Today’s post examines Bishop Susan Goff’s ludicrous decision to cover-up Bob Malm’s perjury. Specifically, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia recently held that it will not address Bob Malm’s perjury in our court case unless Bob is convicted of the crime of perjury. This is an absurd outcome and demonstrates the diocese’s true motive, which is to avoid dealing with Dysfunctional Bob’s spiritual abuse.
In a decision drafted by the Rev. Sven vanBaars, rector of the unfortunate Episcopal parish in Abingdon Virginia, the diocese held that it cannot conclude that Dysfunctional Bob committed perjury, as he hasn’t been convicted of the same.
That, of course, is the logical fallacy of appeal to ignorance. An example of such an argument is: 1) People believe in God. 2) The existence of God has never been proven. 3) Thus, God does not exist.
Similarly, the fact that Bob has not been convicted of perjury doesn’t mean he didn’t commit perjury.
The other side of Sven’s argument, which is that the canons prohibit illegal conduct, also is a logical fallacy. Yes, they prohibit illegal conduct, but they also expressly prohibit conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, or misrepresentation.
Of course, it may be that Sven is merely the clueless wonder when it comes to forming a logical paradigm. That’s where Bishop Susan Goff comes in, who must also sign off on any dismissal of a Title IV complaint. Being a bishop, one would hope she could organize her thoughts in a logical manner, or show a little integrity. Obviously, that didn’t happen here.
So, that’s where the Rev. Melissa Hollerith, our favorite ethics instructor and chair of the Diocese of Virginia Disciplinary Committee, comes in. But she too doesn’t see a problem with this approach either, which would suggest that logic and ethics aren’t the real issues. I mean, we’re batting three for three. Collusion and coverup, anyone?
Thus, if follow the diocese’s logic in this case, and apply it to other cases, where does that leave us?
In the case of child sexual abuse, for example, the underlying conduct is illegal. It’s also specifically proscribed by the Episcopal church clergy disciplinary canons. But assuming that the diocese follows its new rule that clergy misconduct won’t be investigated absent a criminal conviction, it is virtually impossible to do anything about clergy who engage in such conduct. And in fact there probably is no need to: Any priest already convicted of criminal sexual conduct likely faces jail time or other serious impediments to serving as a priest. Thus, the entire Title IV clergy process is irrelevant.
So, how do you feel about a church/school where clergy apparently are free to engage in any form of misconduct at all as long as they’re not convicted? Or where the diocese provides no protection whatsoever against clergy misconduct?
For the record, Bob Malm has not been accused of sexual misconduct. But the fact that the diocese is unwilling to address his perjury should be cause for alarm on multiple levels.