A friend of mine — a keen observer of human nature — recently pointed out something I already knew, which is that Bob Malm is trying to discredit me by telling people that I am “unbalanced,” She also added a very astute observation, which is that while that argument may work with Grace church, it doesn’t work at at all with prospective church members, but instead drives the latter away.
How so? Because outsiders, not drawn in by Bob’s manipulation, quickly recognize that going around telling people that a former parishioner is mentally ill is conduct unbecoming for clergy. Not only does Bob have no expertise or training in psychology, but even if his assertions were true they are not the sort of thing you share publicly.
The end result is that the more Bob attempts to discredit those who would hold him accountable for his behavior, the more quickly things unravel at Grace Church. That trend is accelerated by those, like Leslie Malm, who go around lying about what transpired. When people realize that parishioners have adopted Bob’s approach to conflict resolution, they see that Grace has become toxic. And no matter how Bob tries to manipulate and bully his way out of things, parishioners eventually realize that Bob has never — not once — reached out to me or any member of my family and asked the question, “What would it take to resolve this?” Instead, Bob clings to his magical thinking that somehow he is going to prevail, and suddenly everything will be as it was 5 years ago.
The reality is that, even if this blog, my mom’s blog, and all the social media criticism of Bob’s behavior went away tomorrow, he and Grace church would still have a major problem on their hands. It’s called Bob’s behavior. And any priest who thinks it’s okay to try to force parishioners out of church for complaining about his or her bullying behavior has no business being a priest.