The 2012 inauguration of President Obama

From the Outreach Revolution Series:

What if this moment, this time in American history, is the reason we’re here as Unitarian Universalists? That’s the thought that popped into my head with the dawn of 2017, on the heels of a very rough 2016. Religious leaders have been put on notice by the decline in church attendance and the rise of the “spiritual but not religious,” yet in many ways our engagement with these trends as Unitarian Universalists has been about us – what we want, what we hope for, what we feel. Right now, the world needs us in a different way, as the fear-filled national election and the incoming administration’s political agenda are sure to demonstrate. It’s why attendance has spiked at UU congregations across the country. We have to push outside the four walls of our congregation because the call to ministry has never been stronger, and it’s happening in the streets. I, for one, feel that this call to action has started to, er, trump our other ideas about the future. Over the last few years we’ve also started waking up our activism with the movements for black lives, immigration reform and gender equity. And now it’s time to level up.

Are you doing something for the Week of Action, January 14-21st? I hope you are. It includes a National Day of Action for Immigrants, Muslims and Refugees, the week-long #Fast4Power, the Women’s March on Washington with sister marches nationwide, the J21 Teach-In on voting rights at All Souls Church Unitarian in DC, and the beginning of our own 30 Days of Love. Here are four ways to maximize your outreach that week, wherever you are:

Be loud
Resist the pressure to normalize the Trump administration’s agenda and the way it will target people of color, queer people, women, and anyone with minority status. The whole world will be paying attention, and it matters that we as a denomination with historic stature begin to resist this agenda. Proclaim your values from the rooftops. People are starting to hear us, so don’t stop now.

With this month’s Outreach Revolution virtual care package, you can download four customizable images to promote the themes of 30 Days of Love. Share them on your personal or congregational Facebook page to show what relationship, covenant, transformation and sustenance mean to UUs who join social movements.

Find friends
Have you reached out to your community partner groups? Interfaith groups and neighbor churches? You’re going to need one another for what’s coming next. You may even need to reach out to each other as members within your congregation, to break down some silos and just make sure your fellow congregants are doing ok. Who in your community will be on the frontline of harassment from the Trump administration and its allies? You may be targeted, or you may know others who will, but in either case you will need friends in a whole new way.

Do stuff
Be out in public this week. Follow the Week of Action links to find an event near you, or maybe you already know of one! Wear t-shirts, carry banners, find a way to express your hopes and fears for the country, your community and the world. Help people who are reconnecting with your community get plugged into these actions. Remember, we need to show the love, not just say the love.

Do more stuff
Keep it up, there will be plenty of opportunities and needs. For all the people who you turn out for the Week of Action and 30 Days of Love, have a next event ready in the coming weeks or months that you can invite them to. Get in that “next ask”! Show your involvement during the Week of Action isn’t a one-off event.

Stay strong, friends. We’re headed towards tougher times, things will get worse. But maybe that’s what we’re here for, and the calling of our times will help us as UU’s become who we were meant to be. As nonprofits, religious organizations are allowed to talk about political issues and needs,* so let’s make the most of it! I believe that if we answer this call, it will lead us to the purposeful and faithful future we’ve hoped for. We’re just getting started.

Let’s roll.


*See the UUA’s Real Rules for more information on the actual limits of political activity by religious nonprofits. You may be surprised how much we can do!

About the Author
Carey McDonald
Carey is the Chief Operating Officer for the UUA.


  1. Kristi

    I love this post. The link to the”real rules” is broken. Your message is beautiful and clear. It is not about us. It is about what this would need urgently right now … More reason, more compassion, more people lifting marginalized voices into the mainstream, more hard discussions about privilege and systemic oppression.

    Can you give me the “real rules” link again?

    • Timothy O'Hare

      You are advocating protests against actions and policies which have not been enacted as of yet. President-Elect Trump won the November Election fair and square. If UUs were truly fair and non discriminatory, you would wish the new administration well. Your recommended actions will only serve to drive Conservatives from the church. Remember what was presented several years ago at the GA by a congregation from Virginia. The UU church should not be a restricted enclave to dedicated Democrats and political liberals.

      Shame on you!!

      Timothy J. O’Hare
      Syracuse, NY

      • Carey McDonald

        We don’t need to restrict anyone, but we do need to be clear about our values and principles. Many of the policies which the president-elect has said he will propose – on healthcare, immigration, climate change, criminal justice, and more – directly contradict statements adopted by the UUA General Assembly. As UUs, we share a vision of a just world, and our commitment to our principles calls us to take action rather than simply hope for the best.

        When I tell my grandchildren about what we did today as religious leaders to fight the tide of bigotry and hate that is accompanying this agenda, I hope I am able to say I did everything I could to resist it. I believe if we can say that, then we will live up to our calling as a faith and, far from losing members, we will grow and thrive in mission and in membership.

        • Tim O'Hare

          So Carey McDonald, you don’t care if liberal monolithic policies drive Conservative non-Christians like me out of UUism? Are you really espousing the position that If a person is not a liberal with beliefs to the left of Lenin – you are not welcome in the UU Church?

        • Paul Roche

          Please stop vilifying Trumo and by extension his voters. So far he has done nothing but good things. We should be wary of course, like we should have been when Obama did nothing in Syria or in our own Chicago streets. But we should give the new President our best wishes. But we should NOT drive out people like me who voted for Trump but are strong UUs.

          • Richard Sonnenfeld

            I posted in response to Tim O’Hare further down … but it was also to you …

  2. Allie

    I am deeply scared about a Trump presidency. But I am also scared for our religion. This article would imply that half of our country is not really welcome in our churches.I am sure this was not your intention, but if you were a Republican seeking a new church and researching UU, would you feel welcome in our congregations?

    I think this election should be a wake-up call to so many of us that are churches are in danger of becoming echo chambers with little connection to half of our fellow citizens. I think we are approaching this in the wrong way. I feel that the true thing my UU faith asks of me after this election is to start trying to understand Trump supporters–to really live my call to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person and accept other people’s views as different ways of experiencing the world (I am trying but not always succeeding). I will still fight for the rights of people who are oppressed–always. But I don’t think we should do this in a way that alienates half the country.

    There has been some recent research suggesting the best way to change people’s minds is, strangely enough, to listen to them tell their stories. Maybe that is how we should begin.

  3. Kristi

    Timothy — I would add to what Carey has so beautifully said. I am deeply concerned not only by some of the policies Trump has said he will enact, but also by many of his actions and appointments. As a Unitarian Universalist, I understand that you may find his fiscal policies refreshing, but I cannot imagine that you agree with or sanction the bigotry and misogyny he has shared with the world. That, most of all, even more than our principal of caring for our earth, is where I see our Unitarian Universalist faith needing to be louder, prouder, and ready to receive those who will stand with us in condemning the hatred and affirming the inherent worth and dignity of all people. I am so grateful to have my faith and my church community to lean on during this complex juncture of American history, both for myself and for my children.

    • Timothy O'Hare

      I put economics BEFORE philosophical items. I have not seen any bigotry out of Trump. As for his comments about women in the taped interview a few years ago, I have heard men in locker rooms talk and boast with similar words. But I never took them seriously, they were idle boasts. And I am the most anti environmentalist you you ever met. I am also a member of the wise use movement. The UU Church I joined welcomed people of all beliefs including conservatives. Suggestions such as those expressed by you and Carry will result in a purge of conservatives from UUism, a pogrom in the UU Church. Is that what you and Carry really want??

      • David

        It has already happened. The freedom of ideas has been squashed by in group thinking, it’s a self selecting apparatus which betrays the higher ideals it was supposed to serve. Very sad for me as I grew up in a small NE UU Church and am now completely alienated. Perhaps the pendulum of sanity will someday seeing towards what is right, but it isn’t likely.

  4. Timothy O'Hare


    You could not be more right. I was heavily involved in my local UU Church (a member of the Board of Trustees), but when I expressed a very conservative opinion, I was castigated, kicked off the board an run out of the Church.

    Non Christian Conservatives are NOT WELCOME at UU Churches.

    • Richard Sonnenfeld

      This is specifically to Tim O’Hare and Paul Roche (I know you are two different people, but you both posted with the same issue). I am a UU and just tonight I went looking for a space to start talking openly to people who disagree with me politically — and I found this thread. I am absolutely driven by the election and I feel if we don’t form broad bonds our country will come apart. So Tim and Paul, we can dialog on this thread, or start a new one. You could call it “Conservative UUs”. I’m not a conservative UU, but I trust anyone who identifies as a UU to not be batshit crazy … so, I want to talk … and I absolutely feel that we ought to treasure the conservative members of our congregations. In particular I want to know how to reach out to others in my community so as to damp down the mistrust and fear which the recent election stoked.

      • AMOBlogger

        Hi! Richard, May I quote your statements in our UU discussion? And btw, good to see you ;).

  5. David

    I grew up in a Unitarian Church but have come to abhor the activism, overwheming political bias and unapologetic idealism. The foundation of unitarian morality is thin and weak, it is the perfect echo chamber for like minded elitists. I hope to see a great change in the church and will likely started spear heading reform endeavors myself. God bless America.


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