Updated: Apr 2, 2020
It’s been a few days since our Legislative Rally Day with the Texas UU Justice Ministry, but the experience is still on my mind. The day started strong with an inspiring speech from Rev. Chuck Freeman, followed by moments of song, prayer, and contemplation, and a much-awaited visit from the one Unitarian Universalist member of the House, Rep. Donna Howard. She spoke with positivity about how different this legislative session has been, how the strong voter turnout and flipping of seats has moderated both sides of the aisle and made legislators want to work together. While bipartisan focus has been on school finance and property taxes, there is plenty more this session that concerns UUs. We ended up speaking with legislative staff about topics such as potential legislation that could strip local governments of the power to make decisions regarding employee benefits and protections from discrimination, and the use of religion as an excuse for businesses to discriminate against LGBTQ customers, or anyone else based on business owners’ religious beliefs.
There was so much for us to say, so much that UUs stand for, and so little time - which was why we supplied our legislators with TxUUJM’s literature describing our mission and priorities for this session. We best utilized our precious time by speaking to our values as UUs, and demonstrating that there are religious progressives in Texas who are willing to mobilize and vote for those values. As I traversed the crowded Capitol building, I was amazed by the fact that, even though I couldn’t always find a restroom, I could always pick out the UUs in their bright “Side With Love” shirts wherever I went. At one point, I was stopped by a group who asked, “who are all of you in the yellow shirts?” and I was able to explain a bit about TxUUJM and Unitarian Universalism. It turns out that we shared many of the values that had brought us there, especially when it came to workers’ rights and protections: they were from a Texas chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Every session, UUs in Texas become more and more visible, and our progressive religious values harder and harder to ignore. I left the Capitol exhausted, but also galvanized to action, since I know that advocacy is built on relationships and relationships are built over time. If any of you feel similarly, I hope you will take advantage of some of the UUA’s advocacy resources, found here: https://www.uua.org/justice-programs/advocacy, because I know I will. If a bill comes up that resonates with you as a UU or otherwise, I encourage you to contact your legislators! We learned that Rep. Raney’s staff prefers to be contacted over email, while Sen. Schwertner’s staff has said they are open to phone calls, emails, and snail mail. There are many ways to make your voice heard, so that we can all promote our 5th UU principle, “the right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large.”
MSJE News and Events
MSJE at Brazos Valley Earth Day
Celebrate Earth Day with us and the Brazos Valley community! On Saturday, April 13 from 11-3, Wolf Pen Creek Park fills with educational booths, environmental demonstrations, kids’ activities, and refreshments, all centered around our relationship with planet Earth. The UUCBV Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth will have its own booth, where we will showcase the intersection of our faith values and environmental action.
Event website: http://www.brazosvalleyearthday.com
Split the Plate for April
Previously, on the first Sunday of each month, half of our cash collection from the morning offering went to a nonprofit. However, the Board has approved a proposal to expand Split the Plate to every Sunday! Each week this month, half of your cash donations will go to Hope’s Locker at Bryan ISD, which helps students who are experiencing homelessness and their families by providing new and gently used clothing, school supplies, toiletries, cleaning supplies, and non-perishable food.
April meeting of the Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth
Our April MSJE meeting will be on the 14th in the Hillel Board Room behind the Sanctuary at 12pm. All are welcome to grab some food and join us in planning social justice opportunities for UUCBV.