Screen “Lost in Detention” for Your Congregation!


The UUA has received permission from Frontline  for Unitarian Universalist Congregations to show “Lost in Detention,” provided no admission is charged. This permission means that individual congregations do not have to request public performance permission to screen this film.  The documentary examines current US immigration policy and the enforcement system, including stories of hidden abuse in detention centers. View or purchase the documentary at Frontline’s website, or check the public library.

Unitarian Universalists have an extra reason to watch this compelling documentary. The Frontline documentary’s correspondent is Maria Hinojosa, who will deliver this year’s Ware Lecture at General Assembly in Phoenix. From NPR:

For 25 years, Maria Hinojosa has helped tell America’s untold stories and brought to light unsung heroes in America and abroad. She is the anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latino USA.

Throughout her career Hinojosa has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast. As a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa told groundbreaking stories about youth and violence and immigrant communities. During her eight years as a CNN correspondent Hinojosa took viewers into communities that had never been shown on television. Her investigative journalism presses the powerful for the truth while giving voice to lives and stories that illuminate the world we live in.

Gather a group to screen Lost in Detention at your congregation and let us know about your event. Plan to hear Maria Hinojosa’s June 23 lecture either in person at Phoenix or via! – Ed.


The Spiritual Practice of Being in Partnership

As we prepare for Justice GA in Phoenix, Unitarian Universalists need to attend to how we engage as partners with those whose lives are most impacted by the social and legal effects of U.S. policy, law, and attitudes regarding migrants. This week, Janice Marie Johnson, UUA Multicultural Growth Director, offers her reflection on partnership.-Ed.

The Latin American Theology of Accompaniment offers an important glimpse into the spiritual practice of being in partnership. I first heard this term just a couple of days ago when I participated in worship led by Rev. Jackie Clements at Finding Our Way Home 2012, the annual gathering for religious professionals of color.

We learned that the idea of accompaniment was put forth by Roberto S. Goizueta in the book Caminemos con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 1995). We considered how the verb ‘acompañar’ in Spanish is different in complexity, texture and weight from the verb ‘to accompany’ in English which can be used to refer to going to the grocery store with someone. At our retreat someone said, “’it’s like being joined at the hip.” (more…)

When God Tried to Cross the Border

In this post, intern minister Marcus Liefert shares the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley‘s “recipe” for including children in the congregation’s focus on immigration justice. Which stories, music, games, and activities have helped your congregation include people of all ages in immigration justice work and preparation for General Assembly? Send us your recipes! – Ed.

Immigration has been a major topic at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley this year.

Along the way, we’ve made up stories to explore immigration through the lens of our monthly worship themes. Near the beginning of our church year, Family Minister Laura Bogle and I told a story about Hospitality.  As the story ended, our Youth and Children’s Choir sang The Welcome Table. As they rehearsed it, they had learned about the history of the song and the history of some of the struggles for justice in our country. We are pleased to share the video recording.


Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Ears

This month we publish a series of reflections and stories about partnership with those whose communities are most deeply impacted by immigration injustice.  Today’s post by Jesse Jaeger reflects on his experiences and the work of UU Mass Action in building partnerships. – Ed.

As Unitarian Universalist faith-based activists we need to come to our work with open hearts, open minds and, most importantly, open ears. This is particularly true when we are working with communities that have been marginalized by the wider society. Because privilege based on race, gender, education, economic class or immigration status whitewashes our perspective so we think that the experience of the privileged is the experience of everyone, the corner stone of progressive faith based activism needs to be the spiritual discipline of listening. By working to acknowledge our own assumptions and deeply listening to the truths of the communities with which we work, we are able to open our hearts and minds to the reality of their lives. When we enter this authentic space we are then able to be in true partnership with our community partners. (more…)

Rights of Indigenous Peoples- We Need More than Good Intentions!

Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  What do we need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call? This next post in our series was written by Kamila Jacob, who works in the UU United Nations Office. – Ed.


In 1452, a papal doctrine was created endorsing the conquest and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples.  One example of the implementation of this doctrine is an event glorified in U.S. history books:  Christopher Columbus sailed the seas in 1492 in search for new land. Columbus followed a doctrine that permitted him to conquer and colonize any “discovered”  lands not already under Christian dominion.  Upon his return home, the bull Inter Caetera of May 3, 1493 was issued by the Pope, affirming the right to conquer lands and impose Christianity.

Centuries later, in 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M’Intosh and the resulting opinion adopted the notion of “discovery” into U.S. Law. The language of this decision is adapted from documents such as the bull Inter Caetera.  Though some claim the court decision does not refer to religion, it states that already established native communities were properly and legally colonized because their religious and cultural practices do not follow that of those in power. Throughout our history, policies and discriminatory laws have been created from this doctrine. These policies and laws continue to exist due to ignorance of this history and lack of action to overturn the Doctrine of Discovery.


The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted at the UN General Assembly on September 13th, 2007, is an aspirational document, which means that it is not legally binding. It acknowledges rights such as religion, culture, and property of indigenous peoples and holds governments aspirationally responsible for the human rights of those who are indigenous.  Canada signed the Declaration on November 12th, 2010, and the government pronounced that it would take steps to make this aspirational document consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. President Obama’s signature on UNDRIP on December 16th, 2010 was recognition of past dehumanization and discrimination of Native Americans in the United States.  However,  implementation of this declaration will require more than just good intentions. Fully implemented, this declaration will hold leaders accountable for defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

Native Americans have been discriminated against socially, institutionally, and legislatively for hundreds of years. One aspect of this longtime discrimination has been unfair compensation for land without due process. Now that our nation is a signatory for UNDRIP, it is time for our nation to follow its provisions.  (more…)

Help Youth Prepare for Justice GA

Are you a youth going to Phoenix?

Are you a youth advisor or sponsor for one or more youth at Justice GA?

Here are ten ways for youth to prepare for Justice General Assembly in Phoenix!

Some of the suggestions are for individual preparation, while others are suitable for groups. 

Share this list widely, and let us know which suggestions you follow – or what you would add.

New Doctrine of Discovery Discussion Guide

View and download the new Doctrine of Discovery discussion guide.

“The First Sight of the New World: Columbus Discovering America”

In January UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery on the General Assembly business agenda. The Doctrine of Discovery—the legal justification for colonizing the Americas and subordinating aboriginal people—is a narrative unfamiliar to many Americans. The Doctrine is so deeply embedded in American and Western culture that it hides in plain sight. (more…)

A Call from our Arizona Immigration Justice Partners

Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  What do Unitarian Universalists need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call from our partners? This third post in our series was written by the Pacific Southwest District Executive Ken Brown. – Ed.

This past August a number of Arizona Unitarian Universalists met with community people we had been working with for a number of years on issues of migration and the border. The conversation was around what our partners in Arizona would like to see happen at our General Assembly.  Our partners gave us a very clear message that they would like us to pass a resolution calling on President Obama and his administration to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  When this Declaration was adopted by all but four nations in 2007, the United States was one of the four not adopting it.  Three years later, in December 2010, President Obama adopted the Declaration, making the United States the last nation to sign on to this document.

Watch this video made by Tupac Enrique about Columbus from TONATIERRA, a Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples supporting local-global holistic indigenous community development initiatives in accord with the principle of Community Ecology and Self Determination.

As President Obama declared when he signed the Declaration, “What matters more than the words – what matters far more than any resolution or declaration – are actions to match those words.”  (more…)

Restoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: A Pathway from Australia to Arizona

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly.  What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation?  How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond?  For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions.  This post was written by the Dave Weiman, who has been working with others to educate UUs about this issue. – Ed.

At 7:30 pm on December 3, 2009, Joy Murphy Wandin, senior woman of the Wurundjeri People, was the first person to greet the 6,000 plus people who had come together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, with this traditional ‘Welcome to the Land’:

On behalf of the spiritual ancestors and the traditional owners of Melbourne, I invite you to Melbourne in 2009, for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to share in the traditions, culture and spirit of Australia. (more…)

Let Them Eat Tacos

In this post, reprinted from a January 26, 2012 entry in her own blog, Rev. Kathleen McTigue shares what happened when she and others worked together to hold the mayor of East Haven, Connecticut, accountable for his lack of response to federal indictments brought against police officers in the city, charging them with racial harassment of members of the Hispanic community.- Ed

It’s been a busy week in East Haven, Connecticut.

On Tuesday, the FBI arrested four East Haven police officers on charges of false arrest, excessive force, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to many years’ worth of abuse that Hispanic members of the community have suffered, including racial profiling,  harassment and beatings. In its indictment the Justice Department accused the East Haven police of “biased policing, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the excessive use of force”. The New York Times called it “a  harrowing picture of arbitrary justice for Hispanic residents.”

One would hope that this kind of news would receive widespread attention and outrage, but in today’s world that seems to be the luck of the draw: sometimes people pay attention and sometimes they don’t. This time, thanks to the remarks of East Haven’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, the wider world is all over the story.

On Wednesday, Maturo was interviewed about the arrest of his police officers by a reporter for WPIX (Channel 11), who asked what he intended to do for the Latino community in light of the charges. Maturo replied, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet”. During the nearly five-minute clip — which immediately went viral — Maturo became more combative but never truly engaged the question. He returned repeatedly to the taco statement.

So today, I helped deliver around 500 tacos to the mayor’s office in protest of both his insensitivity and the larger issue of racism in our area. This brilliant idea was hatched by Reform Immigration for America, which invited anyone outraged by the mayor’s remarks to text them and order a taco to be sent to the mayor. It was enacted by Junta for Progressive Action, the lead organization serving the Spanish-speaking community in the greater New Haven area.

We were a small group, led by Junta’s Acting Director, Latrina Kelly. The restaurant that had agreed to make the tacos was in over its head: the protest orders kept flooding in until within just 24 hours, they’d received over 2,700 texts. The media attention had also made the restaurant owners and workers nervous: they requested anonymity, and accompaniment for delivering the tacos. So, off we went, about a dozen of us carrying trays and trays of tacos. We walked in through the big glass doors of town hall and were met by literally dozens of reporters and television cameras, everyone jockeying for position. (more…)