Sunday Worship Service

July 31

election 2016

"Unitarian-Universalism and the 2016 Election"

Led by the Chris DiMeo 

Ideally, an election campaign is a type of public conversation; the manner in which that conversation is conducted, and its choice of topic(s), both say a great deal about the state of the nation. As the final phase of Campaign 2016 begins, three First Parish members share their beliefs about the relationships between faith, UU principles, and this election.

10:00 am

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Opening Our Hearts and Minds

We are displaying both a Black Lives Matter banner and a statement of appreciation and support for the Arlington Police Department and its commitment to justice and compassion. 

APD BLM banners

Can they sit side by side without contradiction?

We ponder and pray about many issues from the safety of our sanctuary – inequality, poverty, mental health challenges, addiction, violence, homelessness, racism, the effects of incarceration and over-incarceration, and many other forms of injustice. 

The police confront these thorny issues directly.  Daily.  On our behalf.  In a society where inequality is growing and many people need help that is unavailable, except perhaps by calling the police.  It’s tough work and hard to do well, impossible to do perfectly.  The police alone cannot solve our society’s problems.

The Arlington Police Department regularly trains its officers in de-escalation techniques, unconscious bias, procedural justice, having a guardian (rather than warrior) mindset, and appropriate use of force.  It started an innovative healing-oriented outreach program to people with addictions and their families, uses restorative justice when appropriate, and has a social work clinician on staff who works closely with officers.

Does this mean that the APD is immune to racial bias, or exempt from criticism and calls for reform?  Of course not.

However -- We are grateful for the APD’s commitment to improving policing. 

We look forward to a day when all police departments are equally committed to good policies and practices.

And we will continue to work and pray for justice and compassion, everywhere. 

May we all – all Americans, all people – learn to open our hearts and minds to people who feel different from us.

Our Black Lives Matter statement:

We have displayed a “Black Lives Matter” banner for roughly half of the last 18 months.  During that time we have received a couple dozen critical messages from people who seem to interpret “Black Lives Matter” as “only black people’s lives matter” or “black deaths matter” or “police are bad.”  We therefore added an explanation to our banner:

“Of course all lives matter . . . we believe that every individual is important and every person deserves to be treated with justice and compassion.  We live, however, in a society that often suggests otherwise.  Because of the continuing injustice and violence disproportionately faced by people of color, we affirm that Black Lives Matter.”

One more thing:

“You can truly grieve for every officer who’s been lost in the line of duty in this country, and still be troubled by cases of police overreach.  Those two ideas are not mutually exclusive.  You can have great regard for law enforcement and still want them to be held to high standards.” ~ Jon Stewart


Copyright 2016 First Parish Unitarian Universalist of Arlington

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