Anglican Watch has learned that an investigation is under way at Tenth Presbyterian, Philadelphia.
The church, affiliated with the conservative Presbyterian Church in America, has been the scene of multiple abuse scandals in recent years. These scandals include:
- Alleged cover-up of sexual abuse by a former director of music.
- The arrest, conviction, and imprisonment of former church ruling elder Bruce Garner on multiple charges of attempting to create child pornography, unlawful contact with minors, invasion of privacy and related crimes.
- Pastor Liam Goligher’s efforts to pull a Bob Malm by falsely claiming that church member Phil Snyder was threatening church members. Like Malm, Goligher offered perjurious testimony in court, thus engaging in criminal activity. (Full disclosure: Snyder is a friend of AW editor Eric Bonetti. AW filed a church disciplinary complaint against Goligher over his criminal activity.)
Anglican Watch is particularly troubled by Goligher’s efforts to suppress Phil Snyder’s concerns, which extended to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Indeed, church members in all denominations almost invariably try to avoid rocking the boat, or say they will only speak up once the offender is out of office.
This paradigm creates a situation in which abusive clergy may linger for years, even decades, simply because no one has the courage to put their foot down. Additionally, it often places children and vulnerable adults at risk of abuse, both sexual and non-sexual in nature. (In other words, the early Christians were fed to the lions. Modern Christians often won’t say boo to a goose.)
Anglican Watch has learned that Boz Tchividjian’s anti-abuse organization, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE) is spearheading the investigation. GRACE has declined comment, citing the non-disclosure agreement it signs when it conducts an investigation.
Anglican Watch conducted an in-depth investigation of the Snyder imbroglio and concluded that Goligher lied about the matter. Moreover, we found that various church members were complicit, both knowingly and unknowingly, in the perjurious claims made against Snyder. And we believe that the church’s attorneys knowingly proferred false statement of law and fact to the tribunal, which may warrant their removal from the practice of law.
We encourage the church and the presbytery to address Goligher’s perjury with the utmost integrity by:
- Removing him from office.
- Defrocking him.
- Referring him and those who knowingly proferred false testimony against Snyder for criminal prosecution.
- Filing a formal complaint with the Pennsylvania attorney disciplinary committee against church legal counsel.
- Withdrawing the court orders against Snyder and reimbursing him for his legal fees.
In short, it is important to be clear that Goligher’s conduct is not a matter of a few fibs here and there. It is criminal conduct involving perjury and should be addressed accordingly. Moreover, any priest or pastor who engages in criminal behavior towards a church member should be immediately disqualified from further “service” as a church leader. No exceptions, no excuses, no explanations.
As for the other allegations swirling about the church, we encourage all involved to begin the healing process through appropriate disclosure, truthtelling, and other steps to promote transparency and right relationships.