The Emerson Avenger

The Emerson Avenger is a "memory hole" free blog where censorship is scorned. This blog will "guard the right to know" about any injustices and abuses that corrupt Unitarian Universalism. Posters may speak and argue freely, according to conscience, about any injustices and abuses, or indeed hypocrisy, that they may know about so that the Avenger, in the form of justice and redress, may come surely and swiftly. . . "Slowly, slowly the Avenger comes, but comes surely." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Location: Montreal, Quebec, Canada

In 1992 I underwent a profound revelatory experience of God which revealed that the total solar eclipse "Eye of God" is a "Sign in the Heavens" that symbolizes God's divine omniscience. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan of the Unitarian Church of Montreal contemptuously dismissed as my "psychotic experience" here: http://revelationisnotsealed.homestead.com - This revelatory religious experience inspired me to propose an inter-religious celebration of Creation that would take place whenever a total solar eclipse took place over our planet. You may read about what Rev. Ray Drennan and other leading members of the Unitarian Church of Montreal falsely and maliciously labeled as a "cult" here: http://creationday.homestead.com - I am now an excommunicated Unitarian whose "alternative spiritual practice" includes publicly exposing and denouncing Unitarian*Universalist injustices, abuses, and hypocrisy. The Emerson Avenger blog will serve that purpose for me and hopefully others will share their concerns here. Dee Miller's term DIM Thinking is used frequently and appropriately on this blog. You may read more about what DIM Thinking is here - http://www.takecourage.org/defining.htm

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Boston's Best TEA Party 2010

This TEA blog post is a work in progress.

Here is a report of *some* of the most pertinent things that happened during The Emerson Avenger's Boston TEA Party 2010 which included, but was by no means limited to a reenactment of The Emerson Avenger's May 2000 protest in front of UUA headquarters at 25 Beacon Street in Boston MA. Some typos have been corrected and in*appropriate hyperlinks added -

I arrived at Boston`s South Station early Friday morning and walked from there to 25 Beacon Street arriving a bit before 8 am. The door was locked so I decided to go to the Beacon Press building and see if anything was happening there. Someone entered as I arrived there. I went in and there was a man at the reception. I told him that I was interested in sitting in on the Board meeting as an observer and asked him if he could let me know in which rooms meetings were being held. He told me that there was a Board group meeting right across the hall and, when I asked him what group was meeting, he replied "Excellence In Ministry." I replied that this was perfect because I had concerns about excellence in ministry and asked him if it was alright to go in. He said that it was fine so I entered the room and observed the meeting. At the conclusion of the meeting I calmly and reasonably (as is my usual demeanor), but somewhat pointedly, asked the group how it was possible for them to talk about "Excellence In Ministry" without making the slightest mention of the flip side of that coin and what Rev. Christine Robinson euphemistically calls "less than excellent" ministers. I suggested that you cannot have excellence in ministry without dealing responsibly with clergy misconduct issues. I made the same point the next day (Saturday) in front of the whole Board Of Trustees after the "Excellence in Ministry" group had delivered its report to the Board. One member of the group somewhat exasperatedly said that all they deal with is promoting "excellence in ministry" and that there are other groups to handle "less than excellent ministers" etc. He said -

"There are policies and procedures in place to deal with clergy misconduct and I think they are very good."

The above is close to being an exact quote. He definitely said words to that effect. The Board learned just how "very good" UUA and MFC clergy misconduct policies and procedures are after I posed some questions to the MFC representatives following their report to the Board on Sunday morning. The MFC mentioned clergy misconduct at the end of their report by stating that they were looking into the broader impact of clergy misconduct. They also said that they were looking onto forgiving defellowshipped ministers and allowing them to be refellowshipped if they had displayed "good behavior" for some years following being defellowshipped for clergy misconduct. I played off of this announcement in my question(s) to the MFC reps following their report.

I began by saying that if the MFC were considering forgiving ministers whose clergy misconduct had occurred as much as fourteen years ago (a figure that had been mentioned by a member of the "Excellence In Ministry" group in her questions to the MFC who had stated that she knew of a minister who had tried very hard to rehabilitate himself following a clergy misconduct episode that had occurred fourteen years ago) that perhaps it was only fair and equitable to allow victims of clergy misconduct whose cases had been unjustly dismissed or otherwise mishandled by the MFC as much as fourteen years ago or more to have their clergy misconduct complaints reviewed and reassessed. I began by saying, "What about the victims?" after stating that I had no objections to ministers who genuinely reformed their behavior being rehabilitated by the MFC.

I then asked some questions and made some observations about the somewhat confusing (dare I say "less than excellent"?) policies and procedures for clergy misconduct complaint. I pointed out that the UUMA Guidelines were not enforced by the MFC and that the MFC used different "guidelines" for clergy misconduct complaints. I pointed out that the MFC Rules did not seem to have "behavioral covenants" like the UUMA Guidelines which spelled out clearly how a minister can or cannot behave. I asked what criteria the MFC used to determine whether or not a minister was guilty of misconduct. Although I did not get much of an answer to this line of questioning I was able to make the Board see that there were serious problems with the allegedly "very good" policies and procedures for dealing with clergy misconduct, not the least of them being that the UUMA Guidelines, which do a reasonably good job of spelling out how UU ministers are expected to conduct themselves, are not only not enforced by the MFC but are all but unenforceable by a victim of clergy misconduct.

I went on to ask about appeals processes in clergy misconduct complaints, and began by asking the MFC reps if a minister could appeal a clergy misconduct complaint that they were found guilty of, knowing full well the answer to that question was "yes". After what seemed like a bit of hemming and hawing the MFC reps stated that yes a UU minister found guilty of clergy misconduct could appeal the decision. I then asked if someone who had filed a clergy misconduct complaint against a minister could appeal the decision of the MFC if it was dismissed or otherwise unsatisfactory, knowing full well that the answer to that question was "no". Let`s just say that there was a lot of hemming and hawing after *that* question and that it literally looked liked the MFC reps did not even know the answer to that question. At one point one of them speculatively threw out the possibility that the Board of Review was an avenue for such appeals. I may be mistaken about this, but I think I heard someone suggest that the Commission on Appraisals coudl be an avenue of appeal for clergy misconduct victims.

In any case it was glaringly obvious that the MF reps either didn't really know the actual verifiable answer to my question or didn't want to admit that it was "no" and that clergy misconduct victims are unable to appeal decisions made by the MFC. Finally UUA Vice President Kay Montgomery stepped in and answered the question by saying in no uncertain terms -

"The answer (to the question) is NO."

The way she said it so emphatically you would swear she thought that this was a good thing or at least that she wanted to preserve that status quo. . . Needless to say I then reminded everyone that UU principles call for justice, *equity*, and compassion in human relations and that this aspect of the "very good" UUA and MFC policies and procedures for dealing with clergy misconduct was quite evidently not *equitable* aka fair. I had successfully demonstrated to everyone in the room that UUA and MFC policies and procedures for clergy misconduct were not equitable and biased in favor of "less than excellent" UU ministers. I more or less rested my case but may have said a few other things.

My line of questioning had obviously raised some questions about MFC accountability and, after I said that I was done for now (albeit making it clear that I had a lot more to say about UUA (mis)handling of clergy misconduct), several UUA Board members decided that they had a few more questions that they wanted to ask and observations that they wanted to make. The whole question of just who the MFC is accountable to was brought up by a Board member and nobody had definitive answer to that question. Indeed it seemed that the MFC was not *really* accountable to anyone for its decisions even though it was officially a committee of the UUA Board of Trustees.

I am pretty sure that I was able to convince at least some members of the UUA Board of Trustees that the acronym SNAFU applies well to the "very good" policies and procedures that the UUA has in place to deal with clergy misconduct and that there are some serious deficiencies in those policies and procedures. Not that they haven't been told this before of course, but I think that *this* time they may actually start to do something about it. We need to follow-up on what I was able to accomplish quickly and effectively. There is a special Board meeting in May and then of course there is the Board meeting at the 2010 UUA GA. I think that we need to ensure that UUA (mis)handing of clergy misconduct of ALL kinds stays on the radar of the UUA Board of Trustees and that they actually do things to ensure that the policies and procedures are properly corrected and reformed. The good news is that "Policy Governance" is big on "articulating vision, comprehensive policy-making, and oversight". So I think that the key to getting the UUA Board of Trustees, to say nothing of UUA staff, to act on the concerns that I shared with them on Saturday and Subday is to concentrate on exposing problems with the current policies and procedures that govern UUA handling of clergy misconduct complaints, and then demanding that the BOT must exercise genuine oversight over the MFC and UUA staff involved in dealing with clergy misconduct and engage in some comprehensive policy-making.

Needless to say I have a lot more to say about what transpired over the weekend but that is my basic report for now.

Best Regards,

Robin Edgar

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