One thing about clergy at Grace Church: They have very few qualms about making statements of questionable veracity when it comes to their parishioners.
In the attached email, Leslie Steffensen makes a series of false statements, including:
- That Mom’s blog is mine (and content in it), despite the facts that:
- Mom had repeatedly made clear that she is the publisher of her blog.
- I don’t have children and have never claimed to have children; nor do I want any.
- I am not female.
- I don’t drive a minivan.
- I don’t have pets.
- I don’t travel to Northern VA from the Midwest.
- I haven’t been to Manhattan in many years.
- I don’t refer to myself in the plural.
- I don’t hang out in Del Ray, except to leaflet or protest.
- I don’t hang with other family members when they protest or afterwards and have never claimed to do so.
- The day folks were at The National Cathedral was a day I was at work the entire day, and I have time records and numerous other forms of documentation to prove it, including dozens of witnesses, several of whom have prepared notarized affidavits.
- I have not been to The National Cathedral in more than seven years; it was shortly before the earthquake. Thus, I have been nowhere near her office, and frankly don’t care to be anywhere close to anything with the word “Episcopal” in it anyway. Nor do I want to be anywhere close to Bob Malm or Leslie Steffensen; if I choose to hang out with clergy, it will be with those who evince some indication that they adhere to Christian values.
- Nowhere in my blog, or in Mom’s blog, does anyone mention adopted children. Nowhere.
- I have witnesses and documentation to prove all these points.
- That I have made false statements about her. My only comments have been about her comments made during my background check; I have published the transcript here and that clearly indicates that Leslie has stated that she is “not sure [I] can be trusted with money,” along with other statements intended to damage my reputation. Additionally, I have commented on the well-documented fact that Leslie was fully supportive of Dysfunctional Bob’s efforts to shun us, including denying us access to our own church. The email confirming that also has been published here; a copy is below.
- That the events in question were, at the time of her email, three years prior. They were not. They dated to 2015, including the latter months of the year and, of course, continue to this day.
It’s these sorts of sneaky, ad hominem attacks behind the scenes and untruthful/inaccurate statements that are how clergy at St. Dysfunction respond when criticized. Never mind that Leslie has never had the integrity to address her concerns directly with me. At a minimum, you’d think, as clergy, Leslie would make damned sure of her facts before writing a stupid and un-Christian email like this. (While Leslie’s talking with her legal counsel, she should be sure to discuss defamation and the phrase “reckless disregard for the truth.” Also, “false statements of fact.”)
But then, given that Leslie once told me (and later repeated her claim in front of others), that she has seen an apparition in the hallway outside the clergy offices at St. Dysfunction, Kirk Steffensen’s comments about “spewing delusional crap” may strike rather closer to home than he intended. Or perhaps the word “hallucinations” applies. Or maybe this is a case of paranoid schizophrenia. I don’t have any way to know, but I am increasingly concerned for my safety, given Kirk Steffensen’s comments about Mike’s employment, the irrational nature of Leslie’s comments, and her statements about seeing apparitions of the dead. In fact, sounds like an implied threat to me.
The fact that behavior like this is acceptable for clergy in The Episcopal Church speaks volumes as to why The Episcopal Church and St. Dysfunction are dying. Nor are these behaviors all that unusual in churches—they are exactly how abusive Catholic priests respond when someone reports them. Smear the victim, try to discredit the victim, everything except for the sort of accountability that Jesus modeled. Even when Leslie wrote to my Mom to ostensibly apologize for her conduct, she couched things in terms of her “inexpert response” as a new priest. My take, though, is that when it comes to manipulative behavior and refusing to be accountable for her actions, Leslie’s far from inexpert. Indeed, she’s quite adept, and appears to have issues with deep-seated but well-concealed anger. (Just ask her to tell you about her numerous fistfights in high school.)