1945 April 16

Los Angeles First Unitarian Church Labeled a “Communist Meeting Place”


The California Senate Fact-finding Subcommittee on Un-American Activities attacked the First Unitarian Church in Los Angeles as a “Communist Meeting Place,” because it had hosted meetings and seminars at which left-wing activists were speakers. The committee, created on January 27, 1941, was the California equivalent of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and is generally referred to as the Tenney Committee, after its chairperson, Republican State Senator Jack B. Tenney. Labeling an organization as Communist-associated was typical of the guilt-by-association technique that was used during the anti-Communist hysteria of the Cold War.

One notable event in the history of the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles was its hosting of a gay rights conference sponsored by the Mattachine Society on April 11, 1953, and attended by over 500 people. The conference was a rare public gay rights event in the repressive homophobic atmosphere of the 1950s.

The House Un-American Activities Committee attacked the LA First Unitarian Church on the 12th of September, 1951, calling its activist minister Stephen Frichtman to testify.

Visit the web site of today’s First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles: http://uula.org/

Learn more about the Cold War: Ellen Schrecker, Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America (1998)

Learn more about the ACLU in the Cold War and other Times of National Crisis: https://www.aclu.org/aclu-history-rooting-out-subversives-paranoia-and-patriotism-mccarthy-era

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