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Letters, Summer 2012

Readers respond to the Spring 2012 issue.

Summer 2012 5.15.12

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Welcome words

President Peter Morales’s column “Religious Hospitality” (Spring 2012) brought back the sadness and disappointment I felt when I visited a UU church in another state several years ago. I was to be in the area for seven weeks shortly after losing my son to suicide and in need of the support of a caring community. I dutifully filled out the card on the back of the pew in front of me as requested during my first visit. I explained my circumstances and stated my wish for support, as I was a long-time member of a Denver-area church. After the service, I signed up for a future dinner gathering and a clean-up project in the area. No one sought me out for conversation or even a “hello and welcome,” and, sadly, no one from the church ever contacted me. I attended two other services before deciding that I was wasting my time there. Sometimes, only a mirror is required to understand why we are a statistically insignificant denomination.

Nancy Kneipple
Centennial, Colorado
First Universalist Church of Denver


Paradise or Nuisance

Marcus Liefert’s essay “Occupy Paradise” (Spring 2012) is a beautifully expressed example of Gandhi’s teaching that, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

We create hell or we create paradise by choosing how to behave. You chose to link arms and sing in the face of fear. You chose to create paradise. Good for you, and good for the world!

Edna Whisler
St. Petersburg, Florida
Posted on uuworld.org, Feb. 29, 2012


It seems to me that Marcus Liefert is a young dreamer who had not yet put in order his beliefs and verified them in the light of reason. So be it, but I think it is unacceptable that the magazine should publish such rubbish without so much as a line of comment. Liefert apparently has camped out in Oakland for a long time, alongside others, to make some kind of point. One would think that he would be aware that in so doing they were disturbing the lives of other citizens, and that at some point in time it would be appropriate to end the demonstration. Not so. He was angered and grieved “at the city’s tragic resort to armed removal.”

What does he think would happen if, say, five or six or more other groups were to select the same Occupy strategy? Should we abrogate the citizen’s representation in government and proceed to get things done by means of occupying groups? Surely we have to strive for improvement, which includes correcting injustices, but one would hope that we could do that after reflection and not just by jumping on the first bandwagon that passes by and makes us feel good.

Maurizio Nisita
Estero, Florida
UU Congregation of Greater Naples


Views on immigration

As a lifelong UU, U.S. citizen married to a foreign national, and former legal assistant to an immigration attorney, I am disappointed that Kimberly French’s article (“For Love and Justice,” Spring 2012) makes gross and inaccurate generalizations about the immigration process for the spouses of U.S. citizens. Our immigration system is indeed broken, but misrepresenting the nature of the problem does not help to fix it. Obtaining legal status for foreign-born spouses is not “about as hard as passing a camel through the eye of a needle” in most cases. In fact, it took less than six months for my spouse to receive his green card after our marriage. Judy and Raúl Cardenas either did not receive proper legal advice, or they did not pay attention to the rules when they submitted Raúl’s paperwork.

Justice General Assembly is a great idea, but Raúl’s case is not the best to illustrate the issues surrounding illegal immigration. What about the millions of undocumented workers who are not married to U.S. citizens and have lived and worked in the United States for years? What about unskilled Central Americans who want to come and work temporarily in the United States? These are the folks we should be focusing our attention on in Phoenix!

Heather Moise
Lawrence, Kansas
Unitarian Fellowship of Lawrence

Kimberly French responds:

Joy Athansiou, the immigration lawyer who represented Raúl Cardenas, explains that Raúl does not have a guaranteed path to citizenship via his marriage to a U.S. citizen.

If an immigrant entered lawfully on a visa, the process can be smooth and fast, as described by Ms. Moise, in the case of a spouse or parent of a minor child who is a U.S. citizen. But these cases can and do get denied under many grounds of inadmissibility.

If immediate-relative immigrants did not enter lawfully, they must leave and apply for a visa at the U.S. Consulate in their home country. When they leave, they trigger a ten-year bar, for which a waiver is available as the spouse of a U.S. citizen, but there is a high risk of denial. Raúl’s case is very representative of the majority of unlawful immigrants in the United States, most of whom are family members of U.S. citizens and either have no ability to apply for legal status or face enormous delays and/or hurdles to apply for lawful status.


When UU writers or ministers discuss immigration, they often start or close with a disclaimer against “anything-goes immigration policy.” However, seldom do they advocate or even discuss any specific proposals. It just feels like vague “red meat,” for firing up an already radicalized “base.” I hunger for tangible, concrete, pragmatic information that I can use when fleshing out my own ideas and when reaching out with a straight face to non-UUs who raise legitimate questions.

Kimberly French splits hairs over the definition of “criminal” vs. “civil” laws. I understand the spirit of what the author is trying to say, but this just comes across as disingenuous.

I liked the spotlight on nafta, because I do believe that subsidized American corn is a root cause of increased immigration since the 1990s. However, I could have used more substance to back up the hyperbole. I hope that this discussion will grow more tangible, concrete, and specific as it develops in the UUA and local congregations. More brain to go with the heart!

Steve Perkins
Atlanta, Georgia
UU Congregation of Gwinnett
Posted on uuworld.org, Feb. 29, 2012


Several articles in recent issues of UU World make the case that the correct moral view on immigration is to allow immigration both legal and illegal. The opposite view can also be based on morality. Demographers and scientists agree that the United States now has about twice as many people as it can environmentally sustain. A longer-term moral stand would be to discourage immigration, both legal and illegal, since this is where most of the population growth of the United States occurs. This stand would also require the countries from which immigrants originate to recognize their need to stabilize their populations once they can no longer send them here.

James Copenheaver
Blacksburg, Virginia
UU Congregation of the New River Valley


The UUA is advocating aiding and abetting known criminals in their illegal activities. Illegal aliens are not victims. They made the conscious choice to come here and break the law on a daily basis. I donate a substantial portion of my income and from twenty to forty hours a week to charity organizations. The difference is, I help those who are trying to improve their lives through legal means.

If the UUA wants to help these people improve their lives in their own country, I would applaud your efforts. But when you help those who flagrantly break our laws to the detriment of hardworking law-abiding Americans, I feel you are totally in the wrong.

James Gehling
Bark River, Michigan
Bay De Noc UU Fellowship


The price of affluence

I agree with the main point of the argument Eboo Patel makes (“If We Don’t Invest in Our Youth, Others Will,” Spring 2012), but there is a little bit of apples to oranges in the comparison. The difference that is most significant is not culture or even the political bent of the youth programs, but affluence. In suburban church life, youth are catered to so much in their general lives that they are not willing to tolerate the little bit of boredom that might come from the time it takes a new youth group to get to know each other and become a cohesive unit. Parents are unwilling to encourage their youth to stick it out and form meaningful bonds because there are so many other college application-builders vying for their time and attention. And there is the crazy-making lip service folks pay to the “importance of youth programs,” while no adults will sign up to actually spend time with them. I don’t think it’s a question, for us in most UU communities, of a need for more financial resources directed to youth: It’s emotional and personal investment, and the willingness for adults to take seriously a shaping role in the lives of youth.

The Rev. Parisa Parsa
Milton, Massachusetts
First Parish in Milton UU
Posted to uuworld.org, Feb. 27, 2012


UU World welcomes letters to the editor. Send to “Letters,” UU World, 25 Beacon St., Boston MA 02108, or world@uua.org, but do not send attachments. Include your name, address, daytime phone number, and congregation on all correspondence. Published letters with author’s name, city, and state will appear on www.uuworld.org. Letters are edited for length and style; a maximum length of 200 words is suggested. We regret we cannot publish or respond to all letters.

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