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Sometimes we must raise our voices

In the story Facing the Dragon, SSL Campaign Director Caitlin Breedlove writes: ”Our faith wakes us up in the morning, reminding us that we are called to act in this time. “

Five days after the “United Against Hate” protest of a political event in Fountain Hills, AZ, a large coalition led by Puente Arizona rallied again at the State Capitol in Phoenix to protest the introduction of several new anti-immigration bills in Arizona. Many Unitarian Universalists standing on the side of love were in the coalition.

Puente is a grassroots migrant justice organization based in Phoenix. They write on puenteaz.org: “We develop, educate, and empower migrant communities to protect and defend our families and ourselves in order to enhance the quality of life of our community members.”

At an initial gathering outside the House and Senate buildings, the group prayed and listened to a handful of sympathetic legislators.  Their message: while elected insiders can do a lot, they can’t do it alone. They need the people to raise their voices.

Then the interfaith, interracial, and intergenerational group marched around the central courtyard, chanting, “Stop the Hate.”

Many members of the Unitarian Universalist Justice Arizona Network (UUJAZ) belong to congregations up to two hundred miles from the State Capitol in Phoenix. They discussed the oppressive bills in gatherings at their home congregations, and then sent photos and messages of support both to the coalition and to Standing on the Side of Love.

The Arizona legislature, not for the first time, is threatening respect and dignity for immigrants and their families.  A number of pending bills would, among other things, change incarceration rules for immigrants, eliminating parole and other alternatives to serving time. “This means that we will have two different justice systems,” said one speaker, “parallel but unequal.” Other bills would prohibit refugees from entering Arizona and withhold shared state revenue from any county, city, or town that is determined by the Arizona Attorney General to have violated any state law or the state constitution.

After the march, the group claimed space in the Capitol rotunda to continue speeches, calls-and-response, and testimonies about justice denied.

Raising our voices can be hard and inconvenient. Other people may smirk or treat us as though we are insignificant or even invisible. But too often we can’t be heard unless we do raise our voices. Not only UUs, but also other faith communities, unions such as the United Farm Workers, and LGTB rights groups such as the AZ Queer Undocumented Immigrant Project participated in the event. In numbers we find strength. In numbers, we can begin to make change. But first we have to resolve to raise our voices. Recent experiences have told us that we will be heard.

A prayer offered at the beginning of the rally spoke of deep learning from the prophets. This reminder of deep learning followed us through the rally. Deep learning is all about love.

In Fellowship,

Judith Breuer

Member, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix