Regular readers will be familiar with our references to an excellent book on church misconduct written by The Very Rev. Canon Dr. Robin Hammeal-Urban, Wholeness After Betrayal: Restoring Trust in the Wake of Misconduct. At the time of publication, Hammeal-Urban was the Canon for Mission Integrity for the Diocese of Ct. The book is excellent and reflects on the importance of transparency and disclosure for congregational healing, including intra-personal, interpersonal, and organizational levels.
Unfortunately, it’s evident that +Sumner, The Very Reverend David J.A. Halt (rector of St. James in Texarkana), +Gates, and The Not-so-Rev. Douglas Anderson haven’t read Hammeal-Urban’s book. Indeed, they appear poised to publish a counter-argument, “How to Trash the Episcopal Church for Dummies: A Clergy Guide to Bad Behavior.” Sequel: “How to be a Fake Christian for Dummies.”
Following are recent allegations we have received in the Douglas Anderson case:
- As news of Anderson’s suspension began to leak, the vestry eventually was told that it was over allegations that Anderson had engaged in sexual misconduct. Fair enough, but they allegedly were told that they couldn’t discuss the matter and asked to sign non-disclosure agreements (NDAs). The request for confidentiality is wrong and unethical on so many levels we can’t even begin to parse the issue. As for those who may have signed such an agreement, a variety of coarse phrases apply, but for now, we will merely say that you are spineless wonders. And an NDA involving allegations of sexual misconduct is inherently unethical, unless requested by the victim.
- As for the ever-unethical Alan Gates and his equally corrupt minion Bill Parnell, read the Title IV canons. The bishop has the authority to waive confidentiality as needed, and they are doing the denizens of Planet Advent profound harm by leaving them in the dark. And they missed the part about bringing light to the darkness as Christians — not to mention their responsibility under the Title IV canons to provide a pastoral response to all affected by the allegations. So it is evident that they are again abusing authority and violating Title IV. And hey — if the church can kick out Bishop Love for ignoring the canons, it can and should do the same for those two dirtbags. Oh, and Sumner can hitch a ride out the door with the two.
- We are hearing reports from an emergency meeting involving Sumner. We’ve got a couple more interviews to do, but we plan to publish details shortly.
- We see strong indicia that Sumner and Halt will soon be facing a lawsuit from one or more persons.
- Sources tell us that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is looking with a very jaundiced eye at Randy Sam’s and its board members. If an EEOC case moves forward, or an EEOC case is brought in federal court, look for widespread media coverage and a pullback of donors from the organization.
- Our ongoing investigation has uncovered additional instances of questionable conduct on the part of several key players, but that does not include Daly or the alleged victims. We are working to obtain additional details and confirm specifics and will publish when we have enough evidence to ensure accuracy.
- Halt allegedly is up to Stupid Clergy Games 101. We’re hearing reports from multiple sources that he’s trash-talking Rich Daly up one end of Texarkana and down the other. So, even though no one at Anglican Watch is a lawyer, we’ll give Halt some advice: Shut up. Nothing supports a wrongful termination lawsuit or EEOC retaliation case like stupid comments alleging that Daly stole money, etc. And in case you didn’t figure it out, let us help you: Even given the rampant clericalism in TEC, parishioners aren’t stupid. If you’re willing to trash a former colleague, no one is safe, least of all us lowly laity.
- Halt also would be wise to consider that Sumner, a dirtbag if there ever was one, is facing Title IV charges. It is not uncommon in Title IV cases for additional misconduct to emerge, and if Sumner goes down in flames, whether in court, at the EEOC, or in a Title IV case, Halt is likely to go down with him. So this is not a great time to say stupid stuff.
- Same for alleged narcissist Douglas Anderson: If you want your narcissistic supply to dry up in record time, act like an idiot and criticize Daly. While you’re at it, use your contacts in Texarkana to attack folks at Randy Sam’s. Yes, some people are lemmings and will follow you over that cliff. But most of us think for ourselves, and you’ll make yourself look stupid and mean if you go that route. And you can be sure we will print details, including copies of emails, plane tickets, phone records and more.
- All involved should be aware that the abysmal handling of this case will cause lasting harm to the Dioceses of Massachusetts and Dallas, the Church of the Advent, and St. James. Particularly damaging are two factors:
- The dioceses’ failure to explain the role of Title IV to those affected and the public; and
- The refusal to provide a pastoral response as mandated by the canons. This response should extend to the complainant; respondent; the churches involved; Randy Sam‘s staff; and more. Even the bit about Anderson caring for his mother serves only to undercut the credibility of the bishops, the dioceses, the parishes, and the vestries involved. No one at Anglican Watch trusts any of you, and we doubt that your reputation is much better elsewhere.
- Clergy misconduct should result in the church at its best—a place of spiritual and emotional safety and care, of absolute integrity and the highest ethical standards. That includes supporting those with the courage to come forward. But here we see the Episcopal Church at its worst: Dishonest, retaliatory, full of sycophants and passive-aggressive behavior, childish games, and indifference to the well-being of its members or those it has hurt. Far too often in this matter, we hear the phrase, “I just don’t want anything to happen to MY church.” Sorry to spring it on you—it’s not YOUR church. And while you’re at it, at least pretend to be like Jesus and show some compassion for those hurt by Anderson’s alleged misconduct.
- As for those who rely on Texarkana’s relative isolation to act up, you’re fooling yourselves. We are getting dozens of messages about this situation, including from clergy of other faith traditions. And what we hear is remarkably consistent.
- Same for the Church of the Advent. Not only do we have a bead on your sketch tactics, like the bit about Anderson caring for his mother, but we’ve got sources from both the liberal and conservative factions at the church. We are very familiar with your internal politics and the prevalence of misogyny among the conservatives in the church. And the one thing all involved can count on is we will report events as they happen.
- This situation may well result in major defections from the already shaky Diocese of Dallas. We cannot imagine that ECW members are okay with Sumner’s conduct, which is straight out of the Madmen playbook. And Dallas faces a double challenge, which is that many of the conservatives fled for ACNA long ago. So there won’t be much patience for Sumner’s misconduct.
- As for residents of Texarkana yes, Anderson did many good things. But life is not a case of double-entry bookkeeping, with debits on one side and credits on the other. Thus, his good points don’t eliminate his alleged misconduct, and we are confident that the allegations of sexual misconduct are true. Again, women are not objects and deserve to be treated with respect. And we remind you that narcissists often masquerade as angels of light, yet right beneath the surface they are vile, vicious and vindictive. Think about it.
- Finally, we reiterate the importance of a pastoral response, particularly to the victim. Gates talks a good game, but the reality is he is a feckless bishop who often can’t be bothered with clergy discipline. The fact he’s taking allegations against Anderson seriously, while ignoring the needs of the victim, suggests that the latter is nothing but a pawn in a larger game where Gates gets the upper hand in dealing with Advent. If that is the case, Gates is every bit as much a #metoo offender as is alleged of Anderson. It’s the people who matter, not that gosh-awful Victorian heap that is Advent. Same goes for Advent’s endowment. Nor is the Diocese of Dallas off the hook, especially since the breakdown in integrity starts with Sumner.
Anglican Watch will continue to post developments in this matter.