Showing posts with label #Churchtoo. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #Churchtoo. Show all posts

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Ethics Alert! Ethically Challenged Sven vanBaars Seeks to Represent DioVA at General Convention

Clergy sexual assault survivors beware! The Rev. Sven vanBaars, who is one of the diocesan Title IV intake officers and has stated in writing that he will only address illegal conduct by clergy if they face criminal charges, is seeking election as a diocesan delegate to the next general convention. This spells bad news as #churchtoo and #metoo victims seek to make church a safe space for survivors.

For those new to the discussion, Sven issued a dismissal, approved by Bishop Susan Goff and upheld by the Rev. Melissa Hollerith, stating the he could not conclude that Bob Malm committed perjury, as he had not been criminally charged for doing so.

This is problematic for several reasons, including the fact that perjury is a notoriously difficult crime to charge and, much like clergy sexual abuse, local officials typically are reluctant to pursue cases against clergy. Yet Title IV expressly forbids clergy from engaging in “conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation;” no criminal charges required.

Moreover, Sven himself violated the express provisions of Title IV by copying Bob Malm on his notice. By doing so, he violated the confidentiality provisions enacted at the last General Convention, which expressly forbid identifying the complainant to the respondent. Yet he attempted to silence me by asserting that I am obligated to treat the matter as confidential. This is not the case, for with the exception of one recently enacted provision, Title IV does not apply to laity. And it certainly does not apply to persons who have left the church.

To make matters worse, Sven serves on the diocesan committee on constitution and canons. Given his inability to parse even basic Title IV issues successfully, his violation of Title IV, and his broken pastoral ethics, this is an alarming proposition.

So, if you’ve ever experienced abuse of any sort in a church setting, just know that Sven vanBaars applies a “no criminal charges, no Title IV violation” policy. In other words, even clergy sexual abuse is okay, as long as the police don’t get involved.

Truly alarming stuff.

Copy of Sven’s written Title IV dismissal available at https://www.gracealexwatch.org/2019/09/breaking-sven-vanbaar-former-candidate.html





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:






Monday, March 25, 2019

Disturbing Emails Raise Concerns About Possible Cover-Up of Sexual Abuse at Tenth Presbyterian

As wave after wave of scandals hit the Catholic and Southern Baptist churches over allegations of sexual abuse, pastor Liam Goligher and Tenth Presbyterian in Philadelphia appear determined to drag their church into the same quagmire. Indeed, recent emails that I have received suggest a profound lack of concern for victims of sexual abuse, as well as the possibility of a coverup by church officials.

Today, I’m publishing these emails. Having seen the same sort of passive-aggressive language in my own dealings with abusive clergy in The Episcopal Church, the response of church officials sounds all too familiar.

Of course, I’m not privy to all the details of this situation. But these three emails raise some powerful and disturbing questions:
  • If Liam Goligher and Tenth Presbyterian really care about victims of sexual and other forms of abuse, why wouldn’t they treat Phil Snyder’s efforts as a welcome opportunity to speak up on behalf of possible victims?
  • How could Session have already addressed the issue when the parties seemingly most effected/involved hadn’t been there during the discussions?
  • Why wouldn’t the church itself have called the police? Isn’t that the criticism of the Catholic church, that it tries to handle allegations of abuse internally?
  • Why would the church excommunicate Phil and apparently falsely claim he was being threatening if it didn’t have anything to hide?
  • Why would Dave Collins state in his email that Session now considers the matter to be “closed,” without stating an outcome? Moreover, the reference to matters “directly observed,” sounds very much like an effort to silence a whistleblower, especially when coupled with the shallow reference to “prayer and encouragement.”
  • Why would the alleged victim fear possible retaliation from church officials if Tenth Prsbyterian is a safe environment? My experience is that when people fear reprisals there’s a high likelihood that spiritual abuse is occurring right behind the scenes.
  • Why on this green earth would you ever bring legal action against former parishioner (as in filing for an injunction)? As in my case, when a church goes to court with a member it invariably reveals that, right behind the scenes, it’s a very troubled place.  And just like the Catholic church, the ends don’t justify the means.
My take: The church’s actions sound very much like there’s more—much more—to this story. If it has nothing to hide, why the bad behavior? Why go to court over something that it should welcome, which is people coming forward with concerns? In a day and age when it’s illegal for publicly traded companies to retaliate, why do churches think it’s okay for them to do so? Churches like Tenth Presbyterian simply illustrate that, rhetoric notwithstanding, they are no friend to the poor, the outcast, the oppressed — and that includes those who may have experienced sexual violence or abuse.

I suspect that, in the coming weeks, we’re going to find out that these issues are just the tip of the iceberg at Tenth Presbyterian. Yes, these are unproven allegations, but they have the ring of truth, and there are so many disturbing aspects to this situation that I can only conclude this is one highly toxic church.

Stay tuned.







Thursday, December 13, 2018

Commenter on Episcopal Cafe Confirms That TEC #Metoo Efforts a Crock

I recently posted a comment on Episcopal Cafe, pointing out that coming suspension of the canon law statute of limitations for clergy sexual misconduct is largely bogus. Specifically, the diocese of Virginia, the largest in The Episcopal Church, still insists that clergy retaliation for filing a Title IV case is acceptable. Thus, anyone who complains internally of clergy misconduct is at risk.

Not surprisingly, others agreed; see below.

Meanwhile, Dysfunctional Bob continues as clergy, Susan Goff continues to ignore the issue, and to my knowledge, nothing has been done about the allegations that bishop Shannon Johnston covered up the sexual harassment of a female church employee.

My advice: Do NOT pursue an internal complaint if you experience clergy misconduct. If you do, get the hell out of Dodge and leave the Episcopal Church before you do.


Thursday, August 23, 2018

Breaking News: Settlement Offer Received, Total Waste of Time

We have some late-breaking developments from St. Dysfunction. Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, Dysfunctional Bob’s attorney, sent over a proposed settlement agreement yesterday — a complete waste of time for both sides.

At this juncture, I don’t feel it’s appropriate to share specifics, but there’s one really notable thing about the proposal, which is that there is nothing in it that even remotely suggests that the other party is a church, let alone that the individuals involved claim to be Christians. All it is is a relatively badly drafted quasi-commercial release and satisfaction, and ludicrously one-sided at that. Additionally, nothing in the proposal would stop Dysfunctional Bob from his usual behind-the-scenes manipulation and innuendo aka “Is that healthy?” (Think a really narcissistic group of sorority sisters, and you’d have a good idea of Bob’s antics. Petty plots, power plays, who’s popular, who’s not. And heaven help you if you offend the girls in the “in crowd”—you won’t get invited to the next Tri Delt rush party. Horrors!)

Then there’s the perennial issue of Defamation Per Se Leslie Malm, and her claims that I am a stalker. Obviously, as an adult, she is responsible for her own actions, and since I do not view women as chattel, I don’t expect that Bob can or should control her actions. That said, nothing in the agreement would address those issues, and I am following up on those matters separately.

That said, you have to hand it to Dysfunctional Bob: He has probably managed a first in American jurisprudence, which is making a settlement offer in a protective order case. In all my years of practicing law, I never ran into such a scenario, as these cases are among the most binary out there. Someone either hurt you, or threatened you, or they didn’t. Easy-cheesy, and damned straightforward.

That, of course, speaks to whether Bob really feels threatened, and the answer is that it’s facially obvious he doesn’t. This whole situation is about his need for power and control, and his lack of a Christian worldview. And it’s telling, too — nowhere in this do you see any concern on Bob’s part for the reputational harm he’s causing to the church. Nor is my stopping blogging the answer; people may find Bob engaging, but at the end of the day they’re not stupid, and they know the difference between bullying and Christian behavior. Thus, they have a pretty good handle on Bob and his motives at this point, and it must be damned disheartening to realize that, in Bob’s case, it’s all a sham.

Of course, as one person close to the matter said to me, “We both know Bob’s not a real priest.” And to that I say, “Truer words were never spoken.” And it has nothing to do with Catholic, or Episcopal, or Orthodox, or high church versus low church or broad church. It has to do with Bob’s worldview, which is that his is a job, nothing more. Thus, one should not expect much from someone who’s basically a superannuated frat boy.

So, things continue to go forward, just in time for the fall pledge drive.

Fun times on Sorority Row.

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Breaking News: Now the #Churchtoo Correspondent for @SurvivorCulture

As folks know, I’m not particularly good at sitting still. And that’s never more true than now, when dealing with a recent death in the family and two terminally ill family members.

That said, I just accepted an opportunity to help sexual abuse survivors who’ve experienced trauma in the context of church and faith communities. Should be fun, and it ties in well with the church boundaries courses I am teaching.

More to come!