Peter Morales Opening Speech at UUA Presidential Candidate Forum

Here is both the transcript and the video portion. The original video is now back online, albeit without Question One.

I’ll be posting all segments of the debate in the coming days.

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Rev. Peter Morales gives his opening speech at the UUA Candidate forum, explaining why he is running for UUA president. The complete transcript of the June 28, 2008 debate with the other candidate, Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, will soon be available at

Campaign website:

Opening speech Rev. Peter Morales

I’m running for UUA president because I believe deeply that we are called to be something that’s a great deal more than what we are today.

We are called to be more than a tiny fringe, relatively elite, and sadly declining part of American religious life.

The need for liberal religion in our country right now is just enormous.
It’s needed at the personal level where hundreds of thousands of people are coming, are longing for authentic religious community, for depth in their lives, for a place where they can be joining with others to make a difference in the world, where they can have authentic relationships.

And we live in a society with forces of fear and ignorance and greed that lead to hatred and exploitation, marginalization and terrible destruction of the ability of our planet to sustain life. And yet, this need not be the case. We can change this. I am completely convinced that we can change this.

I want to talk about three major issues, and many of you have gotten my platform and I’m inviting you for much more detail to check the website on that. I just want to hit the high spots on three issues that interrelate to each other and that are absolutely vital to us.

The first one is growing our movement.
And I believe we need to reframe ‘growing our movement’. It’s not a nice thing to do, it’s not about numbers, it’s the moral equivalent of housing the homeless, and feeding the hungry because we’re talking about people who are spiritually hungry and religiously homeless.
And every thing that we want to do in the world, every good that we want to do in the world, depends on growing our movement to be a stronger force.

The second major area has to do with our tradition of public witness and social service and social justice work. And one of the things that I really want to honor Bill Sinkford for is to raise our visibility in the world. That has to be and ought to be the foundation for the next president. And if I’m the next president I’ll continue and expand that, I’m a former newspaper editor and publisher, I’m comfortable with speaking out. And we also have to make it a lot easier and partner with our local congregations to help them to be effective moral beacons in our community.

The third issue that fits in with that is just enormous: We must create a new ministry for a new America. Let me hit you with a couple of statistics that are just shocking. Americans that are 70 years and older: three quarters of them are white. Americans 10 years of age: one quarter are white, 3/4 are not white, are Hispanic, African-American, Asian, Pacific-Islander, African, and more.
In the next generation we are going to see a historic demographic sea change in America. On top of that we are going to lose half our ministry during the next presidency. Three out of eight of our ministers are 58 years of age or older. You throw in our regular normal churn that occurs: half of them are gonna been gone, and dispro–portionately those serving our mid-size and larger churches.

It’s a perfect storm – and a fabulous opportunity if we take it.

We need – and if I’m president I’ll immediately put together a task force of key people from seminaries, or ministerial associations, people of color – to develop a strategy for ministry for the next generation. Without it we’ll be in a terrible crisis.
The fundamental issue for us in this campaign – but it extends way beyond this campaign! – is whether or not we continue to drift and slowly decline, and add about one person per congregation per year, which does not keep up with the growth of the population – or whether we will seize an opportunity to make some changes, to make us a vital force in American religious life and in the lives of hundreds of thousands more people.

We can be, we really can be the religion for our time, and I ask for your support for becoming that. Thank you.
(Rev. Morales spoke without notes)


One Response to Peter Morales Opening Speech at UUA Presidential Candidate Forum

  1. Robin Edgar says:

    Instead of “memory holing” it, why don’t you just deal with it jUUggernaut?

    “It’s a perfect storm – and a fabulous opportunity if we take it.”

    It’s also a “perfect storm” that may well sink the U*U “ship of fools” if you don’t mind me using that term too much. If you find it offensive all i can say is that U*U clergy, including Rev. Peter Morales it seems. . . use fairly offensive, to very offensive language, in their public and private statements about other religions. It is refreshing however to see Rev. Morales leveling some fairly strongly worded blunt criticism at the U*U “religious community” itself. All too often U*U clergy stridently point the finger at the failings or problematic aspects of other religions will conveniently ignoring serious failings of the U*U community, sometimes failings that are all but identical to the failings they are railing about in other religions.

    Rev. Morales has declared that unspecified other religions are “obsolete” “created for another time” and contributing to “the darkness” of fear, prejudice, and hatred etc. etc. Although he does not actually name these “obsolete religions”, it is clear from the context of his “stump speech” that he means Judaism, Christianity and Islam, if not some other major world religions. Does Rev. Peter Morales really believe that Unitarian*Universalist “society” is free of “forces of fear and ignorance and greed that lead to hatred, marginalization and other injustices and abuses? Does Rev. Morales have the moral courage and conviction to responsibly acknowledge that U*Us themselves quite regularly contribute to “the darkness” in their own way?

    I call upon Rev. Peter Morales, Rev. Laurel Hallman, other U*U clergy and UUA Trustees to “come out” and responsibly acknowledge the skeletons that clutter U*Uism’s “closet” and then take steps to responsibly and adequately redress any and all injustices and abuses that have been perpetrated and or perpetuated by Unitarian*Universalists. The UUA has a terrible track record when it comes to dealing responsibly with clergy misconduct of all kinds, including clergy sexual misconduct, and it has abjectly failed or even outright refused to provide genuine restorative justice to victims of clergy misconduct, again including victims of clergy sexual misconduct. This is but one example of the injustices and abuses that Unitarian*Universalists are responsible for, but refuse to accept responsibility for and adequately redress. Most people can smell hypocrisy a mile away and, until U*Us responsibly clean up their own act, they are not in a position to pretend that other religions are “obsolete” or that U*U do not do their own fair share of contributing to “the darkness”.

    If Rev. Peter Morales is serious about U*Uism “housing” the “religiously homeless” and feeding the “spiritually hungry” Unitarian*Universalists are not only going to have to deal seriously with the anti-Christian and more broadly anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that is found in too many U*U “churches”. The vast majority of Americans believe in God and I expect that this is especially true of what U*Us call “people of color” if U*Us want U*Uism to grow in any significant way they are going to have to actually live up to their seemingly empty, if not outright fraudulent, “covenants” to “affirm and promote” “acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations.” That means that U*Us must not only “accept” God believing people in any and ALL U*U congregations but must genuinely encourage their spiritual growth within a theistic framework.

    This does not mean that atheist U*Us need be unwelcome in U*U congregations but atheist aka Humanist U*Us must be genuinely welcoming towards God believing people in any and ALL U*U congregations. Those “Humanist” U*Us who can be justifiably described as “fundamentalist atheists”, and even Atheist Supremacists, who quite regularly make God believing people feel anything but welcome in U*U congregations are disregarding and violating U*U principles on an ongoing basis. The anti-Christian, and more broadly anti-religious, intolerance and bigotry of Atheist Supremacist “Humanist” U*Us is a serious problem within the U*U World that significantly contributes to U*Uism being “a tiny fringe, relatively elite, and sadly declining part of American religious life”. In fact, in my informed opinion, it is one of the top three factors that has caused U*Uism to become “a tiny, declining, fringe religion” if not Suspect Number One. This problem that “repels” no shortage of visitors to, to say nothing of God believing members of. . . U*U congregations, must be firmly and forthrightly addressed by UUA leadership including the current and future President of the UUA, the UUA Board of Trustees, and other UUA staff. The anti-religious, intolerance and bigotry of Atheist Supremacist “Humanist” U*Us must similarly be firmly and forthrightly addressed by U*U clergy and individual U*U congregations even though it is glaringly obvious that some U*U clergy, some “Humanist” dominated U*U congregations, and indeed some UUA leaders. . . are themselves guilty of either perpetrating or perpetuating the anti-religious intolerance and bigotry that causes the marginalization of God believing people in U*U “churches”. Please forgive me for being blunt again, but U*Uism hasn’t got a snowball’s hope in Hell of becoming “the religion of our time” until this serious problem is responsibly resolved and U*Uism deals seriously with the concept, and indeed reality, of God. Unless Unitarian*Universalists, including atheist U*Us, learn to “swim” with God the U*U “Ship of Fools” will sink in the “Perfect Storm” that Rev. Peter Morales prophesies is coming to the U*U World in the foreseeable future.

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