My defense to the motion to revoke my membership that the Board of Management of the Unitarian Church of Montreal brought against me at the congregational meeting of November 22, 1999.
(The following is a copy of a hand-written defense that I read from with minimal modification, self-censorship, or other editing. There were, however, some ad-lib asides etc. It is possible that a tape recording of this meeting exists but I am not aware of it.)
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me. . .”
I beg to differ
Does anybody know what day it is today?
(Nobody responded to this question although I said that I sought a response and gave some time for people to provide one)
Today is the 36th anniversary of the small e, small c, in quotation marks “eTHNIC cLEANSING” of John Fitzgerald Kennedy - 35th President of the United States of America.
(I then read extensively from the “Riot Act” i.e. the Guidelines of Ministerial Leadership)
In my eyes, based on my “direct experience” the Board’s recommendation to this congregation that my membership in the Unitarian Church of Montreal be revoked (as proposed in the motion that I received in the mail and that is now before you for your deliberation and subsequent vote) is yet another “leap of faith.” It is “based on the hope” that, by controlling the process in such a way as to minimize my ability to defend myself from their charges, the leadership of this church can mislead a two-thirds majority of this congregation in to approving their motion; thus transforming their “leap of faith” into an actual Act of Faith or, in Spanish, Auto-da-Fé. An Auto-da-Fé is, according to Webster’s Encyclopedic Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language: The public declaration of the judgement passed on persons tried in the courts of the Spanish Inquisition, followed by the execution by the Civil Authorities of the sentence imposed.
It is clear to me, and I believe that it will become clear to all reasonably intelligent people who, having a genuine appreciation for justice, equity and compassion in human relations, and seriously investigating all of the circumstances surrounding these charges, that there are serious flaws in the justice process and in the wording of the motion that the Board wants this congregation to adopt. I believe that the Executive Committee and the Board members of this “church” have made a very serious “mistake” in even proposing this motion, particularly without ever having invited me to any Board meetings to present my side of the story to them. I believe that, had I been invited to the June 16, 1999, Board meeting, or previous and subsequent meetings, so I could present my case to the Board that the motion that is before you would never have been put to the congregation. I wish to give the Board an opportunity to admit their “mistake” and voluntarily withdraw the motion.
(I made it clear that I would continue with my defense but that, as far as I was concerned, the Board could withdraw the motion at any time during the meeting.)
The Board says that I have refused to accept any decisions of the UCM or its affiliated bodies.
I say prove it.
(I have in fact “accepted” some of the said “decisions.”)
The Board says I have demonstrated a lack of respect for the said decisions.
I say prove it, and perhaps any lack of respect I have shown was simply because those decisions were unworthy of respect.
The Board says that I have demonstrated a lack of respect for the democratic process.
I say prove it, and countercharge that the successive church Boards have not quite lived up to the democratic ideals of our church.
The Board says that I have “lodged a number of spurious and unfounded claims against the Church.”
I say that I firmly believe that none of my claims against the church are unfounded, and even the few that may appear to be spurious can be shown to be justified when explained to reasonably intelligent people.
Prove they are unfounded. Prove they are spurious.
The Board says that I have refused to accept the rejection of my complaints etc.
I say thank you for so publicly admitting that you have repeatedly rejected my perfectly legitimate and very serious complaints.
The Board says that my “refusal to accept and abide by the decisions of the UCM and its affiliated bodies is incompatible with membership in the Church.
I say that this statement might be true if this were the Totali-tarian Church of Montreal.
(I ad-libbed: “or the Authori-tarian Church of Montreal.”)
I say that the said statement is simply another well documented example of the “moral and ethical mediocrity that I have encountered amongst Unitarians.” But if I wanted to use Ray Drennan’s hyperbole I would say that, “I am shocked.” “It is a moral outrage that a (Unitarian) person, usually a (dissenter) can be thrown out into the street” for exercising their “right of conscience” when they believe the church has made decisions that are neither just, nor equitable, nor compassionate. Decisions that promote marginalization of a person rather than “acceptance and encouragement of their spiritual growth.” Decisions made without any “responsible search for truth.” Decisions that degrade the “inherent worth and dignity” of a person.
The Board says that the “dispute settling mechanisms of the Church are exhausted. I say they are not. Not by any means.
(I then made it clear that I would be filing a second complaint with the MFC regardless of the outcome of this meeting.)
The Disruptive Behaviour Committee, whose epithet has been described as “Stalinistic” by a former Board member of this Church, one of Eastern European ethnicity , is , by its very name, not a “dispute settling mechanism.” The DBC never attempted to “create compromise” it was set up primarily to prevent me from trying to distribute letters to the congregation appealing to you for intervention in my dispute. It rejected my complaint against Ray Drennan and John Inder, perhaps unilaterally, rejected my complaint arising from Pierre Binette’s physically pushing me around and threats of more serious physical assault.
(I was told I had one minute left at this point and went directly to my concluding statement on the final page of my defense beginning with
“This is your hour of darkness. . .”
I was thus unable to respond to the third and, for the UCM, most problematic charge against me.)
The Board says that I have “made statements in print, sought media attention for my demands, and displayed messages. . . in a picketing campaign.”
I say I have a perfect right to do so as both a Unitarian and, thank God (and I mean that not in vain) a citizen of Canada which fortunately is not a totalitarian dominion.
I say this is a church where “malicious gossip” is not only condoned but seemingly rampant. I say that the words “Solar Temple” and “cult” come from the mouths of Frank Greene (former President of the Board and “Pillar of the Church” who was Parliamentarian of this meeting”), Ray Drennan and, if I am to believe Ray’s insistence that he was the “only one being honest” with me, other more politically astute members of this church who had the good sense to say these words to my face or to someone who would inform me of them.
I say that this church does engage in small e, small c, in quotation marks, “eTHNIC cLEANSING” that is what we are here for tonight. I can justify this statement to the public and have done so with success.
I say that this church “tarnished” its own “image”, indeed its principles and purposes, through the words and actions of its leaders and I am simply exposing this to public scrutiny. I am protesting the shameful conduct that I have been subjected to. Why can’t you see that words like “Solar Temple”, “cult”, “crazy”, “nuts”, “psychotic” etc. etc. etc. are “image tarnishing” and that I felt “harassed” by these “statements” long before I ever publicly protested them?
Truly this is the “CHURCH OF THE DOUBLE STANDARD”, the “CHURCH OF THE TWO FACES”
In the words of the woman who berated me on Sunday:
“Allez vous faites soignez.”
Why is it that you all rejected my letters complaining about my (mis)treatment and failed to acknowledge how “very difficult and unpleasant” my life was made by (it)? Some Unitarians said, “If you don’t like it why don’t you leave?”
Small e, small c, in quotation marks “eTHNIC cLEANSING.”
The “Last of the Mohicans” walks into a bar and asks for a beer to slake his thirst. The bar tender growls, “We don’t serve Injuns in these here parts.” Not wanting any further confrontation the “Last of the Mohicans” calmly and quietly walks out of the bar.
Small e, small c, in quotation marks “eTHNIC cLEANSING.”
Thirty-six years ago today Unitarians and most other citizens of our neighbour to the south, and indeed people all around the world were in mourning. John F. Kennedy was murdered. Blown to “kingdom come” by concealed assassins JFK was an “ethnic.” He was Irish, an ethnic group that suffered from prejudice in the “Land of the Free.” Not only was he Irish but he was of the Roman Catholic faith, a religion looked upon with suspicion by White Anglo Saxon Protestant Americans in the “Home of the Brave.” And boy was he “cleansed.” Murder, or in the terminology of the gouvernment agencies that many conspiracy theorists believe played a role in JFK’s assassination, “terminated with extreme prejudice.” The ultimate and final act of any “ethnic cleansing” campaign. If there is time I propose a two-minute period of reflection for all people who have been subjected to the Orwellian euphemism “ethnic cleansing.”
What is an Orwellian euphemism?
As Ray Drennan has stated clearly in his sermon titled “Direct Experience” in which he described MFC (Ministerial Fellowship Committee) as, “a (sic) euphemism of the first order. A (sic) euphemism is best understood as a handy device of the English language which is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.”
Conclusion::“This is your hour of darkness”
(I ad-libbed that I meant “darkness” in the sense of ignorance and not knowing all the facts or truth about my case.)
I hope that more than two-thirds of you* are beginning to see the darkness and will begin to move towards the light by taking my grievances seriously and responding to me with genuine justice, genuine equity, and genuine compassion.I bid you adieu.
(*I only needed one third to “win” but two-thirds would have been a clear majority.Only three members out of 80 present voted against the Board’s motion.)
Labels: excommunication, montreal unitarians, Unitarian Church of Montreal, unitarian universalism, unitarians