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Mailbox, Fall 2009
Doubtful saints, uncontested elections, and putting down roots.
The most vociferous group, with six letters, responded to the story “The Liberal Saints” about a series of twenty-four tile murals celebrating liberal heroes on the walls of Chicago’s Third Unitarian Church. The one issue riling the majority was the inclusion of President Woodrow Wilson in the pantheon. “Wilson a saint? Hardly,” wrote Bill Gates of Sun Lakes, Ariz. “Wilson and his adminstration presided over one of the worst assaults on civil liberties in American history—the Espionage and Sedition Acts and the Palmer raids on immigrants.” Bob Tripp of Reston, Va., agreed. “Wilson was in fact an avowed racist who deliberately brought racial segregation back to Washington, D.C. Among other actions, he instituted racial segregation in government building cafeterias.”
Wrote Margaret K. St. Clair of Ashland, Ore., “If I had first entered the sanctuary of the Third Unitarian Church in Chicago, I never would have become a Unitarian Universalist. The liberal saints depicted are overwhelmingly male.”
Two correspondents wrote about the recent UUA elections. John Otter of Santa Fe, N.Mex., was disturbed that in twenty-one races, only one was contested. “Democracy is not well served in an association of such diversity by anointing officials through uncontested seats,” he wrote.
Woodlief Thomas of Naples, N.Y, commented on Michael Schuler’s essay, “The Promised Land Is Under Your Feet,” about the virtues of staying in the same community. “I suspect that most of those who move probably resemble my family, who for eight generations save one, lived somewhere other than where they were born. In every case, once they arrived, they stayed put and contributed to their new community.”