Bill Allport, the rector of the fast-dying St. Paul’s, located in Englewood, NJ, finally ‘fessed up on his way out the door, admitting that he is an alcoholic. The admission appears at 34:07 in the video below.
(If your browser doesn’t display the embedded video, you can find it here.
Meanwhile, Bishop Carlye Hughes and others have acted as enablers, saying stupid stuff like, “He’s just tired,” or “Well, he says he’s not an alcoholic.”
Newsflash: Alcoholism is a disease of deception. The victim lies to himself and others. So asking Allport whether he’s an alcoholic is a little like asking Putin whether he’s justified in invading Ukraine: You already know the answer, and it’s worth exactly what you paid for it.
And lest some other parish consider hiring Allport, alcoholism is the least of his problems.
For example, he was allegedly caught embezzling from a parish he served in Texas. Bad enough, but he tried to lie, saying he did it to feed his family.
Sorry, folks: The bishop is the person you turn to. You don’t just help yourself to parish funds, and Allport knows it. Thus, we believe the only people Allport was feeding were his buddies, Gin, Vodka, and Rum.
As to his skills as a priest, he is glib and thus a decent preacher. But he lacks empathy. And we have heard some of his pastoral advice, and it’s about as useful as a three-legged bull on wet ice.
Still worse is an issue likely unfixable: Allport appears to be a narcissist. Whether it’s his inflated resume (the one where he can’t spell “priest”) or the myriad reports of abusive behavior towards parishioners or staff, this one is toxic.
Moreover, his Machiavellianism, in which he lied, claiming his daughter didn’t “feel safe” around an openly gay staff member, is appalling. A good supervisor is loyal to his employees, but Allport doesn’t get this basic tenet of leadership. And pulling his daughter into it? That is despicable. Children should not be pawns in these ugly games, and Allport’s wife should divorce him post-haste.
Nor are these issues fixable. These lies go to the very heart of who Allport is, and they manifest an ugly, manipulative, profoundly dishonest man with no ethical reference point.
Simply put, you cannot win with a person like Allport. All you can do is cut your losses and go no-contact.
We are glad St. Paul’s has cut this one loose, and we hope they will bring in someone vibrant and caring. And let’s not forget that this person need not be a priest–until relatively recently, most Sunday services in Episcopal Churches were lay-led, with a priest rolling through sporadically. Given the church’s budgetary woes, it is far better to have a passionate lay leader who grows the parish versus the likes of Allport.
As for Allport, good riddance. Don’t let the door hit you. And do all involved a favor: Write for a living, work as a librarian, or do some other occupation where you are unlikely to further hurt others.
As for Carlye Hughes, you need a crash course in impairment. Taking Allport’s word that he’s not an alcoholic was naive and unhelpful in the extreme. And while retirement is coming up fast, we guarantee Allport is not the last alcoholic you’ll deal with.
To other parishes, we say this: Don’t be pulled in. Yes, Allport can turn on the charm when he wants to, but it’s all show and no substance. And you’re dealing with an alcoholic, a bully, a likely narcissist, and an alleged embezzler, so do yourself a favor and take pass.
Finally, it is important that Hughes not pull a St. Paul’s Montvale and just ignore the situation. Parishioners and staff alike have gone through a lot, so it’s time to put on the big girl’s pointy hat, bring in an expert in family systems and trauma, and show parishioners a whole lot of love. (We thought the sedia gestatoria and papal flabellum a nice touch. Give it some thought. Carlye.)
After all, that’s what a bishop is for.