Episode 59

August 22, 2023


Why Anglican Watch no longer covers the Singh case

Hosted by

Eric Bonetti
Why Anglican Watch no longer covers the Singh case
Anglican Watch: Unofficial Watchdog of the Episcopal Church
Why Anglican Watch no longer covers the Singh case

Aug 22 2023 | 00:07:48


Show Notes

Anglican Watch has received several questions about our decision to stop covering the allegations of abuse in the Bishop Singh case.

Here's why we made that decision.

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

Anglican Watch has received several questions about our decision to stop covering the allegations of abuse in the Bishop Singh case. Here's why we made that decision. We've received correspondence from Nivedhan Singh critical of our tone and our irate references to wrongdoers. Nivedhan made special note of our calling his father a "pig." Yes, we get his underlying concern, but we can also think of far nastier comments about someone who allegedly abuses his wife and children over a period of decades. Similarly, Nivedhan objects to our calling Daniel McClain a "weasel." Given the myriad lies we have seen from McClain and his "broham," his claims his wife is mentally ill, and the myriad allegations of abuse we have received, including from other clergy, we don't care what Nivedhan thinks about this issue. Nivedhan makes reference in his correspondence to racism and comparing someone to an animal. Guess we'd better not refer to Bishop Singh and his ilk as a "nest of vipers," so we don't fall into the racism hole. More significantly, Nivedhan appears very concerned that we "be nice," lest church officials decide not to deal with his concerns in an appropriate manner. But our experience is that nice rarely goes anywhere in the Episcopal Church. And while Nivedhan states that his early comments were angry, he suggests he's fine-tuning and softening his messaging in the hopes of getting additional traction. All we can say there is he's more a product of the denomination than he realizes if he thinks "all churchy nice" is going to advance his arguments. As for Title IV, there is no provision requiring that complainants or their allies be nice. Title IV applies only to clergy, and church officials either follow its provisions (rare) or ignore those provisions (often). While we are, by any measure, pretty damned liberal, the sort of crunchy, entitled, "be nice, feel good" liberalism evinced by Nivedhan is the very reason the Episcopal Church doesn't take abuse or racism seriously. Heaven forfend we do anything that upsets anyone--we'll have our nice, safe, transactional book club instead. The biggest reason for our decision is that Nivedhan wants to censor our reporting. No legitimate outlet is going to agree to those terms. And while Nivedhan generally is a pretty smart, good guy, on this score he's beyond clueless. That's the whole thing with the media--you cannot control coverage. There's a troubling arrogance coming from the Singh family in this case. Having placed issues of the alleged abuse within his family squarely in the public domain, it's profoundly arrogant for Nivedhan to demand control over the details of the ensuing conversation. Relatedly, if he didn't want free-wheeling conversation, Nivedhan should have remained silent. That also raises the question of grassroots activism. Clearly, the Singh family is hoping for a grassroots response, as indicated by the templated letters and other resources on their website, episcopalaccountability.com. Grassroots campaigns can be a very effective way to obtain change. But an effective grassroots campaign also pulls in people from across the political spectrum, and with varying styles of advocacy. This includes everything from anarchists, to op-ed columnists, to hipsters and influencers, and more. (A surprising number of MAGA types surface when allegations of child abuse arise, given their thing about a cabal of pedophiles running the world.) So, if the Singhs are hoping for a grassroots effort that only involves nice people, pleasant comments, and adjectives that don't involve references to pigs or nests of vipers, they are going to be sorely disappointed. Where does that leave us? Anglican Watch believes that, with the possible exception of some hand-holding coming from Michael Curry's office, the Singh case already is over and done. Mainstream publications largely will feel they've done their bit, covering the underlying complaints, and the church will slow-walk any response until the dust has settled. And we're not holding our breath on anything happening to Singh--even his use of diocesan resources to comment on his divorce is inappropriate, but that's not swaying anyone within the denomination. Relatedly, the instant these allegations went public Singh should have been suspended, to prevent the machinations we are seeing coming from him. So that horse has left the barn, with no plans to return anytime soon. Meanwhile, Singh has out-maneuvered his family, possibly by recognizing that they'd insist on not making waves versus calling a spade a spade. As for a grassroots effort, the Singh family already has short-circuited that. As for this publication, we consistently resist calls for censorship and have zero patience for that sort of tomfoolery. We wish the Singh family well, but we see very little chance they will be successful, and we are moving on to issues where there is a significant chance of success. And we're not going to spend time running around Planet Crunchy and worrying about racism. While we reject racism in all its forms, the Singh family would do better to focus on their father's behavior, and less on tokenism and persons who refer to their father as a pig.  Or lecturing others on what adjectives to use for abusive clergy. (If it makes them feel better, there are certainly more highbrow terms, like "misogynist" or "sociopath" that we could use in our assessment of the good bishop.) Meanwhile, the national church already knows if it just offers broad platitudes about how it is sorry, it can ride out the temporary adverse coverage. After all, the Singh family, at the end of the day, is Episcopal to its core: entitled, all churchy nice, crunchy liberal, worried about ephemeral issues of structural racism versus actual abuse, and unwilling to ruffle feathers. After all, 28 years of emotional and physical abuse, not to mention utter contempt for his wife and children--no real reason to get all riled up, is there? Note: Anglican Watch urges anyone who wishes to support the Singh family NOT use the templated emails provided on Episcopal Accountability. While we have no doubt that that the Singh family is telling the truth about Singh's behavior, stating the underlying allegations as fact is a recipe for trouble. The claims should be referred to as "allegations," in order to avoid potential claims of defamation.

Other Episodes