One of the interesting things about all churches is that they purport to be purveyors of truth in some form. Yet one only has to look at the personal and organizational narcissism at Grace Church, particularly apropos Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow and perjuring priest Bob Malm, to realize how far from reality that claim is.
In Sugarland’s case, at one point he complained to defense counsel that I was allegedly “impugning [his] integrity. Yet one only has to look at his:
- Efforts to drag a dying woman into court
- Far-fetched claims of “domestic terrorism”
- Ad hominem attacks
- Inflammatory rhetoric
- Many fabrications, including a mythical church shooting in the fictional town of “Sugarland”
- Multiple misstatements of law and fact to the courts.
To see firsthand that one need not “impugne” Sugarland’s integrity. His actions speak more loudly and clearly than I ever could. Or, to use the legal phrase, “res ipsa loquitor” — “the thing speaks for itself.”
Similarly, Bob Malm was fully involved in all of these actions, and personally signed many. He also repeatedly perjured himself in his written statements made under oath, during discovery, including his claim that his wife Leslie was the only person whom he knew had blogged about the matter, and his famous lie that my mother, or someone claiming to be her, had contacted him repeatedly to set up appointments.
These actions enjoy the full support of Grace’s vestry, its clergy, and the diocese to this day. Indeed, the church continues to try to defend its actions in court.
So, the Episcopal Church is dying, and rightly so. It is dying of its own internal rot and unethical behavior.
Meanwhile, Susan Goff and others revert to the same old Jesus-speak and church babble, assuring clergy that they need to take time for themselves, to care for themselves, and that the bishops will have clergy’s backs if anyone suggests otherwise. This denies the reality that, for many church members, life is hard, with job loss, or long hours for those who retain jobs. Some haven’t had vacations in years, and the long hours they devote to the church are over and above very long days at work.
Similarly, Sugarland would do the church a favor if he were to publicly acknowledge his actions, apologize to the parish, and transfer to another church. That way, the parish could begin the lengthy process of rebuilding following 30 years of perjuring priest Bob Malm and his selfish, childish behavior and all the problems that spun off from that.
In short, the church needs to get over the empty clericalism that empowers the Bob Malm’s of the world, and the unethical sycophants like Sugarland who hang onto them.
If it does not, the Episcopal church will be gone within the lifetimes of many. And the Susan Goff’s of the world need to recognize that it is not business as usual.