Fifteen Unitarian Universalist ministers throughout Southeast Michigan have affirmed their support for the Occupy Wall Street movement at their most recent meeting last week. The ministers reviewed and approved the following statement, similar to one also endorsed by more than 100 colleagues in Boston recently. Through this public expression, they encourage other clergy in Michigan and beyond to endorse Occupy efforts.
As clergy and people of faith, we applaud the Occupiers in Michigan and elsewhere who are reigniting American democracy from the grassroots. We join them in the vision of a society where all people enjoy a fair shake, with equitable access to education, healthcare, housing, and other basics necessary to achieve a dignified life. We are appalled that the nation's poverty rate today is higher than when Martin Luther King Jr. organized the "Poor People's March" back in 1968.
Dr. King inspired people of all races and classes to walk for "Jobs and Justice." The national Occupy movement asserts the same goals. These protests are occurring for a reason. In the more than four decades since King's death, middle-class incomes have stagnated, the jobless rate has soared, and the super-rich have managed to manipulate financial regulations and tax rates to claim an ever growing share of the nation's wealth. The richest 400 people in the country now have more assets than the poorest 150 million of their fellow citizens combined.
The vast majority of Americans – the 99% and many of the other 1% – are angry when some of the biggest businesses in the country pay no taxes. We see banks that brought the country to the edge of economic ruin being bailed out with public money, while millions forfeit their homes in the mortgage meltdown these same banks created. We feel increasingly powerless when mammoth corporations, invested with all the rights of "persons" to spend limitless amounts of money in electoral politics, hand-tailor legislation to benefit shareholders and CEOs at the expense of citizens and workers.
Has Government "of the people, by the people, and for the people" now become government of, by, and for the specially privileged? In order to restore our democracy, ordinary people must rise up to restore control of their own lives and economic destiny. We call on all to join in supporting the Occupiers closest to you, logistically, politically, faithfully. Now is the time.
Rev. Jeff Liebmann – Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Midland, Midland MI
Rev. Gail R. Geisenhainer – Senior Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Ann Arbor MI
Rev. Yvonne Schumacher Strejcek – Parish Minister, Community Unitarian Universalists in Brighton, Brighton, MI
Rev. Dr. Claudene F. Oliva – Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Flint, Flint MI
Rev. Andrew L. Weber - Ann Arbor, MI
Rev. Kathryn A. Bert, Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, East Lansing, MI
Rev. Karen J. McFarland – Dexter, MI
Rev. Dr. Nana' Kratochvil – Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Central Michigan, Mount Pleasant, MI
Rev. Kimi Riegel – Minister, Northwest Unitarian Universalist Church, Southfield MI
Rev. Mark Evens – Associate Minister, First Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Ann Arbor MI
Rev. Suzanne Paul – Consulting Minister, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, Troy MI and Minister, New Hope Unitarian Universalist Congregation, New Hudson MI
Rev. Shelley Page – Grosse Pointe Unitarian Church, Grosse Pointe MI
Rev. Roger Mohr – First Unitarian Universalist Church of Detroit, Detroit MI
Rev. Laurie Thomas – Community Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Greater Lansing, East Lansing MI
Rev. Dr. Cynthia L. Landrum – Minister, Universalist Unitarian Church of East Liberty, Clarklake MI
(Affiliations are for identification only and are not intended to represent commitments by the congregations)