(RNS) Members of Unitarian Universalist churches are unveiling a campaign against hate crimes at their General Assembly this week (June 24-29), calling on their congregations and those of other faiths to advocate for equality and to curb violence.
The Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations (UUA) will include the grassroots campaign against social injustice in their schedule of votes and worship services at their Salt Lake City convention.
“Rather than hunkering down in the face of violence, (the Unitarians) have proclaimed a gospel of love and hope,” said the Rev. William Sinkford, the outgoing UUA president, in an interview.
The campaign holds particular meaning for the liberal-leaning denomination. Last summer, a gunman killed two people and wounded seven inside a Unitarian Universalist congregation in Knoxville, Tenn. The gunman, David Adkisson, later told authorities he was angered by the church’s acceptance of homosexuality and other liberal causes.
“We’re not going to change who we are because we have been attacked,” Sinkford said.
The “Standing on the Side of Love” campaign will try to rally local leaders and clergy to publicly oppose violence and mobilize their more than 1,000 congregations online. Their goal: to counter the estimated 7,500 hate crimes nationwide against individuals motivated by race, religion, political ideology or sexual orientation.
The UUA is also hoping the campaign will help shape public policy on issues that impact human dignity — particularly immigration reform and hate-crimes legislation that is currently stalled on Capitol Hill, said the campaign’s directors.
“We want to stand against violence, oppression and exclusion and stand on the side of love, which is our faith,” said Meg Riley, the UUA’s director of advocacy and the campaign’s chairwoman.
This public advocacy campaign was created in the wake of recent shootings against a late-term abortionist in Wichita, Kan., and a security guard at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
“The primary purpose is to raise as broad and concerted of a religious voice as we can in support of people who are being profiled and oppressed,” Sinkford said.
By Lindsay Perna
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