Rev. Ray Drennan's Sorry Excuse For An Apology
Anonymous U*U is quite correct in stating that Rev. Ray Drennan's alleged "apology" "did not meet with Mr Edgar’s satisfaction." He or she is either badly misinformed, or knowingly and willfully spreading U*U disinformation. . . in claiming that "Reverend Ray Drennan did apologise, in person, on more than one occasion." First off it is open to debate whether or not Rev. Ray Drennan's so-called apology actually fits the generally accepted criteria for a bona fide apology. Rev. Drennan never actually apologized to me in person as claimed by anonymous U*U, he just mailed me his sorry excuse for an apology and never actually spoke the words contained in it. It is an outright falsehood that Rev. Ray Drennan apologized to me on more than one occasion. Rev. Drennan may have misled U*Us, Montreal Unitarians and otherwise. . . by falsely claiming to have done so however it never actually happened. This should be very clear from the contents of this post but I can also post earlier letters that I sent to Rev. Drennan that make it very clear that there were no earlier apologies from him. The one and only so-called "apology" that I ever received from Rev. Ray Drennan is the written note that he mailed to me very soon after I sent him a strongly worded letter that accused him of lying to the Board of the Unitarian Church of Montreal after John Pike, the chair of the Unitarian Church of Montreal's "Stalinistic" "Disruptive Behaviour Committee", informed me during my one and only meeting with the UCM's DBC that Rev. Ray Drennan was denying having spoken the intolerant and abusive words that I had accused him of saying to me.
Reproduced below are the full texts of the strongly worded letter that prompted Rev. Ray Drennan to mail me his sorry excuse for an apology within days of receiving it after he had obstinately refused to apologize to me, in any way shape or form. . . for well over a year. The second letter is the letter that I sent to Rev. Ray Drennan that rejected his far from adequate, almost certainly insincere, and outright insulting alleged "apology" and gave him the opportunity to provide a formal apology that I could honourably accept. Regrettably for all concerned Rev. Ray Drennan absolutely refused to deliver any other apology than the sorry excuse for an apology that I quite justifiably rejected as being far from adequate, of questionable sincerity, and effectively an insult in its own right. The third letter is from a few months later and makes it abundantly clear that Rev. Ray Drennan refused to enter into any attempt to mediate a negotiated settlement of the conflict following my rejection of his so-called apology, just as he had refused any and all previous offers of mediation. For the record, in spite of claims to the contrary. . . the Unitarian Church of Montreal never implemented any responsible or viable conflict resolution procedures in an effort to resolve this dispute. Instead the "church" chose to punish me for refusing to drop my legitimate grievances after they arbitrarily decided that the matter was "closed" by repeatedly expelling me from the "church".
15 Lafleur apt. 11
Canada, H4G 3C3
Rev. Ray Drennan
Unitarian Church of Montreal
5035 boul. de Maisonneuve ouest,
Canada, H4A 1Y5
Sunday April 20, 1997
Dear Rev. Drennan,
As I you probably remember, a year ago, on Sunday April 21, 1996, I stood up during the Sharing Joys and Concerns segment of the Sunday service and brought my very serious grievances about your unprofessional, demeaning, and psychologically abusive behaviour towards me to the attention of the congregation of our church. There is no point in my reiterating what these grievances are since they are very well documented in my various letters of grievance. As you are also aware the congregation as a whole chose to ignore my repeated appeals for responsible intervention in this matter and thus chose to ignore the principle of our religious community which call for justice, equity and compassion in human relations.
For well over a year now you have done virtually nothing to seek reconciliation with me, you have obstinately refused to retract, or apologize for in any way, your extremely insulting, demeaning, and psychologically abusive statements, indeed your outright slanderous and potentially extremely damaging allegations that you have made about me and Creation Day. During my "chat" with that euphemism known as the Disruptive Behaviour Committee John Pike insisted that you deny having made the clearly demeaning statements and damaging allegations that I have accused you of in my letters of grievance. When I mentioned this to you in the church kitchen soon after my meeting with the DBC you scowled and immediately left "in a huff." If you have denied making any of the statements that I have clearly attributed to you in my letters of grievance you know full well that you have lied to the Board, and thus, by extension, you have lied to our congregation as a whole.
You must do several things to respond to my serious grievances and redress the clear injustices that you have done to me. You must admit to our religious community that my serious grievances are legitimate and that you did in fact make the statements and allegations that I have attributed to you in my letters of grievance. You must formally recognize that such behaviour is unprofessional, demeaning, and psychologically abusive, and that the allegations that you have made that I am psychotic and involved in, or trying to start, a "manipulative and secretive" cult are potentially seriously damaging to me and to others. You must formally, and in writing, retract all of the demeaning statements and damaging allegations that you have made about me. You must deliver a sincere apology to all who have been affected by your reprehensible behaviour towards me during a Sunday service and last, but by no means least, you must begin to take steps which show a clear desire and real effort on your part to seek genuine and lasting reconciliation with me.
Patricia Dobkin has said that you will "never apologize" to me. Perhaps this is true. Perhaps you really do lack the minimal amount of personal integrity necessary to recognize that have made some very serious mistakes, mistakes that clearly violate the integrity of virtually everything that our religious community purports to stand for. Perhaps you genuinely do not possess the minimal amount of basic human decency required to formally retract the sarcastic, demeaning, and psychologically abusive statements you made during our meetings as well as the damaging and slanderous allegations that you have made about me, and to issue a sincere formal written apology to me for your reprehensible behaviour towards me. Perhaps you are totally incapable, or completely unwilling, to practice justice, equity and compassion in your "human relations" with me.
You know that I informed the congregation that I was going public with my grievances in my letter of November 20, 1996. You can be thankful that a popular Montreal radio show was "cancelled" before I could "air" my grievances on it. You can also be thankful that the Gazette, while finding my story "interesting", has said it will not run it unless the situation becomes "more acrimonious". You can be thankful that a local T.V. "problem solver" is more concerned with loose floor tiles than your "loose lips" to say nothing of those of Frank Greene, and several other leading members of the Unitarian Universalist religious community. Ultimately you can be thankful that my efforts to "go public" with my grievances have, so far, been minimal and limited to local English language media.
This is the final opportunity that I am presenting to you to show some personal integrity and human decency and "do the right thing". If you do not indicate a willingness to finally settle this matter prior to next Sunday's service I will distribute the enclosed letter to my fellow members of our church following that service. If you do not apologize to me by Sunday, May 2, 1997, I will have to assume that you genuinely have no intention of apologizing to me for your reprehensible behaviour towards me and will therefore have to question the sincerity of any future apology that you may offer. I will send out a "Mayday signal" to my fellow Unitarian Universalists in Canada and elsewhere and take further steps to "go public" with my grievances. I will also seek genuine justice from various sources outside of the church.
end of first letter
15 Lafleur apt. 11,
Canada, H4G 3C3
Rev. Ray Drennan
Unitarian Church of Montreal
5035 de Maisonneuve ouest,
Canada, H4A 1Y5
Wodensday, May 7, 1997
Dear Rev. Drennan,
Thank you for your letter of April 23 expressing your regrets for your demeaning behaviour towards me and for the distress that your words have caused me. My initial response to your brief letter was that, besides being very late, it was also too little. There were, as well, some highly questionable assertions made in your letter, and, while it was clearly a tacit admission of your harmful words, there was no evidence of any formal retraction of your demeaning words or the false and damaging allegations that you made about me. I therefore showed the letter to a variety of friends and family members who are familiar with "this situation" to see what they thought of your apology. They, like me, generally tended to think that it was too little as well as exceptionally late and they also called into question those statements that I had difficulty with.
While I hereby accept your letter as a tacit admission of having made the statements and allegations about me that I accused you of in my letters of grievance and as a clear indication of your regret for "this situation" as well as the distress that it has caused me, I cannot and I do not accept it as either a formal retraction of your demeaning words and damaging allegations or a satisfactory formal written apology for your deplorable behaviour towards me.
In the second and third sentences of your letter of apology you say that, "I believe that you have already received (a formal apology from you). In the past I have tried to express my regrets for this situation however, it appears that my words have not been heard."
I am left quite bewildered by these assertions for several reasons. I am not aware of any previous occasion on which you have, either privately or publicly, clearly and formally expressed any regret to me or to anyone else for the demeaning statements and damaging allegations that you have made about me. In fact the last time that "this situation" was discussed with you, during our meeting of February 1, 1996, you stood by all of your demeaning statements and damaging allegations about me when I privately challenged you in your office by repeatedly saying that you were "just being honest" and you refused to offer even a private personal apology to me when I made it clear that I expected an apology from you.
You failed to respond in any manner to my three previous letters to you in which my desire for a formal written retraction of your demeaning and damaging words and a formal written apology from you was clearly expressed to you in writing. As I reported in my most recent letter to you Patricia Dobkin flaty stated during my meeting with the Disruptive Behaviour Committee which took place as recently as mid-January of this year that you would "never apologize" to me. Why would she make such an assertion if you had "in the past" already formally apologized to me? I could list several other reasons why I must call into question the second and third sentences of your letter of apology but I think that I have made my point and there are other matters that need to be dealt with.
The first and second sentences of your "apology" say,
"I am sorry that you heard my words as offensive. They were not intended to be offensive but rather to simply and clearly express my position."
If I "heard" your words as offensive it is simply because they were clearly offensive and the tone of voice that you expressed them in was at various times mocking, derisive, sarcastic, and hostile. These highly offensive words are very clearly recorded in my formal letters of grievance and would be offensive regardless of the tone of voice that they were stated in. You are well aware of what your offensive words were as well as the manner in which you spoke them. How can you suggest that I only "heard" your words as offensive?
Your assertion that your words "were not intended to be offensive" is similarly open to question for a variety of reasons that I could present but I am much more concerned with the latter part of this statement in which you assert that your words were intended to "simply and clearly express (your) position." I hereby take note of your use of the present tense in this phrase and I feel that I must point out to you that this could very readily be interpreted as meaning that you still stand by the reprehensible "position" that you expressed during our meeting of Thursday, November 9, 1995. It was your "position" then that my revelatory experience of God was nothing more, and nothing less, than a "psychotic experience" and you implied that I was still "psychotic" or otherwise mentally deranged by vehemently insisting that I was in dire and immediate need of psychiatric treatment. It was your "position" then that the claims arising from my revelatory mystical experience, and thus some of my most profound religious beliefs (my personal theology as it were), were nothing but "silliness and fantasy". Furthermore, it was your "position" then that my religious activities, including the celebration of Creation Day, constituted a "manipulative and secretive" cult. You held other unacceptable positions then but the foregoing are, in my view at least, amongst the most demeaning and damaging positions that you held and, apparently, may still hold. As far as I am concerned this "position" is simply not acceptable. I am not psychotic nor, according to three highly qualified and respected psychiatrists, am I in need of psychiatric treatment.
Far from being "silliness and fantasy" most of the various claims and personal religious beliefs that were directly or indirectly inspired by my revelatory mystical experience are in accord with well established religious beliefs. The comparatively small number of my religious beliefs that are "different" from the theologies of "others", besides being potentially very valid and highly valuable, are readily defensible and will stand up to the scrutiny of reason. Far from being here "to tell all the world's religions that they're wrong," much of what I am claiming tells them that they are right. Right in believing in God. Right in believing that God is in fact omniscient. Right in believing that God communicates with humanity via a variety of means including dreams, unusual "coincidences", and symbolic or allegorical "signs in the heavens." Etcetera...
Far from being a "manipulative and secretive" "cult" Creation Day and all of my other religious activities, including my claim of a genuine revelation of God, are open to public scrutiny; indeed, they have been well publicized in the Gazette and other media. The fact of the matter is that one of the primary reasons that I chose to join the Unitarian Universalist "faith" was because I wished to avoid joining a religious community that was too "cult"-like.
I hereby reaffirm my insistence that you must simply and clearly retract your "position" in a formal letter of apology and publicly apologize to me before the members of our congregation during an upcoming Sunday service so that your formal retraction and apology is genuinely stated both officially and clearly for all concerned in our church. Copies of your officially and clearly stated formal retraction and apology, one that has been clearly and officially accepted by me, should be sent to the current Presidents of the CUC and the UUA and to all of the other leading members of our religious community who were officially informed in writing of my grievances arising from your unprofessional, demeaning, and psychologically abusive behaviour, including the Ministerial Fellowship Committee and the Disruptive Behaviour Committee.
I think that it would be best for all concerned if you were to write me another much more detailed and more clearly worded formal retraction and apology which I would then read and return to you with my suggestions for additions or changes should I find the need for any. Ideally, it would not be necessary for me to suggest any additions or changes to such a written retraction and apology if you referred to my original letter of grievance to the Board of Management of the Unitarian Church of Montreal dated February 14, 1996, properly addressed all of the grievances raised in it, and also apologized for the excessive delay in apologizing to me for your obviously demeaning and psychologically abusive statements as well as the clearly defamatory allegations that you made about me. Alternatively, we could meet together in the presence of mutually agreed upon witnesses and could try to work out a suitable formal written retraction and apology that I could officially accept in the presence of our religious community.
While you alone must accept responsibility for your offensive words and the defamatory and damaging allegations that you made about me I am quite aware that other leading members of our religious shared your "position". While I must question your honesty in a number of areas I do believe that you were "just being honest" when you said, "I am the only one being honest with you." Most of those people, however, had the political astuteness not to openly express their "position" in my presence, at least not in the obviously offensive manner that you did. Never-the-less I do not believe that it serves either justice, equity, or compassion that you alone should have to formally apologize to me for this highly regrettable situation.
At least some current and former members of the Board of Management of the Unitarian Church of Montreal are partly responsible for this unfortunate situation. Most Board members are clearly responsible for failing to firmly and forthrightly respond to my very serious formal grievances in a genuinely just and equitable manner by instituting fair and reasonable conflict resolution procedures. I know that the "cult" allegation did not originate with you and it has been reported to me that at least one former or current member of the Board of our church expressed their position that I was involved in or trying to form a "cult" to other church members. Since I will be expecting an apology from the Board for their quite evidently irresponsible role in this regrettable affair I thought that you should know that it would be more than acceptable to me if representatives of the Board of our church formally apologized to me during an upcoming Sunday service of our church for the Board's deplorable role in this sorry affair at the same time that you do.
I believe that the sooner that my completely justified demand of a formal written retraction of your harmful words and an acceptable apology for the distress and the damage that they have caused me is complied with the better it will be for all concerned. I must warn you that any further delays in bringing this unfortunate dispute to a satisfactory resolution that is clearly in accord with the stated principles of our religious community, particularly that one which calls for justice, equity, and compassion in human relations, will only result in further action on my part to assure that genuine justice, genuine equity, and genuine compassion, soon prevail.
You my reach me by telephone at Benedict Labre House: 937-5973
end of second letter
15 rue Lafleur, apt. 11
Canada H4G 3C3
Rev. Ray Drennan
Unitarian Church of Montreal
July 19, 1997
Dear Rev. Drennan,
I was saddened but by no means surprised to learn that you have refused to participate in the conflict resolution discussions that were proposed to you by John Inder, the current Vice President of our congregation's Board of Management. While I was more than willing to participate in the meetings that John Inder proposed I did not hold out much hope that you would participate in them and I even said as much to John before he approached you about this.
In refusing to participate in the conflict resolution measures proposed by John Inder you have driven yet another nail into the coffin of your ability to represent yourself as a man of integrity. The foregoing statements are, as I am sure you will recognize, a slight variation of statements you made in a letter to the editor published in the Gazette sharing your concerns about a position of the Presbytarian Church of Canada. If you find these statements to be rather offensive please understand that I am using your words primarily to get you to comprehend just how offensive your words may be and that I am not the only victim of your offensive manner.
Your arrogant refusal to provide a satisfactory formal apology which I can honourably accept, one which formally recognizes the wrongfulness of your behaviour and which includes a clear and official retraction of the offensive and defamatory words that you have uttered about me, or to even enter into any discussion regarding "this situation" gives me very good reason to doubt the sincerity of most, if not all, of your "apology" of April 23, 1997.
As I pointed out to you in my written response to your "apology" (May 7, 1997) I have good reason to question most of the statements that you made in this "apology" not the least of them being the first paragraph thereof which states that you "believe" that you delivered "a formal apology" to me and that you "tried to express (your) regrets for this situation" prior to your letter of April 23, 1997. My written response made it clear that I was not aware of any previous formal apology or an unequivocal expression of regret; however, just to make sure that nothing had slipped by me, I asked many current and former Board members as well as some other leading members of our religious community if they were aware of you making any apology to me, formal or otherwise, at any time. Virtually all of these people indicated that they were completely unaware of any apology or other expression of regret made by you at any time. Unless you can provide a satisfactory explanation for your bold but bewildering assertion that I had "already received" a "formal apology" from you prior to your letter of April 23, 1997, I will have little choice but to believe that you were either thoroughly mistaken (thus possibly in the realm of fantasy?), or simply lying.
I have provided you with numerous opportunities to demonstrate some of your self-vaunted personal integrity by responding to my clearly legitimate and very serious grievances in a responsible manner that respects the principles and purposes of our religious community. You have consistently chosen to respond in a far from satisfactory manner to my justified demands for a formal retraction and apology. Surely a man of genuine integrity would have clearly and officially retracted the demeaning statements and defamatory allegations that you made and would have delivered a sincere formal apology that clearly recognized the wrongfulness of his behaviour without delay.
I have sought reconciliation and have excercised considerable restraint in this conflict, particularly when one considers the damaging nature of your behaviour towards me and the seriousness of the allegations that you have made about me. Archbishop Desmond Tutu once said, "Some people think reconciliation is a soft option, that it means papering over the cracks. But the Biblical meaning means looking facts in the face and it can be very costly; it cost God the death of His own Son." Don't expect me to paper over the cracks of your deplorable behaviour towards me. You must face the fact that your behaviour towards me was unprofessional, unethical, and clearly violated the integrity of virtually every principle and purpose our religious community covenants to affirm and promote.
It is abundantly evident from your arrogant behaviour and your refusal to enter into healing dialogue with me that you are not really interested in any genuine and lasting reconciliation at all. Your reprehensible interference in my participation in the Earth Day celebration that I helped Gerry Pascal to organize for the WCRP in the spring of this year was a telling indication of this but there are several other indications that I am aware of as well.
If you continue to refuse to seek genuine reconciliation with me you should not expect me to be conciliatory towards you. Be assured that I will continue to take steps to see to it that justice and equity are ultimately achieved in this dispute. The deplorable lack of personal integrity that you have so clearly demonstrated in this regrettable "situation", including your less than honest, less than sincere, and far from satisfactory formal "apology" of April 23, 1997, is damaging not only to me and to you but also to the various other people who are directly or indirectly affected by this conflict and ultimately to our religious community as a whole.