Anglican Watch

Tenth Presbyterian Philadelphia again reveals hypocrisy, broken ethics

Tenth Presbyterian

After the wave of adverse publicity and the resignation of corrupt senior minister Liam Goligher, we had hoped that, in some small way, Tenth Presbyterian (PCA) would clean up its act. But recent litigation involving former member Phil Snyder makes clear that nothing has changed at this spectacularly corrupt brood of vipers.

A hypothetical

Before we plunge into the specifics of Snyder’s situation, let’s explore a hypothetical.

Suppose someone robs a bank repeatedly.

Many of the bank robber’s friends help. Some stand lookout. Others provide alibis. Still others hide the loot from the bank. In ways large and small, this group makes the criminal activity possible.

Even worse, members of this extended conspiracy are open about their role in the scheme. While they don’t publicly acknowledge their corruption, the actions of these bad actors are there for all the world to see.

In fact, some of the folks who are really over the top even get the heave-ho from insiders. After all, they reason, we have to make some effort to look like good citizens.

One day, the linchpin of the conspiracy, the bank robber himself, is busted for a totally different crime. Thus, the whole corrupt enterprise closes. And those who aided and abetted the bank robber turn their attention to mundane, day-to-day issues.

The ethical aspects of the situation thus include two questions:

  1. Did the bank robber demonstrate integrity or act as a Christian in ending his rampage of robbery?
  2. Are the robber’s accomplices culpable for sitting silent once the crime spree is over?

Most would agree that, from both a Christian perspective and an ethical viewpoint, neither the bank robber nor his friends have acted with integrity.


The answer is that integrity requires:

  • Admitting to one’s actions
  • accepting the consequences
  • Making the victim whole via restitution

From a Christian perspective, these requirements fall within the notion of repentance.

In other words, it’s not enough to stop being evil. Nor is it enough to say, “I’m sorry,” then go back to being evil–although, keep in mind that our imaginary bank robber didn’t even reach the level of minimal contrition.

And so it is with Tenth Presbyterian and its narcissistic congeries of abusers, liars, bullies, and fake Christians and their refusal to accept responsibility for their misconduct towards former member Phil Snyder and his family.

Before we plunge into the details of Phil’s, let’s also nuke the predictable excuses:

  • That happened before I got there
  • That happened before I became an elder
  • I wasn’t involved
  • I don’t know anything about that situation

But none of these absolve current members from integrity in the here and now, including the need to address the collective meltdown in ethics at the church.

As for the ever-popular “I was just following orders,” that went out with Nuremberg. So don’t go there.

Phil Snyder’s story

We — and others, including our dear friend Dee Parsons at the Wartburg Watch — have repeatedly covered the sordid experience of Tenth Presbyterian’s abuse of Phil Snyder and his family. Specifically, Tenth, led by Liam Goligher, Susan Elzey, and George McFarland — three of the great scumbags of the Western world — took Snyder to Court, falsely claiming that Snyder had threatened church members. (We won’t recite all the gory details, but those looking for a deep dive can visit Snyder’s blog at

In doing so, all three committed perjury, as did several others involved at the church. And to be clear, perjury is a felony criminal offense in Pennsylvania, not to mention a flagrant violation of the Ninth Commandment’s stricture against bearing false witness.

A key point: Phil’s body cam footage, recorded as he was protesting in front of Tenth Presbyterian, makes clear he did not threaten anyone.

Even worse, it is well-established that Liam Goligher and Susan Elzey are liars and adulterers, and thus untrustworthy witnesses.

Nor is George McFarland, Clerk of Session for Tenth Presbyterian, any better.

McFarland has repeatedly lied in this matter and joined Goligher and Elzey in an evil triumvirate that spearheaded the smear campaign and legal efforts against Snyder.

Of course, there are multiple flying monkeys running interference for all three bad actors. In that, a favorite ploy is to cite some obscure provision of the Book of Church Order (BCO), which is the PCA equivalent of the Episcopal canons.

With these shenanigans in mind, let’s look at what Calvin said about perjury and the reputation of others:

“The purport of the [Ninth] commandment is, since God, who is truth, abhors falsehood, we must cultivate unfeigned truth towards each other. The sum, therefore, will be, that we must not by calumnies and false accusations injure our neighbour’s name, or by falsehood impair his fortunes; in fine, that we must not injure any one from petulance, or a love of evil-speaking. To this prohibition corresponds the command, that we must faithfully assist every one, as far as in us lies, in asserting the truth, for the maintenance of his good name and his estate….Hence the legitimate observance of this precept consists in employing the tongue in the maintenance of truth, so as to promote both the good name and the prosperity of our neighbour. The equity of this is perfectly clear. For if a good name is more precious than riches, a man, in being robbed of his good name, is no less injured than if he were robbed of his goods; while, in the latter case, false testimony is sometimes not less injurious than rapine committed by the hand. (Emphasis added).

In other words, we have to speak out.

Needless to say, Anglican Watch has called out Elzey, Goligher, and McFarland multiple times. And we know, thanks to inane threats from Goligher’s attorney, that this brood of vipers, including Tenth, well knows of our insistence that they act with integrity.

This week’s ruling

As we said at the top of this post, there was another hearing this week in the ongoing litigation involving Phil Snyder and the church’s baseless protective order.

This time, the hearing was in front of the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, Judge Paula Patrick presiding. Specifically, via legal counsel, Snyder sought to have the Court repeal its baseless order.

Before we go further, Patrick should have recused herself. Her son took voice lessons at the church, and her attitude and demeanor in this matter were inappropriate and unhelpful. It thus comes as no surprise that the Court did not fix this mess.

Nor is Patrick’s conduct helpful in any larger sense. Not only did no one ask her to issue an order, but she shrugged off the evidence before the Court, which makes clear that the trial court built its decision on the church’s perjury. Think Goligher, Elzey, McFarland, and others. Additionally, Patrick appears to have merely reissued a prior ruling.

This high-handed, arrogant obliviousness to the issues before the Court undercuts the rule of law. Litigants cannot trust a system that can’t be bothered to examine problems or rectify mistakes, or that irrationally favors corrupt organizations like Tenth.

Indeed, Snyder hits the nail on the head:

“My body camera proves that our system of injustice has nothing to do with the facts, evidence, truth, or reality. Judges will destroy an innocent person’s life just because it is easier to sacrifice one person than to go against a rich and powerful institution. Just ask Jesus. Corrupt secular authorities often collude with corrupt religious institutions. ”

Nor does the Court’s brushing Snyder off help Tenth. Lacking institutional integrity, and part of an ethically feckless presbytery, corruption at the church will only end when forced to do so by outsiders.

More significantly, Tenth knew, or had reason to know, of the hearing. After all, Tenth started this mess. Now, it owns the mess.

Thus, there was both an opportunity and a Christian obligation for Tenth, the Presbytery, Elzey, McFarland, Paul Duggan, and the rest of this sordid bunch to come clean, repent, and make amends.

Needless to say, no one from Tenth had the integrity to speak out.

Other victims

Nor is Phil the church’s only victim. The recent GRACE report identifies numerous other victims of sexual, spiritual, and relational abuse, all hurt by the church. And the church has excommunicated a family who chose to support their transgender child.

On the issue of trans rights, Anglican Watch recognizes that the Christian community holds a variety of views on the topic. But nowhere in the Bible do we see anything that requires the shunning of parents who love and support their children–regardless of their gender.

Perhaps Tenth would do better to speak where the Bible speaks and remain silent where the Bible is silent. Or try loving others versus worrying about protecting itself from criticism, however well-deserved that criticism may be.

But no matter how we parse the issue, Tenth would do far better to police its own conduct, versus inserting itself into the relationship between parents and their children.

Something about “by their fruits you shall know them.”

Systemic problem

We also need to recognize that Snyder’s experience is regrettably common. Indeed, Anglican Watch had its genesis in the perjury of Episcopal priest Bob Malm, former rector of Grace Episcopal, Alexandria, who repeatedly perjured himself up one end of the room and down the other to fraudulently obtain protection orders against our editor (and purported “domestic terrorist”) Eric Bonetti.

Even worse, the Episcopal Diocese of Virginia repeatedly took a pass on addressing Malm’s criminal conduct. Indeed, the Rt. Rev. Chilton Knudsen, who heads up the disciplinary committee for Episcopal bishops, said in writing that perjury is not even arguably actionable under the Episcopal canons.

Chilton Knudsen pulled a similar stunt during her ugly tenure with the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago. In that case, Knudsen signed off on fabrications by Will Bouvel, now an Episcopal priest, that David Duggan, a parishioner, had threatened Bouvel. The matter is now in litigation, and we ardently hope that Duggan will be successful. (Full disclosure: Duggan is a friend of our editor despite varying positions on same-sex marriage.)

Indeed, one of the few cases we know of in which a court actually examined the facts of the case and said no to clergy improperly seeking a protective order was that of Rock Church International pastor John Blanchard.

Meanwhile, just like the Philadelphia Presbytery, many judicatories ignore or minimize abuse of the protective order system. In doing so, they overlook the profound trauma that results from the underlying betrayal of trust, which results in harm to both the individuals and the churches involved.

Indeed, we have yet to see a church in which this sort of spiritual abuse happens that doesn’t see significant declines in membership and giving in the wake of the abuse.

In the Episcopal church, the list of bishops who sign ignore abuse of the legal system by clergy includes:

  • Shannon Johnston
  • Susan Goff
  • Alan Gates
  • Todd Ousley
  • Gayle Harris
  • Jennifer Brooke-Davidson
  • Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
  • Clay Mathews

In other words, corruption is both broad and deep in the Episcopal church when priests abuse the legal system.

Looking forward

We close by reiterating our demand to the “leadership” of Tenth Presbyterians: Clean up your act, hold yourselves accountable, or leave.

Simple as that.

If Tenth doesn’t clean up its act, including repenting and making restitution, we will continue our appeal to a court that’s open 24/7, 365 days a year — the court of public opinion. There, the verdict and resulting penalties will be far more draconian than anything a civil or ecclesiastical court would ever consider.

And while we’re on the topic, don’t even bother with the whole “the court ruled in our favor” routine. The point is that the outcome was obtained via perjury, and it is the perjury, itself a felony, that must be addressed.

As to the Episcopal Church, we take the same position: Clergy, and particularly bishops, who cannot or will not act with integrity, need to go.

No one wants to subsidize the gravy train so that these modern-day Scribes and Pharisees can have the choice seats at the table. Or their defined benefit plans.

Below is a copy of Judge Patrick’s insulting, feckless, unhelpful, and unasked-for opinion in the Snyder case. City voters should keep this in mind when Patrick comes up for retention election.

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