One of the things I learned from my experiences with perjuring priest Bob Malm and toxic Grace Episcopal church is that many people conflate friendly with faithful. As in, “Bob’s a good guy,” or “you’ll be welcomed with open arms.” Yes, Bob Malm is an ostensibly friendly guy. Yes, Grace Episcopal is a seemingly friendly church. But right behind both exist layers of toxic behavior that are contrary to the real meaning of Christianity.
It’s interesting: From friendly, people attribute ethical qualities. As one chucklehead at Christ Church said, “Why would you say that about a good man like Bob Malm?” referring to my assertion that Bob Malm committed perjury. Yet it doesn’t take much interaction at all to discover that Bob is a man who lies under oath, tries to drag the dying into court, deliberately misuses funds, directs church staff to exclude others, and goes after innocent family members in pursuit of his vendettas. In short, he is the antithesis of what one should expect of a priest.
My advice to anyone sizing up a new church or a new clergyperson: Take your time. Watch their actions. Ignore the flattery, smiles, hugs, and other window dressing.
I’d also point out that Bob’s comments about others are inappropriate for clergy, or anyone for that matter. Referring to Jan Spence as an “asshole,” or Lisa Doelp as “like a little spy,” is wrong. Nor do I believe his comments about Lisa. Nor do these sorts of comments build up others.
Similarly, folks can talk all they want about what a friendly church Grace is. but that doesn’t justify things like the bullying, gossip, and other inappropriate conduct that come from office staff, the choir, and the altar guild. Nor is there ever any excuse for urging people to commit suicide, Alison Campbell’s fun and games, or Lisa Medley’s toxic behavior. The fact that Bob Malm turns a blind eye to this sort of conduct and allows folks like this to serve in leadership positions reveals just how thoroughly broken Grace Church is. Grace, like many spiritually abusive churches, is like a yew, with pretty red berries. Yes, they are beautiful on the surface, but if you partake of them, you will find that they are toxic.
These issues extend to the diocese itself, where there is zero concept of accountability and no clergy discipline, unless the alleged misconduct involves sex. It is sad that The Episcopal Church is locked into a Madmen-era notion of misconduct in which only sex counts.
Lastly, to young people who turn their back on organized religion due to issues like this, I say this: You are spot on. Any church or denomination in which this sort of thing is okay is not one you should support. You won’t find Jesus or God in the midst of these modern-day Scribes and Pharisees.