Aug 22 2013
CommonDreams: Why a Small Church in Los Angeles is Leading the Legal Fight Against Government Surveillance
When I first met Reverend Rick Hoyt he said, “You don’t have to call me Reverend – just Rick is fine.
The bespectacled and youthful pastor sporting a salt-and-pepper beard, certainly didn’t look like a conventional “man-of-God.” In fact, the Unitarian Universalist church to which Rick belongs is known for defying Christian theological convention. And, Rick’s home at the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles also has a history of defying political convention.
The church, according to Hoyt, has been a “fierce advocate for personal liberties.” Even before Edward Snowden became a house-hold name, the First Unitarian Church of LA became a named plaintiff in a major lawsuit against the National Security Agency (NSA) over privacy violations.
Nineteen organizations have joined Hoyt’s church in an unusual coalition that includes the Marijuana legalization group, NORML, and gun rights groups like the California Association of Federal Firearms Licensees.
Hoyt admits that some of the groups are those his church doesn’t normally work with and “aren’t necessarily politically sympathetic with.” But the right to personal privacy is a libertarian position deeply held by both ends of the political spectrum.