Unitarian Universalist president resigns amid diversity controversy

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Rev. Peter Morales at the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly in 2009. Photo courtesy of UUA/Nancy Pierce

(RNS) The president of the Unitarian Universalist Association has resigned three months short of the end of his second term, declaring that someone else needed to address the religious movement’s diversity problems.

The Rev. Peter Morales, the first Latino president of the liberal and theologically diverse association, resigned effective Saturday (April 1) as criticism mounted over hiring practices.

“It is clear to me that I am not the right person to lead our Association as we work together to create the processes and structures that will address our shortcomings and build the diverse staff we all want,” he wrote in his Thursday resignation letter to the UUA’s trustee board.

The controversy came to a head when a white male was chosen to lead the group’s Southern region, replacing another white man who was retiring. Christina Rivera, a Latina laywoman who has served on the UUA’s board of trustees since 2014, revealed that she was a finalist for the position.

“(H)ow do we hold the UUA accountable for racial discrimination and upholding white supremacy if no one stands up in the public square and says ‘me, it was me, you did this to me and it is not ok, I demand you make this right!’” she asked in a Monday blog post.

Later that day, Morales sent a letter to UUA staffers saying the people of color among the staff have increased from 14 percent in 2008 to 20 percent today; managers of color have increased from 5 to 9 percent. He also noted that UUA members, numbering about 200,000, continue “to be overwhelmingly white and of European origin” — as much as 98 percent.

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