Media roundup: Texas UU who left Islamic State draws media scrutiny

Media roundup: Texas UU who left Islamic State draws media scrutiny

A weekly guide to stories about Unitarian Universalists from other media sources.

Rachel Walden


Tania Georgelas, a woman who was once married to a high-ranking member of the Islamic State, the notorious terrorist group, was recently profiled in The Atlantic, as a follow-up to reporter Graeme Wood’s reporting on her former husband. Now divorced, Georgelas has left the radical Islamic faith behind and attends a Dallas-area Unitarian church. ( The Atlantic– 11.3.17)

Among the many news outlets that picked up the interview, several adopted a heavy tone of alarm and warning to readers. United Kingdom-based tabloid the Daily Mail uses a quote from Georgelas’s days of radicalization to headline their story, and it repeats the quote throughout the story as if it is a sentiment that she continues to believe. The story also directly questions whether she is truly reformed in her beliefs. ( Daily Mail– 11.5.17)

More coverage:

“ISIS bride-turned-Texas Christian: Racism radicalized me” ( New York Post– 11.5.17)

“The ‘First Lady of ISIS’ Lives in Plano” ( D Magazine– 11.3.17)

Unitarian Universalist Association leaders in the news

Former UUA president the Rev. Robert Nelson West was profiled in the Boston Globe after his recent passing on September 27. His modest and soft-spoken nature was noted, as well as his leadership during times of great difficulty for the denomination. Borrowing a quote from a previous UU World interview with West, the profile notes the response that met his decision to eliminate a number of staff positions at the national headquarters due to severe budget constraints: “Supposedly responsible UU ministers were publishing such sentiments as ‘UUA headquarters should be blown up,’ or ‘25 Beacon Street should be sunk in Boston Harbor.’” ( Boston Globe– 11.7.17)

Read the 2002 UU World interview with West here.

Read UU World's obituary for West here.

In a story about U.S. investor decisions to divest from firearms and ammunition manufacturing companies, UUA Treasurer and Chief Financial Officer Tim Brennan is interviewed about how the UUA handles these decisions, noting that the Association uses Toronto-based ESG adviser Sustainalytics to identify and remove securities that do not pass designated screens. "Certainly there is heightened concern here at the UUA after an event like (the shooting in Texas)," Brennan said. "But from an investment perspective, I would describe it as a steady concern." ( New York Times– 11.7.17)