If there’s one thing Episcopalians are good at, it’s explaining away their woes. We know the refrain: The church isn’t collapsing, it’s struggling. And the fact it’s struggling has nothing to do with us and our behavior. Any problems are caused by Anglican Watch, the last priest who was here, the unpopular lady in the third pew — members can pick and choose their favorite scapegoat, even as they act like idiots.
And so it is in Texarkana where we hear allegations of additional retaliation against Rich Daly involving St. James rector David Halt.
Specifically, multiple sources tell us Halt has been trying to remove Rich Daly as chaplain to the police department.
That’s a stupid move on multiple levels, and here’s why:
- It’s illegal. As discussed, retaliation for opposing sexual harassment is unlawful under state and federal statutes.
- It’s unlikely to work. We have consistently heard positive things about Daly, and most police departments look out for their own. As a former police officer, Daly will be welcome, regardless of Halt’s childish games.
- It’s unhelpful. This puerile, frat-boy behavior gets the church in trouble every time. Plus, it undercuts any defense Halt might present about his role in the #metoo debacle now underway in the church.
- It detroys the mission of the church. People aren’t stupid, and when they see Halt’s backroom machinations, they quickly take a pass on St. James. No one needs toxic people in their life.
- It creates high-credibility witnesses who can testify that Halt indeed is engaging in retaliation.
Add Halt’s antics to the increasing signs that the parish is slipping into financial trouble, and things look worse by the minute. Vile, vicious, and vindictive never helped grow a church.
Even worse, a circle of flying monkeys and sycophants at St. James blames the whole debacle on Daly. That delusional approach overlooks the key to the entire matter, which is that Halt is the problem, along with his circle of loyalists who cannot back up enough to recognize their own role in this sordid mess.
Parishioners are not interested in coughing up their hard-earned dollars to support a rector like Halt, who is feckless and arrogant. Churches grow when they engage in the community, build others up, and serve others.
On the other hand, when clergy sit in their offices, cancel services any time they feel like it, and are indifferent to pastoral care issues, the organizations they serve decline until they are no longer churches. Instead, they become Sunday social clubs and empty theater full of incense, stained glass, and guys in funny clothes. As such, they are doomed to fail, for no one wants to give sacrificially to support a narcissistic construct whose sole purpose is to entertain people on Sunday.
While we’re on the topic, folks at St. James need to understand that Daly is neither the driver nor the source of our coverage. We backed into the story as we began digging into the Anderson Title IV case. And while we get that Anderson is a popular guy in Texarkana, we have zero doubt that he lied about sexually harassing an adult female connected with the parish. As in yes, there are plane tickets and messages to the victim. (Isn’t Anderson married? Hmm.)
In other words, if Daly moved to Hawaii tomorrow, it would have zero effect on our coverage.
The only thing that will fix the situation at St. James is for those involved in the #metoo debacle to own up to their behavior. That is what Christians do, and they make restitution and repent. But Halt is tripling down on dumb, which tells us everything we need to know about him. Even telling people not to read Anglican Watch shows just how clueless Halt is—his comments, predictably enough, resulted in a huge surge of traffic from parishioners.
So, absent a road to Emmaus moment, Halt is done. The only question will be whether he does the right thing and resigns before he causes St. James to collapse or lingers on until the parish can no longer afford him.
Relatedly, those who blindly support Halt need to ask themselves why they are doing so. Is it because they like him? If so, why do they like him? Do they want to be in a situation where they turn a blind eye to sexual harassment and retaliation? Do they think anyone is going to join St. James under the circumstances? And they need to examine their faith — are they members just for the hell of it? Or because coming to church makes them feel good? Or are they attending because it’s what they are used to, their friends are there, or is it a habit?
Nor should we discount the negative effect of Bishop George Sumner.
We see continuing signs that he’s engaging in retaliation and trying to stick it to Daly. That’s every bit as muddle-headed as Halt’s behavior and only exacerbates the problem. Not to mention Sumner’s behavior towards members of Holy Family and other parishes suggests that Sumner is the clergy equivalent of a Ford Pinto — unsafe at any speed. Bump him and he blows up.
Sumner would best serve all involved by showing some integrity and dealing with the underlying issues.
In closing, everything we have seen suggests that folks at St. James are worsening a bad situation. Those causing the meltdown include Sumner, Halt, and the circle of flying monkeys and sycophants that buzz around them like a swarm of gnats on a hot summer day.
There is still time to save St. James, but fast action is needed. That includes handing Halt his walking papers, coming clean, owning up to the church’s bad behavior, and making things right. And saying, “I don’t want to get involved,” is a form of getting involved and will result in lasting, possibly irreparable harm to the parish.
Again: Act now.
Finally, a reminder to the inevitable lawyers: These are all allegations and nothing has been proven in a court of law. But we find our sources convincing and believe that we are accurately covering the situation at St. James. And we welcome any evidence to the contrary.