Saturday, 18 April 2009

How Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman And Rev. Peter Morales Responded To The Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct Of Nashville U*Us

UUA candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman, and Rev. Peter Morales, have now both formally responded to the Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct that was addressed to them by the Denominational Affairs Committee of the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville. Rev. Peter Morales responded quite rapidly, within about a week of receiving it, whereas Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman took closer to three weeks to respond. For the time being I am cross-posting the official responses of Rev. Peter Morales and Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman below, with some pertinent embedded hyperlinks. I will however be putting in my two cents worth quite soon, most probably in the form of some separate blog posts. I may update this blog post so it wouldn't hurt to check back in a few days or even a week or so.

April 2, 2009
Denominational Affairs Committee
First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville

Dear Alan and Members of the Committee,

Thank you for your letter regarding the UUA’s response to cases of ministerial sexual misconduct. Let me say at the outset that I understand how painful the experience of Nashville has been. My campaign manager, Dea Brayden, came from Nashville. So, too, did our minister of music, Keith Arnold. I am a close colleague of Mary Katherine Morn, and the topic has come up with Jason Shelton. The pain around this incident, even after all these years, is plainly evident.

Since I received your letter I have read the recommendations of the “Restorative Justice for All” report. I have also had a long conversation with Fred Muir, who not only was involved in drafting the report, but has also had continuing involvement with this issue. I have also read subsequent UUA publications, including a report on Safe Congregations written in 2004. With that as background, let me respond to your questions.

Would I would carry out all 13 recommendations of the 2000 report? After looking at subsequent documents and discussing the situation with Fred Muir, I would say that I think it would be wiser to revisit those recommendations in light of developments in the last nine years. I am not “passing the buck” here or being evasive. We need to look at our recent experience and at current practices of other churches and other organizations like colleges and universities. Sadly, there have been cases of sexual misconduct by ministers since the report was written. It does not look like they were handled as well as we might wish. Also, the UUA’s current practice needs to change immediately. The position now charged with hearing complaints, the director of congregational services, is being phased out. We will need an interim solution while we examine where we should go in the long term.

I am fully committed to taking action. To me, this is a moral imperative. I would seek input from the UUMA and advocacy groups. I would insist that we look at best practices in other associations. Certain criteria would inform any final implementation. One of these would be that a victim receive immediate and compassionate response. My own bias, from what I know of other organizations, is that we need to separate the pastoral and healing response to the victim from the process of judging the offense and taking any disciplinary action. Many organizations, including the UUA, have employee assistance programs where outside organizations handle response to personal issues with complete confidentiality. Again, however, I would want us to look at what experts consider current best practice.

Your second question concerns the critical issues of prevention and support to victims and congregations. The short answer is “yes, of course.” And again, I do not pretend to be an expert on what form that should take. I am absolutely committed to doing the right thing, and I understand that we have fallen far short in the past. The important thing for the president is to consult with advocacy groups and people who have expertise, so that what we do is compassionate, timely and effective. We have, for example, a well developed model for responding to crises. There is a trauma response team that has proven itself to be effective. Perhaps this model should be adapted to cases of clergy sexual misconduct. I would want to see a careful analysis of the options.

As to the area of prevention, there are many things we can do. None, alas, is perfect. Perhaps the most important thing we can do is to be frank about the issue and to train clergy and congregations about safe congregation practices.

In summary, I understand how painful and damaging clergy sexual misconduct is. I am committed to making ours a safer and a more compassionate movement. Any action I would take would be as the result of careful analysis of best practices and the painful lessons we have learned from our own experience.


Peter Morales

TO: The Denominational Affairs Committee of the Nashville, Tennessee Church
FROM: Laurel Hallman
RE: Your letter about Clergy sexual misconduct
DATE: April 17, 2009

Thank you for your question about clergy sexual misconduct and what the UUA’s response will be in my administration. I appreciate the time you have given me to reflect with people who have been working on the troubling effects of clergy sexual misconduct, both within and outside our Association. We all agree that silence is never the answer to this abuse of power.

More than any other profession, the minister carries the power of the office into relationships. Abuse of that power affects the survivor’s very soul. It also affects the soul and spirit of the congregation in which that minister has served. It goes to the heart of our faith to ask serious questions of justice, compassion and hope when the abuse occurs. As soon as possible after the election, I will gather survivors of clergy abuse in our association to talk with me about their experience, whether recent or distant. I will not defend, obfuscate, or discount any person’s experience. I will listen. I will be as transparent as I can be about what is possible, going forward. I can’t promise that I will be able to do everything contained in the 2001 Muir Report, or answer all the questions presented to the board in 2007. I will promise as President to do everything possible, with the resources available, to strengthen our structures of justice, our ministry to survivors, and our ongoing monitoring of complaints through final resolution.

We are fortunate at this time that the President of the UUMA, the Chair of the MFC, and the UUA Moderator are deeply committed to transparency, education, and appropriate procedures when charges of misconduct are brought. I will urge the UUMA and the MFC as well as the UUA Board to continue their educational and procedural work so that our programs of education and prevention always represent best practices and serve the work of justice.

Collaboration will be key to my presidency, and thus I look forward to collaborating with the survivors on this important issue. Thank you for bringing it to the forefront of the campaign.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Will Rev. Peter Morales Answer My Question During The UUA Presidential Candidates Telephone Forum Of Friday April 17, 2009?

I guess I should thank my very good friend ever so "conservative" U*U pagan Joel Monka for giving me this U*U heads up about tomorrow's telephone forum with the UUA presidential candidates Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman and Rev. Peter Morales. I have posed a number of as yet unanswered questions to Rev. Peter Morales, or his associate Martin Voelker, in comments posted months ago on his apparently quite moribund 'Along The Campaign Trail' blog. These important questions have never been responded to in any way whatsoever by Rev. Peter Morales. I decided to take a cue from Joel Monka's 'My question for the telephone forum' blog post and submit the most important of these unanswered questions to Rev. Peter Morales as a question to be answered during tomorrow's telephone forum.

Time will tell if the question I submitted is actually posed to Rev. Peter Morales and if he answers it adequately. Indeed in less than 24 hours we will know if Rev. Morales was asked this question, or a similar one posed by somebody else. Without further ado here is the full text of the email that I just sent to the moderator of this telephone forum, UUA Secretary Paul Rickter, with some additional embedded hyperlinks and an embedded YouTube video of Rev. Peter Morales' "stump speech" that is referenced in my preamble:

Here is my question addressed to UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales for tomorrow's telephone forum -

The preamble - Rev. Morales, you have not unjustifiably described Unitarian*Universalism as a "tiny, declining, fringe religion" in your "stump speech" announcing your candidacy for President of the UUA.

In that "stump speech", which is also a Sunday sermon titled 'A Religion For Our Time' you suggest that Unitarian*Universalism could be "the religion of our time". Indeed your primary campaign slogan, as prominently displayed on your campaign website and other promotional materials, is -

"We can be the religion for our time."

Here is my question -

What objective criteria does Unitarian*Universalism need to meet in order for U*Uism to be able to be credibly described as "the religion of our time" as per your presidential campaign slogan, and what is your comprehensive and, more importantly, realistic plan to "grow" and/or transform Unitarian*Universalism from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion", that you openly acknowledge Unitarian*Universalism currently is, into a religion that can be credibly described as "the religion of our time" within *our* time, let's say 30 years at the outside?

Thank you,

Robin Edgar

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Rev. John Crestwell Changes His UUA Presidential Campaign Endorsement from Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman To Rev. Peter Morales For UUA President

A blog post on Rev. Peter Morales' UUA Presidential Campaign "news blog" entitled 'Rev. John Crestwell Changes Endorsement to Morales' informs U*Us that Rev. John Thomas Crestwell Jr., minister at Davies Memorial Unitarian*Universalist Church in Camp Springs, MD, sent an "electronic communication" to the UUA Election List announcing his change of support from Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman to Rev. Peter Morales. This very public switch of allegiance just a couple of months away from the UUA Presidential election itself is an interesting development and it may well put some U*U wind in the sails of Rev. Peter Morales' bid to become the next President of the UUA. After all, what U*U minister, or any other U*U for that matter, would very publicly switch allegiance this late in the UUA Presidential election campaign if they did not believe that Rev. Peter Morales had a realistic chance of actually winning the election? This public switch of allegiance certainly contrasts with naysayers aka nattering nabobs of negativism like Rev. Daniel Harper aka Mr. CrankyPants aka Rev. CrankyAss and Rev. Scott Wells who have damned Rev. Peter Morales with faint praise by claiming to favor him while suggesting that he cannot win this UUA presidential election in the same breath. . .

I am not sure that Rev. John T. Crestwell Jr.'s description of both candidates as "incredible people" is all that politic considering that both UUA Presidential candidates have now made a number of public statements that could be charitably described as being "less than credible" aka incredible. . . Rev. John Crestwell's suggestion that the tiny, declining, fringe religion known U*U World-wide as The U*U Movement could "become *more* irrelevant in this new age of multiculturalism and spiritual awakening" clearly implies that, besides being tiny, declining, and "fringe" The U*U Movement is already at least somewhat *irrelevant* in the 21st century. So the 6.4 million dollar question that remains largely unanswered, just months before the UUA election is held, is -

Just how will Rev. Peter Morales "grow" The U*U Movement from being a somewhat irrelevant "tiny, declining, fringe religion" into "the religion of our time" as per his election slogan within *our* time, let's say 30 years at the outside. . . if he is actually elected as the next President of the UUA?

Can anyone out there in the U*U World direct me to somewhere on the interconnected interweb of all existence where UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales has clearly articulated his 20 to 30 year plan for how he intends to quite miraculously, if not outright magically. . . transform *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion into *The* Religion Of Our Time? I haven't seen it yet. . .

Saturday, 11 April 2009

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt Endorses Laurel Hallman for UUA President

Rev. Rosemary Bray McNatt has endorsed Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman for UUA President on her Rev. Rose blog. There are a few snippets of Rev. Bray McNatt's endorsement that I find quite interesting and worth commenting on. Here goes. . .

:Those of us who love this faith owe Bill an enormous debt of gratitude for making credible a liberal religious voice amid the conservative noise that passes for public debate.

Just how credible a voice for liberal religion UUA President Bill Sinkford is or was is open to some debate. . .

:In his strategic commitment to speaking faithfully, Bill changed the game for Unitarian Universalism’s public witness.

From where I stand, and from where other people stand, President Bill Sinkford has spoken rather less than faithfully on a number of issues. In fact, as far as I am concerned President Sinkford has demonstrated considerable bad faith and has repeatedly proven himself to be an outrageous hypocrite.

:Today, our faith once again provides respected testimony to our liberal values.

Really? Who are all these people who respect President Bill Sinkford's testimony of the "liberal values" of the U*U movement?

:Hearing Unitarian Universalists speak truth to power is expected — even assumed.

That's funny I could have sworn that UUA President Bill Sinkford, and no shortage of other UUA leaders, have turned deaf ears to Unitarian*Universalists speaking truth to power. . .

:It’s time once again for Unitarian Universalists to elect a religious professional to lead our movement into the 21st century. Yet the urgent work that faces our association is very different now than it was when Bill chose to run for the presidency. As liberal religious people, we are called now, more than ever, to be both articulate in naming the brokenness of this world and effective in the work of healing our world. That’s why I am supporting The Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman as the next President of our Association.

Really. . . Well I sure hope that Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman will be both articulate in naming the brokenness of the U*U World and effective in the work of healing your U*U World Rev. Bray McNatt. I will know soon enough how articulate and effective she is when it comes to the aspects of brokeness that I will bring her attentiuon to shortly and I certainly look forward to Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's articulate response to the Open Letter About Clergy Sexual Misconduct that the Denominational Affairs Committee sent her and Rev. Peter Morales recently. For the record that Open Letter would likely have been quite unnecessary if Rev. Bill Sinkford hadn't miserably failed, and apparently even obstinately refused. . . to deal responsibly with clergy sexual misconduct during his eight year term as UUA President. N'est-ce pas Rev. Rose?

:In his brilliant Ware Lecture from 2008, the African American community activist Van Jones spoke about the next level of insight, awareness and activism that we must embrace as human beings living on this fragile and endangered planet. And one of his themes—not unique to us as UUs, but so very relevant for us—is that it’s not enough to have a critique; you have to have a plan.

Well I don't see either of the UUA Presidential candidates critiquing the UUA's negligent, incompetent and effectively complicit mishandling of clergy misconduct complaints. What plans do they have to address that serious issue to say nothing of other aspects of U*U brokeness?

:I am supporting Laurel because she has a plan, not a critique of how awful/unprepared/inept we are.

Oh dear I guess that Rev. Rosemary McNatt Bray won't be endorsing The Emerson Avenger as UUA President or indeed Rev. Peter Morales who obviously got her back up with his blunt critiques of how awful, unprepared and inept U*Us are. . . So Rev. Rose can you fill us in on just what Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's plan is to responsibly deal with how awful, unprepared and inept many leaders of the U*U movement, including top level UUA officials such as Rev. Beth Miller and Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris just for starters? I guess she can breathe a sigh of relief that Rev. Dr. Tracey Robinson-Harris decided to leave the sinking U*U Ship Of Fools before she could possibly face any accountability from the next UUA President, not that there is any guarantee that any of the awful and/or unprepared and/or inept administrators at the UUA will actually face any real accountability when the awful, unprepared and inept Rev. Bill Sinkford is replaced as UUA President by either Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman or Rev. Peter Morales assuming he does better than a snowball in Hell. . .

:Laurel has a plan that takes Unitarian Universalism to the next level of insight and influence, based on her decades of experience, not only as a parish minister, not only as a brilliant fundraiser, but also as a committed community organizer working with

I have to admit that, besides rather less than diplomatically critiquing just how awful, unprepared and inept U*Us are, to say nothing how tiny, declining, and fringy the U*U religion is these days. . . Rev. Peter Morales has not done a very good job of presenting his plan for how he intends to grow the U*U movement from the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" religion that he acknowledges it is today into "the religion of our time" in *our* time. In spite of repeated requests from your's truly that he articulate his plan. OTOH I have not seen Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's clearly articulated *plan* for how she intends to take Unitarian*Universalism to "the next level of insight and influence" as you put it. Could you be so kind as to direct me to where I can read her detailed plan?

:Those of us who have been exposed to the community-organizing model know intimately that it’s never about talk, because talk is cheap.

You don't need to tell me or any other victim of U*U clergy misconduct, or various other injustices and abuses perpetrated and perpetuated by U*Us, just how cheap talk is Rev. Bray McNatt. . .

:Those of us who know community organizing know that it’s never about what a single person can do, but about what a committed group can do when it works together to hold powerful people accountable.

So just which group is holding powerful people within the U*U World and UUA accountable Rev. Rose? Please direct me to this group because I know some powerful people, at least within the context of the U*U movement, who need to be held accountable for their failures and misdeeds. Can you let us in on what Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman's plan is for holding powerful U*Us who have misused and abused their power accountable?

:Most importantly, those of us who know community organizing have seen what can happen when a collaborative leader brings together people who are so different that they shouldn’t even be able to stand next to each other. We know that amazing things happen when such disparate people unite in a common purpose!

Well I look forward to Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman bringing victims of clergy misconduct of all kinds together with the awful U*U ministers who are directly accountable for that misconduct, the awful and/or unprepared and/or inept UUA administrators and other U*U church leaders who failed or refused to hold those awful U*U ministers accountable for their clergy misconduct.

:Bill Sinkford’s exemplary success in leading Unitarian Universalism has served to raise the bar for liberal religious leadership itself.

UUA President Bill Sinkford’s leadership of the "tiny, declining, fringe religion" known as Unitarian*Universalism aka the U*U Movement is neither as exemplary or successgful as you and other U*Us would like to believe Rev. Rose. Just how has Rev. Bill Sinkford served to raise the bar for liberal religious leadership when it comes to U*U religious leaders like Rev. Ray Drennan, Rev. Victoria Weinstein aka Peacebang, Rev. Cynthia P. Cain, Rev. Dr. Timothy W. Jensen and other awful and/or unprepared and/or inept U*U clergy? Pray tell. . .

:We have traveled beyond the point where our movement can empower religious leaders who often talk a good game, but in the end hesitate to change the game.

ROTFLMU*UO! You empowered Rev. William G. Sinkford didn't you Rev. Rose? Do you*really* believe that President Bill Sinkford didn't talk a good game, but in the end hesitate to change the game, when it came to the UUA's (mis)handling of clergy misconduct and holding awful and/or unprepared and/or inept U*U clergy accountable for their "less than excellent" ministry?

:I am impatient with those leaders in our movement who participate in press conferences and public actions that make liberal religious people feel good, but leave those we oppose feeling angry or dismissive, and leave those unfamiliar with our faith—the movable middle—feeling both unmoved and unchanged.

ROTFLMU*UO again! Do you *really* believe that President Bill Sinkford didn't participate in press conferences and public actions that make liberal religious people feel good, but left those U*Us oppose (to say nothing of a good number of good U*Us) feeling angry or dismissive? What planet are you living on Rev. Rose? Certainly not the U*U World. . .

:I support Laurel because she knows very well how to argue with people like the late Jerry Falwell, or how to get face time with people like President Bill Clinton, (for the record, she’s done both!)

Woo hoo! Good for Rev. Laurel Hallman. I must admit that that sure beats President Bill Sinkford's misguided effort get some red-faced time, to say nothing of two-faced time. . . with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that left a good number of indignant U*Us feeling angry or dismissive.

:But she also knows, and will institutionalize, ways to build capacity in the tiniest congregation, ways to support the midsize congregations that are betwixt and between, ways to challenge large congregations to step forward for our faith. Even more important, Laurel knows how to support all our congregations as they work strategically within their own communities, so that our congregations become known as trusted partners in the work of justice, so that real and lasting change occurs.

So what will Rev. Laurel Hallman do to make the UUA and U*U congregations partners in the long overdue work of providing genuine and tangible restorative justice for victims of clergy misconduct of all kinds so that real and lasting change occurs?

:Most of all, I support Laurel because I feel in her presence what I feel in Bill Sinkford’s presence: a deep knowledge of The Holy, and a deep commitment to Unitarian Universalism as a liberal religious faith as opposed to some random nonprofit group.

So where was Rev. Bill Sinkford’s *presence* and alleged "deep knowledge of The Holy" when it came to dealing responsibly with the clergy misconduct of "less than excellent" aka awful U*U ministers Rev. Rose? I saw little or no sign of it myself. . .

:I resonate deeply with those within our movement like Laurel who find depth, strength and focus in a consistent religious practice, and whose spirituality grounds the work they accomplish.

You mean a consistent religious practice like totally ignoring people demanding justice for victims of clergy misconduct Rev. Rose? Come to think of it. . . that seems to be the consistent religious practice of you and other members of the UUA Board of Trustees as well.

:I have confidence that when Laurel leads—even when I disagree with her—she will lead from the core of our Living Tradition, that she will support religious leaders like myself in the work of justice and peace, and that she will call on each and every one of us to reach deeper and do more.

Oh I don't doubt that Rev. Laurel Hallman will be asking each and every U*U to reach deeper, especially in light of the UUA's current financial situation that is due in no small measure to unprepared and inept, if not downright awful. . . UUA planning (and not just financial planning by any means) during Rev. Bill Sinkford's tenure as UUA President.

:Laurel leads with the spirit of a pastor, the focus of a seasoned executive and the insight of the community activist that she’s been for more than 20 years. She has my unqualified support, and I hope you will join me in voting for her at our next General Assembly.

I look forward to seeing just how well Rev. Dr. Laurel Hallman leads with the spirit of a pastor, the focus of a seasoned executive, and the insight of the community activist when I and other people demand genuine and tangible restorative justice for ALL victims of clergy misconduct after the UUA elections.

Thursday, 9 April 2009

Rev. Peter Morales Less Than Excellent Answer To The Question Of The Humanist/Theist Divide Of The U*U World

UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, has posted a lame and evasive response to a serious legitimate question posed to him about the Humanist/Theist divide of the U*U World on the 'Morales Addresses “Humanist/Theist” Question' blog post of his Peter Morales For UUA President news blog. Conservative Pagan U*U Joel Monka finds Rev. Peter Morales' response to the question to be 'An Inadequate Answer' as do I. I was having a bit of fun with Rev. Morales' suggestion that Buddhists believe "Nothing" over on The Emerson Avenger blog and thus did not immediately post a more serious analysis of Rev. Peter Morales' considerably "less than excellent" response to this quite serious question about the Humanist/Theist divide that was posed to him during The Candidates’ Forum which was held on Saturday, April 4, 2009 at the Prairie Star District meeting in Duluth, Minnesota. In any case, I believe that my own response is more properly posted on this blog so here goes. . .

The Question In Question -

"Our denomination seems to be undergoing a philosophical shift. Twenty years ago in our congregation, the concept of a “Christian UU” seemed nonsensical. Now our congregation has a Christian UU minister and many of the secular humanists of previous generations, despite the acceptance of diversity that we say we believe in, are feeling bereft - bereft of a sanctuary from the world of deity (Christian or otherwise). The UU church was the one place in many UU’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being. Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without having to subscribe to the supernatural. How will you lead us as we struggle with this fundamental challenge?"

It is not clear who asked this question but the question itself, if taken at face value, contains some very interesting "answers" about the Humanist/Theist divide within Unitarian*Universalism. Apparently some Humanist U*Us sense a "philosophical shift" in the U*U World going from a Humanist dominated denomination to a more spiritual, theistic, and even "Christian" denomination. I find the perhaps unwitting "confession" that "twenty years ago", in at least one U*U congregation, "the concept of a 'Christian UU' seemed nonsensical" to be quite revealing. It certainly goes a long way to validating my own experience of a "Humanist" dominated Canadian U*U congregation that still appears to be dominated by so-called Humanist U*Us. "Humanist" being a code-word for atheist and agnostic aka non-theist Unitarian*Universalists.

Now however this Unidentified U*U congregation has, God forbid! a Christian U*U minister, and thus many of the "secular humanists of previous generations" aka aging and dwindling "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft. What are these U*U Humanists feeling bereft aka deprived of you ask? These aging "Humanist" U*Us are feeling bereft of a sanctuary from "the world of deity" be the deity a Christian version of God or *otherwise*. I guess that's a less than subtle acknowledgment that *some* U*U Humanists, no doubt especially those "Humanist" U*Us who can be properly described as "fundamentalist atheist" U*Us, are none too happy with the influx of U*U pagans over the last couple of decades or so. But we knew that already didn't we? What caused these less than bright "Brights" to seek "sanctuary" from "the world of deity" in a Unitarian Church of all places? Well we pretty much know that U*U history too. Or do we? I never quite figured out why any self-respecting atheist would want to go to church on Sunday to begin with, let alone try to hide from God in a so-called Unitarian Church.

Whoever posed the question pretends that aka expects us to believe that -

The Unitarian*Universalist church was the one place in many Humanist U*U’s lives where those who lived to a different drummer, theologically speaking, could live without the expectation that they subscribe to a divine being.

What?!! Isn't that a bit of a stretch? The *one* place where atheists could live without the expectation that they believe in God was the Unitarian*Universalist *Church*?

Give me a break. . .

Yes, yes, I know what *some* U*Us are going to say but *really*. Let's face it, don't U*Us think that it's just a bit conflicted, to say the least, for atheists to try to "get away from it all" in terms of God and theism by hiding out in a religious institution that is billed as the First Unitarian Church of Wherever? Especially given the original, traditional, definition of the word Unitarian which clearly implies belief in One God? What were these atheists thinking? Were they even thinking at all? Did they really believe that no Trinity doubting Christians and/or other God believing people would ever show up and want to join their so-called Unitarian Church?

:Where they could go on a spiritual or religious journey without *having* to subscribe to the supernatural.

OK That's different. It is one thing to go on spiritual or religious journey without having to, aka being obligated to, believe in God and/or the supernatural. It is quite another thing however to expect a so-called Unitarian Church to be completely and utterly devoid of any mention of God and/or the supernatural, or for it to be quite *unthinkable* to have Trinity doubting liberal Christians and/or other theists as members of a Unitarian Church, but it is abundantly evident that *some* U*U Humanists not only fully expected *their* Unitarian Church to be a God-Free Zone but strove to make it a God-Free Zone, and quite literally fought to keep it that way by making God believing people in general and Christian oriented people in particular, feel anything but welcome in *their* alleged Unitarian Church. . .

So just how will Rev. Peter Morales lead Humanist U*Us as they struggle with this fundamental challenge to Humanist domination of the U*U World? Unfortunately Rev. Morales doesn't provide any realistic answer to that loaded question, and he even seems to be trying to deftly sidestep the whole issue of the Humanist/Theist divide in his rather lame and definitely inadequate, if not outright non-existent, response to that question. Rev. Peter Morales’ response pretends that "religion is not ultimately about what we believe." Tell that to any Christian, Jew, Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, Baha'i, Zoroastrian etc. etc. aka *believer*. . . Indeed why do the Unitarian*UNiversalist association Of Congregations aka the UA and the Canadian Unitarian Council aka the CUC* publish various tracts and other U*U religious propaganda explaining what Unitarian*Universalists ostensibly *believe* if what people believe is not what religion is very much about? How is what U*Us love, what U*Us share, and what U*Us aspire to become, separated aka divorced from what U*Us believe pray tell? Aren't memory and hope forms of belief? Hope aka wishful thinking is certainly a form of belief aka faith. Memory is a synthesis of belief and actual experiential knowledge.

And since when is it "only in modern western society" that religious groups are defined by what they believe?!! Does Rev. Peter Morales *really* believe that religious groups were not defined by what they believed in ancient Eastern aka Oriental society? My bullshit detector just went Code Red. . .

But wait. There's more. . .

"What do Buddhists believe? Nothing — and they are a great religious tradition."

ROTFLMU*UO! Who would have thought that Buddhists and U*Us has so-o-o-o-o much in common? Well except for the "great religious tradition" bit of course. . . Heck even Rev. Peter Morales freely and irresponsibly acknowledges the capital 'T' objective Truth that Unitarian*Universalism aka The U*U Movement is *really* just a "tiny, declining, fringe religion", and in his "stump speech" announcing his candidacy to be the next President of *The* Tiny Declining Fringe Religion no less.

When all else fails change the subject. . .

"The humanist/theist debate is the wrong discussion."

Wrong Peter. The question in question sought an answer from you as to just how you would lead the Unitarian*Universalist religious community in the face of the preexisting and ongoing Humanist/Theist "debate", to say nothing of Humanist/Theist tension. . . It was a legitimate question, even if some uncharitable U*Us might describe a so-worded question as "whining", and you just failed and/or refused to answer it.

"It creates division and distraction. It is a debate no one wins and everyone loses."

No kidding Peter. I expect that is exactly why a Humanist shared his and/or her concerns about this "debate" which "no one wins and everyone loses" and wanted to know how you intend to responsibly deal with this "division and distraction" if or when you are elected President of the UUA. As they say, inquiring minds want to know. . . I dare say that a good number of U*U theists, be they Christian U*Us, U*U Pagans, or otherwise, are every bit as interested in hearing your answer to this legitimate question as those on the other side of the Humanist/Theist divide.

Peter then asserted - The questions we should address are these:

• What do we long to create together?

• How do we want to be with one another? What is our image of beloved community?

• How best can we join hands and work together for compassion, justice, peace, freedom, and a planet that will sustain life?

Oh dear. . . It appears that somebody asked Rev. Peter Morales the proverbial "wrong question". How many other legitimate and quite serious questions will Rev. Peter Morales deem to be the wrong question and refuse to answer aka address if or when he is "elected" as President of the UUA? Or is that yet another "wrong question" to ask? Yes, those *other* questions are very good questions, and deserve answers as well, but asking these additional questions in no way answers the question in question Peter.

"If you and I share a commitment to compassion; if you and I want to create a place where children are raised in a loving community and where elders are honored; if you and I want to end war and oppression; if you and I want to preserve life on earth, then you and I have the same religion."

OK so Rev. Peter Morales is trying to simplistically bridge the Humanist/Theist divide by pointing out that Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us have a variety of common interests and concerns, but U*Us know that already don't U*Us? The quite regrettable fact of the matter is that, in spite of the fact that Humanists and Theists have much more in common (perhaps especially within the context of the claimed principles and ideals of U*Uism) than they have serious differences, the Humanist/Theist divide is very real in a good number of U*U "churches" as the question in question makes abundantly clear. . . So Rev. Peter Morales, please do everybody in the U*U World a favor and responsibly answer the question that was posed to you.

Allow me to rephrase it slightly -

How will you, UUA Presidential candidate Rev. Peter Morales, lead ALL Unitarian*Universalists, both Humanist U*Us and Theist U*Us of all kinds, as U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide struggle with the various unproductive (and in some cases quite harmful and damaging) "divisions and distractions" of this "fundamental challenge" to the ability of Unitarian*Universalism to be anything more than a "tiny, declining, fringe religion"?

Here's a clue. Actually practicing genuine justice, equity and compassion in human relations between U*Us on both sides of the Humanist/Theist divide will be required to bring resolutions to the divisions aka conflicts and distractions that you quite evidently know exist within the U*U World. So you might want to tell everyone how you are going to embody good humanist values, and the teachings of Jesus and other theists, and bring these values to life if or when you are elected as President of the UUA.