But there are other factors that members should consider as well as they contemplate pledging. In addition to the enormous expenses of operating a pretty but empty set in the form of the church building — an annual cost of more than $150.000 — there is the grim reality of the church’s hypocrisy, organizational narcissism, and downright evil behavior.
Over the years, members of the parish have recited the baptismal covenant. replete with its promise to respect the dignity of every human being, hundreds of times. But that promise flies in the face of myriad forms of misconduct within the parish, including:
- Bob Malm’s decision, tacitly approved by the vestry, to force Mike out of the church.
- Bob Malm’s perjury.
- The church’s efforts to subpoena a dying woman, my mother, in violation of the law.
- Bob Malm’s multiple lies.
- Bob Malm’s defamation.
- Kelly Gable’s defamation.
- The childish and hateful antics of Lisa Medley and Alison Campbell.
- Sugarland Chiow’s multiple courtroom fabrications, his inflammatory and hateful rhetoric, and his treatment of our conflict as a personal vendetta
- The church’s illegal concealment of evidence damaging to its case.
- The remarks, almost certainly by a member of Lisa Medley’s family, urging me to commit suicide.
Nor have we seen any move towards accountability. Indeed, five years into our conflict, the parish is still trying to justify its actions in court. Meanwhile, parish leaders such as Elizabeth Legere cannot turn a blind eye to perjuring priest Bob Malm’s lies, for they have firsthand knowledge that he lied, in writing, to the bishop.
Things are no better at the diocese, where bishop Susan Goff and the rest of the fat cats turn a knowing blind eye to Bob Malm’s perjury. This has gone on since 2015, so there is scant reason to think that the diocese will ever approach the matter with the integrity of an open mind. And it’s a safe bet that long ago the diocese, acting with its attorneys, verified that neither Mom, nor someone pretending to be her, set up even a single appointment with perjuring priest Bob Malm.
Of course, like any good narcissist, the parish is friendly, for that’s part of a narcissist’s modus operandi. But right behind the scenes, things get ugly, and folks see no disconnect between their conduct and their professed beliefs. Indeed, the view of folks like Sugarland Chiow is that the ends justify the means, and if the matter is brought up, they compartmentalize, or brush things off by claiming that they are “fallible humans.” What they won’t do is take responsibility.
Nor is it possible to support the parish and turn a blind eye to these issues. Just as one cannot pay dues to the KKK while disclaiming its views, neither can one provide financial support to Grace while ignoring its outrageous, ugly, evil behavior.
It’s interesting, too. Perjuring priest Bob Malm likes to think he’s special, and there’s a big chunk of Grace Church, the clergy perjury parish, that would agree. But when it comes to this conflict, Bob and others trot out the whole routine of, “Look what Bonetti did,” coveniently forgetting that clergy are, per the canons, supposed to be held to a higher standard. Moreover, one of the most basic notions when parsing clergy misconduct is simple: Due to the imbalance of perceived power, clergy are always responsible for maintaining boundaries. Always. And that starts with their own behavior. In other words, in a situation such as this, I never occupy the role of an equal to Bob.
Perjuring priest Bob Malm knows this and has consistently abused the disparity in perceived power. But much like the way systemic racism relies on our collective refusal to acknowledge and address prejudice. so too can the parish and Bob Malm engage in misconduct only if members turn a blind eye.
So, this pledge season, there are two ways to encourage Grace Church and its “leadership” to reform. One is to use your feet to walk away — which doesn’t matter much, with services still being virtual. The other is to defund the church and its misconduct until it formally and publicly renounces its bad behavior. This would, of neccessity involve truth telling, for otherwise Grace Church the clergy perjury parish will never change.
In short, it’s time to defund Grace.