Anglican Watch

Why is an Episcopal priest with an emergency protective order against him not suspended?

Daniel McClain, Episcopal priest

Did you ever see a situation where you take one look and think, “Wow, that’s a recipe for disaster?” We see a fair number of those on the Anglican Watch beat. But the situation that takes the cake right now is the decision by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio to leave rector Dan McClain in place despite an emergency protective order against him.

As in, “What part of this sounds like a good idea to you? Especially with (a few remaining) children at St. Paul’s?”

Put in other words, “Did you fall down and smack your little head on the pavement?”

Any clergyperson with a protective order against them should be suspended from ministry immediately.

To be clear: There is a strong correlation between domestic violence and other abuse. Moreover, abuse runs the gamut, from emotional manipulation to gaslighting to spiritual abuse.

We also need to be clear about Daniel McClain: While the claims against him are allegations made ex parte, to issue a protective order, the requisite standard of evidence is “by a preponderance of the evidence.” 

Thus, there’s already been a court ruling based on the evidence presented to a judge.

And yes, sometimes courts are too eager to hand out protective orders, but Anglican Watch has received confirmation from other clergy on these issues. Indeed, one clergyperson has told us she believes Daniel to be a psychopath.

While these are allegations, and we are not in a position to assess their accuracy, several factors lead us to great concern about Daniel McClain. These factors include:

  • Repeated complaints by third parties of Machiavellianism, including carefully calculated boundary incursions, allowing Daniel to claim that onlookers are “overreacting.”
  • A seeming lack of empathy for others.
  • Lack of remorse.
  • Superficial, manipulative charm.
  • Lack of an ethical reference point, as evinced by a pattern of lies and deception. These lies include his claim of exoneration in a prior Title IV proceeding—a lie so outrageous as to be shocking.
  • Allegations of violence and intimidation.
  • Excessive concern about what others think about him, even as he denies any such situation.
  • Gaslighting, a surefire indicator of issues with anti-social personality traits.
  • An attitude that everything is someone else’s fault.

And we note that Daniel still has not produced his psych evaluation—an issue we have previously raised. Knowing what we know of him, if it were positive, his eval would be nailed to the church doors like Luther’s 95 theses.

Nor is our concern confined to the possibility of physical violence. 

As we stated previously, abusers operate on a continuum. Based on the lies we believe are coming from Daniel McClain, the complaints from employees and parishioners, the number of people who have told us that he frightens them, and more, we fear spiritual abuse, manipulation, shunning of those who oppose him, and more.

There’s also a specific concern: Clergy in this situation invariably use their ties within the church to create a parallel universe that supports their claims. This situation involves claiming that the person on the outs is mentally ill, a domestic terrorist, and all the usual nonsense.

The clergyperson then goes to judicatories and spouts nonsense about how everyone in the parish knows their enemy is mentally ill, overreacts, etc. 

In other words, they use their fabrications to create a false reality that supports their primary lies.

They even use this herd of sheep, unthinkingly following them, to engage in parental alienation and more. 

And yes, we see lots of fine words and erudite Jesus-babble from Daniel and his “broham,” but right underneath, we see a wave of narcissistic, anti-social toxicity that, left unabated, will result in St. Paul’s closing its doors sooner, rather than later.

Finally, four comments directed at the vestry, McClain’s flying monkeys, and his attorneys:

  • These are all allegations, but we find our sources consistent and credible,
  • Vestry members need to stop lying to the parish. Specifically, there is zero excuse for the lie that the diocese must investigate every time a Title IV complaint is made. And if we were parishioners, we’d attend a new church post haste after discovering that our vestry lied to us.
  • A sure-fire sign of Daniel McClain’s toxicity is the claim floating around St. Paul’s, apparently coming from him, that our coverage of this situation is all Kate’s doing. Flying monkeys, rest assured: We are beholden to no third party and fiercely resist outside efforts to sway or influence our coverage. You may not like our coverage. You may disagree with our coverage. But we are entirely independent and call them as we see them.
  • We again remind St. Paul’s members about the importance of not gossiping and not bearing false witness. The BS about Kate McClain’s alleged mental illness is not your business and an inappropriate topic of conversation. If you want to delve into the conduct of others, you should instead start with the allegations of Daniel McClain’s affair. The behavior of your rector-elect IS your business, and what we see is downright disturbing.

In closing, the diocese and the parish must clean up their acts. And if we do receive allegations of further misconduct on Daniel McClain’s part, we will hold the parish and the diocese accountable in the court of public opinion.



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