Sunday, April 28, 2019

Protests This Week

Things have been a bit busy lately, with the result that I haven’t been able to protest as much as usual. But lest anyone conclude that this presages a general slowdown, rest assured that I’ll be out at least two days this week. Plans also include leafleting a swath of Beverly Hills that I have not previously done.

Busy week ahead!




Thursday, April 25, 2019

Eighty-five Percent of Millennials Who Don’t Go to Church Say it’s Hypocritical. They’re Right

Did you know that 85 percent of millennials who don’t go to church say they believe church to be hypocritical? Well, they’re right.

The statistics are found in the recent Barna studies, with the relevant results available here.

That doesn’t bode well for Grace Church. With a rector, Dysfunctional Bob, who commits perjury by lying under oath, who thinks it’s okay to try to drag the dying into court, and who has repeatedly lied in other settings, both Dysfunctional Bob and the church serve as the poster children for hypocrisy. A similar approach pertains with former vestry member and church lawyer Jeffery Chiow, who repeatedly proffered false statements of fact in court, and whose descriptions of other church members would have enraged Jesus. 

Things don’t get any better with the vestry, which is nothing but a rubber stamp for Dysfunctional Bob, and which also lies to people with its facially false talking points about our conflict. 

The altar guild also has its fair share of bullying, with Linda Waskowiscz allegedly having reduced more than one of her fellow altar guild members to tears over the years. Then there’s Alison Campbell, with her seeming belief that she gets to choose who is a member of Grace Church, using her fun and games/manipulative behavior with the altar guild as her enforcement mechanism.

Similarly, the choir is well known for its bad behavior, including bullying. Then there’s the office staff, as well as our buddy the Princess Porcine, aka Lisa Medley, with her lies, bullying and other antics. And you have several independent actors, including the obviously troubled Jan Spence, whom Bob Malm refers to as an “asshole.” Yup, the love of Christ runneth over.

Nor does the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia want to get involved, so it’s also a part of the problem. 

In short, the Episcopal Church in Virginia appears headed for a resounding crash as its existing membership evaporates through attrition. Of course, the Bob Malm’s of the world don’t care—their pension checks will continue regardless. But the Virginia branch of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement appears to be moving in one direction only: Down the toilet.

How very sad that a church with so many things going for it is so utterly incapable of getting its act together.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep


On May 21st, 2013, my life changed forever. My house church in Redlands, CA, became a cult, put me on trial, and tried to coerce me to sign a contract that forbade questioning the leadership. They called such questions “slander.”
The antinomian teachings of Hyper Grace had taken hold of this fifty-member community, and they ultimately shunned me, along with their families, friends, and other house churches in the area.
I was devastated, because I knew that this sort of thing—authoritarian dictators running rampant with impunity—happens often in churches. I had been studying it and learning about it. I knew it even had a name: spiritual abuse. I determined to warn others and speak out, even when my vocabulary and composure couldn’t keep up.
As my friends went from drunkenness to drug use, from marijuana to heroin, from twisting the Scriptures to ignoring them entirely, the apathy of so many parents and pastors and onlookers in Redlands matched what I came to understand was the larger Christian world.
Like every victim, my entry into the survivor community was unexpected and involuntary, and every plea for help became a silent scream into a vacuum where no answers come.
Those were my “all caps days,” when I wrote status after status on Facebook—never in a dignified way—seeking to share my experiences of abuse. I thought that if you heard from a person you knew, speaking about how abuse is thriving in churches, you would understand what has been happening for far too long.
I thought you would understand what I was saying about Bill Gothard, Doug Philips, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Tony Jones, Bill Hybels, Andy Savage, Tullian Tchividjian, C.J. Mahaney, James MacDonald, and too many others to mention. I thought you would understand how these leaders and the culture that enables them are not unique or isolated incidents but part of a hellish pattern.
I thought you would see this pattern and understand my burden to stop it.  
I was wrong.
Maybe I was naïve, thinking Christians were different from the average person. Your preaching about love and family and commitment gave me the impression you knew what you were talking about. But when push comes to shove, it has actually been the non-Christians in my life who treated me better than the Christians.
The biggest lesson being your friend taught me is how I should not try to persuade people to love me who are committed to misunderstanding me. I will no longer negotiate my worth. Even if you disagree, I deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion because I am created in the image of the invisible God.
Yet you’d rather make me “unhinged,” nothing more than garbage, a Peter who cries “wolf,” rather than consider I may actually know what I’m talking about. 
I wish you understood.
I wish you knew what I did about how unsafe Sunday really is.
I wish you knew the many people I do, whose lives stand in sharp contrast to your own. 
The subtle biases many of us face is a web of indifference. It is that attitude, that mindset hiding in plain sight, that the Church is somehow immune from evil and that abuse does not happen there.
Instead, the soul-crushing truth is that abuse would not thrive in the Church if it weren’t for the indifference of those whose privilege has isolated them from reality.
I wish instead of invalidating our experiences you could just listen. When we tell you that women experience the Church differently than men, how vulnerable children and the disabled are, how harsh the punishment is for disagreeing with a pastor, or what it’s like when you tell the truth in a community that professes to love truth, you cannot just disagree.
Not only is this insulting, it is dehumanizing. Your denial robs us from the very thing we need the most—a community where we can heal.
Instead, the survivors of the Church have become so numerous that we now have formed a community of our own. I believe it is another revival, but instead of God bringing people to the institutional church, He is rescuing people from it. The industry, the celebrities, the publishing houses and radio stations—the big money that comes from playing along—none of it glorifies Jesus, because there is nothing sacred about an institution that hides evil.
You see these survivors in such places like conferences on abuse—the Courage Conference, the Conquer Conference, the Valued Conference, or smaller get-togethers that are not so public.
You’ll find them in #Exvangelicals, #ChurchToo, and #EmptyThePews. Some of the voices are strident or openly heretical, but I understand that is what happens when faith hurts.
Far from hating the Church or you, I do love you. I wish you were still my friend. But your lack of presence demonstrates the fact you had no empathy to begin with. I was an enigma that you tried to solve, a curiosity you tried to manage, a problem—but never a person to be loved.
You’ve never applied yourself to deeply love the broken or wounded on the roadside. Deep down, you’re so afraid that you could be vulnerable to abuse or assault that you assign blame to the victimized. The randomness of life is so terrible a thing to contend with that somehow we “deserved” what we experienced.
Maybe that’s why you never reached out and said, “Help me understand.” Maybe that’s why you never called to ask “Are you okay?” Your mind was already made up about us, even as we trusted you to love us.
Instead you asked, “Why are you so bitter?” “Why aren’t you going to church?” “Why aren’t you reading your Bible?”
You claimed “no church is perfect,” asked if we were “working toward reconciliation,” and accused us of gossip and slander.
You act as though there is no reason to be angry or hurt by this. You are surprised Bible verses dispassionately recited can harm people. You are offended when we say we aren’t troublemakers because there is already trouble inside your community. The people you are called to love, you refer to as slanderers, divisive, and renegades.
And you say we can go to you for anything.
We see the contradiction. We see no urgency to care. We see you’re just looking for reasons to shove us away and then wonder why we never come to church.
I learned the hard way that when abuse happens in religious communities, a steadfast commitment to truth can be a relational death sentence. Often it is the people in power who abuse, and often it is those very people you cannot question.
The clearest indicator that a community is in dangerous territory is when we cannot question our leaders. Our demeanor does not matter, nor how we frame our words, because this isn’t about how we say it—it is about what we are saying that makes us, somehow, unworthy of your time.
As the years have passed, I not only gained the vocabulary for knowing what has happened to me and others, but I feel what Emily Dickenson wrote when she said, “There is a languor of life, more imminent than pain. ‘Tis pain’s successor, when the soul has suffered all it can.” I understand what Brené Brown wrote when she said, “You can choose courage or comfort but you cannot choose both.” I understand what Fred Rogers meant when he said, “Listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another.”
Far from being angry with you, I read our last emails and messages and sometimes look you up. I often dare to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday. I have many such messages in my draft folders. But I know you have not reexamined your position, because you have not reached out to me.
You are enshrined in your certainty that you are right and the many survivors who are speaking out are wrong.
There are so many of us in the Church who remain outside of the sanctuary on Sunday, yet our absence means nothing to you. The show must go on, because pretense matters more than our presence.  
In so doing, you scoff at people’s pain. Your silence in the face of our pain makes you complicit for so much of it.
Now, tell us truly: who is the hateful one? Who is the divisive one? Who is the slanderer? Who is unsafe?
I didn’t destroy our friendship. It broke my heart to learn you were not incapable—just unwilling—to truly love me and those like me. When you walked away, I had to learn to do the same. But I never wanted to do that.  
If you ever returned to me, having looked into these matters and with a sincere apology were ready to fight for a world without abuse, I would love to have you back. 
Sadly, I believe the next time I will see many of you is during the end of all things, when we all stand before Him before whose face the earth and heavens will fade away. There He will tell us that when we gave a drink to the thirsty, when we welcomed the stranger, when we clothed the poor, and when we visited the prisoner, we were doing it to Him.
He will pierce us with His fiery gaze and see when we failed to love others. You will ask when you failed.
And then I imagine He will gesture to us. Those of us who hungered for righteousness and thirsted for justice but were not fed. Those of us who were exiled from our church families and never welcomed back. Those of us who stood naked and ashamed when shame was not ours to bear and yet were not clothed and protected.
Those of us who languished under the weight of chains from oppressive abusers and were not visited or freed, but were looked upon with indifference, if we were ever seen at all.
I’m not sure what will happen next for you at that moment—if punishment comes for those who say they are Christ’s yet lived as though they were not. But I do hope you will then realize what I’ve been trying to tell you all along.
Your brother,
Ryan

Ryan Ashton is a survivor, advocate, and graphic designer with a BFA in Graphic Design. He is the Director of Technology and Social Media for GRACE and the Creative Director for The Courage Conference. Ryan currently volunteers with Greenville (SC)’s Julie Valentine Center as a sexual assault victim advocate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week Hypocrisy at Grace

In just a few short days, Grace Episcopal will celebrate the Easter Vigil, which marks the high water mark of Holy Week. And despite the church’s faltering finances and reputation under the “leadership” of Dysfunctional Bob, the place will be awash in flowers and other symbols of the resurrection. That begs the question, “How can it be Holy Week when Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow think it’s okay to drag a woman, slowly suffocating to death, into court?”

The answer is that there’s nothing holy about Holy Week at Grace Church.

Holy Week is, of course, the culmination of Lent, a time of introspection and repentance. But folks at Grace continue their vendetta, replete with accusations of “domestic terrorism” and Bob Malm’s perjury under oath. No sign of repentance, no change of behavior.



So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a Holy Week that is nothing but a notation on the calendar, an expensive bunch of hoo-ha replete with smelly flowers, incense, candles, and a noisy bunch of brass musicians hammering away, perched in the choir loft. Meanwhile, the whole sordid, hypocritical farce will be presided over by Dysfunctional Bob, who has worn out his welcome and stayed so long that he can barely conceal his eagerness to get home following command performances like Easter.

In short, Easter at Grace Church is a joke. 

If you really want to celebrate Easter, celebrate the miracle of the resurrection. Give life to the hopeless, care to the needy, friendship to the lonely. Don’t conflate the real meaning of Easter with Bob Malm’s tawdry, noisy contrived spectacle of the Great Vigil.


Saturday, April 13, 2019

Todd Ousley and the Big Brush-Off

Remember when I posted that the Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt? Well, today’s email from Todd Ousley, the national intake officer for complaints against Episcopal bishops, confirms it.

Previously, I contacted the Diocese about Bob Malm’s perjury. Sure enough, the Diocese brushed off my concerns without even investigating. So, I kicked things upstairs to Todd Ousley. Sure enough, his response was essentially that as long as the diocese invokes Title IV in its response, that’s all that’s required. This, no matter how outrageous the conduct, the Diocese is free to dismiss it in this manner.

In my case, proving Bob Malm’s perjury is very simple. All the Diocese has to do is ask Bob for proof of his claim that Mom made multiple appointments with him—a claim at the very heart of his recent court case. But it refuses to even lift a finger.

Proof that The Episcopal Church is irretrievably dysfunctional.




Bishop Susan Goff Knowingly Permits Clergy to Lie Under Oath



Friday, April 12, 2019

Harvest Bible Chapel Lawsuit Goes Live

Some time ago, I referenced the exploding scandal at the Harvest Bible Chapel over abuse of power, misuse of funds, spiritual abuse, intimidation and more. Today, things reached a new level, as a website launched that provides information for those who may wish to join in the lawsuit against the church.

You may recall that the church tried suing bloggers for defamation, as part of an effort to shut down criticism. In other words, it tried pulling a Bob Malm.





This Easter, Boycott Grace Episcopal



Is Church Safe for Children?

Is your church safe for children? Probably not if, like Bob Malm, you take no meaningful action when faced with parishioners who have boundary issues with children.




Thursday, April 11, 2019

BobMalm.com Surges Past 70,000 Hits

Exciting news! In the little over 16 months that this blog has been open, as of the wee hours this morning, it has garnered more than 70,000 hits. Traffic remains strong, with daily traffic continuing to climb.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog is the smallest part of my efforts. For example, even small social media posts garner 6,000 or more hits. Big ones, like the tweet announcing the Wartburg Watch article, have been seen more than 100,000 times. Paid advertising also remains strong, and we will surge ads during Holy Week. Leafletting also continues apace, and we will have leafletted at least another 500 homes before Easter.

Check it out!




Bob Malm and Grace Church’s Failed Internal Controls



I’ve previously written about the breakdown in Grace Church’s internal financial controls during Bob Malm’s watch. These breakdowns include:
  • Overpaying one employee for many months, allegedly due to an accounting error.
  • Thousands of dollars of cash and stale checks found in the church office following the resignation of a previous church administrator.
  • Facially inaccurate financial reports.
  • Failure to provide the vestry with school financial reports as required by law and written church policy.
  • Failure to follow written church policy on the issuance of credit cards, with rector Bob Malm allegedly carrying a card in violation of church policy.
  • Failure to follow canonical requirements for a finance manual. (As the longest reigning rector at Grace Church, Bob Malm surely has had ample time to make that happen.)
In recent days, the burgeoning scandal at Harest Bible Chapel involving Rolex watches, cars, and motorcycles underscores the need for effective church governance. Yet, while it is clear that Beth Calaman has done an admirable job in cleaning up the mess that Bob created, it is not clear that the underlying problems with transparency and disclosure have been addressed. It is time that this happen.

These issues are doubly important in light of two factors:
  • The expenditures now under way for the HVAC project.
  • Reduced transparency by the church following Bob’s decision to stop publicly releasing vestry minutes. (BTW, if Bob’s goal was to keep me from seeing those, he failed miserably. I see them on a regular basis.)
Nor should folks be lulled into a false sense of security by stupid, illogical comments like Lisa Medley’s claim that “there is complete financial transparency.” If there were indeed complete transparency, then it logically follows that Lisa and other vestry members knew about the funds that disappeared into the abyss of the church administrator’s office and chose to ignore the problem.

Folks, it’s your money we’re talking about, and faithful stewardship of these resources is a sacred responsibility. Bob’s complete indifference to these issues is grave violation of your trust, and it’s time to demand accountability.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bob Malm: Mentally Ill?



Is Bob Malm mentally ill? I don’t know the answer to that question, but believe there are factors that suggest the answer is yes. Among them:
  • Bob’s seeming need for adulation, combined with constant efforts to secure more.
  • His focus on power and control, and his use of forceful diction to try to create an impression of power/authority.
  • His focus on superficial image and appearance.
  • His carefully hidden insecurity.
  • His ability to present a guileless exterior, while exhibiting behavior behind the scenes that is vile, vicious, and vindictive.
  • His seeming need to live up to parental and other expectations.
  • His apparent treatment of his children as an extension of himself.
  • His sometimes over-the-top rages when he perceives himself to be criticized, or those close to him.
  • His profound resistance to supervising staff and performing other essential components of his job.
  • His belief that he’s a great supervisor and priest, when facts suggest otherwise.
  • His stated beliefs that he is invincible, and doesn’t need others.
  • His strong verbal skills.
  • His lack of real empathy for others.
  • His often practiced/rehearsed conduct, combined with oddly “flat” behavior when he cannot play a rehearsed role.
  • His refusal to address conflict.
  • His professed religious beliefs, which often stand in marked contrast to his conduct.
  • His dismissive remarks about his wife and others whom he claims to care about.
  • His seemingly shallow emotions.
  • His ability to lie as needed, making stuff up as needed to suit his purposes.
  • His lack of a notion of objective truth/reality.
  • His projection of his own attributes on others.
  • His willingness to lie and commit perjury, while loudly decrying my assertion that he has done so, all while ignoring written evidence of his deceit.
  • His apparent inability to see any conflict between his professed values and his conduct.
  • His willingness to ignore church policies and requirements when it suits him.
  • His ability to manipulate the perceptions of others.
  • His increasing paranoia, including his belief that he is pursued by “domestic terrorists.”
  • His becoming disoriented in his own home, resulting in a serious fall and hospitalization in 2014.
  • His tendency to address issues/conflict through manipulation, versus open dialogue.
  • His unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.
  • His seeming belief that he is special or unique and should only associate with others who are special.
  • His deep-seated but carefully hidden prejudices on certain issues.
  • His seeming tendency to cultivate those who are wealthier or may otherwise confer perceived status on him.
  • His dismissive attitude towards those who may have nicer belongings than him.
  • His irrational conduct towards me and indifference to the damage it is causing to Grace Church and its members.
  • His apparent belief that criticizing his conduct is somehow abusive or illegal.
  • His stated belief that he can use the judicial system as a way to discipline former church members.

Monday, April 8, 2019

See for Yourself: Despite Scandal, the Catholic Church is More Ethical than The Episcopal Church

As those familiar with my conflict with Bob Malm already know, in July 2015 the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia dismissed my Title IV complaint against Bob Malm. What does that mean in real-life? It means that my allegations, which included potential workplace harassment and clear retaliation by Bob for complaining, are not, per the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia, even arguably violations of church canons. Indeed, even with the recent change to Title IV, which specifically forbids retaliation, the diocese does not view Bob’s conduct as being within the aegis of conduct unbecoming clergy, and thus actionable.

Before going further, you should note that the this decision was communicated in writing by the Rev. Carolyn Parkinson, then the diocesan intake officer.

That’s also really troubling.

Not only is retaliation illegal at publicly traded companies, but Bob’s conduct would expressly violate Catholic written “safe environment” policy, which requires inter alia that:
  • Clergy refrain from creating or permitting an environment in which harassment of any sort is allowed.
  • Clergy treat all persons with dignity and respect, and avoid intimidation, including verbal and written.
  • Clergy provide an environment marked by fairness and justice.
  • All involved take allegations of harassment seriously.
Guess that would preclude stating that harassment is not a violation of church canons, yelling at volunteers in front of others, permitting staff to do so, lying about parishioners, committing perjury, calling your parishioners “domestic terrorists,” or trying to drag the dying into court.

It is a sorry state of affairs when the Catholic Church takes the moral high ground versus the supposedly inclusive Episcopal Church.

The following screen caps are from Catholic Safe Environment policies:






Sunday, April 7, 2019

Lies from the Grace Vestry

Here’s another example of lies coming from Grace Church, this time from the vestry.

The first screen cap shows the vestry’s talking points, in which the vestry claims that I left the parish voluntarily. (Gotta love those “specific security measures,” — far better than “inchoate security measures.” And heaven knows—protesters are a HUGE risk to our national security. Who was the moron who came up with the First Amendment?)





The second is a written timeline from Dysfunctional Bob in which he states that I was removed from various church volunteer activities. That begs the issue—if I had already left “voluntarily,” why the need to “remove” me?



And here is Bob Malm’s email telling me to get lost, which tellingly includes Mike:



Apropos Bob’s denial of bullying behavior, the very fact that he’s lying about me and others entrusted to his pastoral care, and referring to me as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional” disproves his assertion. Moreover here, for example, is a text message from Peter Barnes, after an incident of Bob’s bullying behavior at a church personnel committee meeting:




As to bullying generally, one need only look to the post from a college-aged parishioner urging me to kill myself to see just how dysfunctional and sick Grace Church really is:


It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when even the church vestry lies. If the vestry as a group can’t be counted on to tell the truth, what’s left? And saying, “Well, I don’t want to get involved,” doesn’t cut it—the vestry is responsible for the church’s temporal affairs.

Grace church, toxic church.


Saturday, April 6, 2019

Imagine if the Church Said, “I’m Sorry”

I saw this op-ed on the Chicago Sun-Times. It is reprinted with permission.

Imagine if the church said, ‘I’m sorry’

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Imagine if the church said, “I’m sorry.”

Imagine the collective of Christian churches across America creating, even for just one day, a safe space for those who have been abused in the church, or by the church, to say openly before the assembly — without condemnation that something happened to them in this the most sacred of places we hold so dear.

Imagine …

Imagine if the church ceased from telling church-wounded brothers and sisters to simply “get over it.” Imagine if the church stopped scolding or shaming those countless “victims” over their inability to simply move on. Imagine if the church had a Me Too moment.

OPINION

Imagine a church that no longer attempted to whitewash sins inflicted by the clergy upon the laity — often in secret and shrouded by a form of godliness, though purely evil and often criminal.

The lesser sins: The backbiting from the pews, the shaming, denigration and legalism from the pulpit, the misuse of power. The abuses almost too incomprehensible to utter that have left the sheep bruised and scarred, battered or barely breathing, bitter, until finally turned off to the church and to God, as the church abides mostly in complicit silence.

It is a pervasive silence that has swept over the church at large like a thick fog that obscures the truth and reality of life, love, joy and pain within the age-old institution.

The church. It has been co-opted by a 21st century bling-bling Gospel, by prosperity doctrine and the emergence of the mega church. It is today a much more insular church than the church of old, intoxicatingly focused on building temples of brick and mortar rather than “community” and the temple called the souls of men.

A made-for-TV church, it is a semblance of the church it was commissioned to be many centuries ago — enraptured by political correctness and with befriending the powers that be rather than speaking truth and practicing a social Gospel that is disruptive and also transformative. It is a church adept at seeing the speck in others’ lives but inept at detecting the beam in its own.

But imagine. … Imagine if the church’s stiff-necked denials and knee-jerk reaction to criticisms from within or without was no longer to circle the wagons but instead to deal circumspectly with those criticisms, with the myriad tales of untold abuse, and to take measures to prevent it.

Imagine the bold confessions of a repentant loving church: An admission that church leadership has indeed looked the other way amid glaring evidence of abuse. That the church is guilty of being MIA at times of great crisis and that it remains mostly mute about the scourge of murder, claiming black lives in genocidal proportions, and other social issues.

Imagine a church that concedes that Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists have no less sin than Catholics or those of other faiths who hide behind the collar and the cross while serial abusers devour the unsuspecting and vulnerable who once checked in safe at the House of God.

Imagine a church that confessed that the church has brought shame to the name of Christ. A church that does not excuse the perpetrator or the flawed institution itself but seeks to heal and to protect the least of these.

Imagine a church that said: “We are sorry that happened to you. … We believe you. You have every reason to never want to go to church again. Please forgive us and please accept our deepest regrets on behalf of the church.”

Imagine that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is calling the church itself to repent.

Now imagine if we, the church, don’t.

Bob Malm: Yet Another of His Lies

Here’s another good example of Bob Malm’s lies and misrepresentations.

The first screen cap is a message I sent to Bob when things heated back up in the summer of 2017, after several communications from parishioners that were hateful and homophobic. Note that I discuss the importance of publicly saying that bullying is not okay, and of reminding people that both sides had put the matter behind us. What the email does NOT include:
  • Any discussion of a public forum.
  • Any discussion of an apology from Bob.
Moreover, this is the only email I sent to Bob on this subject.


Now, in Bob’s subsequent email to Bishop Shannon and Canon Pat Wingo, see how Bob describes my email. Note his references to a public forum and an apology, and his claim that I asked him to take responsibility for the conflict. These are, to be blunt, lies.


I’d add that apropos Mom and other family members, several of whom have independent grievances against Bob, Bob indeed has made no effort to resolve their concerns. In fact, he has never discussed the matter with them. And, of course, there is Bob’s little antic of taking words out of context roughly one-third of the way through his endless run-on sentence.

Meanwhile, Bob’s email underscores an important point: Bob Malm is a liar. Or, to use Sugarland Chiow’s phrase, a “serial liar.” 

As such, Bob should not be serving as a priest, and you can quote me on that.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Another Lie By Bob Malm

Here’s another lie by Bob Malm. In this email, sent to parishioner Easter Thompson, Bob Malm tells her that no one who knows Grace Church takes me seriously. That’s an interesting and false claim; discussion below the break.




  • On the one hand, Bob’s email tries to throw shade on my concerns by essentially saying that no one in the know agrees. Yet those concerns repeatedly have been experienced by others, including those “in the know.” For example, the Rev. Anne Turner, who once served as Bob’s assistant rector, has provided pastoral care to a member of the altar guild who allegedly was bullied by Linda Waskowiscz. During her time at Grace, Anne also experienced outbursts from the church office staff. Thus, bullying within the church and by office staff is well-substantiated, and has been experienced by someone intimately familiar with the parish.
  • On the other hand, Bob’s statement also contradicts his later assertions that people are “terrorized” by me. If no one takes me seriously, how are they terrorized?
The third aspect, of course, is that this illustrates the crux of Bob ‘s bullying. Not only does he play people against each other, but his comments are decidedly contrary to the values set forth in the gospels, and inappropriate as a pastoral matter. (Screen caps from “Ten Signs Your Church is Bullying You,” found here.)






Indeed, dismissing concerns from church members is itself a form of bullying.



Or, put another way, the more Bob tries to brush off my concerns, the more he proves that they are warranted, including that Bob himself is toxic, and that his behavior is inappropriate. Meanwhile, the fact that parishioners like Easter Thompson can receive emails like the one in question and not see anything wrong with Bob’s conduct makes clear that the church has become toxic at every level. (Easter’s comments also are noteworthy in that she’s never said anything directly to me, despite the fact that she has my contact information. Triangulation, anyone? And how she sees any connection between writing generally on church abuse and Grace Church is beyond me. Perhaps it’s time for Easter to reduce her consumption of alcohol.)

Lastly, as I have stated in previous posts, no agreement to “follow the bishop’s....directives,” was made in Fredericksburg. That is a bold-faced lie — and nonsensical, as well, for I was not a member of the diocese of Virginia by the time Bob wrote this email.


Check it Out: Dysfunctional Bob Malm Earns More Than Billy Graham

Few who are familiar with Bob Malm’s history as rector of Grace Episcopal Church would argue that he’s busting his butt. Yes, Bob shows up for most vestry meetings, as well as a few other command performances. But being gone more than 2 months out of the year on various forms of vacation and leave, and never getting involved with ministries like the food pantry, Bob is not exactly breaking a sweat.

It may therefore come as a surprise to learn that Bob Malm earns more than Billy Graham did. With a compensation package that, including fringe and indirect, tops $200,000, Bob is nothing if not well compensated.

Below is a screen cap from Newsweek that reveals that Graham, responsible for a world-wide ministry, never exceeded $150,000 a year in compensation.

Must be great to be Grace Church and awash in a sea of cash! 




Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Grace Church Members to Renew Baptismal Vows at Easter. I Call BS

Okay, so I’m a little slow at times.

Bob Malm and many others will be part of the Easter Vigil at Grace Episcopal this year, where inter alia they will renew their baptismal vows.

So how exactly does that work? Bob Malm commits perjury, tries to drag a dying woman into court, goes after innocent family members, lies repeatedly, and refers to people entrusted to his pastoral care as “sick and twisted,” and yet he’s standing up there in front of hundreds proclaiming the Gospel and renewing his vows to “respect the dignity of every human being?”

Given Bob’s track record, he should put a sock on it. Jesus may be Lord, but Jesus has nothing to do with Bob’s conduct, nor Jeff Chiow’s actions, nor much of the church’s behavior.

So, while Bob proclaims “Jesus is Lord,” I proclaim, “Bob Malm is a fraud.”



Grace Episcopal Now Hiring: Assistant Rector Wanted



Good Article on Attorney Obligations to Verify “Facts”

One of the most troubling things about this case is Episcopal Church attorney Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow’s false statements of fact to the courts. For those who may be unfamiliar with the details of my case, Jeff Chiow, a former vestry member of Grace Church, repeatedly made false statements in his pleadings, including false statements of fact. These include:
  • That I had never practiced law.
  • That I never served as a police officer.
  • That I violated the existing court order.
While Jeff and his clients (Bob Malm and Grace Episcopal Church) may argue that they did not intend to mislead the courts, the first two are statements of fact. As such, it is not sufficient to simply say, “Well, my client told me.” There is an affirmative duty to conduct reasonable independent inquiry. In this regard, even a cursory review of publicly available data would have made clear that these statements were fabrications,.

Apropos the third claim, violating the court’s order, nothing in the law, the facts, or Sugarland’s pleadings themselves supports this conclusion. Intentionally misleading the court in this matter is a serious violation of an attorney’s ethical obligations as an officer of the court.

As one attorney and author states, “zealous advocacy is not synonymous with recklessness or indifference.” Meaning one cannot simply toss assertions out there and hope that something sticks, as Jeff Chiow has done.

Of course, in doing so, Jeff is doing so as the church’s representative, so as an organization, Grace Church is equally culpable.

Read the full article, published in the New York Law Journal, at https://www.stroock.com/siteFiles/Publications/NewYorkLawJournal.pdf.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Best Description I’ve Seen for Bob Malm






Is Your Priest a Sociopath?

Is your priest a sociopath? Before you reject the question out of hand, ask yourself: Is he or she highly articulate? Seemingly very self-assured? Charismatic? Do they make up lies on the fly to suit their needs? Never accept responsibility or if so, do so only on a token basis?

If the answer to these questions is yes, you may have a sociopath on your hands.

Reprinted below with permission from Believe the Sign is the full article, found at http://en.believethesign.com/index.php/Sociopathic_Leadership



Sociopathic Leadership

Psycopath.jpg
Some message churches have become cult-like. Just as a cult cannot be truly explored or understood without understanding its leader, so these churches cannot be understood without clearly understanding the pastor. 
These unique message pastors generally have charismatic personalities - inescapable magnetism, winning style, and self-assurance - with which they promote their unique message within the message. Even more important than charisma; however, is their persuasive skills which are more important to the longevity of the church than the pastor’s charisma.

The Profile of a Sociopathic Pastor

Sociopath and psychopath are really the same thing. The term "sociopath" is preferred by those that see the causes of the condition as due to social factors and early environment, while the term "psychopath" is used by those who believe that there are psychological, biological, and genetic factors involved in addition to environmental factors. Typically psychopathy refers to a condition where the individual lacks a sense of empathy or morality, while sociopathy differs in sense of right and wrong from the average person.
Psychopathy is most commonly assessed with the Hare Psychopathy Checklist, Revised (or the PCL-R) created by Dr. Robert Hare which is a 40 point scale. Any score that is greater or equal to 25 would generally be considered a psychopath (or sociopath). A normal score would be considered to be 5 or less.
In the case of a sociopathic pastor, they may exhibit some, or all, of the following characteristics to a greater or lesser extent:

Glibness and Superficial Charm

Glibness is a hallmark of sociopathic pastors. They are able to use language effortlessly to beguile, confuse, and convince. They are captive story tellers, and are persuasive. They have the capacity to destroy their detractors verbally or disarm them emotionally.

Manipulative and Cunning

Sociopathic pastors do not recognize the individuality or rights of others, which makes any and all self-serving behaviors permissible. This type of person is adept at interpersonal manipulation based on charm. The manipulator appears to be helpful, charming, even ingratiating or appearing to put the church first, but is covertly hostile and domineering.

Grandiose sense of self

Sociopath pastors enjoy tremendous feelings of entitlement. They believe everything is owed them as a right. They present themselves as a special leader: enlightened, a vehicle of God, uniquely gifted, the only appropriate leader of the church, and sometimes the most humble of the humble.
Paranoia often accompanies the grandiosity, reinforcing the sequestering of the group and the need for protection against any one who has left the church. They create an us versus them mentality.

Pathological Lying

Sociopathic pastors lie coolly and easily, even when it is obvious they are being untruthful. They lie for no apparent reason, even when it would seem easier and safer to tell the truth. Confronting these lies may provoke an unpredictably intense rage or simply a smile. It is often difficult to determine whether the lies are an actual delusional distortion of reality or are expressed with the conscious or unconscious intent to deceive.
These manipulators are rarely original thinkers. Plagiarists and thieves, they seldom credit the true originators of their ideas.
They are extremely convincing and forceful in the expression of their views. For them, objective truth does not exist. The only “truth” is whatever will help them achieve their needs. This type of opportunism is very difficult to understand for those who are not sociopaths. For this reason, followers are more apt to invent or go along with all kinds of explanations and rationales for apparent inconsistencies in behavior: “I know my pastor must have had a good reason for doing this” or “He did it because he loves me—even though it hurts.”

Lack of Remorse, Shame, and Guilt

At the core of a Sociopath is a deep-seated rage, which is split off (i.e. psychologically separated from the rest of the self) and repressed. Some researchers theorize that this is caused by feeling abandoned in infancy or early childhood.
They see those around them as objects, targets, or opportunities, not as people. They do not have real friends; sociopathic pastors have victims and accomplices - that later end up victims. To the sociopath the end justify the means, and there is no place for feelings of remorse, shame, or guilt. Nothing gets in their way.

Shallow Emotions

While sociopathic pastors may display outbursts of emotion, these are more often than not responses calculated to obtain a certain result. They rarely reveal a range of emotions, and those they do reveal are superficial at best, and fabricated at worst.
Positive feelings of warmth, joy, love, and compassion are more feigned than experienced. They are unmoved by things that would upset the normal person, but outraged by insignificant matters. They are bystanders to the emotional lives of others, perhaps envious and scornful of feelings they cannot have or understand. In the end, psychopaths are cold, with shallow emotions, and they live in a dark world of their own.
Hiding behind the “mask of sanity,” the sociopathic pastor exposes feelings only insofar as they serve an ulterior motive. He casts himself in a role of total control, which he plays to the hilt.
What is most promised by the Gospel and the church — peace, joy, love, and security — are goals that are forever out of reach of the leader, and thus also the followers. Since the leader is not genuine, neither are his promises.

Incapacity for Love

Although he may refer to himself, for example, as the “living embodiment of God’s love,” the leader is tragically flawed because he is unable to give or receive love. Love substitutes are given instead.
The leader’s tremendous need to be loved may be accompanied by an equally strong disbelief in the love offered by his followers, which results in often cruel and harsh “testing” of his devotees.

Callousness and Lack of Empathy

Sociopathic pastors readily take advantage of others, expressing utter contempt for the feelings of others. Someone in distress is not important to them. Although intelligent, perceptive, and quite good at sizing people up, they make no real connections with others. They use their “people skills” to exploit, abuse, and wield power.
Sociopathic pastors are unable to truly empathize with the pain of their victims. Church members engage in denial about this callousness, because it’s so difficult to believe that someone they love so much could intentionally hurt them. It therefore becomes easier to rationalize the leader’s behavior as necessary for the general or individual “good.”

Irresponsibility

Sociopathic pastors rarely accept blame for their failures or mistakes. Scapegoating is common, and blame falls upon followers, those outside the group, a member’s family, the government, Satan — anyone and everyone but themselves.

Entrepreneurial Versatility

Sociopathic pastors have an innate ability to attract followers who have the skills and connections that they themselves may lack. The longevity of the group is dependent on the willingness of the leadership to adapt as needed to preserve the group.

Recognizing a Sociopathic Pastor

As you read the descriptions above, you may notice characteristics that match and explain some of the attributes, attitudes, and behaviors of your pastor. Unmasking or demystifying the leader is an important part of postcult recovery. Becoming familiar with the characteristics of this personality disorder may help you prevent being revictimized. 
Here are some questions to ask about your own experience:
  • How well did you know your leader? Was it through firsthand knowledge or others’ accounts? 
  • What did you feel when you met him or her? 
  • Did those feelings change during the time you spent in the group or relationship? 
  • Was your leader charismatic, charming, quick-witted, or able to sway a crowd? How were those qualities used by your leader to get his or her way?
  • Did you believe your leader to have special powers, exalted spirituality, or special knowledge? Do you still believe that?
  • Did you ever catch your leader lying or faking? Being inconsistent? How did you rationalize what you saw and heard when it was clearly aberrant, irrational, or abusive? 
  • How did your leader rationalize his or her behavior when it was aberrant, irrational, or abusive? 
  • How many of the traits listed above did you observe in your leader? 
  • Were there second-level leaders in your group? Did they psychologically resemble the leader or were they devoted disciples blindly following orders? 
  • What do you know of your leader’s childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood? Does he or she fit the pattern?

General References

Lalich, Janja and Tobias, Madeleine, Take Back Your Life: Recovering from Cults and Abusive RelationshipsChapter 4 - The Cult Leader, Bay Tree Publishing, 2nd edition (May 30, 2006)