Members of the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey unanimously adopted a statement supporting the Occupy Wall Street movement, and expressing outrage over the economic inequities that have developed in the United States over the past 20 years.
"As Unitarian Universalists, we see Occupy Wall Street as an important messenger to the world," the statement says, "waking us up to the fact that these economic inequities are not only unethical, but that they place all of us in great peril if they continue unchecked."
The statement calls on New Jersey residents to become better informed, stand with Occupy protesters around the state, and demand changes to improve corporate accountability and financial market practices.
The UU Legislative Ministry is a network of New Jersey's 21 UU congregations that organized in 2008 to apply the moral voice and actions of Unitarian Universalist principles and values in the public arena, especially in the areas of economic justice, health care and the environment. The Rev. Craig Hirshberg executive director, provides leadership along with a nine-member board made up of clergy and lay members.
The Occupy movement points up the rising incidence of inequality in a country built on equality, Hirshberg said. "Our government's response has been to limit assembly in a country built on the ideal of freedom of speech and public assembly," she said. "We call on all those in New Jersey and the nation to both hear the message and protect the rights of messengers."
The UU group sees the Occupy slogan of the 99% against the 1% as reframing the issues facing Americans. "Having vast economic power in the hands of just a few is not about taxes, it’s about the impact of our economic policies, the inequities they have created, the positive, life-affirming values they eschew, and the havoc this is wreaking on the very fabric of American society."
Unitarian Universalists believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the democratic process. “We have been called upon to support these core values in our communities, resulting in activism throughout American history, from the abolitionist movements to civil rights, women’s rights and gay rights,” according to the statement.
Over the past year, the UULMNJ has advocated for social justice issues relating to affordable housing, marriage equality and immigration, with lay members and clergy attending rallies and testifying at hearings. For more information, visit the organization’s website at www.uulmnj.org or contact the Rev. Craig Hirshberg, UULMNJ executive director, at 609-672-7331 or firstname.lastname@example.org.