An Open Letter to an Anonymous Anglican Priest in the United States of America

An angry and aggressive note from an Anglican Priest is the subject of today’s post. Doug (as I call him) was angry with a comment on social media and apparently upset with me writing about the John Smyth situation. Doug is very much a culture warrior and I wish Doug would get as worked up about abuse in the church as he does gay marriage. This is my response to a note that I received. 

“I don’t argue with fools; I educate.” 

Shannon Alder

“And finally, to girls everywhere, I am with you. On nights when you feel alone, I am with you. When people doubt you or dismiss you, I am with you. I fought everyday for you. So never stop fighting, I believe you. As the author Anne Lamott once wrote, “Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.” Although I can’t save every boat, I hope that by speaking today, you absorbed a small amount of light, a small knowing that you can’t be silenced, a small satisfaction that justice was served, a small assurance that we are getting somewhere, and a big, big knowing that you are important, unquestionably, you are untouchable, you are beautiful, you are to be valued, respected, undeniably, every minute of every day, you are powerful and nobody can take that away from you. To girls everywhere, I am with you. Thank you.” 

Quote from Brock Turner’s (at Stanford) rape victim 

“This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.

Zachariah 7:9 NIV 

The Wondering Eagle still remembers and mourns the life of Guide Nyachuru who was killed I believe due to neglect by the Anglican church in the United Kingdom. 

Scene from Spotlight

Over the weekend I received a nasty note from an Anglican Priest. He was livid with some comments that were made on social media and he was upset with “An Overview of the Situation with John Smyth and the Disturbing Allegations of Abuse in the United Kingdom and Zimbabwe.” In his note to me he said this one sentence “I am a priest and whether you have any respect for me or not, I am not going to subject my parishioners and students to your filth.” In this anonymous open letter I will not publish the note I received. Nor will I identify the Anglican Priest or where he is located. From time to time I get nasty notes which I have responded to. For example here is a response to an Acts 29 pastor in Maryland and an individual in an Evangelical Free in Wisconsin. In this anonymous letter I will refer to him as “Doug.” 

Doug-

Let me tell you about my weekend up in Pennsylvania. I spent Friday night outside Gettysburg hanging out with someone who was involved in a shepherding cult at one point of his life.  Listened and talked with him and learned a lot.  He had a lot of information to process. Then I drove over to Elverson/Morgantown to meet with some former members of Community Evangelical Free Church. I listened to their experiences and discussed the church led by Steve Estes. Here is what happened Doug, in December of 2014 an Evangelical Free about an hour outside Philadelphia practiced church discipline on an alleged rape victim. The senior pastor’s son Brock Estes allegedly raped his wife while intoxicated and on another occasion allegedly pointed a loaded gun at his wife Hurit (pseudo by the way). Hurit who knows she could be dead eventually filed for divorce and when that happened the Senior Pastor Steve Estes led his church through an excommunication of an alleged rape victim. It tore apart the congregation and eventually worked its way up to the national leadership of the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA) in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I have been writing extensively about it (58 articles) and have met with a number of former families and members. You can read the first article in “Steve Estes and Community Evangelical Free Church in Elverson, Pennsylvania: A Painful Story of Domestic Abuse, Inappropriate Church Discipline, and Failed EFCA Polity.” Then you can read the second article in “Hurit’s Public Excommunication While Alleged Criminal Activity by Brock Estes is Withheld from the Congregation: Appeals for Help Fall on Deaf Ears to Steve Musser of the Eastern District and National Evangelical Free Church of America.”  The situation is still ongoing but I got the EFCA back involved in this mess and went to bat for an alleged domestic abuse victim who knows she could be dead. Then I also did logistics for another dark and disturbing story that I am going to be writing about one day in the near future. So it was a dark weekend. 

Amidst all that I got your note. I had hit a nerve with you in regards to some hard hitting comments and the filth you must be referring to was the write up I did of the dark scandal in the Anglican church. Yet – you were upset with me – and my writing about it. Were you upset with what John Smyth did? Or where you upset that I wrote about it? Did you get upset that John Smyth beat young buys in the nude, often to the point of broken skin and bruised and bleeding buttocks? Did you get upset that John Smyth did these beatings as a grown man in the the nude? When is it ever appropriate for an older man to get undressed and allegedly perform acts of abuse on a younger person? As an Anglican Priest did you grieve for what the Anglican Church dismissed and allegedly covered up and passed around in the UK and let him go to Africa. Did you grieve that a young child, Guide Nyachuru who was killed in Zimbabwe?  No you were pissed that I wrote about it. Then your comment on filth must have been a direct reference to what I wrote about John Smyth. Its interesting Doug many churches and corrupt ministries say something similar. Ignore, overlook and focus on something else and make the author the issues instead of the abuser. 

Now let’s look at this issue from another angle. While abuse is going on within churches and denominations, your biggest fear from my understanding is gay marriage. Doug can you tell me why are you so concerned about two gay atheist men who are getting married in Madison, Chicago or Minneapolis? Why are you more upset over that then the situation with John Smyth? Why the focus on gay marriage? Many of the people who are getting married are doing so in civil ceremonies in the secular state. They are not coming to you and forcing marriage.  They are not throwing their weight around. And yet you are more concerned apparently about what is happening in society at large then what is happening in the Anglican church. Let me ask you this question Doug…what is the greater threat to the Gospel? Abuse in the Anglican Church or secular gay marriage in society?  I can tell you that its abuse in the church. Many churches and organizations deal with so much. I wonder at times Doug if individuals like yourself say and believe what they say about topics like gay marriage so that one can avoid the dark stuff happening in your own denomination. Gay marriage outside the church is not a threat to the Gospel. Instead, its internal corruption, financial misconduct, child sex abuse, and more from within that pose the greatest threat to the Gospel. You know Doug I have to wonder….if I poked around the Anglican Church in the United States what would I find? After all that is not a question that is unreasonable when you consider the other problems. I mean consider….you have the entire child sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic church. Then you also have massive problems with child sex abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention. You also had the issues of child sex abuse in Sovereign Grace Ministries and the Association of Baptists for Worldwide Evangelism. So if I poked around Anglican parishes in the United States would one find incidents of child sex abuse being covered up? Its a legitimate question Doug. And yet apparently you are angry at me for writing what I did about John Smyth. Your words of how you have to protect your parish and more remind me of what some of the churches I write about respond to the articles I have written. But there is much more I need to address with you Doug. 

You are very much a cultural warrior it appears. You have married your faith and politics and created a hybrid of civil religion. You drank the Kool Aid and became a huge Donald Trump supporter from what I understand, holding high the banner of the Supreme Court in the process. I don’t enjoy writing about politics here as I wish I wouldn’t have to. Yet when 81% of evangelicals rally around someone who boasts of grabbing someone’s pussy then its hard to ignore the topic. To not write about it would be willful ignorance on my part. I am not going to address he Supreme Court as I did it in this following post called “An Open Letter to Russell Moore.”  If you are going to be pro-life lets carry it on beyond the womb shall we? If we are going to be pro-life lets also be opposed to rape. How could an Anglican Priest or any man of the cloth be a supporter of a man who boasts of sexual assault? What about the least of these? Do they count at all in your Anglican faith? And yes I write this as I am not a big fan of abortion but I am not a single issue person either. But the fact of the matter Doug is that I would honestly like to know what would you do the next time someone is in front of you and they are talking about how they have been raped? At that point will you have stopped and considered how you contributed to these problems by enabling sexual assault and downplaying them? Recently I was speaking with someone on another story that I will write in time. The person was a victim of sexual assault and she told me (if I remember correctly…) that sexual assault is absolutely evil, and she firmly believed that where a person stood on sexual assault stood indicated where they were on their faith. And yet that includes supporting someone who boasts of sexual assault. 

I have not drunk the Kool Aid nor can I. You forget that I learned why rape and sexual assault are a problem in the United States military through a very disturbing false accusation. That alone, has heavily influenced my thinking and that is why I put my foot down and say “absolutely not.” Your note to me reminded me of something I read recently on CNN, which you might find helpful. But the fact that you reacted the way you did indicates how deeply insecure you are about your faith. I take a lot of hits through this blog. Go through some of the comment threads and see what people have said about me. The worst comments I believe are on the posts about Acts 29 Fellowship Memphis, in Memphis, Tennessee. But Doug you need to go back and do some hard thinking about what you said. You need to look yourself in the mirror and contemplate the cliff you have walked over. As I have said before I will not go down the path that you have gone, as I refuse to drink the Kool Aid. I have two homework assignments for you Doug. First I want you to watch the movie Spotlight. You can watch a clip from it above. Secondly I want you to go and talk to a sexual assault victim and listen to them. Stop and contemplate what they say…keep in mind all that is said. I believe you are in a very dark place and I think you need to do a lot of thinking about what you sent me. I also believe you need to divorce politics and faith from each other. When I think of how you reacted I honestly wonder..how would you have survived in the days of Rome? It amazes me when I get emails from atheists and secular humanists who are more loving, kind, and compassionate than many pastors or people in ministry. Religion in this country is very dark, I know as I hear about it often. This is going to be a challenging read for you, so I will leave this here. 

Very Respectfully,

David Bonner

 

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