As Unitarian Universalists, our Social Responsibility Philosophy grows out of our commitment to our Principles. We hear in the first Principle, “Promoting the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” and in the second Principle, “Promoting justice, equity and compassion in human relations,” a call to center the voices and experience of those most directly affected by society’s inequalities in our grassroots organizing for social change. Our sixth Principle, “Promoting the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all” empowers us to engage with others who share our values in the struggle to be in right relationship with ourselves, one another, and the planet.
In order to live out this philosophy, we strive to encourage relationship building among the members of our congregations and the members of our partner organizations. Our goal is to affirm what is just and good through speech and action that demonstrates solidarity with those who are marginalized. We believe that we can do this by accountably working together for collective liberation.
We recognize that the world: its inhabitants, its flora and fauna, and all its systems are threatened by climate change. In our action for climate justice, we will partner with organizations that center the needs of those most directly affected by the devastation wrought by a climate out of balance. We will work diligently to decrease the use of fossil fuels and encourage a just transition to a clean energy future. Remembering our seventh principle, “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part”, we will promote those policies that support our principles.
The Good Cause Eviction bill would prohibit the eviction of residential tenants or the non-renewal of residential leases without good cause. The measure has already passed on the local level in several cities such as Albany, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, and Hudson. We are working to pass The Good Cause Eviction bill state-wide and, through our network, monitor methods of enforcement.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
Criminal justice reform addresses structural issues in our criminal justice systems such as police brutality, overcriminalization, and mass incarceration. This also includes Immigration reform. In 2021, we supported the successful enactment of the Humane Alternatives to Solitary Confinement Act to end long term solitary confinement in New York prisons and jails. We are in support of Fair & Timely Parole and Elder Parole.
DEATH WITH DIGNITY
In 1988, the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly affirmed “The Right to Die with Dignity” calling on UUs to support “legislation that will create legal protection for the right to die with dignity, in accordance with one’s own choice.”
Unitarian Universalists drafted Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act, which has been in effect for more than 20 years without a single instance of abuse or coercion. Ten states now authorize medical aid in dying, including Vermont and New Jersey.
New York UUs are working in partnership with Compassion & Choices to pass similar authorization in New York. The Medical Aid in Dying Act would give a terminally ill, mentally capable adult with a prognosis of 6 months or less to live the choice to request, obtain and take medication to die peacefully in their sleep. The bill is modeled after the Oregon Death with Dignity Act.