Recently, I was asked to represent the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) at the Executive Council Meeting of Religions for Peace USA. We met at the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism in Washington, D.C.
The meeting was graciously hosted by Rabbi Jonah Pesner, Director of the Religious Action Center and Senior Vice-President of Union for Reform Judaism. The meeting took place in the very conference room where the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 were both drafted. The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. also used this room as his Washington, D.C. office.
Representatives from a wide range of faith traditions met together for this Executive Council Meeting, where we completed a statement on just immigration policy, which we will be circulating soon for signatures. Even among this broad spectrum of faith traditions we fully realize that peace cannot be achieved without justice. It is notable that we can agree on important justice statements. We hope that such a broad spectrum of religious voices will convince lawmakers to legislate more just and compassionate immigration policies.
A point I raised, which gained broad agreement at the meeting, was our need to substantially reduce military spending and work to eliminate nuclear weapons. As you may know, it costs trillions of dollars to constantly upgrade and maintain these weapons that would be planetary suicide to actually use. Anti-nuke activists with Unfold Zero are asking people to count out one trillion dollars with artificial one-million-dollar bills. One trillion dollars is a million million-dollar bills.
When people begin to grasp just how much money is wasted on nuclear weapons, they may understand that if we are going to address the other existential threat to our survival, climate change, then we need to reduce or eliminate spending on such weapons.
We also need to address issues of health care, income inequality, racism, white supremacy, gender/LGBTIQ equity, and more. All this will take money, and the money is available if we prioritize life and reduce or eliminate spending on suicidal weapons.
Religions for Peace International has its headquarters at the Church Center of the UN, which is also where our UU-UNO and several other faith-based social justice organizations have their offices.
As Unitarian Universalists, we have a long history of achieving lasting and dramatic change by building interfaith alliances. In 1970, Religions for Peace held its first international meeting in Kyoto, Japan. Prior to this date the UUA, Union for Reform Judaism, and the Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai began gathering other faith traditions to form the largest and most effective interfaith organization promoting peace around the world.
Unitarian Universalists are great conveners of interfaith action to solve local, national, and global problems. Religions for Peace International and country chapters of Religions for Peace can unite religions for peace in your community.