When Episcopal churches commit fraud

By | February 8, 2023
Episcopal Church fraud

There are many types of fraud. These range from the sort where you set up a Ponzi scheme to defraud investors, to faking your financial statements, to the type we’re going to talk about today, which is prevalent in the Episcopal Church. The latter is fraud in the inducement, where you make false statements to induce someone to part with their money.

So how does Episcopal church commit fraud?

It begins with our woefully outdated canons, which are largely a relic of the days when we were the quasi-state church. People joined a parish via baptism or transfer in. And they left via one of two ways: a letter of transfer out or death.

In other words, when they gave money they did so with the assurance that the parish was indeed their church, and they were investing in the future of that church.

Today, however, we see an increasing number of priests who feel it is their prerogative to force parishioners they don’t like out of the church. Sometimes it’s by outright removing them from the rolls, as happened at Grace Episcopal Alexandria to members of our staff. Other times, it’s via sexual harassment or other egregious misconduct.

To make matters worse, we already know what happens if you complain to the diocese. In most cases, you’ll get ignored. In other cases, the diocese will join in the retaliation, slapping a layer of holy babble on top of things. But you are unlikely to get resolution.

In those cases, you’ve been defrauded. You gave money based on the notion that it was your parish and you could stay until death does us part. But the parish pulled a bait and switch.

And true to form, the Episcopal Church wants it both ways. It wants to be able to keep your money, while still throwing you out. Narcissistic organizational culture, anyone?

If you have gotten the heave-ho from your parish, Anglican Watch encourages you to demand your money back. If clergy want to violate the canons and our understanding of what it means to be Christian community, that is their choice. But they should not get to have it both ways by keeping your money.

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