Earlier today, Jeff Piatt, owner of Montvale Landscaping, sent an email that continues his efforts at gaslighting. Sent to the clergy of the Diocese of Newark, the email is included above.
It is the contention of Anglican Watch that Piatt’s email underscores that he has no remorse for his conduct, and thus deserves to serve time in prison over his recent defiant trespass.
True to form, the email omits or glosses over a variety of facts:
- There is no obligation to reconcile with people who are abusive. This includes:
- Piatt, with his lies about Pastor Jill and his refusal to turn over church financial records, followed by his lies in which he falsely claims that he did return church financial records. He also early in the conflict said he and his wife would only return when Pastor Jill left. Now Piatt engages in a bit of revisionist history and claims he “wants back in.” That said, his conduct would suggest otherwise.
- Beth Abrahamson, with her questionable financial practices and her theft of financial records. In addition, early in Pastor Jill’s tenure, Abrahamson, who then was senior warden, lied to Pastor Jill about a parishioner who had just lost his wife, saying that he wanted no contact. Anglican Watch has verified that this is a lie, and we look with contempt on any human being who would play games of this sort involving the death of a family member. Abrahamson’s conduct is despicable and suggests that she may be a sociopath. Feel free to quote us.
- As Piatt well knows, the church’s vestry told him and others that they are not welcome on church property. His conduct on the day when he and others allegedly engaged in defiant trespass was deplorable, as was that of the person who lied and claimed to be a member of the baptismal family. As for his bit about wanting to worship or spend time with departed loved ones, spare us. The letters from the vestry were very clear that the only path to entry on the property is a discussion with the rector in advance. Period.
- As with most gaslighting, Piatt tries to redefine the conflict. Nowhere in his conduct, or that of the other protestors, do we see any effort at peacemaking or conciliation. Moreover, calling Pastor Jill a child abuser, falsely claiming that she has misused money, falsely claiming that Pastor Jill closed down the nursery school, and otherwise engaging in lies and defamation are not conducive to reconciliation. Additionally, trying to pull others in, with phone calls to people who long ago died or moved to other areas telling them “what’s going on with our beloved church,” illustrates the protestors’ hypocrisy. If the church is so beloved, Piatt and Abrahamson can demonstrate this by returning the church’s financial records and offering an explanation into the questionable accounting and cash management practices we have documented elsewhere.
- Piatt’s comment about Pastor Jill not being willing to meet with him is a bold-faced lie and he knows it. As to the bishop, why would she be a party to triangulation?
- Nor do clergy in the diocese support him or the other protestors. Indeed, Anglican Watch has spoken with numerous clergy and no one — not one — supports him. If nothing else, clergy know that snakes never bite just once, and Piatt and company are some of the most toxic snakes out there. Time and again, we have heard some version of, “St. Paul’s today. My parish tomorrow.”
- The bishop properly is ignoring bullies, liars, lawbreakers and others who engage in misconduct. Why Piatt would expect any bishop to pray with him, Beth Abrahamson, or Debbie Piatt, or to offer words of comfort, escapes us. Maybe pray to be rid of him, or pray that he lands in jail, or that a bolt of lightning hits his generous posterior. Or even pray for him in private, but offer him comfort and tacit endorsement in a public setting and undercut the church’s rector and vestry? Not so much. And this propensity for DARVO makes clear what a sad, toxic, dishonest loser Piatt is. A loser who appears, per PPP records, to pay his landscape workers $70,000 a year. Hmm.
- Piatt ignores the fact that most of the protestors have very limited connection to the church; few were regular attendees prior to Pastor Jill’s arrival. Moreover, he and his family are neither attending worship, nor prevented from attending worship for good cause (like infirmity, quarantine, or travel), nor financially supporting the parish, nor actively supporting the mission of the church. Thus they are not “communicants in good standing” per Canon I.17.3. So why Piatt thinks he is entitled to anything from the diocese or the parish, escapes us. Nor does he have the backbone to engage directly with Pastor Jill. Instead, Jeff acts like a spineless wonder as he triangulates the issue with others.
- Piatt’s continued childish antics only place him, his wife, his son and Beth Abrahamson at further risk. Indeed, members of the parish know that Anglican Watch staff are willing to testify at any criminal or civil proceeding that may arise. Suffice it to say, there is little positive to be said for any of these individuals and Piatt has zero ability to intimidate or influence us.
On other fronts, sources close to the matter tell Anglican Watch that the parish has recently added additional security equipment, including a concealed camera and enhanced ability to detect intruders on the property.
Tellingly, one of the first images recorded since the acquisition of this technology was a black Volvo, owned by a person barred from the property, which was recorded entering the property the evening of July 10. Anglican Watch has not yet learned whether the parish will prosecute the individual for defiant trespass. And while we believe the trespasser has a family member interred in the church memorial garden, that does not permit the individual in question to engage in trespass. (We howled with laughter to see Jeff’s reference to the remains being “interned.” With all due respect to those directly involved, let us hope that the faithful departed soon break free from their captivity.)
Indeed, that individual’s defiant trespass mirrors the narcissistic sense of self-entitlement that permeates the protestors. They remind us of toddlers howling, “I want a hotdog, Mommy! NOW! Don’t make me cry! I’ll never talk to you again! BWAAAAAHHHHH!”
Moreover, we remind the dissidents of the steps towards real reconciliation:
- Stopping hurtful behavior.
- Accepting responsibility.
From these forgiveness may flow, but bullies are not entitled to assume or demand forgiveness. Forgiveness is to benefit the victim, not the bullies. But that possibility is a long way off and several steps away; all of those steps are ones that must be taken by the dissidents. So emailing diocesan clergy just makes Piatt look doubly chilidsh and hateful.
Moreover, the dissidents might recall the lesson from Proverbs 18:21: “Death and life are in the hand of the tongue.”
Given the various fabrications of the Piatts and Beth Abrahamson and the defamatory statements of the group — which Jeff Piatt claims in his email he represents — about Pastor Jill and the parish, the dissidents are on thin ice, both legally and ethically. Indeed, participants in these protests would be well-advised to get legal advice about civil conspiracy and defamation.
Speaking of defamation, the Talmudic tale is useful:
A woman came to her rabbi on a wintry day with a terrible sense of guilt. She had spread a very unkind story about another woman in town, and had just learned that the story had no basis whatsoever in fact. What should she do?
The rabbi told her that she would have to do two things. First, she would have to take the feathers from one of her pillows and place one feather on the doorstep of each of the houses in the little town. After she completed this task, she should return and the rabbi would give her a second task. The woman left and returned the following day. “What shall I do now?” she asked. “Now,” said the rabbi, “go gather up all the feathers from each of the houses where you put them.”
“But rabbi,” protested the woman, “that is impossible. The wind has already scattered them far and wide.” “Indeed, it has,” said the rabbi. “To gather up those feathers is as impossible as to take back the harsh words you spoke. You would do well to remember that before you speak in the future (Rabbi Sidney Greenberg, Lessons for Living, pp. 92-93).
So how do the dissidents plan to act like Christians and fix the damage they have done? If one or more individuals go to jail for tax evasion and other criminal conduct, will they have the courage to call a spade a spade? Or will they quietly pretend that nothing has happened?
Thus far, their track record is not good. For example, Ginny Bartlett owes a number of apologies for her deceitful, dishonest, manipulative behavior. But so far she has shown zero integrity in taking responsibility for her actions.
Nor are the dissidents likely to find a warm welcome in other faith communities. Any healthy system is going to say “good riddance” to these manipulative, dishonest, hate-filled individuals.
Feel free to quote us.