Friday, May 17, 2019

More Media Coverage Coming to Planet Malm

The Arrogance of the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia: A Sign of Decline

Canon Mary Thorpe

It’s amazing, really. At a time when the rate at which The Episcopal Church is shedding members is surpassed only by the losses of the Presbyterian Church USA (and even that is questionable), the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia is going pedal-to-the-metal in its efforts to drive away members. How does it do that? Chiefly through its incredible blind arrogance and belief that somehow people cannot exist without the church. In short, that it is, in the words of Saturday Night Live, “specccial.”

For example, in a letter to me and the other two complainants in one of the Title IV cases, intake officer Caroline Parkinson, after accusing us of “distracting, disingenous, and duplicitous” conduct, prattled on about how there would be no point to a Title IV case, as our alleged conduct would interfere with the Title IV goals of healing and reconciliation. That, of course, does four things:
  • Conveniently overlooks Bob Malm’s misconduct.
  • Assigns blame for the problem in the victims of Bob’s misconduct.
  • Demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of the dynamics of abuse, which is that victims often behave in ways that are not rational or helpful, up to and including things like alcoholism and suicide.
  • Ignores the fact that Title IV applies only to clergy. As in, clergy are always responsible for maintaining boundaries, full stop. And, as illustrated by the +Bruno case, in which allegations swirled about the conduct of parishioners, clergy are supposed to be accountable for their conduct, regardless.
Caroline also violated confidentiality by disclosing a third complaint, and by lumping all three complaints together.

The real cherry on top, though, came  when she reverted to Jesus-babble in her letter, urging us to have the “grace to find a new church.”

Why on God’s green earth would anyone want anything to do with the church after this, including the diocese’s decision that retaliation for filing a Title IV complaint is acceptable?

Then we get to Caroline’s lie, which is that the diocese had already considered the matter of Bob’s decision to remove our names from the church directory the previous summer. Leaving aside the fact that there was no advisor, or communication from the reference panel, which means there likely was no reference panel that summer, the issue of the directory didn’t arise until that fall. All I can say is that I was not aware that the ability to time travel was one of the benefits of ordination. How special.

Similarly, Canon Mary Thorpe, whose husband serves as Executive Director of the Virginia Institute of Pastoral Care, should surely have a handle both on Title IV and the pastoral implications of violating the promises Title IV sets forth to laity. Yet she apparently has said nothing about:
  • The outrageous and appalling conclusion set forth in the most recent Title IV notice of dismissal that perjury by members of the clergy is acceptable as long as there is no criminal violation. 
  • The fact that the diocese has repeatedly ignored the requirement of a pastoral response in all Title IV cases, including those involving dismissal. (Indeed, mapping out a pastoral response should be one of the first things to happen when a complaint is filed. But I guarantee you that the diocese has done nothing in this regard. Indeed, a pastoral response should be implemented from the moment a complaint is filed.)
  • The fact that the diocese itself has repeatedly breached confidentiality in this matter, including through its violation of the Title IV whistleblower provisions.
Yet she wants to try to insist that I should keep the diocese’s actions confidential? All I can say is I call BS on that one. It takes a special kind of arrogance for the diocese to repeatedly violate Title IV in all directions, yet try to apply those very same provisions to laity. This, despite the fact that with the exception of one provision, Title IV expressly doesn’t apply to laity. 

What’s really sad, though, is that we have clergy, aka professional Christians, who get paid to do this stuff full-time, who consider Title IV so unimportant that they don’t bother to learn its requirements, or to follow them. And doubly sad when I, as laity (if that’s what you want to call a former Christian), am far more familiar with the provisions of Title IV than they are.

And for the record, this is not the only time that the Diocese has ignored the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response. In the case of the lovely small church of St. Thomas’ in McLean, the diocese violated not only every best practice out there (including having Pat Wingo show up unannounced to tell people that the rector had been suspended), but it adamantly refused to do anything to care for the parish in the aftermath.

Why? Per Bishop Shannon, it was because diocesan chancellor JP Causey had told them not to get too involved due to fears of legal liability. All I can say is that’s pretty rich, coming from a chancellor who oversaw litigation in which the diocese bloviated on for years in the courts about the applicability of church canons to its constituent parishes. And no, there is no allegation of wrongdoing within the parish itself. And yes, it was nice that +Shannon apologized, but having not done anything to actually repair the damage, the gesture was purely symbolic.

In the meantime, a number of parishioners have left St. Thomas’, several of them life-long members, yet no one has ever reached out to them to care for them or attempt to fix the hurt that the diocese has caused. Proof that, as laity, we’re supposed to keep our mouths shut and send money, nothing more. And if we leave, we are of no consequence to the diocese. Next customer, window three, step right up.

The great irony in all of this is that these situations have created a deep well of knowledge and of pain among those hurt by the church. If the diocese had half the common sense God gave a goat, it would follow the lead of one of the dioceses in California, which ultimately invited friends of mine who had left the church due to abuse to serve on its advisory panel for preventing abuse. As is often pointed out within nonprofits, your critics are often your most useful allies, if you can lean into things and not feel threatened. But the church is nowhere near that self-aware.

With that in mind, it’s time I think for the diocese to engage in a period of introspection and repentence. Much of the harm it has caused in recent years is irreparable, and signs suggest that things are going to get worse, not better. But ignoring the problem will only allow it to fester.

For example, when the day comes in the not-distant future that Dysfunctional Bob packs it in, Grace church is headed for a period of turmoil. No matter how skilled an interim may be things will get ugly, especially when folks eventually realize just how problematic Bob Malm was and is. Having a priest for 30+ years who considers it nothing but a job, and who exploited the church shamelessly for his personal needs, is not a good situation for even the healthiest of churches, and Grace is far from healthy. But neither the parish itself nor the diocese see this, so there’s a storm lurking just over the horizon. Yikes.

Will the diocese reverse course and take my conflict with Bob seriously? Not bloody likely. Nor does it perceive any need to actually follow Title IV. And it is so blindly narcissistic as an organization that it has no concept or empathy for the pain it has caused and continues to cause. Moreover, just like individual narcissists, who often wind up late in life being profoundly isolated and alone (as appears increasingly likely for Bob Malm), it doesn’t realize that it’s sowing the seeds for its own destruction, for this sort of conduct inevitably causes organizations to rot from within.

That’s particularly troubling in light of +Goff’s progressive creds, as well as her academic background in psychology. One would think she, of all people, would recognize the looming problems, but she appears to have no insight beyond the tactical, day-to-day business of the rapidly dwindling diocese. Yes, she is a better tactician than +Johnston, but that’s not saying much. Indeed, the hot mess that was the diocese’s effort to find a bishop transitional should be of profound concern at every level in the organization, as it shows that problems are both systemic and structural. 

The fact that, even at the highest levels, the diocese can’t see the forest for the trees, and doesn’t recognize just how troubled it is, bespeaks an organization that is ill-prepared for the future—a future that will be marked by sharply declining revenue and membership. And until it actually cares for its members — even those who, like me, it both dislikes and distrusts — and demonstrates an ethical worldview marked by something more than empty Jesus-babble, the diocese will continue to crumble.

Not a pretty sight.

Thursday, May 16, 2019

SpongeBob, Too!

Upcoming Leafletting and Protests

If Dysfunctional Bob thought his recent terroristic threats would do anything to back me down, he was wrong. Indeed, plans include leafletting another 1000 homes before the 24th, as well as holding protests along Russell Road and several other key places.

More to come!

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

More on Dysfunctional Bob’s Meltdown

One of the things that’s interesting about Dysfunctional Bob’s histrionics yesterday is that he still doesn’t get it. As in none of his bullying tactics will ever shut down our conflict. Indeed, every time he tries one of these stupid antics, I step things up on my end. In this case, my response has been to sharply increase paid advertising and leafletting in the NVA region.

Of course, that underscores another issue, which is that Bob’s worldview is diametrically opposed to the values of Christianity. Dysfunctional Bob is all about power and control; Jesus could have acted through these means, but chose not to.

It also illustrates another point, which is that while Dysfunctional Bob likes to tell people that he’s ignoring me, the reality is far different. But then, veracity never was his strong suit.

No matter how you parse it, Bob is profoundly incapable of responding to conflict. That said, I will not back down in the face of his terroristic threats.

My Email to Canon Mary Thorpe

After notifying the diocese that I have requested criminal charges against Dysfunctional Bob, there were several emails back and forth with Mary Thorpe, canon to the ordinary of the diocese. In her last one, she asked the following (emphasis added):

Thank you for the clarification, Eric. It is helpful to have a clearer picture of what happened from your perspective. And how far were you from the church property line? It is my understanding that there are restrictions as to how close you can stand to the church if you exercise your First Amendment rights in this way.

I am curious, though, now that I’ve looked at the blog, as to why you published the Disciplinary Report Notice of May 1, which clearly instructs you that “this matter is confidential and, except as authorized by Bishop Goff, you should not discuss it with anyone except your Advisor or your counsel.”

And here is my response (typos corrected):

I was well past 1000 feet, and that has been verified by the police. Additionally, I was well past 1000 feet from Bob’s home. Bob’s decision to engage in this behavior followed a conversation he had with his wife Leslie, who previously observed me there.

Apropos the canons and confidentiality, that was addressed in previous emails. Specifically:

1) With the exception of 1 provision, effective following last convention, Title IV applies only to clergy. As Robin Hammeal-Urban notes in her excellent book, “Wholeness After Betrayal,” laity have every right to disclose a Title IV complaint, and it is highly improper to suggest otherwise. Robin does suggest cautioning complainants who wish to do so that they may face ostracism if they choose to do so. Having renounced Christianity due to my experiences with DioVa and Bob, the latter is of no concern to me.

2) As I am not a Christian, the Diocese cannot instruct me to do anything. And with all respect, in light of its shocking proposition that perjury is only actionable if a conviction is secured, I will never agree to keep the diocese’s actions confidential.

3)  Having violated the whistleblower provisions of Title IV, which were effective 1 January 2019, the diocese is hardly in a position to argue for the sanctity of Title IV,

4) Having repeatedly ignored the requirement  under Title IV of a pastoral response (not the same as pastoral care) in all cases in which a complaint is made to the intake officer — including in the last case, where the reference panel specifically noted that requirement — again, the diocese cannot insist that I keep its repeated violations of Title IV confidential.

With all due respect, you are dealing with people’s lives and their faith. You don’t get to pick and choose which aspects of Title IV apply. And any church that thinks perjury is acceptable clergy conduct absent a criminal conviction is morally bankrupt anyway, and not one that anyone should join who values their personal integrity.

Sorry if that sounds harsh, but it’s an honest answer to your question.


Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Check it Out! Bob Malm Has a Freak Out, Starts Making Terroristic Threats!

A few minutes ago, while out protesting on Russell Road, well past a 1,000 foot distance from Grace Episcopal Church and Dysfunctional Bob’s home, I was approached by Dysfunctional Bob, who drove up, pulled over, got out of his vehicle, and had what appeared to be a major psychological crisis. Bob was screaming and threatening, asking if I wanted him to get out a tape measure and if I wanted to get dragged off to jail. His decision to seek me out comes minutes after his wife Leslie rolled through.

I had no interaction, but instead jumped in Mike’s SUV, locked the doors, and called 911, since he appeared bent on violence and was screaming at neighbors as well. I had no contact with Bob or Leslie and, other than making myself scarce, did not respond to Bob’s threats.

Bob’s actions of course violate my written request to him to have no further contact, sent to him in December 2018. I also previously sent the same request to his attorney, Sugarland Chiow. Moreover, Bob has twice previously violated my request by contacting me once through my employer, and once through my church. (The former really makes wonder about Bob, as where I worked was not the public knowledge. Stalker alert!)

I therefore will seek criminal charges against Bob.

Of course, Bob’s actions put the lie to his claims that he fears for his safety. And his over-the-top conduct again leads me to suspect that Bob is mentally ill. (The neighbors who observed his behavior ran inside and locked the doors. Tell you anything?)

Here’s a photo of Bob’s SUV as he prepares to leave the scene of his meltdown:

And here is my email to him, also supplied during discovery, in which I instructed him to have no further contact.

Lastly, here is the relevant section of the Virginia Code, which makes clear that Bob’s behavior is prima facie evidence of criminal stalking.

Protect Children: Ban the Episcopal Church!

As a victim of childhood sexual abuse by an Episcopal priest, the one thing I have found over time is that the church does everything in its power avoid individual and collective accountability. So, I have concluded that the only way to ensure that children and other vulnerable people are safe is to ban the Episcopal Church altogether. 

With that in mind, I’m turning the attached images into bumper stickers soonest, and will begin distribution in a few weeks.

Many thanks to my British friend and fellow survivor for designing these—you know who you are!

Bob Malm: Serial Liar? Mentally Ill? Or Both?

It’s been a while since we looked at the overall pattern of Bob Malm’s lies. So, with that in mind, this post gives an overview of Bob’s various lies, and explores the potential root causes.

As to the scope of Bob’s lies, these appear to go back years. For example, Bob allegedly told Phil Smith, who at the time was serving on the vestry and has a background in HR, “Don’t worry about it. They’ll be retiring this year,” when Phil brought up poor behavior by church office staff. Roughly six years later, Bob tried the same lie on me to induce me to serve as junior warden. I initially fell for it, but later called Bob on it. In response, Bob began volunteering that he didn’t know when they would retire — but without coming right out and admitting he’d been lying to vestry members for years.

Flash forward to our kerfuffle. In it, Bob lied to the courts, claiming that various phrases, taken out of context, were threats. Under oath,, during discovery, he also made the claim that two of my cousins, and my mom, “time and again” make meetings with him and canceled — the suggestion being that I am somehow the person making meetings with him. There’s just one little hitch — this simply never happened, and if you push Bob on it, he cannot provide any documentation of his claim. Guaran-friggin-teed.

Then we get into some of his other imaginary claims. Doubtless, Jeff Chiow had a hand in these, but at the end of the day, as one of Jeff’s clients, Bob had to sign off on any court filings. Thus, Bob told a series of lies in his pleadings, including:
  • His claim that there had been a church shooting in the fictional town of Sugarland Texas (hence Jeff Chiow’s moniker of “Sugarland Chiow”).
  • His weird interrogatories, in which he lies by implication, asking if, inter alia, I am the author of the Survivors Awaken the Church blog, since my story is there. Yet even a cursory glance at the site would make clear that I’m not the author, nor the publisher.
  • That I never served as a police officer.
  • That I never was licensed to practice law.
  • That I violated the existing court order.
Apropos these issues, there is a distinction to be made between advocating for your client’s position, and misinforming the court. In other words, it’s one thing to say, “Plaintiff researched the matter extensively, and found no evidence that defendant ever served as a police officer,” and proferring the issue as a statement of fact. Having done the latter, Bob and Sugarland tried to pull a fast one on the courts.

Speaking of, Bob and Sugarland tried to pull a fast one on the Pennsylvania courts. As Jeff no doubt knows, one must have leave of court in order to issue a third-party subpoena in a protective order case in that state. Yet Jeff repeatedly tried to bypass that requirement and slide one by on the courts. Needless to say, word in the local bar association is that Sugarland has ethical issues, and in the unlikely event he ever again seeks admission pro hac vice in those courts, he may find he gets a very cold reception.

There’s also evidence that Sugarland and Bob have lied in other fora. For example, Bob’s wife Leslie claims I admitted in open court that Mom’s blog is really mine. So where did she come up with that notion? Not that Leslie herself doesn’t lie when she is in the midst of conflict, but anecdotal evidence suggests she may have gotten that lie from Sugarland.

So where does that leave us? 

Clearly, Bob has been lying for many years, as evinced by his lie about the office staff. Not only that, but it apparently worked with Phil Smith, leading Bob to add it to his arsenal.

It’s interesting, too — members of Bob’s family, like him, lie when in conflict in order to try to get the upper hand. That suggests that lying in such situations is normative in the Malm household, which in itself is telling.

This view is bolstered by Bob’s claims about my serving as a police officer and being licensed to practice law. There, Bob’s lies appear to have their genesis in doubts about my veracity so like a lemming, he took the plunge and ran over the cliff. This, like his invention of the town of “Sugarland,” seemingly is less about telling a falsehood and more about a reckless indifference to the truth. The attitude seems to be, “I’m in court and trying to get the upper hand, so what does it matter?” In other words, these appear to be the hallmarks of someone who routinely plays fast and loose with the truth. 

In other words, my belief is that Bob indeed is a serial liar.

Where does this come from? All factors suggest that Bob is way out there on the narcissism curve, probably to the point of having a personality disorder. On the one hand, Bob loudly asserts that he doesn’t need anyone. On the other, he appears to have a strong need for adulation and accolades, and seems to routinely manipulate others to meet those needs. In keeping with this, it is almost impossible for Bob to take responsibility for his actions; even an apology comes fully loaded with, “I’m sorry you were upset, but....”

In keeping with this, Bob appears to be big into image. He’s very focused on how he dresses, how he looks, etc. Even the various roles he’s played in life, from captain of his prep school lacrosse and football teams and yearbook editor, to priest, to marathoner, appear calculated to obtain recognition and ratification.

Besides playing roles that garner attention, narcissists also are famous for their ability to lie when needed, even when the assertion is facially ludicrous. Just like Trump arguing that his administration comprises the best and the brightest, Bob is more than willing to claim he’s not ignoring the requirements of his job, despite the utter dysfunction in the church office, the shoddy records, and more. One looks at his claims and laughs, yet Bob seemingly thinks his lies will work.

Narcissists also are well known for their lack of empathy. Here, one only has to look at Bob’s efforts to drag a dying woman into court to conclude that not only is he a narcissist, but he may well have concluded that Sugarland is a narcissist too, and have played to that attribute. The fact that between the two of them neither appears to have thought that this would be counterproductive suggests not only a serious lack of common sense, but an utter lack of empathy.

Of course, at some point lack of empathy crosses into anti-social behavior. Is Bob a sociopath? I don’t know, but I suspect so. Thus far, I see no sign that there is any compunction against almost any sort of behavior if he thinks he can get away with it.

In short, my conclusion is that Bob indeed is a serial liar. I also have concluded that he suffers from narcissistic personality disorder. As to whether he is a sociopath, I am not sure, but I lean strongly towards believing that he is. But no matter how you parse it, Bob is toxic. Charming, but toxic.

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Does Bob Malm Know That He’s a Liar?

Poet Criss Jami says, “Just because something isn't a lie does not mean that it isn't deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”  But does a liar always know he’s a liar? In Bob Malm’s case, I’m not so sure.

Granted, Bob likes to pick and choose. In that sense, he’s both a master manipulator and a liar. But obvious, verifiable lies, like his claim, made in front of +Johnston, that church trustees have to be vestry members, often pop out on the fly to suit Bob’s purpose. Others become part of Bob’s routine, like his claim, made over a period of years, that parishioners shouldn’t worry about the office staff, as they’d be retiring that year. In the latter situation, Bob seemingly thought that parishioners were too stupid to notice.

Then of course there are Bob’s lies under oath, like his claim that Mom, or someone purporting to be her, repeatedly made appointments with him and no-showed. The reality is that no one in my family has done so—that’s right, no one repeatedly made appointments with him and canceled. Yet he swore that this statement was true.

That fact pattern comports with narcissistic personality disorder, in which the narcissist makes up reality on the fly to suit his or her needs. It also may be an indicator of antisocial personality disorder, or a serial bully.

If this conduct on Bob’s part is indeed driven by mental illness, then Bob cannot have committed perjury, as by definition he’s not capable of recognizing reality. If that isn’t the cause, then Bob indeed committed perjury.

I don’t know which applies, but I have my strong suspicions, which I will not share here.

Of course, it’s also those thought processes that allow Bob to see no disconnect between his conduct and his facially false claims to be a Christian. Or to lie, yet get all bent out of shape when I point out that he’s a liar. It’s magical!

In the meantime, for the Christine Cheevers of the world who say that “this isn’t possible,” I say this: Just ask Bob for documentation. He has none.

Of course, because Christine’s view is faith-driven, she’ll never ask, because to do so would be to challenge her two-dimensional faith, which is not grounded in reality. 

But for those of you who have the courage to do so, ask Bob for his proof. I dare you.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Visit from Alexandria’s Finest

Look who rolled through today! Sure hope he also contacted that real estate who came through leafleting about 30 minutes before me, LOL

DioVA Response to Abuse Mirrors Failures in Church of England

As many now know, an independent commission in the UK recently released a scathing report on abuse in the Church of England. The report had its genesis in allegations of abuse involving Bishop Ball, who had ties that extended all the way to the British royal family.

Sadly, the report sounds very much like the Diocese of Virginia and the way the latter handles allegations of clergy misconduct, particularly in regard to Bob Malm’s ongoing abuse of power. Indeed, change the names and you have my experience, almost verbatim.

Noting that the Church of England had, in multiple cases, protected its reputation at the expense of victims, it went on to outline in damning terms an ongoing series of reprehensible moral failures, including:
  • Discounting Ball’s conduct as “trivial and insignificant” while displaying “callous indifference” to the complaints of victims.
  • Delaying a proper investigation into the matter for two decades.
  • Failing to have sufficient regard for the well-being of those injured by Ball’s abuse.
  • Issuing an unconvincing apology.
  • Giving a popular priest preferential treatment, while demonstrating a lack of compassion for the victims.
This willingness to utterly disregard all moral and ethical reference points when convenient appears to me to be endemic in organized religion, and particularly prevalent in The Episcopal Diocese of Virginia. Indeed, the only thing the latter appears to do well is to litigate over property. But without love or compassion, or genuine concern for others, why bother? The litigation, which I foolishly supported, was a complete waste of time and money. In short, it was the proverbial case of two bald men fighting over a comb.

Here’s a screen cap summarizing the findings in the Church of England report.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Catholic Efforts to Address Abuse Ignore Lessons from Title IV

One of the sad things about the myriad denominations within Christianity is that they too often fail to learn from one another. And so it is with the recent papal efforts to address abuse. These, while well intentioned, will prove problematic in exactly the same way as The Episcopal Church’s clergy disciplinary canon, Title IV, is inherently flawed.

For starters, much like the recent changes to Title IV, which purport to protect whistleblowers, the papal decree requires people to blow the whistle on abuse and coverup. But just as dioceses—including the Diocese of Virginia—are already ignoring the whistleblower protection provisions of Title IV with impunity, the lack of an enforcement mechanism within the papal provisions makes it highly likely that Catholic dioceses will ignore these requirements. In other words, only the truly foolhardy or those with incredible fortitude will risk the reprisals they will face if they come forward with allegations.

Similarly, the requirement in the new Catholic legislation that survivors be treated with respect will quickly fall prey to the advice of attorneys, who will urge diocesan officials not to get too involved. This is common in The Episcopal Church, where dioceses routinely ignore the Title IV requirement of a pastoral response in every case in which a complaint is made to the intake officer, even when a parish is traumatized by the removal of a rector in a Title IV proceeding. This mirrors the finding of the Church of England’s recent report on clergy abuse and Bishop Bell, which found that the needs of survivors were routinely ignored in the quest to protect the church’s reputation.

Most importantly, the new Catholic regulations permit bishops to ignore complaints if they are found to be “manifestly unfounded.” This mirrors the materiality provisions of Title IV, which apply a two-pronged test to complaints; they must be both a violation of Title IV and “of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” Given that Episcopal dioceses that wish to avoid dealing with a complaint routinely invoke this clause, even in cases that involve retaliation by clergy and allegations of criminal conduct, one may be confident that Catholic bishops will find myriad behaviors that most of us would consider patently antithetical to Christian values to involve allegations that are “manifestly unfounded.”

In short, while the attention to these issues is to be commended, we remain far from resolution, regardless of the denomination.

And the Tweet Goes On!

As the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia and Dysfunctional Bob do their best to silence, smear, and marginalize me, I got a very kind tweet today from from my Twitter buddy, Dr. Vicky.

And yes, us whistleblowers stick together. We will not tolerate church hierarchies that try to shut us down.

So, the tweet goes on!

Papal Law on Reporting of Abuse Underscores Problems in The Episcopal Church and Diocese of Virginia

Earlier today, the pope issued a decree mandating various changes to abuse reporting in the Catholic Church. Among the changes:
  • Anyone in the church, lay or clergy, who believes or suspects that abuse has occurred is required to report it to church officials.
  • Required reporting of coverup, defined as “actions or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid” civil or canonical investigations.
  • Whistleblower protection, albeit limited in scope.
  • An increase in the age of consent from 16 to 18.
  • The inclusion of possession of child pornography in the list of offenses.
  • Reporting to civil authorities per local law.
  • The ability to report to regional metropolitans in situations that may implicate a bishop.
  • The ability to report coverup and other abuse of power directly to Rome.
  • The requirement that victims be treated with respect.
These measures, while well-intended, are likely to be ineffective, and every bit as useless as Title IV as implemented in the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia.

As it stands, the Episcopal Church’s Title IV does not prevent retaliation against whistleblowers. Instead, it provides for anonymity in the complaint process, and ostensibly protects opposition to practices prohibited by Title IV. This protection is almost entirely illusory, however, as it provides no definition of prohibited conduct. Thus, shunning and other retaliation such as Bob Malm’s conduct towards me and my family almost certainly would be ignored. Moreover, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia refuses to see retaliation as within the penumbra of “conduct unbecoming,” so it refuses to address retaliation occurring before the effective date (January 1, 2019) of the recent changes to Title IV. Further, thus far the diocese is ignoring the whistleblower provisions, as evinced by its identifying me to Bob Malm in its most recent correspondence. (In fairness, my opposition to Bob’s conduct is hardly a secret, but some effort to adhere to the requirements of Title IV would have been appreciated. Moreover, it’s laughable that the diocese tried, in its correspondence with me, to insist on confidentiality, even though the letter itself violated confidentiality.)

Another issue with Title IV is that there is no meaningful appeal beyond the diocesan level. As it stands, +Todd Ousley and the rest of the crowd at 815 (church headquarters) may, if pushed, go through the motions of a Title IV case against a bishop, but unless he or she intentionally runs you over in a church parking lot (witnesses required), you can bet your bottom dollar that nothing will come of it.

As to treating victims with respect, that falls within the purview of Title IV’s entirely illusory “pastoral response,” which is required any time a complaint is made to a Title IV intake officer. Thus far, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia consistently refuses to implement that provision, even in cases where a parish is traumatized by a successful Title IV removal of clergy. (Yes, I am thinking of St. Thomas’ McLean. In that case, the diocese did next to nothing to care for the parish. While +Shannon later apologized and said that its refusal to get involved was based on the advice of legal counsel, the damage is done. And this effort at protecting the organization at the expense of laity who support it is damning in the message it sends to those of us in the pews.)

Similarly, reporting to Rome sounds good on paper, right up until you consider that George Pell, the former number 3 at the Vatican, also was an abuser. Does anyone really think that some fat cat in Rome, immersed in the system, is really going to do anything about abuse in some remote corner of the world?

Equally problematic is the requirement that coverups be reported. Great idea, but with no sanctions or penalties set forth in the statute, including for dioceses that fail to implement the new provisions, this one is every bit as toothless at Title IV.

The heart of the problem, both in The Episcopal and Catholic Churches, is neatly summarized in the comments of Cardinal Cupich, who said of the new law, “this past year has taught us that the systematic failures in holding clerics of all rank responsible are due in large measure to flaws in the way we interact and communicate with each other in the college of bishops.” This tendency in all hierarchies to minimize problems and to see criticism of individual conduct as criticism of the organization is alive and well in both churches, and I see no signs that either organization is doing anything to change this phenomena. Indeed, it will only be when churches recognize that this tendency is destroying organized religion from within that they will again find secure footing.

In other words, the more things change, the more they stay the same, and the creaking, shuddering constructs that make up the Episcopal and Catholic churches continue their rapid unraveling.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

The More Things Change....

I was chatting online recently with a friend who remains active at St. Dysfunction, aka Grace Church. As the conversation unfolded, he complained about the upcoming Spring Fling Golf Outing, although it seems that he plans to attend. The conversation produced a moment of epiphany though, which is that folks at Grace appear to becoming increasingly tired of the lack of change at the church. This does not bode well for the parish.

It’s interesting, too — things have gotten so skewed at Grace that they view the HVAC product as change. Actually, it’s not—it’s simply restoring what’s there. But so little effort goes into maintaining the building on a normal basis that this seems like a big deal. In fact, the original systems were installed so badly that it was only a few years ago that things got done that should have been part of the 1994 building renovations, like insulating third-floor ductwork.

The problem, it seems, is that Dysfunctional Bob doesn’t like change. Indeed, he’s fallen into a very comfortable cycle, with his month at the beach every summer, followed by Shrine Mont, the program year, then Thanksgiving (another week off), Christmas (more time off), then Easter and the end of the program year.

The challenge, of course, is that what worked in the 1980’s is starting to feel tired, dated and rote. Been to one Shrine Mont, been to 30 of them. And the pace of change in society is accelerating, with more focus on social media, the rapid flow of data, and more. Yet St. Dysfunction’s sole concessions to the times are a Facebook page and a Twitter handle, with the latter lamely announcing when new sermons go live.

At a higher level, the parish is challenged by the fact that it has no strategic plan. Everything just revolves around keeping existing programs running and staying (barely) afloat financially. That’s a shame — the high level of compensation Bob Malm enjoys should warrant some meaningful leadership on Bob’s part, especially in light of Bob’s appointment of the executive committee. In short, if Dysfunctional Bob is going to control governance within the parish, it would help if he would not be so, well, dysfunctional.

My bet is that we are going to see Grace church really start to crumble within the next 10 years, as the years of Bob’s indifference and sometimes outright hostility to strategic planning and effective governance increasingly take their toll.

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Church Member Urges Me to Commit Suicide

Here’s an important reminder of just how toxic Grace Episcopal has become under Dysfunctional Bob Malm.

In this screen cap,,we see a post, believed to be from a member of Lisa Medley’s family. Lisa is a former senior warden, and has repeatedly lied about my experiences with the church.

Needless to say, anyone who thinks urging another human being to commit suicide is one sad individual indeed. Even more sad is that this individual runs in circles, and attends a church, that thinks this sort of conduct is okay.

Proof that Grace Church under Bob Malm is toxic, and in no way a reflection of actual Christian values.

Thursday, May 2, 2019

My Email to Canon Mary Thorpe

Here is my follow-up email to Canon Mary Thorpe. 

Of course, you have to love the logic: Because there’s been no conviction for perjury, Bob Malm cannot have engaged in perjury. If that’s the case, then we can equally infer that Bob’s failure to sue me for defamation suggests that my assertions are accurate. 

The funny thing is that, in the end, The Episcopal Church is simply ensuring that it collapses into irrelevance. The fact that it cannot hold its clergy to basic standards of integrity, and cannot even adhere to the ethical standards of publicly traded companies (hardly a high standard in the scheme of things) makes clear that church no longer has a meaningful role in society. It’s just a clueless bunch of folks locked into a Madmen-era time warp, a good ole’ boys and girls club where folks look out for each other long enough to get to retirement.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Protests This Week

Things have been a bit busy lately, with the result that I haven’t been able to protest as much as usual. But lest anyone conclude that this presages a general slowdown, rest assured that I’ll be out at least two days this week. Plans also include leafleting a swath of Beverly Hills that I have not previously done.

Busy week ahead!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Eighty-five Percent of Millennials Who Don’t Go to Church Say it’s Hypocritical. They’re Right

Did you know that 85 percent of millennials who don’t go to church say they believe church to be hypocritical? Well, they’re right.

The statistics are found in the recent Barna studies, with the relevant results available here.

That doesn’t bode well for Grace Church. With a rector, Dysfunctional Bob, who commits perjury by lying under oath, who thinks it’s okay to try to drag the dying into court, and who has repeatedly lied in other settings, both Dysfunctional Bob and the church serve as the poster children for hypocrisy. A similar approach pertains with former vestry member and church lawyer Jeffery Chiow, who repeatedly proffered false statements of fact in court, and whose descriptions of other church members would have enraged Jesus. 

Things don’t get any better with the vestry, which is nothing but a rubber stamp for Dysfunctional Bob, and which also lies to people with its facially false talking points about our conflict. 

The altar guild also has its fair share of bullying, with Linda Waskowiscz allegedly having reduced more than one of her fellow altar guild members to tears over the years. Then there’s Alison Campbell, with her seeming belief that she gets to choose who is a member of Grace Church, using her fun and games/manipulative behavior with the altar guild as her enforcement mechanism.

Similarly, the choir is well known for its bad behavior, including bullying. Then there’s the office staff, as well as our buddy the Princess Porcine, aka Lisa Medley, with her lies, bullying and other antics. And you have several independent actors, including the obviously troubled Jan Spence, whom Bob Malm refers to as an “asshole.” Yup, the love of Christ runneth over.

Nor does the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia want to get involved, so it’s also a part of the problem. 

In short, the Episcopal Church in Virginia appears headed for a resounding crash as its existing membership evaporates through attrition. Of course, the Bob Malm’s of the world don’t care—their pension checks will continue regardless. But the Virginia branch of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement appears to be moving in one direction only: Down the toilet.

How very sad that a church with so many things going for it is so utterly incapable of getting its act together.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

To All the Christian Friends I Could Not Keep

On May 21st, 2013, my life changed forever. My house church in Redlands, CA, became a cult, put me on trial, and tried to coerce me to sign a contract that forbade questioning the leadership. They called such questions “slander.”
The antinomian teachings of Hyper Grace had taken hold of this fifty-member community, and they ultimately shunned me, along with their families, friends, and other house churches in the area.
I was devastated, because I knew that this sort of thing—authoritarian dictators running rampant with impunity—happens often in churches. I had been studying it and learning about it. I knew it even had a name: spiritual abuse. I determined to warn others and speak out, even when my vocabulary and composure couldn’t keep up.
As my friends went from drunkenness to drug use, from marijuana to heroin, from twisting the Scriptures to ignoring them entirely, the apathy of so many parents and pastors and onlookers in Redlands matched what I came to understand was the larger Christian world.
Like every victim, my entry into the survivor community was unexpected and involuntary, and every plea for help became a silent scream into a vacuum where no answers come.
Those were my “all caps days,” when I wrote status after status on Facebook—never in a dignified way—seeking to share my experiences of abuse. I thought that if you heard from a person you knew, speaking about how abuse is thriving in churches, you would understand what has been happening for far too long.
I thought you would understand what I was saying about Bill Gothard, Doug Philips, Mark Driscoll, Perry Noble, Tony Jones, Bill Hybels, Andy Savage, Tullian Tchividjian, C.J. Mahaney, James MacDonald, and too many others to mention. I thought you would understand how these leaders and the culture that enables them are not unique or isolated incidents but part of a hellish pattern.
I thought you would see this pattern and understand my burden to stop it.  
I was wrong.
Maybe I was naïve, thinking Christians were different from the average person. Your preaching about love and family and commitment gave me the impression you knew what you were talking about. But when push comes to shove, it has actually been the non-Christians in my life who treated me better than the Christians.
The biggest lesson being your friend taught me is how I should not try to persuade people to love me who are committed to misunderstanding me. I will no longer negotiate my worth. Even if you disagree, I deserve to be treated with dignity and compassion because I am created in the image of the invisible God.
Yet you’d rather make me “unhinged,” nothing more than garbage, a Peter who cries “wolf,” rather than consider I may actually know what I’m talking about. 
I wish you understood.
I wish you knew what I did about how unsafe Sunday really is.
I wish you knew the many people I do, whose lives stand in sharp contrast to your own. 
The subtle biases many of us face is a web of indifference. It is that attitude, that mindset hiding in plain sight, that the Church is somehow immune from evil and that abuse does not happen there.
Instead, the soul-crushing truth is that abuse would not thrive in the Church if it weren’t for the indifference of those whose privilege has isolated them from reality.
I wish instead of invalidating our experiences you could just listen. When we tell you that women experience the Church differently than men, how vulnerable children and the disabled are, how harsh the punishment is for disagreeing with a pastor, or what it’s like when you tell the truth in a community that professes to love truth, you cannot just disagree.
Not only is this insulting, it is dehumanizing. Your denial robs us from the very thing we need the most—a community where we can heal.
Instead, the survivors of the Church have become so numerous that we now have formed a community of our own. I believe it is another revival, but instead of God bringing people to the institutional church, He is rescuing people from it. The industry, the celebrities, the publishing houses and radio stations—the big money that comes from playing along—none of it glorifies Jesus, because there is nothing sacred about an institution that hides evil.
You see these survivors in such places like conferences on abuse—the Courage Conference, the Conquer Conference, the Valued Conference, or smaller get-togethers that are not so public.
You’ll find them in #Exvangelicals, #ChurchToo, and #EmptyThePews. Some of the voices are strident or openly heretical, but I understand that is what happens when faith hurts.
Far from hating the Church or you, I do love you. I wish you were still my friend. But your lack of presence demonstrates the fact you had no empathy to begin with. I was an enigma that you tried to solve, a curiosity you tried to manage, a problem—but never a person to be loved.
You’ve never applied yourself to deeply love the broken or wounded on the roadside. Deep down, you’re so afraid that you could be vulnerable to abuse or assault that you assign blame to the victimized. The randomness of life is so terrible a thing to contend with that somehow we “deserved” what we experienced.
Maybe that’s why you never reached out and said, “Help me understand.” Maybe that’s why you never called to ask “Are you okay?” Your mind was already made up about us, even as we trusted you to love us.
Instead you asked, “Why are you so bitter?” “Why aren’t you going to church?” “Why aren’t you reading your Bible?”
You claimed “no church is perfect,” asked if we were “working toward reconciliation,” and accused us of gossip and slander.
You act as though there is no reason to be angry or hurt by this. You are surprised Bible verses dispassionately recited can harm people. You are offended when we say we aren’t troublemakers because there is already trouble inside your community. The people you are called to love, you refer to as slanderers, divisive, and renegades.
And you say we can go to you for anything.
We see the contradiction. We see no urgency to care. We see you’re just looking for reasons to shove us away and then wonder why we never come to church.
I learned the hard way that when abuse happens in religious communities, a steadfast commitment to truth can be a relational death sentence. Often it is the people in power who abuse, and often it is those very people you cannot question.
The clearest indicator that a community is in dangerous territory is when we cannot question our leaders. Our demeanor does not matter, nor how we frame our words, because this isn’t about how we say it—it is about what we are saying that makes us, somehow, unworthy of your time.
As the years have passed, I not only gained the vocabulary for knowing what has happened to me and others, but I feel what Emily Dickenson wrote when she said, “There is a languor of life, more imminent than pain. ‘Tis pain’s successor, when the soul has suffered all it can.” I understand what Brené Brown wrote when she said, “You can choose courage or comfort but you cannot choose both.” I understand what Fred Rogers meant when he said, “Listening is one of the most important things we can do for one another.”
Far from being angry with you, I read our last emails and messages and sometimes look you up. I often dare to wish you a Merry Christmas or Happy Birthday. I have many such messages in my draft folders. But I know you have not reexamined your position, because you have not reached out to me.
You are enshrined in your certainty that you are right and the many survivors who are speaking out are wrong.
There are so many of us in the Church who remain outside of the sanctuary on Sunday, yet our absence means nothing to you. The show must go on, because pretense matters more than our presence.  
In so doing, you scoff at people’s pain. Your silence in the face of our pain makes you complicit for so much of it.
Now, tell us truly: who is the hateful one? Who is the divisive one? Who is the slanderer? Who is unsafe?
I didn’t destroy our friendship. It broke my heart to learn you were not incapable—just unwilling—to truly love me and those like me. When you walked away, I had to learn to do the same. But I never wanted to do that.  
If you ever returned to me, having looked into these matters and with a sincere apology were ready to fight for a world without abuse, I would love to have you back. 
Sadly, I believe the next time I will see many of you is during the end of all things, when we all stand before Him before whose face the earth and heavens will fade away. There He will tell us that when we gave a drink to the thirsty, when we welcomed the stranger, when we clothed the poor, and when we visited the prisoner, we were doing it to Him.
He will pierce us with His fiery gaze and see when we failed to love others. You will ask when you failed.
And then I imagine He will gesture to us. Those of us who hungered for righteousness and thirsted for justice but were not fed. Those of us who were exiled from our church families and never welcomed back. Those of us who stood naked and ashamed when shame was not ours to bear and yet were not clothed and protected.
Those of us who languished under the weight of chains from oppressive abusers and were not visited or freed, but were looked upon with indifference, if we were ever seen at all.
I’m not sure what will happen next for you at that moment—if punishment comes for those who say they are Christ’s yet lived as though they were not. But I do hope you will then realize what I’ve been trying to tell you all along.
Your brother,

Ryan Ashton is a survivor, advocate, and graphic designer with a BFA in Graphic Design. He is the Director of Technology and Social Media for GRACE and the Creative Director for The Courage Conference. Ryan currently volunteers with Greenville (SC)’s Julie Valentine Center as a sexual assault victim advocate.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Holy Week Hypocrisy at Grace

In just a few short days, Grace Episcopal will celebrate the Easter Vigil, which marks the high water mark of Holy Week. And despite the church’s faltering finances and reputation under the “leadership” of Dysfunctional Bob, the place will be awash in flowers and other symbols of the resurrection. That begs the question, “How can it be Holy Week when Dysfunctional Bob and Sugarland Chiow think it’s okay to drag a woman, slowly suffocating to death, into court?”

The answer is that there’s nothing holy about Holy Week at Grace Church.

Holy Week is, of course, the culmination of Lent, a time of introspection and repentance. But folks at Grace continue their vendetta, replete with accusations of “domestic terrorism” and Bob Malm’s perjury under oath. No sign of repentance, no change of behavior.

So where does that leave us? It leaves us with a Holy Week that is nothing but a notation on the calendar, an expensive bunch of hoo-ha replete with smelly flowers, incense, candles, and a noisy bunch of brass musicians hammering away, perched in the choir loft. Meanwhile, the whole sordid, hypocritical farce will be presided over by Dysfunctional Bob, who has worn out his welcome and stayed so long that he can barely conceal his eagerness to get home following command performances like Easter.

In short, Easter at Grace Church is a joke. 

If you really want to celebrate Easter, celebrate the miracle of the resurrection. Give life to the hopeless, care to the needy, friendship to the lonely. Don’t conflate the real meaning of Easter with Bob Malm’s tawdry, noisy contrived spectacle of the Great Vigil.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Todd Ousley and the Big Brush-Off

Remember when I posted that the Episcopal Church is morally bankrupt? Well, today’s email from Todd Ousley, the national intake officer for complaints against Episcopal bishops, confirms it.

Previously, I contacted the Diocese about Bob Malm’s perjury. Sure enough, the Diocese brushed off my concerns without even investigating. So, I kicked things upstairs to Todd Ousley. Sure enough, his response was essentially that as long as the diocese invokes Title IV in its response, that’s all that’s required. This, no matter how outrageous the conduct, the Diocese is free to dismiss it in this manner.

In my case, proving Bob Malm’s perjury is very simple. All the Diocese has to do is ask Bob for proof of his claim that Mom made multiple appointments with him—a claim at the very heart of his recent court case. But it refuses to even lift a finger.

Proof that The Episcopal Church is irretrievably dysfunctional.

Bishop Susan Goff Knowingly Permits Clergy to Lie Under Oath

Friday, April 12, 2019

Harvest Bible Chapel Lawsuit Goes Live

Some time ago, I referenced the exploding scandal at the Harvest Bible Chapel over abuse of power, misuse of funds, spiritual abuse, intimidation and more. Today, things reached a new level, as a website launched that provides information for those who may wish to join in the lawsuit against the church.

You may recall that the church tried suing bloggers for defamation, as part of an effort to shut down criticism. In other words, it tried pulling a Bob Malm.

This Easter, Boycott Grace Episcopal

Is Church Safe for Children?

Is your church safe for children? Probably not if, like Bob Malm, you take no meaningful action when faced with parishioners who have boundary issues with children.

Thursday, April 11, 2019 Surges Past 70,000 Hits

Exciting news! In the little over 16 months that this blog has been open, as of the wee hours this morning, it has garnered more than 70,000 hits. Traffic remains strong, with daily traffic continuing to climb.

As I’ve mentioned before, this blog is the smallest part of my efforts. For example, even small social media posts garner 6,000 or more hits. Big ones, like the tweet announcing the Wartburg Watch article, have been seen more than 100,000 times. Paid advertising also remains strong, and we will surge ads during Holy Week. Leafletting also continues apace, and we will have leafletted at least another 500 homes before Easter.

Check it out!

Bob Malm and Grace Church’s Failed Internal Controls

I’ve previously written about the breakdown in Grace Church’s internal financial controls during Bob Malm’s watch. These breakdowns include:
  • Overpaying one employee for many months, allegedly due to an accounting error.
  • Thousands of dollars of cash and stale checks found in the church office following the resignation of a previous church administrator.
  • Facially inaccurate financial reports.
  • Failure to provide the vestry with school financial reports as required by law and written church policy.
  • Failure to follow written church policy on the issuance of credit cards, with rector Bob Malm allegedly carrying a card in violation of church policy.
  • Failure to follow canonical requirements for a finance manual. (As the longest reigning rector at Grace Church, Bob Malm surely has had ample time to make that happen.)
In recent days, the burgeoning scandal at Harest Bible Chapel involving Rolex watches, cars, and motorcycles underscores the need for effective church governance. Yet, while it is clear that Beth Calaman has done an admirable job in cleaning up the mess that Bob created, it is not clear that the underlying problems with transparency and disclosure have been addressed. It is time that this happen.

These issues are doubly important in light of two factors:
  • The expenditures now under way for the HVAC project.
  • Reduced transparency by the church following Bob’s decision to stop publicly releasing vestry minutes. (BTW, if Bob’s goal was to keep me from seeing those, he failed miserably. I see them on a regular basis.)
Nor should folks be lulled into a false sense of security by stupid, illogical comments like Lisa Medley’s claim that “there is complete financial transparency.” If there were indeed complete transparency, then it logically follows that Lisa and other vestry members knew about the funds that disappeared into the abyss of the church administrator’s office and chose to ignore the problem.

Folks, it’s your money we’re talking about, and faithful stewardship of these resources is a sacred responsibility. Bob’s complete indifference to these issues is grave violation of your trust, and it’s time to demand accountability.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Bob Malm: Mentally Ill?

Is Bob Malm mentally ill? I don’t know the answer to that question, but believe there are factors that suggest the answer is yes. Among them:
  • Bob’s seeming need for adulation, combined with constant efforts to secure more.
  • His focus on power and control, and his use of forceful diction to try to create an impression of power/authority.
  • His focus on superficial image and appearance.
  • His carefully hidden insecurity.
  • His ability to present a guileless exterior, while exhibiting behavior behind the scenes that is vile, vicious, and vindictive.
  • His seeming need to live up to parental and other expectations.
  • His apparent treatment of his children as an extension of himself.
  • His sometimes over-the-top rages when he perceives himself to be criticized, or those close to him.
  • His profound resistance to supervising staff and performing other essential components of his job.
  • His belief that he’s a great supervisor and priest, when facts suggest otherwise.
  • His stated beliefs that he is invincible, and doesn’t need others.
  • His strong verbal skills.
  • His lack of real empathy for others.
  • His often practiced/rehearsed conduct, combined with oddly “flat” behavior when he cannot play a rehearsed role.
  • His refusal to address conflict.
  • His professed religious beliefs, which often stand in marked contrast to his conduct.
  • His dismissive remarks about his wife and others whom he claims to care about.
  • His seemingly shallow emotions.
  • His ability to lie as needed, making stuff up as needed to suit his purposes.
  • His lack of a notion of objective truth/reality.
  • His projection of his own attributes on others.
  • His willingness to lie and commit perjury, while loudly decrying my assertion that he has done so, all while ignoring written evidence of his deceit.
  • His apparent inability to see any conflict between his professed values and his conduct.
  • His willingness to ignore church policies and requirements when it suits him.
  • His ability to manipulate the perceptions of others.
  • His increasing paranoia, including his belief that he is pursued by “domestic terrorists.”
  • His becoming disoriented in his own home, resulting in a serious fall and hospitalization in 2014.
  • His tendency to address issues/conflict through manipulation, versus open dialogue.
  • His unwillingness to take responsibility for his actions.
  • His seeming belief that he is special or unique and should only associate with others who are special.
  • His deep-seated but carefully hidden prejudices on certain issues.
  • His seeming tendency to cultivate those who are wealthier or may otherwise confer perceived status on him.
  • His dismissive attitude towards those who may have nicer belongings than him.
  • His irrational conduct towards me and indifference to the damage it is causing to Grace Church and its members.
  • His apparent belief that criticizing his conduct is somehow abusive or illegal.
  • His stated belief that he can use the judicial system as a way to discipline former church members.

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:

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Lies from the Grace Vestry

Here’s another example of lies coming from Grace Church, this time from the vestry.

The first screen cap shows the vestry’s talking points, in which the vestry claims that I left the parish voluntarily. (Gotta love those “specific security measures,” — far better than “inchoate security measures.” And heaven knows—protesters are a HUGE risk to our national security. Who was the moron who came up with the First Amendment?)

The second is a written timeline from Dysfunctional Bob in which he states that I was removed from various church volunteer activities. That begs the issue—if I had already left “voluntarily,” why the need to “remove” me?

And here is Bob Malm’s email telling me to get lost, which tellingly includes Mike:

Apropos Bob’s denial of bullying behavior, the very fact that he’s lying about me and others entrusted to his pastoral care, and referring to me as “sick,” “twisted,” and “dysfunctional” disproves his assertion. Moreover here, for example, is a text message from Peter Barnes, after an incident of Bob’s bullying behavior at a church personnel committee meeting:

As to bullying generally, one need only look to the post from a college-aged parishioner urging me to kill myself to see just how dysfunctional and sick Grace Church really is:

It’s a pretty sad state of affairs when even the church vestry lies. If the vestry as a group can’t be counted on to tell the truth, what’s left? And saying, “Well, I don’t want to get involved,” doesn’t cut it—the vestry is responsible for the church’s temporal affairs.

Grace church, toxic church.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Imagine if the Church Said, “I’m Sorry”

I saw this op-ed on the Chicago Sun-Times. It is reprinted with permission.

Imagine if the church said, ‘I’m sorry’

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14

Imagine if the church said, “I’m sorry.”

Imagine the collective of Christian churches across America creating, even for just one day, a safe space for those who have been abused in the church, or by the church, to say openly before the assembly — without condemnation that something happened to them in this the most sacred of places we hold so dear.

Imagine …

Imagine if the church ceased from telling church-wounded brothers and sisters to simply “get over it.” Imagine if the church stopped scolding or shaming those countless “victims” over their inability to simply move on. Imagine if the church had a Me Too moment.


Imagine a church that no longer attempted to whitewash sins inflicted by the clergy upon the laity — often in secret and shrouded by a form of godliness, though purely evil and often criminal.

The lesser sins: The backbiting from the pews, the shaming, denigration and legalism from the pulpit, the misuse of power. The abuses almost too incomprehensible to utter that have left the sheep bruised and scarred, battered or barely breathing, bitter, until finally turned off to the church and to God, as the church abides mostly in complicit silence.

It is a pervasive silence that has swept over the church at large like a thick fog that obscures the truth and reality of life, love, joy and pain within the age-old institution.

The church. It has been co-opted by a 21st century bling-bling Gospel, by prosperity doctrine and the emergence of the mega church. It is today a much more insular church than the church of old, intoxicatingly focused on building temples of brick and mortar rather than “community” and the temple called the souls of men.

A made-for-TV church, it is a semblance of the church it was commissioned to be many centuries ago — enraptured by political correctness and with befriending the powers that be rather than speaking truth and practicing a social Gospel that is disruptive and also transformative. It is a church adept at seeing the speck in others’ lives but inept at detecting the beam in its own.

But imagine. … Imagine if the church’s stiff-necked denials and knee-jerk reaction to criticisms from within or without was no longer to circle the wagons but instead to deal circumspectly with those criticisms, with the myriad tales of untold abuse, and to take measures to prevent it.

Imagine the bold confessions of a repentant loving church: An admission that church leadership has indeed looked the other way amid glaring evidence of abuse. That the church is guilty of being MIA at times of great crisis and that it remains mostly mute about the scourge of murder, claiming black lives in genocidal proportions, and other social issues.

Imagine a church that concedes that Pentecostals and Baptists and Methodists have no less sin than Catholics or those of other faiths who hide behind the collar and the cross while serial abusers devour the unsuspecting and vulnerable who once checked in safe at the House of God.

Imagine a church that confessed that the church has brought shame to the name of Christ. A church that does not excuse the perpetrator or the flawed institution itself but seeks to heal and to protect the least of these.

Imagine a church that said: “We are sorry that happened to you. … We believe you. You have every reason to never want to go to church again. Please forgive us and please accept our deepest regrets on behalf of the church.”

Imagine that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is calling the church itself to repent.

Now imagine if we, the church, don’t.