Saturday Work Day, Sunday Guest Speaker & Crop Hunger Walk

Tuesday: Our regular Tuesday UUFA Choir Rehearsal.  7pm.  Choir Director: Megan Cameron

Friday: The UUFA Programming Committee will meet online via Zoom at 6pm Friday, October 4th. For the Zoom code, contact any board member or programming committee member.

Saturday: UUFA Fall Work Day:  Our fall UU Fellowship work day will be Saturday October 5th from 11am until 4pm. Please show up as much as you can (even to just visit!) during that time frame. Wear work clothes, and bring tools if you wish. Lunch will be served. Activities include yard maintenance, picnic table assembly!!!!, repair of deck, and whatever you and others love to do. Hope to see you there!

SUNDAY October 6, 2019: “Being Out in a Closed World, Personal Reflections on the Impact of Stonewall and the LGBTQ Civil Rights Struggle” Speaker: First Unitarian Universalist Society of Marietta member Andrew Clovis.  Andrew writes that his talk refers to a quote from the Disiderata that the Marietta UU congregation uses for its chalice lighting: Be yourself. Especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment, it is as perennial as the grass.  Coffee 10:30am, Service 11:00am. 184 Longview Heights Road, Athens, Ohio 45701

Sunday 12pm-1pm – UUFA Committee on Ministry: The committee will meet after service on Sunday, October 6th. Although the committee’s meetings are closed, members and friends of the congregation are encouraged to bring help the committee do their best to care for the congregation and its members and friends by bringing concerns to members of the committee: Marsha N., Jackie W., Robin B., and Wenda S.

Sunday 2pm-4pm: The Athens CROP Hunger Walk has been moved to the Athens County Community Center parking lot (solar panel side).  Donations made out to CWS/CROP will be accepted by Natalie Barman at UUFA or at a table by Peden on the Bike Path or online via the CROP Hunger Walk’s “Team UUFA” webpage that has been set up to collect donations to the CROP Hunger Walk on behalf of our fellowship.

DATE CHANGE FOR THE WALTZ CLASS

We’ve had to change the date for the ballroom waltz class.  it will now be held on Friday, October 25th at 6 p.m. at the fellowship, offered by Lois Gladchild. Though individuals will need to choose to either learn to lead or to follow, there will be no sex or gender assignments to those roles.  You do not need to bring a partner.  (We will work around the turnout that we have.) This is intended to be a light-hearted class with the goal of learning to joyfully move to music while communicating with your dance partner.  It would be helpful to know about how many folks will be there, so if you’d RSVP to Lois via email at GLADCHILDL@gmail.com, it would be good, but not required.  If you have questions, please contact Lois via email or telephone or speak with her at fellowship meetings. It’s best if your feet can slide on the floor.  So please either wear leather soled shoes, or heavy socks.

UU ACTIVISM: UU Justice Ohio Executive Director Rev. Joan VanBecelaere gave a speech voicing concerns about SB 33 last Wednesday to the Ohio House Public Utilities Committee. WORTH READING. (Thanks to Marsha N. for submitting the speech and photo to this newsletter.)

UUJO’s orange & yellow banner at the SB 33 demonstration last week, next to a colorful banner in the foreground held by Athens County residents.

Opposition Witness Testimony, SB 33, Ohio House Public Utilities Committee
Rev. Joan VanBecelaere, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio

Chairman Callendar, Vice Chair Wilkin , Ranking Member Smith and members of the House Public Utilities Committee, I am a Unitarian Universalist minister and the Executive Director of Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio which serves the UU congregations in Ohio and their many members. I am also a concerned citizen of Ohio and I am deeply opposed to SB 33.

Others have described how this bill attacks freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. I want to raise the argument that this bill also attacks freedom of religion and prohibits justice-focused faith communities from exercising what they believe is a religious duty to engage in public witness at those sites where the health and life of people are endangered and the sacred integrity of the environment is put in jeopardy.

Ohio law already prohibits ‘criminal trespass’, ‘aggravated trespass’, and ‘criminal mischief’ to property.

So why do we need SB 33? The only purpose for this bill seems to be to increase penalties for citizens and non-profit organizations who engage in non-violent public witness at infrastructure sites that pose a danger to the climate and pollute land, water and air.

It was originally drafted by the oil and gas industry lobbyists in response to pipeline protests like those at Standing Rock. The bill adds new laws that prohibit a person from entering or remaining on an “infrastructure facility” with a “purpose to tamper” or actually “improperly tampering” in some way with an “infrastructure facility”.

SB 33 makes violation of these new prohibitions third degree felonies. These ill-defined acts of tampering or intending to tamper do not have to be violent in nature to be judged worthy of a felony conviction under this bill. The definitions of “tamper” or “intend to tamper” are wide open to a variety of possible interpretations. One person’s non-violent, faithbased public witness may be another person’s “tampering.”

SB 33 specifies that any organization found guilty of “complicity” under this bill, is to be punished with a fine ten times that imposed on an individual. This means possible fines up to $100,000, which would destroy most non-profits and churches.

For example, if a person is participating in a lawful and peaceful protest organized by a group but breaks away from the group and decides to tamper with critical infrastructure, then liability for the individual’s actions could also fall on the innocent group. This would be a prime example of the fallacy of guilt by association.

And how far does complicity extend? Does it include Facebook event posts? Flyers in a church lobby? An announcement on Sunday morning? Any of these could potentially make a non-profit or church complicit.

In addition, a congregation is prohibited from assisting a member in paying their protest fines. This blocks a congregation from its religious duty to care for its members in times of distress and need.

SB 33 would criminalize the ministry of justice-focused churches and faith-based organizations who engage in and promote peaceful public protest at critical infrastructure sites. Congregations from many different faith traditions in Ohio could be held liable for the crime of complicity, be forced to pay fines that would destroy then, and then be unable to assist their members in need. This constitutes an attack on freedom of religion.

People of faith who feel called to speak truth to power and stand for environmental justice could find their congregations deeply damaged or destroyed under SB 33. It would become a crime to give public witness at those facilities that are the worst offenders for environmental destruction and create health crises in our most vulnerable communities. It would be illegal for people of faith to speak truth to power at those pipelines and fracking wells that expand fossil fuel use and destroy our climate.

SB 33 is a dangerous assault on our civil liberties and also attacks freedom of religion and the right to speak in holy witness to those who put profit before people. This bill is clearly intended to keep faith groups as well as environmental groups on the sidelines, frozen silent in fear of being charged with complicity and fined into oblivion.

When Americans abandon their commitment to freedom of speech and assembly and freedom of religion, the world will notice how far we have fallen. SB 33 deserves to be vetoed as un-American and unconstitutional.

FUTURE SUNDAYS – Subject to change—your ideas welcome

Sunday, October 13th: POTLUCK & Rev. Don Rollins

Sunday, October 20th: Andy Ray & Music

Sunday, October 27th: Samhain with Roberta & Barb

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