Senate Republicans were joined by two Senate Democrats using a procedural loophole to block a vote most voters wanted. With the Disclose Act of 2022, the Senate had the opportunity to take a smaller yet significant step. Unfortunately, S.4822 was filibustered in the Senate and failed to pass.

UUSJ joins more than 240 organizations in the Declaration for American Democracy coalition in asking our members to call the White House asking President Biden to issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to disclose their political donations. This would be a start.

Amicus on North Carolina Moore vs. Harper

We have joined an Amicus Brief prepared and submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court by Campaign Legal Center, with support from the Brennan Center For Justice in the case of North Carolina Moore vs. Harper. UUSJ is one of two faith-affiliated groups joining the brief along with the National Council of Jewish Women, Inc.

This case involves gerrymandering and the Independent State Legislature Theory. If the case is upheld in whole or part, free and fair elections will be nearly impossible. “The nightmare scenario is that a legislature, displeased with how an election official on the ground has interpreted her state’s election laws, would invoke the theory as a pretext to refuse to certify the results of a presidential election instead select its own slate of electors.” Brennan Center for Justice.

Join us on Wednesday, Nov. 16, for a discussion led by Becky Harper of Common Cause, NC (see more information above). Register click this link.

Immigration Justice

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

Dreamers At Sharp Risk Again

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status holders face renewed uncertainty about their future following the decision of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit that the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) lacks the authority to protect immigrants under the DACA program.  While additional court action is anticipated, immigration advocates are pessimistic about the prospects of courts affirming much-needed protection for Dreamers. The Immigration Action Team (IAT) has met with numerous congressional offices on this matter during the 117th session of Congress. DAT will continue urging Congress to provide a secure future for DACA recipients.

Solidarity With Dreamers

Take Action

Congress must step up and save the ‘Dreamers.’ Since 2012, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) has provided temporary relief from deportation and the ability to get work authorization for more than 825,0000 undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. A recent Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that DACA is unlawful threatens to upend their lives. 

DACA recipients have spent nearly their entire lives in the U.S., so this is their home.  

Their families are here—more than 1.3 million people live with a DACA recipient, including more than 300,000 U.S.-born children who have at least one parent with DACA. They are essential to their communities—nearly 80% of DACA recipients are employed. About half of those are in essential jobs, including healthcare, education and childcare, and food production and processing. They helped to keep our country functioning during the pandemic. Finally, they make significant contributions to the economy each year. DACA-recipient households pay $6.2 billion in federal taxes, $3.3 billion in state and local taxes, and, after taxes, have $25.3 billion in spending power.

Many polls show that a substantial majority of registered voters (nearly 70% in some polls) favor a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. Only Congress can provide permanent security for DACA recipients. Congress must pass the bipartisan Dream and Promise Act now (H.R.6)

Engaging During The Lame-Duck Session

The IAT supports providing stability for Afghans brought to safety by the U.S. military. The Afghan Adjustment Act (AAA) – which would allow them to apply to stay in the U.S. long-term – is the most viable proposal. The likely near-term measures are the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) or the Omnibus. Join us for our Action Hour on Nov. 18 (RSVP) to remind Congress how important it is to achieve stability for Afghans and help Veterans keep their promises to allies. You can also take action here. Congress must act during the lame-duck session.

The IAT also continues to support the need for Immigration court reform. The immigration courts are politicized, and various administrations have repeatedly made policy decisions not because they’re efficient or legally sound but because they’re politically expedient. The courts also lack adequate funding and staffing. Because of these fundamental problems, the U.S. immigration court system cannot deliver just and impartial decisions in a timely manner. You can take action here to establish and fully fund an Article I immigration court system.

On The Horizon

The IAT will begin planning for the 118th Session of Congress after the midterms and into January 2023, when new committee assignments are known. The team will discuss how to advance immigration justice with the new Members of Congress and align its activity with the communities we strive to support with our advocacy.

Environmental and Climate Justice

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

Preparing For COP 27 In Egypt

UUs and Interfaith partners have begun preparing for the U.N. Climate Change Conference – COP 27.  This started in October with the Green Faith faith affinity group's efforts to pressure the International Monetary Fund and World Bank to stop underfunding the solutions needed for the #ClimateCrisis and perpetuating the global financing or development of projects, strategies, and approaches that make the situation worse. UUSJ mobilized in solidarity with Aly Tharp –formerly of UU Ministry For Earth – who anchored the faith affinity group during DC rallies. 

Partners with Washington Interfaith Staff Community hosted a webinar on Protecting Communities in the Clean Energy Transition in preparation for COP 27, with a keen interest in the impact of mineral extraction required to produce greener technologies.

People vs. Fossil Fuels coalition participants are thinking through how U.S.-based actors can be sure to listen to people from the African continent on the ground, Indigenous folks, indigenous to Africa. Special concern is being shown for the new global interest in expanding fracked gas and oil operations in Africa in reaction to what’s happening in Russia and Ukraine. For example, regarding the East African Crude Oil Pipeline in Uganda and Tanzania, Common Dreams reports, “Data Reveals Major Africa Pipeline as Climate Killer.”

The Indigenous Environmental Network is looking at financing issues and uplifting Indigenous sovereignty, as well as murdered and missing Indigenous women and children. Indigenous people have been working to include human rights language for many years.

The UU Service Committee (UUSC) explores two key issues for COP 27: human rights and climate-forced displacement. UUSC will focus on ensuring active and meaningful participation of civil society from the global south, protecting human rights of civil society and freedom of expression, and acting swiftly to address the issue of climate-forced displacement. Key issues to watch will be mitigation, loss and damage, adaptation and resilience, plus finance. 

UU Ministry For Earth (UUMFE) has reprised its page for COP 27, and its Strengthen Local Climate Commitments (SLCC) team will be hosting regular briefings as coverage.

COP 27 - UU CONNECTIONS, National Collaboration UUMFE
Wednesday, November 2
8pm ET • 7pm CT • 6pm MT • 5pm PT

(RSVP HERE for zoom link)

Unitarian Universalists will be present at the United Nations Conference of Parties, COP 27, in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, looking to advance Climate Justice. To help make COP 27 accessible from your home computer, a series of engaging discussions with opportunities to learn, share, and take action will be available through UUMFE for the next five weeks.

Starting November 2 with an overview of COP 27, facilitated discussions will be held almost daily to follow the progress, make sense of the sessions, and engage with observers on the ground. Former COP attendees and UUMFE members Dr. Bill McPherson and Doris Marlin, plus guests, will help break down COP sessions and close the series with meaningful advocacy.

RSVP above to stay up to date on the dynamic COP programming as it unfolds, or track via the UUMFE page for COP 27.

Public Comment Push
GulfLink Supplemental Draft Environmental Impact Statement (SDEIS) 

Due November 12
Please include Docket Number MARAD-2019-0093 on all comments.

Help raise concerns and demonstrate public opposition to new fossil fuel projects by generating as many comments as possible against GulfLink (fact sheet). Whether you are a Texas resident, particularly those in Brazoria county, or part of the wider National audience, act now and make a comment!

See the sample comments, courtesy of People vs. Fossil Fuels (sample comment sheet).

The oil company Sentinel Midstream and financier Freepoint Commodities are trying to build GulfLink, a massive offshore oil export terminal on the Texas Gulf Coast in Brazoria county, which is home to some of the state's most precious natural resources. The project is a recipe for disaster for Gulf Coast communities, ecosystems, and the climate, say local organizations that crafted the fact sheet and are raising the alarm.


The public comment deadline is November 12. Help pressure the Maritime Administration to deny Texas GulfLink crucial permits for its dangerous and unneeded project. 

Energy Justice Experts Break Down the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), by Solstice Initiative

Wednesday, November 16
3pm ET • 2pm CT • 1pm MT • 12pm PT


Energy democracy advocates recognize that the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) does not go as far as Build Back Better would have gone. However, that doesn't mean there are no big wins in the IRA. Financing is one of the biggest challenges to building solar projects. Communities want involvement, investment, and ownership of their energy, but how do we finance that? Panelists:

  • Gregory King, Managing Director, TSK Energy Solutions
  • Jonathan Klavens, Principal, Klavens Law Group
  • Sonia Kikeri, National Director of Policy and Civic Engagement, Emerald Cities Collaborative
  • Sylvia Chi, Senior Strategist, Just Solutions Collective
  • Liz Veazey, Policy & Rural Energy Director, Solar United Neighbors

It’s also worth noting that the Indigenous Environmental Network –  concerned about environmental justice and human rights – has expressed deep displeasure with the IRA, stating, “The Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 is not a climate bill, and that the IRA “financialized carbon.”

Economic Justice

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

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month

November 1 marks the start of American Indian heritage month. UUSJ offers two action alerts on issues that Indigenous activists and advocate allies have told us matters to them.

The Environmental Justice For All Act is a vital first step toward giving communities impacted by pollution the tools needed to hold polluting industries accountable. These are frequently Indigenous communities. Tell Your Legislators to Pass EJ4A 

Indigenous Peoples' Day honors the past, present, and future of Native peoples throughout the US.  It’s aimed at changing the narrative around the arrival of Columbus to reflect a more accurate history. It recognizes the legacy and impact of colonialism on Native communities. Write Your Legislators HERE

Congressional Briefing on Climate-Forced Displacement Experienced by Indigenous Tribes

The UU Service Committee organized an Oct. 28 congressional briefing with Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) and a group of Alaska and Louisiana tribal leaders before staff and members of the U.S. Congress. The briefing addressed the climate crisis and its impact on Indigenous communities. UUSC staff addressed the concern as part of human rights and climate-forced displacement policy realities. The tribal leaders shared community stories – witnesses – about the root causes, immediate harms, and long-term consequences. They called for an increase in federal funds, an end to the Stafford Act, a new cabinet-level position focused on climate-induced resettlement, and policies addressing global damage and loss at COP27, among other requests.

UUSJ amplified the event as part of our commitment to the environment and climate justice and solidarity with both UU organizations and impacted communities such as the tribal communities represented.

You can view the video and recommendations.

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