Anne Turner, the former rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria, Va., who recently resigned after details of her extramarital affair came to light, has shown her true colors.
In a complaint directed at a web hosting company that Turner believes hosts anneturner.net, Turner told a series of fabrications in an effort to suppress publicity about her misconduct.
Among her lies, misleading claims, and stupid assertions:
- Her claim that her husband Steven Watts’ role as an advisor to the Secretary of Defense is a private matter is a brazen lie. It is not, and Americans have a right to know who works for the government. Additionally, the information is a matter of public record.
- Relatedly, those processing security clearances may rightly question what risks Turner’s behavior poses to national security.
- As to Turner’s fabrications to her family and church that she is going on church retreats when she is really having an affair, these are violations of her ordination vows and a betrayal of the trust that church members place in their priests. Thus, Turner doesn’t get to claim privacy.
- If, as we suspect, Turner used church funds or leave for her so-called church retreats, she is not only a liar, but also a thief. Nothing in her employment contract permitted her to use church funds or leave to have an affair.
- It is appropriate to question the veracity of a priest who so egregiously violates her baptismal vows, her ordination vows, and her marriage vows. In other words, Turner’s conduct suggests a narcissistic a-hole with scant regard for the parish she purports to serve, her daughters, and her husband.
- As to Turner’s claims that her affair is a personal matter, it is not. That is price of assuming the privilege of ordination.
- Turner’s claim that she has discontinued her affair is improbable at best. If she indeed has stopped, why is she allegedly texting the man in question, calling him, using the word love, and sending him heart-shaped emoticons? If her claims are true—and we already have established that Turner is a liar and adulterer—why wouldn’t she have half the common sense God gave a goat and go no-contact? Put bluntly, we conclude she is lying again.
- As for her claim that her correspondence with her adulterous partner is private, we seriously doubt that the woman Turner has hurt via her self-centered, childish actions agrees. And should the matter go to litigation, including divorce, her correspondence may well be entered into evidence and discussed in open court.
- There is no tort of invasion of privacy in Virginia
- Turner is quick to stand up for herself when someone calls a spade a spade, which is that she is living a lie and she is an adulterer. But we don’t see any shadow of the same courage when it comes to testifying to the truth or falsity of former rector Bob Malm claims that Anglican Watch editor Eric is a “domestic terrorist;” she hired an attorney in an effort to avoid answering questions under oath about Malm’s behavior — including his lies to the parish as a whole.
- Similarly, Turner lacks the courage to call out Jeffery Chiow, who engages in criminal activity by filing false police reports against former parishioners.
- Turner also is the jackass who ignored requests by Michael Smith to attend the funeral of an elderly friend at the church who died. How is that Christian?
- As the old saying goes, one should behave in a way that there would be no objections to details appearing on the front page of the New York Times. Or Anglican Watch, for that matter. Turner should have thought about her incredible selfishness and stupidity and the pain she risked causing others — her parishioners, her husband, and her daughters — before having an affair.
- The only “right” Turner had as a priest and purported Christian was to make a sincere apology, make restitution to those she hurt, renounce her past behavior, and seek amendment of life. Having done none of these things, she has no basis for complaint.
- As to the contents of her love letters and other indicia of her affair, Turner should have thought of that ahead of time. Not only do blogs enjoy the same First Amendment protections as traditional media outlets, but the Pentagon Papers case makes clear that the right extends to publishing matters of public interest, even when classified documents are involved. The fact that Grace Episcopal Alexandria again selected a priest who’s friendly but ethically bankrupt is a matter of public interest to current and former church members, prospective members, and the community at large.
- We have advised those involved with anneturner.net that, if she further attempts to interfere with their First Amendment rights, they should join with various free speech organizations to pursue legal action against her. We also suggest they contact the Department of Defense to discuss her conduct and its potential significance to her husband’s security clearance. After all, that’s what Kirk Steffensen would do.
- Anglican Watch adamantly resists efforts to impose censorship. As part of our effort, we are forwarding documentation of Turner’s affair, her terroristic threats, and other indicia of her misconduct to other bloggers and media outlets to demonstrate her lack of integrity, her lack of remorse, and her willingness to play manipulative games. And per Jeffery “Sugarland” Chiow, saying anything someone else doesn’t like constitutes a terroristic threat. Indeed, he has said so in legal filings made on behalf of Grace Episcopal Church and perjuring priest Bob Malm.
- Turner’s efforts to conceal her misconduct indicate she is not remorseful for her conduct.
- Turner’s affair underscores a lack of personal and professional judgment. Ask any priest, social worker or psychologist, and one thing you will consistently hear is that affairs never end well. Given that Turner’s mother is a priest, and given that Turner herself is not a recent ordinand, there is something very much amiss with a priest who disregards the pitfalls inherent in this conduct.
- Turner’s conduct underscores one of the significant failings of the Episcopal Church: In its frenzy of clericalism, it often chooses narcissistic individuals with seemingly good social skills over persons actually called to the priesthood.
- While we used to like and respect Turner, we don’t anymore. She serves as proof that toxic parishes almost always choose toxic rectors, even when it seems otherwise. Her brief and dysfunctional tenure also illustrates the perils of not having a successful, intentional interim period with someone extensively trained on these issues.
Whoever comes next would do well to consider that parishes become like their rectors.
After 30 years of toxic, narcissistic, mendacious Malm, the parish has adopted many similar patterns of interaction. The parish and the diocese must act with intentionality to:
- Address toxic behavior.
- Make peace with the past.
- Heal past conflicts.
- Establish normative behaviors consistent with the Christian faith.
If these do not happen, the failure will result in the closure of Grace Episcopal Church within the next ten to fifteen years.
As to complaints about our decision to cover this issue, we say get over it. Adverse publicity is a given when perjuring priest Bob Malm, Jeff “Sugarland” Chiow, and others attempt to force people out of the church. Having made that decision, neither Malm, nor Chiow, nor anyone else connected with Grace has any right to complain about the natural consequences of their actions.
A final word to Anne Turner: Any more attempts to infringe First Amendment rights will be met with fierce resistance by bloggers, persons on social media, non-profits and traditional media. Her time would be better spent dealing with her own lack of personal integrity.