Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Religious Studies

First Advisor

Deborah Whitehead

Second Advisor

Ira Chernus

Third Advisor

Celeste Montoya


This thesis examines how Unitarian Universalist immigration justice work in the United States reflects a theological framing of human rights and the human. I argue that the Seven Principles is dually influenced by American Protestantism and secular assumptions about human rights like those found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Analyzing materials from the 2010 and 2012 UU General Assemblies demonstrates a tension between UU's interest in supporting the secular rhetoric of human diversity and a theological, universal definition of human. Utilizing Grace Y. Kao's delineation of theologically maximalist and minimalist approaches to human rights in Grounding Human Rights in a Pluralist World, I argue that UU immigration justice work implements a combination of theological positions: a theologically maximalist theoretical stance on human rights combined with a theologically minimalist practical approach.