The moral minority

—Faith Chill

A: Ace advises you to have faith, Faith. Most of the ministers who signed the quarter-page ad are retired clergy, so they were not breaking any congregational rules and they weren’t speaking for anyone but themselves. The one exception, Rev. David Takahashi Morris, who leads the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church-Unitarian Universalist, is allowed what he calls “freedom of the pulpit,” which means he can speak out politically—as long as it’s on his own behalf, which it was.

 It all started when Bruce Weatherly, a retired Episcopal clergyman who relocated to this blue oasis about five years ago, felt the call of what he describes as his “intense dislike for the present incumbent of the presidency.” As Providence would have it, Weatherly is literally surrounded by other retired ministers—a Presbyterian across the street, another Episcopalian two doors down, a Unitarian a few more houses down the lane, and so on. In time, the initial group of gotta-do-somethings grew to 13, including Rev. Takahashi Morris. ”We acted out of our own need and conviction,” says Weatherly, who put in 55 years as a minister following a tour as a Marine during World War II.

 Weatherly says he also “took an active part in protesting the Vietnam War,” but always as a private citizen. Once again, it’s the issue of invasion and combat that moves him, saying “my strongest feeling is against the war. Having been a Marine, I cringe every time I hear about what’s happening over there day by day.”

 As you know, Faith, while the ad of Weatherly and Co. conveyed the sentiments of the majority of Charlottesville and Albemarle voters, it ended up in the dustbin of losing efforts, after all. Weatherly told Ace that the group gathered on November 2 “for a victory party.” That must have been a laugh riot, huh? Ace thinks not. Dashed but not despairing, Weatherly jokes, “We’ve all said we’re going to Canada.”

 But as the good book tells us to do, Weatherly finds a silver lining in the electoral outcome: “In one sense, Mr. Weed did very well, “ he says. “And there are still a great number of Americans who voted for Mr. Kerry—or at least against Mr. Bush.”