KJS and the Embellished CV

This is astonishing. Instead of just repeating what others have said, here’s Cranmer’s take.

There’s been a bit of an ‘edit war’ on the Wikipedia page dedicated to The Most Reverend Dr Katharine Jefferts-Schori the 26th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States.

Apparently at her behest, a paragraph was removed by an employee of the Episcopal Church Center (sic) which contained false information presented in the official documentation for her election as Presiding Bishop.

She had stated on her CV that she had held two significant positions of ecclesial and pastoral authority, which would have gone a very long way to establishing that she had what it would take to be a bishop. One of these was: ‘Pastoral Associate and Dean, Good Samaritan School of Theology, Corvallis, OR.’.

It transpires, however, that she was actually simply in charge of her parish’s adult education program (and not a very large parish, at that). The fact the she lists the same institution as three of her major qualifications for office is worthy of a little scrutiny, not least because the Good Samaritan School of Theology is shrouded in a little mystery (to say the least): it is not apparently accredited by any academic institution, and there’s some question over whether it exists at all.

Asked in writing to explain her reference to this seemingly phantom school of theology, Bishop Katharine responded: “The Good Samaritan School of Theology was the then-rector’s term for all adult education programs, both internally and externally focused.”

The then-rector’s term? So it existed only in the mind of the then-rector?

She further clarified that she ‘spent a year as Dean of the School of Theology and Ministry for the Diocese of Oregon (1990-1991)’.

But according to her CV, she was not ordained until 1994. How can a lay person exercise such spiritual authority in an Anglican theological college? Unless, of course, it wasn’t quite an Anglican theological college.

Asked to explain ‘El Buen Samaritano’, and her priestly duties there, the Bishop explained: “El Buen Samaritano was the Spanish-language congregation based at Good Samaritan, essentially a parochial mission. I acted as vicar with primary liturgical and pastoral responsibility.”

‘I acted as vicar…’? So you were an unofficial chaplain at a foreign language school?

This is more than a little suspect. Not even (ordained) university chaplains who ‘act as a vicar’ would imply that they are deans of a theological seminary. This place of prestigious theological inquiry of which Bishop Katharine was Dean perhaps offers nothing but distance-learning and advanced degrees based on nothing but life experience.

‘Dean’ denotes senior academic status with authority over an accredited faculty. It would appear that Bishop Katharine was a dean only in her own mind, or was it the then-rector’s mind? Whatever, doubts clearly remain.

The Episcopal Church nominating committee spent a sum of $200,000 on thevetting process, which is rather a hefty sum for a manifestly woefully inadequate vetting.

Attempts to redact the Wikipedia entries relating to this were noted here andhere, (with some comment on the Discussion page).

The edit was made by a user called ‘Matisse412’ and includes this statement: “I work in the Communication Office at the Episcopal Church Center. Edits made per Bishop Jefferts Schori’s suggestion.” This may, of course, be false, but it has not been denied by Episcopal Church staff or Dr Schori (or is it Dr Jefferts Schori?).

A little carelessness or premeditated corruption? A white lie, or a slip of the pen? A spot of tidying up or deliberate concealment? A slight inflation of the job-title after the fashion of calling your secretary an ‘administrative director’, or just mind-numbingly irrelevant trivia? Full-blown election fraud or the consequences of ‘unmitigated evil’?

Perhaps we should not be surprised that a revisionist revises her own history (or, rather, gets a minion to do it). But there’s an awful lot more than mere matters of hat-wearing or CV-embellishing which may lead her to the lake of fire.

It is certainly observed that Bishop Katharine’s rise has been meteoric in ecclesial terms: she has never been a rector, and was an assistant rector for just one year. How many diocesan bishops are appointed with such little pastoral experience of practical ministry? How many have ever risen to become Presiding Bishop?

It is not a criminal offence but, to employers in the real world, CV ‘embellishment’ is fraud. And where an employee obtains employment and pecuniary advantage through deception, it is certainly a criminal offence which has attracted a custodial sentence. It is one thing to try to put your best foot forward and word your resume as optimally as you can to better your chances in the career field. It’s quite another to misrepresent yourself by intentionally misleading others to believe something about you that simply isn’t true or is otherwise an exaggeration of the truth.

If Bishop Katharine had claimed to have founded the local art appreciation society, captained the netball team or suggested that she was paid $5,000 more than it actually was, it would amount to fraud, but not much harm done. The fact that she claimed to be Dean of a college which doesn’t actually exist, and that this may have induced the Episcopal Church to appoint her Presiding Bishop, is pecuniary advantage through misrepresentation and deception (except, of course, in the mind of the then-rector). The statements in the official documentation must have been material to the decision and relied upon by those who voted for her.

Statistics suggest that five per cent of workers admit to ‘embellishing’ their CVs, while 57 per cent of employers say they have caught a lie on a candidate’s application. Of those employers who caught a lie, 93 per cent did not hire the candidate.

In law, if Bishop Katharine’s claims on her CV induced TEC into a contract of employment, the fact that these claims are ‘embellished’ may be considered a breach of contract (in this instance, a breach of the implied duty of trust and confidence). Before dismissal could take place, the breach would need to be considered fundamental to the contract. And that, of course, is where matters will be ‘fudged’ for a few years (no doubt long enough for her to serve her full term of office).

But before any of His Grace’s readers and communicants kick off the comments by accusing him of joining some ‘hate’ campaign against the Presiding Bishop because she is i) American; ii) a woman; iii) left-wing; iv) prays to ‘Our Mother Jesus’; v) ordains (practising) lesbian and gay vicars and bishops; or vi) is a radical feminist, His Grace would just like to make it known that he would do the same (and has done) to those with whom he is far more theologically sympathetic.

Some Anglicans do indeed walk a separate path, perhaps as only the generous breadth of Anglicanism permits. But one might expect that path to be walked in a spirit of conviction with regard at least to the truth about oneself.

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18 Comments on “KJS and the Embellished CV

  1. I'd've expected to get dismissed if I'd used the level of apparently inaccurate or misleading claim she appears to have employed! And been pretty scathing on anyone in my team if they recruited someone for a senior role and it turned out their CV was so much less substantial than it appeared. But shurely the folk in Nevada had a good grasp on her real level of responsibilities before she was elected there? Did they have noone with more appropriate experience?

    — caveat emptor anyone? —

    Trouble is I can't imagine any US liberal pressuring her to resign – power is so much more important than truth!

  2. >>>>>>>>>>>power is so much more important than truth!

    Whereas if an evangelical bishop, *proven* to be *very good* at the job, was discovered to have (allegedly) embellished a CV Anglican Downstream, Backwards in 'Faith' et all would be conducting a campaign to have them defrocked! *rolls eyes*

    to develop your own caveat emptor analogy – the buyer perhaps should have show more diligence in 'buying' the 'product'but, being perfectly happy with it, he shoudld hardly now 'ask for a refund', should he? Assuming of course that he doesn't have a pre-existing ideological agenda that's been itching for any 'reason' to demonise the 'product' in question.

    Cramner's role in all this is unintentionally ironic (isn't trading on the name of a genuine ABC a 'deception' of sorts? ). I think Damian Thompson was right about Cramner, but then no doubt Wicked Conservative will say that's because Thompson's another one of those liberal revisionists I automatically agree with ;-)

    Tangentially, see people have been having a pop at +++Rowan's CV on Twitter. Whatever else you may think of the man, becoming Oxford's youngest professor at (IIRC) 35 looks pretty impressive to me!

  3. I'm quite dismayed that the only "liberal" comment here could be summed up more or less as:

    "*rolls eyes* – well I bet those people I disagree with have got some baddie bishops too."

    Is the general "liberal" thought about church governance that honesty is more or less impossible, and that striving for honest discussion and process in church governance is pointless?

    I believe that this issue is most profound when we don't take it to focus on +KJS herself – which very likely isn't fair, since the general situation rests upon the responsibility of a great many who have failed to act here. We see here both "liberals" and "conservatives" who are subject to blame, for their own failures in helping rectify church governance process.

    What's also sad is the general tendency of the reaction – moving away from the issue, to "group-think." "Oh, ok well enough of that. Now … let's think of these FiF and AnglicanMainstream groups … OH YUCK! Why does anyone even wanna ponder ethics of church governance when there's these yucky, yucky groups like that?"

    Does this basically mean that because of the existence of polarity in ideology amongst church groups, that all church groups are now permitted to engage in dishonesty, and there's not even "a point" at all about trying to discern which things they say may be true, and which false?

    I'm sorry if I sound harsh, Ryan … but I do think your general "take" here is worth looking into, and why you're inclined to react this way. I think that you will agree that this type of response allows for "conservatives" to become rather frustrated, and rightly so. However: I can also imagine "conservatives" responding similarly – and I would have the same words for them.

    In short: it's important for all parties to learn to engage more authentically.

    • There are only so many hours in the day. For the record : If ++Katherine (or +Gene Robinson, or anyone else you care to name) was found guilty of actual misconduct (and Cramner speculating about wikipedia revisions (!) is no kind of proof) then she should, of course, face the consequences.

      As for Anglican Mainstream and FiF – surely you would agree that they are hardly 'objective' news sites, in the (to a degree) Damian Thompson's Holy Smoke or Ruth Gledhill sense? AM and FiF are sewers full of homophobic abuse that, if used here, would probably (one imagines) result in banning from this non-exactly-liberal blog.

      >>>>>>>>>>>Is the general “liberal” thought about church governance that honesty is more or less impossible, and that striving for honest discussion and process in church governance is pointless?

      Again : 'liberal' priests who are GUILTY of serious misconduct should of course be defrocked. You will appreciate that a 'case' that consists of Cramner, Aif and Birthers-Playground Free Republic

      http://www.google.co.uk/search?rlz=1C1CHMR_en-GBN

      is hardly convincing.

      • Ryan, I believe you are mistaking "the case" for "who is making the case." This is also sort of a "group-think" malady.

        The "evidence" is clear – the original official election booklet is here, and you'll find an image of the bit in question at Cranmer's article. TEC's "Blue book" about its schools of theology is no longer online (as far as I know), I suppose at this moment it's relevant to ask: "Do you really believe that The Good Samaritan School of Theology of Corvallis, OR existed, especially after +KJS herself implied that it didn't?"

        That said – I *do* understand your initial skepticism, and that you'd prefer to "get your facts" from a different source.

        But please also understand: we are living in a terribly, terribly polarized age within Anglicanism – so much so that even mainstream media were reluctant to report on this very likely election fraud.

        I'd go as far as to say: I know of no greater case of likely election fraud in a church context that went uninvestigated. I can name one case of election suspicion of a bishop, which had terrible consequences for the church involved – but this was for the bishop, and not the Primate.

        As for the "scope" – and the number of sources that gullibly took TEC at its word regarding +KJS – here's another google url for you:
        http://www.google.com/search?q=%22good+samaritan+… – it's showing me more than 3,500 results – and as someone with expertise in search engine optimization, I can tell you: the actual number of webpages containing the phrase would be easily double that – plus all the news sources which initially published the information, but don't keep archives of their old pages.

        I do *not* agree here with the sentiment that +KJS should necessarily be defrocked, because I believe many other parties also hold responsibility here – including "conservatives" in their own, albeit indirect manner; and it's not for me to call upon such a thing (just making myself clear on this point). But I do believe: we need a lot more clarity about what happened, and why … including an analysis into the political culture which allowed this to go unchecked for five years.

        Would you agree with that?

        • Hello James. You characterised my attitude to Anglican Mainstream as infantile :

          "Now … let’s think of these FiF and AnglicanMainstream groups … OH YUCK! Why does anyone even wanna ponder ethics of church governance when there’s these yucky, yucky groups like that?”"

          You might regard that as tangential – but it's still a point that you made and that I, in the interests of respectful dialogue, am addressing. See also my response to the What if God Said That Gay Relationships are Wrong point in the other current thread, even thought I did and do regard the whole exercise as somewhat silly.

          Hence why I provided actual evidence to show that, no, I do not call AM 'Anglican Downstream'. There are of course all sorts of conservative sites and blogs that I wouldn't characterise in such a way (all *people*, as I'm sure you'd agree, deserving a degree of respectful treatment that might not be true of particular * ideologies*)

          No offence, but it's ironic that you accuse me of polemics via using quotation marks for things that I did not, in fact, say.

          You make some interesting points, but I think we're discussing aesthetics which is by definition YMMV territory. I don't hang about any oddball revisionist sites, but IIRC 'spaff' was popularised by Caitlin Moran, quite the most entertaining journalist (and tweeter) in the UK. I could be wrong, but the phrase you cite was (IIRC) used by me to quite deliberately puncture the grandiose sentiments and languages that are used for heterosexual sex as a means of privileging it and damning the gay kind via invocations of Natural Law. It wasn't needless vulgarity. I don't swear here, quite deliberately. More generally, I'm not sure it makes any tactical sense for conservative evangelical route to go down the route of writing off language as 'offensive' on the basis of subjective emotive responses. For example, no self-respecting gay man, coming across terms like "homosexual practice", is liable to cease from regarding it as "offensive" simply because it's an improvement on more obvious anti-gay slurs. So it seems sensible to assume that causing offence is not necessarily the intention of those who use such terms, and that finding a mutually acceptable vocabulary for these kinds of debates will necessarily involve a degree of sacrifice. My apologies if I suggested that scaring people off is my intention. I'm here for dialogue.

          • ryan – my apologies for the comment in which I criticized what I took to be some of your tendencies in language here – I requested it for deletion less than a minute after writing, as I don't think it's the right time or place, and would only further get us mired in "personal" stuff and gay issues, which I'd suggest we do best staying away from – either from "the right" or "the left" – in discussing the evidence here, which you'll see clearly depicted in the image here – a screenshot of the actual .pdf of the official materials distributed for the election. The link to the original from the site of TEC itself is in the above article. You needn't take anyone's word for anything, except whether or not this school of theology exists.

            Might it not be too bold of me to suggest that an inquest would be desirable here? And can you understand that we have legitimate reasons to raise concerns about political culture within TEC, if we are five years on, and this still hasn't been investigated, nor any word of it mentioned in Episcopal News Service (or any article in ThinkingAnglicans, or Mark Harris's blog … or any of the more "institutionalist" TEC blogs or news sources), and Episcopal Church Center has been taking steps to marginalize it from a major public information source?

            In some sense, TEC is very much a "gay issue" – but I'd like to let that one lie – let me make clear however that I also address this, and I think that it is in the best interest of LGBT people in the church to seriously consider their support of TEC itself – they may support its policies regarding sexual ethics, but that they might not want to go so far as to identify with the institution itself – My take on the future of LGBT advocacy in the Communion and TEC issues. Anyways … wishing to mention this (so I hope you realize that I do take LGBT issues seriously), and back to the evidence, and the issue of political culture in the church, and church governance.

    • Again, Ryan – you are missing my point. I don't really care what you think of the folks at Anglican Mainstream. Back to the subject matter, please.

  4. This really doesn't surprise me in the slightest and I cannot muster up the energy to get excited about it. Dvid's comment at the top of the thread pretty much sums it up: "Trouble is I can’t imagine any US liberal pressuring her to resign – power is so much more important than truth!"

    Tragically that is the case. It was always clear that KJS was primarily an appointment based on church politics and her loyalty to the revisionist case rather than any real merit. She's clearly no theologian and most of her contributions come across as a bit light-weight, naive and playing to the liberal gallery rather than driven by any deep revisionits agenda.

    And that's the point really. ECUSA has long been too far gone to save and its flock is leaving the church in droves. It is a denomination in terminal decline that is lving off its inherited wealth as the WASP establishment church in the USA. But that can only last for so long.

    And it is also a complete irrelevance. For all the high-sounding claims in ECUSA about the need for 'progressive mission to the marginalised' the revisionist battle was never about mission in any meaningful sense of the word. Winning ECUSA over to gay bishops and blessings for gay marriage and/or civil partnerships was always about gaining the cultural capital that comes from having a major (though steeply declining) mainstream church declare that homosexual behaviour is not a sin.

    And having won that battle, the activists are now onto the next battle to win same-sex marriage. They droves of gay people flocking into the gay-affirming ECUSA are conspicuous by their absence – the church remains simply a graveyard for aging middle-class WASPs to remember their activist days from the '60's and sing Kumbaya to each other. Whatver happens in ECUSA is no longer important – the struggle has moved on!

  5. Whatever the truth of these particular allegations, I have always found it simply astonishing that KJS could be elected as PB just twelve years after ordination. The only thing that might conceivably justify such fast-tracking is a distinguished pre-ordination career as a lay theologian or evangelist etc. In KJS's case I see no evidence of any such career. I know atheists with a more sophisticated understanding of theology than KJS appears to possess.

    For that reason I have to agree with Philip that there is more than a whiff of tokenism about her election.

    I would also echo these parts of Philip's comment:

    "It is a denomination in terminal decline that is lving off its inherited wealth as the WASP establishment church in the USA. But that can only last for so long…For all the high-sounding claims in ECUSA about the need for ‘progressive mission to the marginalised’ the revisionist battle was never about mission in any meaningful sense of the word. Winning ECUSA over to gay bishops and blessings for gay marriage and/or civil partnerships was always about gaining the cultural capital that comes from having a major (though steeply declining) mainstream church declare that homosexual behaviour is not a sin."

    Spot on.

    Without a major revival, the Anglican church in most Western countries will simply have ceased to exist by the end of this century, except perhaps as a quaint historical oddity. And I think the majority of the blame for that destruction will lie with the revisionist hijackers who have taken over the church during the last forty or so years. They have watered down Christianity and removed its saltiness – and for what?

    As Bolt has Thomas More say in "A Man For All Seasons": "Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the whole world… but for Wales?"

    • >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Without a major revival, the Anglican church in most Western countries will simply have ceased to exist by the end of this century, except perhaps as a quaint historical oddity. And I think the majority of the blame for that destruction will lie with the revisionist hijackers who have taken over the church during the last forty or so years. They have watered down Christianity and removed its saltiness – and for what?>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

      Given the changes in the last fifty years, is it not highly probable that anti-gay prejudice will be regarded like slavery by the end of this century? You don't have to be a cynic to think that Vatican 2 finally absolving Jews of collective guilt for the murder of Our Lord – in the 1960s (!) – owed much to the Shoah and its obvious relationships to deep, established antisemitic prejudice (c.f. The Blood Libel etc). That doesn't necessarily make it a bad thing. So, too, with homophobia?

      Conversely, there will be always be evangelicals, with their million quid sound systems and odd preocuppations, but they will no more be the voice of the Majority of Christendom than they are now.

  6. Ryan

    >>Conversely, there will be always be evangelicals, with their million quid sound systems and odd preocuppations, but they will no more be the voice of the Majority of Christendom than they are now.<<

    Let's quickly deconstruct this comment …

    'with their million quid sound systems': I assume that you're making a quick dig at the high profile and (rightly) much criticised televangelist ministries. These are primarily charismatic rather than evangelical and indeed evangelicals have been in the forefront of trying to bring these ministries to account through the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) – see http://www.ecfa.org

    'odd preoccupations': Impossible to know what you mean here without more context and detail.

    'will no more be the voice of the Majority of Christendom than they are now': Leaving aside the debate and viewpoint that Christendom no longer exists (browse Ekklesia as much as you like at http://www.ekklesia.co.uk as this is their Big Idea), evangelical and charismatic Christianity is increasingly majority Christianity in many countries. From Wikipedia (no great friend of evangelicals), see its entry on Evangelicalism at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evangelicalism

    'On a worldwide scale evangelical churches (together with Pentecostals) claim to be the most rapidly growing Christian churches. … Churches in Africa exhibit rapid growth and great diversity in part because they are not dependent on European and North American evangelical sources. An example of this can be seen in the African Initiated Churches. The World Evangelical Alliance is "a network of churches in 128 nations that have each formed an evangelical alliance and over 100 international organizations joining together to give a worldwide identity, voice and platform" to an estimated more than 600 million evangelical Christians'.

    I'm as much up for vigorous debate as the next person, but I always expect to both provide evidence and to ask it of others. I'm feel that your comments are starting to become just soundbites made for effect rather than out of any real desire for debate. You change topic continuously and I'm afraid, in my opinion, its just getting tiresome!

  7. I can understand the sentiments of those who basically think, "ok, I just can't get too bothered about this," but … think of what this means for honesty & church governance.

    Is it really true that when we pay some priests and bishops $200,000 to "vet" five two-page statements of our bishops talking about themselves … that we still can't keep our bishops from lying?

    If we don't investigate this, we aren't exercising due dilligence in maintaining honesty in church governance. +KJS is a Primate of the Communion – and that means we share her, she's ruling OVER US. It is our duty to call out for an investigation.

    Here's an article about church governance as a "justice issue" which is good to distribute to concerned friends. Let us hope we can do something about this.

    http://videruntomnes.blogspot.com/2011/06/jeffert

  8. "How can a lay person exercise such spiritual authority in an Anglican theological college?"

    Well, Dr. Christina Baxter seems to have been doing a pretty good job at St. John's, Nottingham this last decade or so, without too many eyebrows being raised.

  9. Dr. Peter Carrell, Director of Theology House in Christchurch Diocese, New Zealand, has weighed in:

    "This too seems to be part of the unclearness of TEC if not also Communion politics. Was ++KJS elected with forward propulsion from a supporting resume which evidenced an exuberant confidence about skills and experiences? Or was a vetting process costing $200,000 curiously disinterested in checking the most basic of facts, facts which recently have been wiki-tidied up? Were the forces which elected her expressive of a concerted political effort to secure a political outcome as much as the election of a specific person? Are those forces still at work in the backrooms of TEC and the Communion?"

    http://anglicandownunder.blogspot.com/2011/06/rea

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