June 24, 2016

Unitarians Boycott Wendy’s Over Tomatoes & Rethink Thanksgiving

How far will Unitarian Universalists fall? Unitarians trace their roots back to the Pilgrims, and they once helped rescue refugees fleeing Nazi Germany. Now they are preoccupied with boycotting Wendy’s over tomatoes and rethinking Thanksgiving.

The Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) recently called for a boycott against the fast-food chain Wendy’s. On June 22, UUSC organized a picket line in front of a Wendy’s in Columbus, Ohio. Approximately 50 Unitarians attended the protest, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

The efforts continue a year-long effort to lobby Wendy’s to sign onto the Fair Food Program, which would require the company to pay an additional $0.01 per pound of tomatoes. The extra money would go to farmworkers in Florida. The Unitarians joined with the Presbyterian Church USA and the United Church of Christ in throwing their collective weight behind the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, which have organized protests, petitions, and boycotts for more than 20 years against restaurants, ostensibly on behalf of migrant workers.

Organizing picket lines in front of fast-food restaurants represents a far cry from UUSC’s earliest efforts. The nonprofit organization, “guided by the values of Unitarian Universalism,” dates its origins back to 1939. That’s when UUSC says that “Rev. Waitstill and Martha Sharp traveled to Europe under the sponsorship of the American Unitarian Association to help refugees escape Nazi persecution.”

The UUA is also busy confronting another pressing social justice issue. This one centers on Thanksgiving. On Sunday (June 26), delegates at the UUA’s General Assembly will vote whether the denomination should “enter a time of education, careful reflection, and healing” regarding the holiday. With the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving in Plymouth approaching in 2020, the resolution focuses on the “suffering, indignity, and loss” allegedly inflicted on Native Americans by colonists. This issue is particularly linked to the UUA, since the resolution notes that “several of the New England congregations that were established during the 1600s continue today as Unitarian Universalist congregations…”

In addition, Washington Post reporter Julie Zauzmer observed in an article on July 23:

Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman whose 17-year campaign finally convinced Abraham Lincoln to declare Thanksgiving a national holiday, was reportedly involved in Unitarian communities herself. Yet despite those deep roots, Unitarian Universalists aren’t feeling so sure nowadays about America’s national day of turkey and stuffing.

The Unitarians clearly fall short of their Pilgrim forefathers’ legacy. They don’t even match the spiritual vivacity of their brethren from the early twentieth century.

Indeed, UUA’s membership numbers only further demonstrate their irrelevance in American society and religious life. With fewer than 157,000 members, the denomination remains smaller than when its membership peaked in 1968.

The Unitarians sadly appear poised to remain confined to an insignificant corner of the cultural conversation. As long as Unitarians focus on advancing fringe social gospel platforms rather than the Christian Gospel, their witness will only distantly resemble their spiritually potent forbearers.

Update: Zauzemer reported on Sunday that the UUA officially passed the resolution to reconsider Thanksgiving:

8 Responses to Unitarians Boycott Wendy’s Over Tomatoes & Rethink Thanksgiving

  1. GregRoar says:

    They fell as far as possible in that their primary belief is the non-divinity of Christ (Unitarian v. Trinitarian). All else is Commentary.

  2. Mike Ward says:

    This is what is important to these churches? Where other people buy their tomatoes.

  3. Namyriah says:

    This brought back memories of when I began my break with Methodism. I was proofreading an article titled “When Is a Cracker a Cookie?”for one of the UM magazines, and learned that the author wanted to warn all devout UMs about the atrocity of (brace yourselves) Ritz crackers, because they contained as much sugar as some cookies do. This was in the 1980s when the religious left wanted people to boycott sugar (on the theory that it would help underpaid farm workers in the Dominican Republic, except they never explained how decreasing the demand for a product could help the farmers – but then, it wasn’t about helping anyone, it was about virtue signaling, and no one could out-virtue-signal a leftist). “God wants you to stop eating _____” is not a Christian sentiment. What you eat is your business, don’t try to convince anyone that God shares your taste in food (or self-righteousness).

    • Dan says:

      Methodists and leftists are natural allies in that they both feel that coercion of the “stoopid” public is necessary to bring about heaven on earth, if you’re a Methodist , and a socialist workers’ paradise, if you’re a leftist. Seems that the typical Methodist trusts more in works and coercion of the populace to perform those works than in God’s grace. The whole idea of entire sanctification is badly flawed theology and has expressed itself in the curse of coercive social justice. Pieitism can be a good thing, but it can be taken too far.

  4. Robin Edgar says:

    How far will Unitarian Universalists fall?

    On Friday June 1st, 2012, Unitarian Universalists fell as far as falsely accusing me of the archaic crime of “blasphemous libel” in Bill Cosby style legal bullying that is quite evidently intended to cover-up and deny “such despicable crimes as pedophilia and rape” committed by “certain Unitarian Universalist ministers” to quote two choice phrases from the two arrogant and aggressive cease and desist demand letter the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Canadian attorney, Stikeman Elliott Barristers & Solicitors litigation lawyer Maitre Marc-André Coulombe, had me served with.

    Just run searches on Unitarians and “blasphemous libel” to find blog posts & Tweets about this shameful betrayal of the centuries old legacy of opposing blasphemy laws that Unitarians and Universalists once possessed.

  5. JA Myer says:

    What they are most guilty of is white privilege, only the privileged boycott Wendy’s tomatoes and whether or not to shop at target. The poor don’t have that luxury. But alas they are not alone in that guilt are they?

  6. Richard S. Bell says:

    I pray that credible spokesmen for Native Americans will allay Unitarians’ feelings of guilt by affirming that colonists were wholeheartedly welcome to settle in New England as refugees.

  7. TheDreadedGug says:

    “With the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims arriving in Plymouth approaching in 2020, the resolution focuses on the “suffering, indignity, and loss” allegedly inflicted on Native Americans by colonists.”

    ‘allegedly’? Really?

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