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Fraternity More Important Than Ever in an Era of Increasing Racist Nationalism

By Jon Sievent

The Rev Tom Rosiello, Affiliate Minister for the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of San Miguel de Allende (UUFSMA), explores thetension between freedom and equality at this week’s Fellowship service.

This Sunday, the French celebrate Bastille Day, which marked the turning point in their revolution that ended autocratic rule. Two weeks ago, the United States celebrated the Fourth of July, and in September, Mexicans celebrate their Independence Day. All of these holidays recognize the struggle for freedom, equality, and the establishment of democratic rule. These events altered the course of human history and established new ideas that are the hallmark of liberal Enlightenment thinking.

The French Revolution gave rise to France’s tripartite motto: Liberté, Equlité, Fraturnité (Liberty, Equality, Fraternity). During his recent visit to France, Rev Rosiello encountered these words engraved above the doors of many public buildings. He reflected upon them as he traveled throughout the country. In his sermon, Rosiello shares his understanding of what these words really mean and how we measure up today to the standards they set. What has become clear over the past 200-plus years is that these ideas are more easily proclaimed than accomplished.

“The tension between freedom and equality is essentially the core of the debate between liberals (who emphasize equality over freedom) and conservatives (who emphasize freedom over equality),” Rosiello says. “We know that both rights are important, but how do we balance them?”

Maybe, he suggests, the answer lies in the third part of the French motto. Fraternité is not a right, as are the other two, but what might be described as a moral obligation. What does that moral obligation look like, and how might it shape our view of the rights of freedom and equality?

Today we are witnessing a rise of nationalism and racism around the world that devalues and demonizes the “other.” We see elected officials shamelessly creating schemes to suppress the vote of minority groups, as well as increasing episodes of hate speech and crimes and the loss of some hard-won rights for the LGBTQ community. The enlightenment ideals of liberty, equality, and democracy are in trouble. Rev Rosiello looks at what a liberal faith teaches us about freedom, equality, and the democratic process.

The music for the service includes themes of freedom and liberty provided by service pianist Malcolm Halliday and vocalist Paola Juarez, performing “Tiempo de Libertas” and “Gracias a la Vida.”

For more information about the UUFSMA, including our social action outreach, weekly discussion groups, social activities, and Care Team, join us any Sunday at 10:30am at the Hotel La Aldea, or visit our website at Our Sunday morning children’s religious education program is on summer break until September.


UU Service

Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité

Rev Tom Rosiello

Sun, Jul 14, 10:30am

Hotel La Aldea

Tom Rosiello

Ancha de San Antonio 15, Centro



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