Anglican Watch

Episcopal priest Daniel McClain files disingenuous, duplicitous, dumb Title IV response

Dan McClain

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent, and discerning if he holds his tongue. Proverbs 17:28


Often, when a Title IV Episcopal clergy disciplinary complaint reaches the hearing panel stage, there’s an easy and effective way to ascertain if the respondent is indeed a bad actor. Specifically, if the clergyperson’s response evinces no remorse and is replete with red herrings and logically fallacious arguments, it’s a safe bet that the respondent is guilty.

And nowhere is this more accurate than the ludicrous, disingenuous, and downright stupid response Episcopal priest Dan McClain filed in the Title IV case Anglican Watch filed against him. In addition, McClain’s tone-deaf and flat-footed response virtually guarantees that Diocesan officials will be further angered.

Before we go further, here are several key bits of context:

  • Title IV is neither criminal nor civil but rather ecclesiastical. Thus, multiple provisions of the American legal system do not apply, notably including the rule against hearsay and the lower standard of evidence required in a Title IV proceeding.
  • Title IV applies exclusively to clergy; there is no provision for contributory negligence. Thus, McClain’s argument that we, as the complainant, are biased is irrelevant. Similarly, efforts to point the finger at McClain’s wife are specious. The only relevant issue is whether McClain has engaged in misconduct.
  • As for McClain’s assertion early in his pleadings that he is a good priest who deserves respect, the latter is earned, not given. Good priests do not have adulterous affairs.
  • Regarding the notion that this publication is biased, that is correct. We consistently oppose injustice, oppression, and abusive clergy. But if Daniel McClain’s attorney is arguing that our concerns, and those of myriad others, should be discounted due to bias, then we may apply the same standard to her pleadings and discount them as biased in favor of her client. Thus, her contention is misplaced and logically fallacious.

From there, we’ll parse the claims in McClain’s response roughly in descending order of how laughably bad they are:

Excuses for adultery

His adulterous buddy, whom we refer to as “Plant Lady” (inside joke), is very special to him, and the Diocese only knows about her because McClain has admitted he’s in an adulterous relationship with her.

That’s pretty rich.

First, the Diocese knows about Plant Lady because we and many others have complained about her. The fact that McClain later admitted that this was accurate is a little like a bank robber saying, “But I held the door for a little old lady on the way out.” Big yawn, followed by “really” and lots of eye rolling, broham.

The reality is McClain did not volunteer this information.

Second, whether Plant Lady is special to McClain is irrelevant. Adultery is adultery and is a violation of McClain’s ordination vows, full stop.

Even worse, McClain continues to bring his kids into the mix. What kind of child isn’t going to face trauma when a parent brings his “very special” adulterous partner into things?

Moreover, the fact that Plant Lady and McClain have such a wondrous relationship confirms a critical point, which is that the adultery has been going on for a while.

There is absolutely no excuse for this conduct, and we’re not going to overlook it because McClain’s lame-a** attorney puts it at the end of his pleadings. Yeah, we know the trick—get as many areas of agreement into your brief before you go for the elephant in the living room. But that overlooks the inconvenient reality that the entire pleading is lame.

We also note that Plant Lady is damned dumb if she thinks her relationship will work out. It doesn’t take a professional ethicist to know that something begun in deceit won’t end well–not to mention there are enough warning signs out there that she should already be asking tough questions and running like hell in the other direction.

But hey–if Plant Lady wants to be dumb, it’s her God-given right. Not to mention that she and Daniel McClain richly deserve each other. Richly.

The non-sequitur of McClain’s tax forms and evidence of his loan

McClain also claims that his tax forms show that the parish treated its purported $30,000 loan to him as income, and thus, the amount in question could not have been a loan to him; that means he could not have defaulted on the loan.

But notice what’s missing, which is any discussion of the negotiations behind the loan.

Were it really a gift, there would have been something in the vestry minutes talking about the gift. But because banks usually want to see that a borrower has savings, the vestry appears to have discreetly sidestepped the issue.

Further, both taxpayers and employers are required to report as income any funds that are not, as here, likely to be repaid. Thus, any claim that Daniel’s tax form indicates the substance of the underlying contract with the church is a logical fallacy, and we believe his attorney knows that. (More on our thoughts about his attorney later in this post.)

That begs the question: Where did this information come from? Why does Daniel McClain not rebut it with actual evidence versus this red herring?


Allegations of attempted bank fraud

McClain takes a similar approach to allegations that he fraudulently attempted to obtain bank loans in his wife’s name without consent.

Specifically, he gasses on about how, when he discovered how much debt the family owed, he attempted to obtain a loan to consolidate everything.

But that begs the question: Is the underlying predicate accurate? Did Daniel suddenly discover the debt?

Our research suggests the original debt was his, not his wife’s. So, we believe Daniel’s pleading is an effort to shift blame.

As to the purported consolidation loan, absent a written power of attorney Daniel cannot attempt to incur debt in his wife’s name without her consent. No power of attorney, no consent.

Simple as that.

Sidestepping allegations of narcissism

Then, we come to Daniel’s argument that he is not a narcissist. Once again, this is a major blast of BS.

While we cannot know what transpired in McClain’s psychiatric evaluations, it is common for evaluations at the level described to not look at these issues.

Why? Because narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) is just that — a personality disorder versus a mental health issue amenable to treatment.

That is not to say that persons suffering from NPD cannot benefit from mental healthcare; however, as a personality disorder, NPD can only be managed, not cured.

As to the claim itself that Daniel is a narcissist, we are not mental health professionals and thus cannot address that issue with certainty. However, everything we have seen suggests that he is a narcissist, including:

  • His lack of empathy for others.
  • His insatiable need for approval and endless asking, “What will people think?”
  • His manipulative behavior.
  • His ongoing pattern of questionable veracity.
  • His seeming Machiavellianism.
  • His adulterous affair and allegations of sexual promiscuity.
  • His vicious response when someone pokes holes in his veil of narcissistic illusion.

Thus, we firmly believe that Daniel is a malevolent, grandiose narcissist.

But, since he contends that’s not the case, we’re confident Daniel will have no issue with undergoing DSM-V testing to evaluate this possibility.

Ignoring the Boonshoft incident

Profoundly telling is that Daniel ignores his prior violation of a restraining order issued against him. In that situation, McClain showed up at the Boonshoft museum, with law enforcement, saying he wanted to see his son.

Anglican Watch investigated the matter thoroughly, and we believe Daniel actually called the museum to verify that family members were on the scene prior to showing up with law enforcement, saying he wanted to see his son.

That said, the only way — we repeat the only way — to not violate a restraining order and approach one of the protected parties is to motion the court to amend or withdraw the order. The fact Daniel had law enforcement in tow is irrelevant, and we have zero doubt that he knowingly violated the civil court order. So that right there is ample grounds for discipline.

Weird-o-rama: Daniel McClain’s exorcism

Another profoundly stupid argument is McClain’s assertion that he did not violate church canons when he conducted an exorcism of the church building. That is a facially dishonest argument.

As McClain well knows, Title IV expressly requires that clergy be subject to the rules of their communities.

One of the communities McClain belongs to is the Diocese of Southern Ohio.

In that regard, the Book of Occasional Services (BOS) makes clear that clergy seeking to perform an exorcism must consult with their bishop.

Thus, it does not matter whether the provisions of the BOS are canons, rubrics, or rules. The written expectation is that he will consult with his bishop. And, with the bishop not having issued any guidance on the matter, anyone with half the sense God gave a goat is going to contact the bishop.

As for the church ignoring other canons, too bad, so sad, catch you on the rebound. The denomination does it all the time, and while we don’t think that’s wise, that ship sailed long ago.

As to the distinction between major and minor rites of exorcism, spare us. We recognize there are many vestigial aspects of exorcism in Episcopal services, particularly in high churches. But the baptismal rite, for example, is done with the bishop’s knowledge and approval.

That said, wandering around the building casting out evil spirits (besides making us question Daniel’s sanity, as he does not appear to have any issue with, for example, adultery) clearly warrants a lengthy discussion with the bishop.

Nor do we believe most bishops expect their clergy to be strolling around their churches, casting out demons, in between having adulterous affairs. Not to mention if he were really casting out demons, the first character out the door would be the sorry-a**ed demon named adultery, AKA Daniel McClain himself.

Daniel McClain’s HR practices

Tellingly, McClain’s pleadings tacitly admit he behaved badly in his handling of HR issues in the parish, adding that he was “unaware of the protocol” and would do things differently now.

Reading that, we just about burst into laughter.

A foundational notion of Episcopal polity is that the vestry is a missional partner to the rector or priest in charge.

That means that if you don’t want to mess things up or step on toes, you consult with your vestry before making HR decisions. So, by arguing that he didn’t know better, Daniel basically is saying he lacks even a rudimentary knowledge of church governance.

Either way, McClain’s own arguments make clear he should not be a priest.

We also note that Daniel’s comments about former parish employees are spectacularly inappropriate, unprofessional, and probably tortious. We’re confident he knows exactly what we’re talking about.

Claiming his wife is mentally ill

At this point, it comes as no surprise that Daniel plays the duck, bob, and weave game over his statements about his wife. Specifically, his arguments are laughably thin.

First, he admits he “answered questions from the wardens.” That is a problem, since the only appropriate response would have been to say, “I don’t discuss my family.”

Second, the wardens got that information, either directly from Dan or from Dan via third parties.

Third, Daniel’s denial is, um, questionable. Anglican Watch has received myriad statements, directly from parishioners and others in the community, that he discussed the topic with them.

Fourth, Daniel has a long and sordid history of questionable veracity and attacking those who call him to account. Whether it’s his claims about this publication, assertions that former church employees are mentally ill, or other outrageous examples, these allegations are part of a pattern and practice that reflects a mosaic of manipulation, bullying, deception, and punitive behavior inconsistent with being a priest.

Daniel’s choice of attorneys

As we have said in previous posts, Daniel McClain is remarkably stupid to hire an attorney who lacks experience with the Title IV canons. The canons are vast, convoluted, and often profoundly different than normal legal practice.

Daniel’s pleadings, which can best be described as disingenuous, unhelpful, and damaging to his case, are a primary example of what happens when an attorney plunges into canon law without experience. Not to mention the pleadings are long on conclusory statements, short on evidence.

We’d be tempted to say we hope Daniel didn’t pay for these pleadings. That said, given our open dislike for Daniel’s conduct, including his lack of respect for others, we hope he paid dearly for these dismal pleadings.

Indeed, we hope he paid at least $500 an hour.

We also note with amusement the reference in Daniel’s pleadings to David and Goliath. If he is saying Anglican Watch is akin to David, well, yes, we have our trusty slingshot right here.

On the other hand, if Daniel thinks our small group of volunteers is Goliath, all we can say is he better be careful not to get any more concussions. Wear a helmet when on that mountain bike, Daniel.

Either way, pretty amusing and not at all well-considered.

Daniel’s conduct evinces a lack of remorse or accountability

Finally, we note the mere fact this case has reached a hearing panel is telling.

Specifically, Title IV reflects a strong bias to resolving matters informally, at the lowest possible level. Yet McClain has rejected myriad opportunities to resolve things amicably, so there’s no need to feel bad for him or to cut him a break.

At this point, Daniel just needs to make sure the door doesn’t hit him on the way out.

As for any place that would consider hiring him in the future, all we can say is “be in touch.” Daniel McClain is not someone we would put in any position of trust.

Goodbye, Dirtbag Daniel. Whether Title IV bites you, the parish implodes under you, or the parish simply runs out of money to pay your sorry backside, things are fast coming to an end. As for respect, you’ve earned less than none, so don’t even go there.

McClain’s departure from the denomination, and hopefully all “ministry,” won’t happen soon enough.

After all, it’s time to Make St. Paul’s Great Again!

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