Unitarian Church Leads NSA Lawsuit: Q&A with Rev. Rick Hoyt


"This is not a partisan issue, it's not about being right or left politically. It's about a basic, fundamental constitutional right," says Rev. Rick Hoyt.

Rev. Hoyt is leading his church, the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, and 19 other organizations to sue the NSA for first, fourth, and fifth amendment violations resulting from electronic surveillance. Rev. Hoyt sat down with ReasonTV's Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss the lawsuit and why his church has a history of getting involved in political matters of this nature.

"In the 1950s, of course we all remember it was the McCarthy era, there was a lot of anti-communist hysteria going on, and here in Hollywood, actors and writers were being blacklisted for presumed communist affiliation," Rev. Hoyt says, "and my church took a very public and courageous stand on supporting people who were being harassed by the government because of their political beliefs."

About 4:30 minutes.

Produced by Tracy Oppenheimer. Camera by Alex Manning and Patrick Bowers.

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  1. Cant watch the video cause streaming media is blocked at work but the one thing I’ve always wondered about Unitarians is why they are all so damn progressive.

    If you follow their belief system to it’s ultimate extension then you arrive at something very much like libertarianism ant yet 99% of Unitarians heads are stuffed so far up the ass of “social justice” causes that they can’t comprehend the damage their activities cause to individuals.

    1. Glad I’m not the only one to have noticed that same dissonance.

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    2. Depends on where you’re at. My wife used to attend. In South Dakota, she loved it. In Dayton, she stopped going because of the progressive politics.

    3. You can say the same thing about Quakers. While there are several notable libertarian Quakers, the vast majority are so pro-state progressive you could power the entire state of Pennsylvania just through William Penn spinning in his grave.

    4. First of all, for most Unitarians, there is no formal Credo, so there is not a standard guide to right and wrong.

      The lack of formal Credo has made Unitarianism attractive to dissenters, who have historically been on the side of the downtrodden and oppressed. They also tend to be non-judgemental WRT how people got themselves into trouble, so poverty becomes a ‘problem’ to be solved. The historical context – that 99% of people lived in poverty prior to the advent of capitalism – is not considered.

      There is also the fact that the Unitarian Church is, after all, a Church. Like most churches, the congregation is largely composed of people who want to “do good”; the difference is that Unitarians do not enjoy the theological baggage that goes with other churches.

      1. In other words, it’s basically a spiritual welfare program. They don’t care what you believe, they don’t care what you do, god loves you anyway. You get the grace of god without to sacrifice a damn thing. Ever met a liberal that had a problem with something for nothing?

        Interestingly, there’s a blogger with a theory that progressivism is essentially a secularized version of Calvinism. He might be on to something. It’s an interesting read, anyway…


      2. “Unitarianism attractive to dissenters, who have historically been on the side of the downtrodden and oppressed.”

        In my personal experience, living in a heavy Unitarian Universalist Massachusetts town, the “dissenters” that they side with have historically been the ones with their foot shod in the patent leather boot raining down on the downtrodden and oppressed.

    5. I didn’t know that Unitarians had a belief system.

      1. The do, it is just not religiously based.

        Their belief system is that we each have our own truth to find and champion and that each of our searches for truth and divinity wherever they may lay are equally valid and to be respected.

        It is very much rooted in individuality and voluntarism.

        So you could be a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, Satanist, Atheist, or Jedi and you will find a welcoming home in the UU church but turn this individualist approach to politics and in most places they’ll shun you faster than an Amish with an iPhone.

        1. Exactly – if following your bliss means carrying a gun and voting for Rand Paul, let’s see how tolerant they are.

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  2. Show me a Unitarian and I’ll show you a neurotic homosexual.

    1. I didn’t know you, Warty and Epi were Unitarians?

  3. I guess they eventually had to take a stand on something.

  4. One thing libertarians and Unitarians have in common: Garrison Keillor has an irrational, bilious hatred for both groups. It’s a start.

    1. It’s hard to tell when Keillor is hating anything, he’s so low-key.

      1. Well, blatant smearing of Norm Coleman wasn’t so low key (viz. paragraph 4):


        1. I love how Coleman took over Joe McCarthy’s old subcommittee.

  5. Interesting how the comments section of an article about how a group is taking a stand against something most people who read this magazine object to turns into a hatefest against that group.

  6. I was raised a Unitarian Universalist and I guess that has a lot to do with how I ended up here. They always told me to question authority – until I questioned the progressives’ authority over how I thought. That kind of broke it for me and for them.

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  12. Church of Los Angeles, and 19 other organizations to sue the NSA for first, fourth, and fifth

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