By now, it’s no secret that Dallas Bishop George Sumner has behaved atrociously regarding the alleged sexual abuse of a young woman in the Diocese of Dallas by the Rev. Douglas Anderson.
And in a weird sermon this Sunday at St. James Texarkana, Sumner appears to be teeing up for bad news down the road involving Anderson, and likely St. James rector Fr. David Halt and Bishop Sumner himself.
Before we go further, sources tell us Halt and Sumner are doubling down on dumb, insisting untruthfully that Rich Daly retired. He didn’t, and we have proof of that.
And yet, even with Anderson’s tail in the wringer for lying in a Title IV case, Halt and Sumner don’t seem to be drawing any ethical lessons from Anderson.
As to Sumner’s sermon, he talks about the need for law and the fact that some aspects of our faith don’t involve the law. The sermon’s not easy to follow, but Sumner says that because the Kingdom of God is not yet at hand, we need judges, law enforcement, etc.
Yet at the same time, salvation is free and offered to us via no action on our part. So it’s not about the law but rather a gift from God.
As we hear it, Sumner appears to be saying, “When you hear that we’re getting our collective butts kicked at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or in court for illegal retaliation, you don’t need to bail on the church. You can still have your faith. After all, there are two sides to every story.”
Similarly, it appears Sumner is teeing up in case he or Halt gets in Title IV trouble.
For the record, Anglican Watch doesn’t support sin-leveling. Nor do we endorse the notion that every story has two sides. Specifically:
- Lying about Rich Daly’s departure is wrong. There is no other side to that story.
- Sexual misconduct by a priest is wrong.
- Sexual misconduct by a married priest is doubly wrong.
- Exploiting Anderson’s imbalance of real and perceived power apropos the victim to allegedly engage in sexual misconduct is wrong.
- Anderson’s lying during a Title IV clergy disciplinary proceeding is wrong.
- Retaliating against Rich Daly for opposing sexual misconduct is wrong and forbidden by church canon.
- Not confessing sins and failing to make restitution is wrong. That is true for Sumner, Anderson, and Holt.
- Not having enough respect for parishioners to tell them the truth about Anderson’s conduct is wrong.
- Anderson’s continuing denial of his misconduct makes clear he is not remorseful and thus needs to be defrocked.
- Sumner’s failure, and that of Bishop Alan Gates, to provide a pastoral response to the alleged victim is a per se violation of church canons. It is wrong.
Nor do we accept the implicit “mistakes were made” aspect of Sumner’s sermon. Any ding-a-ling this side of Madmen and 1967 knows sexual harassment of women is wrong, attempting to cover it up is doubly wrong, and firing someone for opposing it is triply wrong. And all three are illegal. As in HR 101 illegal.
So, we say this to Sumner: Quit being manipulative. Be a man and accept responsibility for your conduct. Same for Halt and Anderson. And if you don’t have enough spine to do that, you need to get out of ministry. All three of you have profound ethical gaps, and no amount of training if going to help if you haven’t already figured out that the church cannot sexually harass women. Or fire people for opposing sexual harassment. Jesus stood up for the the outcast and the downtrodden; you create them. You are modern-day Scribes and Pharisees. Jesus would have despised you.
Something about by their fruits you shall know them.
Here is the YouTube video, so readers can form their own opinions.
And here is the somewhat clunky transcription, processed via artificial intelligence: