Sowing Justice: UU the Vote Rises Again

Sowing Justice: UU the Vote Rises Again

As threats to democracy grow, we’re determined to make 2022 the year love and justice regain the upper hand.

Jeff Milchen
UU leaders march in a Count Every Vote demonstration.

The Rev. Abbey Tennis (left), lead minister of First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray (center), and other UU leaders march in a “Count Every Vote” demonstration in Philadelphia on November 4, 2020.

© 2020 Caroline Gutman

Two years ago, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) responded decisively to unprecedented attacks on one of our core principles—the right to participate in democracy.


We launched the UU the Vote campaign in January 2020 with the goal of inspiring, and then helping, UUs to publicly express their values and engage in broadening engagement in the democratic process, from registering voters to issue advocacy.

Without taking the side of any candidates or parties, UU the Vote filled an essential need for faith-based organizing to counter the rise of fascism, white supremacy, and other anti-democratic forces.

The campaign embodies our values by centering relationships with frontline organizations and leaders, building relationships within and beyond Unitarian Universalism, and strengthening organizing infrastructure across the UU ecosystem.

  • WatchUUA President Susan Frederick-Gray’s campaign kickoff talk 
  • See Side With Love.orgresources and issue advocacy opportunities

Of course, the threats posed by would-be saboteurs of our democracy remain active, so UU the Vote is back, too—ready to build on a stellar rookie year to make an even greater impact in 2022.

Prior to the campaign’s 2020 launch, UUA President Susan Frederick-Gray proclaimed, “Let’s build the reputation that we are the people that show up and bring others to show up.” And show up we did—in numbers that surprised even the organizers! Five thousand volunteers spanning 450 congregations generated well over 3 million contacts with potential voters.

And even after many folks were exhausted, UUs showed up in force for the pivotal Georgia Senate runoff races.

Beyond activating short-term election efforts, UU the Vote lays groundwork to effect long-term change with events like “It Starts With Faith: Organizing School” to provide deep skills and theory to root electoral work in a larger quest for justice and to build capacity for individuals, institutions, and communities.

Skill development for UUs (and all interested folks) continues through free Skill Up workshops offered by the UUA’s Side With Love team.

Lurking Threats

Emboldened by a Supreme Court majority clearly signaling its intent to discard decades of precedent on (at least) abortion rights and voting rights, many state legislatures are attempting to roll back the clock and erase decades of advancements in civil, women’s, and LGBTQIA+ rights.

After federal legislation to secure access for voters was defeated last winter, regressive state legislatures continued advancing bills to raise barriers to voting, politicize election administration, and enable partisan politicians to sabotage vote counts. Of course, these laws impede voting by people of color, poor people, and youth far more than others.

As formidable as the challenges are, UU the Vote is ready to show up even stronger this year! We’re excited to launch the 2022 campaign this month with a new campaign director to increase our capacity, JaZahn Hicks.

UUs showed the world that faith-based organizing should be wielded not as a weapon of hate, but as a tool of love. JaZahn Hicks

At the April kickoff, Hicks recalled, “UUs showed the world that faith-based organizing should be wielded not as a weapon of hate, but as a tool of love. I was drawn to the spirituality of UU the Vote’s ideals and a compelling vision of a more just and loving world.”

Along with educating and turning out voters for candidate elections, we’ll be boosting engagement in citizen ballot initiatives on pivotal issues in many states, including Texas, Florida, Colorado, Kentucky, Michigan, and Virginia. Reproductive rights, equal rights for LGBTQIA+ people, and protecting the vote are among the issues where initiatives may be the last line of defense against regressive legislators who can pass laws that are unpopular as well as unjust because gerrymandered voting districts shield them from competitive elections.

With expanded capacity, thanks to the support of thousands of UUs around the country, we’re determined to make 2022 the year love and justice regain the upper hand over hate and fear. Get the free 2022 launch guide to learn more and join in!

Jeff welcomes your criticism, questions, and commentary Tweet @JMilchen