|Priestly perjury plant, in honor of Bob Malm|
Today I wanted to share my thoughts on The Episcopal Church with millenials and gen z-er’s. My advice: Keep doing what you’re doing and steer clear of the church. Or, if you’re not already doing that run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit.
When it comes to young people, studies offer some good news for society: Much like millennials, gen z’ers are compassionate, concerned about others, and inclusive. They’re also unlikely to hold rigid notions of right and wrong when it comes to sexual ethics and other issues.
Ten years ago, I would have said those trends spell good news for The Episcopal Church. Inclusive, free-thinking, concerned about social justice and the environment, the church seemed a good fit for generations to come.
Today, I know better. Time after time, I’ve seen how The Episcopal Church talks a good game, while in reality it remains stuck in a Madmen-era time warp.
For example, one hears recited at worship the Baptismal Covenant, in which Episcopalians promise to “respect the dignity of every human being.” Sounds good on paper, but this is a church that is just starting to address sexual harassment, almost 50 years ago after such conduct became verboten in corporate America.
Similarly, the clericalism of the church, in which clergy are treated as somehow superior to laity, is not just hypocritical. It’s repulsive. The folks in the pews are the ones who support the food pantry, the homeless shelter and more through donations of time and money. These are given after what, for many, is already a 50-60 hour workweek. This contrasts sharply with Bob Malm, with his regular work hours, $200,000 compensation package, $100,000 bonus, month at the beach every summer and time off for marathons and golf.
Nor would this oversized clericalism necessarily be a bad thing if Bob lived an exemplary life. But as I’ve discussed elsewhere, when criticized for his conduct towards parishioners, Bob has no problem yelling, “Why should I give a fuck?” (Yes, there were witnesses.) Bob commits perjury, lies to vestry members and parishioners repeatedly, tries to drag the dying into court, and curses like a sailor at sporting events. (Yup, witnesses to that, too.)
For the record, I don’t have an issue with cursing, but it’s not something I expect regularly from a priest. The rest I don’t expect from anyone, let alone a priest.
Right about now, the Bob Malm fan club, including Bob himself, responds by saying, “Well, he’s human too.” I get that, but most of us don’t try to drag the dying into court. We have an issue with perjury. We have an issue with lying to people we claim to care about. And we have an issue with bullying and harassment, whether in church, school, or the workplace. In other words, Bob’s conduct is far below what we hope for in our friends, let alone our clergy.
Nor do I think most of us have much in common with a overaged frat boy whose life revolves around beer, running, golf and the beach, with bad hair color, alligator skin, nasty teeth and an ugly hair transplant. If nothing else, few get to spend a month at the beach every year. In fact many, myself included, haven’t had a vacation in years.
Nor is the problem confined to Grace Church. In fact, The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia has repeatedly said in writing that it doesn’t have an issue with Bob’s conduct. That specifically includes:
- Failing to safeguard church funds (think thousands of dollars of cash previously unaccounted for, as well as numerous spare checks and bank deposits routinely showing up at the bank in amounts different than what is on the deposit ticket.)
- Possible gender-based harassment.