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Anglican Watch is an all-volunteer, non-profit publication. We accept no advertising or donations and thus are entirely independent. Our mission is to bring light to the darkness by offering a voice to those hurt or abused by the church.
Our emphasis is on the Episcopal Church and related traditions, but from time to time we cover other faith traditions. Thus our primary role is the unofficial watchdog of the Episcopal Church, but we like to give bad actors from all walks of life a good, hard nip from time to time.
We do not claim to be unbiased. While we strive to present information professionally, our sympathies lie with those abused by the church. We believe that bringing light to the darkness is essential to the Christian faith.
That said, we are not an anti-church publication. We’re just as happy to defend a priest being bullied as a person sexually assaulted by a bishop. In other words, if you behave badly, you are fair game, regardless of your role in the church. And while there’s a a lot of DARVO in the church (deny and reverse victim and offender) in most cases if you have to ask the question, you already know the answer. That’s particularly true of clergy, who by virtue of their vows should be held to a higher standard, but often are held to a lower standard, or none at all.
We try to cover all aspects of abuse. But, unfortunately, ours is a culture often obsessed with sex. The result is that non-sexual abuse is discounted, brushed off, ignored, and more. This includes:
- The Episcopal Church’s safe church training program reflects this bias, focusing almost exclusively on sex. This approach overlooks the fact that non-sexual abuse can be every bit as traumatic as sexual misconduct. Indeed, mention spiritual abuse and your average Episcopalian will give you an empty look. But spiritual abuse is rife in the denomination, and some of the friendliest and seemingly most welcoming parishes are profoundly abusive behind the scenes.
- Church clergy disciplinary cases. Mention sex and you might — emphasis might — be taken seriously. Mention anything else and you’ll get a bored look, followed in short order by a letter telling you to buzz off.
- The judicial system, which often extends undue bias in favor of abusive clergy. This includes misuse of the protective order system, which the Episcopal church exploits to try to impede speech critical of its conduct.
Eric bonetti, editor (He/Him)
Eric Bonetti aka “The Notorious EJB,” our editor, lives in Boston Ma. and Northern Va. He was a life-long Episcopalian prior to leaving the church in 2015.
Bonetti founded Anglican Watch after asking the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia to mediate a dispute between him and his rector, Bob Malm, involving questionable HR, cash management, financial reporting, possible age discrimination in employment, and other governance practices. In addition, church staff and volunteers had repeatedly complained about workplace harassment, and Bonetti personally had experienced bullying in his parish.
The diocese brushed off the matter, saying these matters were “not of weighty and material importance to the ministry of the church.” However, within hours Malm had sent an email telling Bonetti and his husband to find a new church. That’s right—money missing? No problem. Bullying? All good. Claims of gender-based harassment? Fine.
Things went from bad to worse, and Malm directed staff to misuse donations Bonetti and his family made to the church.
Over time, things continued to deteriorate. Malm began filing police reports and civil complaints falsely claiming that Bonetti was mentally ill, was threatening him, was a “domestic terrorist,” and more. At one point, Malm and his attorney, Jeffery Chiow, (a volunteer and member of the church’s vestry) even attempted to drag Bonetti’s mother, then dying of COPD, into court, violating the law. The Pennsylvania courts, which had domesticated the subpoena, made short work of Chiow’s ultra vires subpoena, but the effort speaks volumes about both Malm and Chiow.
Bonetti eventually left the Episcopal Church, sadder but wiser, with no plans to return.
And he was mildly amused when it was discovered that thousands of dollars of parish money had gone missing. How was that determined? It was found in the previous church administrator’s office. Meanwhile, Malm had been falsely portraying the parish’s annual AUP (Agreed-Upon Procedures) as an audit, and claiming it had come back fine. Just a few thousand dollars missing here and there. Oh, and there was the minor issue that the AUP couldn’t be done timely, as financial records were a shambles.
Then there was the issue of stale checks from various estates found in the parish administrator’s office. Are we really supposed to believe that none of the representatives of these estates called and asked, “Why haven’t you cashed your check?”
Nothing like money down the drain.
Meanwhile, former fellow parishioners responded with everything from physical threats, to the middle finger, to falsely claiming he was an embezzler to urging Bonetti to commit suicide. But hey—all are welcome, no exceptions. To which Bonetti replies, “No thanks. You can keep it.”
Outside of the publication, Bonetti enjoys cycling, hiking, martial arts, running, and good food. In addition, he is an accomplished writer, with placements in the Huffington Post, the National Review, and numerous other traditional and new media outlets.
While they work behind the scenes, Anglican Watch would not exist without the generous support of several additional persons. These individuals provide news tips, investigative input, copywriting, editing, strategic planning, friendship, and more. While they choose to remain anonymous (or pseudonymous), we are deeply grateful for their efforts. And of course that includes The Notorious Stinkbomb (pronoun: Stink) who serves a fast growing, progressive and diverse parish on the west coast. Tellingly, his bishop once said, “If you didn’t exist, I’d have to make you up.” Stinkbomb is still trying to decide if that was a compliment.
Meanwhile, Stinkbomb serves as deputy editor, proofreader, devil’s advocate, keeper of the passcodes, sympathetic ear, courageous leader, and more. And he’s been known to show up unannounced on the East Coast in times of trouble, a loyal friend and priest.
We are also profoundly grateful for a grant earlier this year for state-of-the-art website security services.