I have not written on the Barry Taylor fiasco at All Saints Church in Beverly Hills for several weeks now. It is not because my opinion has changed but just because… I have too much else going on in my life (LAME, LAME excuse, I know).
Typically, the Feast of All Saints is the highlight of my own personal Church year. Like so many modern (and historical) Christo-pagans, I love Halloween and Samhain, All Saints, and Day of the Dead/All Souls Day for their syncretic qualities, in both Europe and Mexico (translated to America), crossing the boundaries between ancient and contemporary religious worship and social customs. One of my local chauffeurs (or more properly, in Spanish, “choferes”, Alberto Felipe, a hative Zapotec from Oaxaca), needed extra money for his mother to prepare the family altar in East L.A. for the Día de los Difuntos. But, also I was confirmed at All Saints in Beverly Hills when I had just turned 14, in April 1974, and my parents’ Oxford Movement “home away from home” Church in London was All Saints on Margaret Street in London W1W, City of Westminster, in Fitzrovia, but near the triangulation point of that neighbourhood with Marylebone, and Soho. So All Saints seems very important in my life.
And so I remain outraged that I found there one block from the intersection of Rodeo Drive and Santa Monica the first Episcopal Priest who ever really and truly moved me and inspired me to think, even to change my thinking, and he has been fired, forced to resign, on the flimsiest of charges, and this all just hits WAY too close to home.
Barry’s new home in Brentwood is a small “liberal” Lutheran Church in Brentwood on Church Street which looks every bit of the marginal suburban Church that it is. (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Village-Church-of-Westwood-Lutheran/116610431697541). The Village Church is just not one of Walter Christaller’s “Central Place” the way All Saints Beverly Hills, in the heart of Los Angeles really and truly is. (http://geography.about.com/od/urbaneconomicgeography/a/centralplace.htm). So the presentation of “the Gospel according to Barry Taylor” (a book which I told him he should write on more than one occasion during the past two years), will be marginalized and pushed to the side. This cannot be coincidence.
As the Feast of All Saints Approaches, the magnitude of the Tragedy and Travesty just keeps getting bigger.
The question of the mere propriety of the charges against Barry which led to his forced resignation continues to grate at me: is it really “embezzlment” (in the sense of a misappropriation of funds or a breach of trust with the Congregation) for a priest to use funds from his own sermon’s collection plates for any expenses related to his role as a priest?
One June 13 2013 article I found on-line, “How to Spot a Pastor or Priest Stealing Church Funds,” the web-address I cited above at the outset of this note, suggested:
“Here are four possible signs that money is being embezzled by religious leaders.
- The pastor or priest lives an extravagant lifestyle.
- The church leader regularly fails to turn in receipts when using the church or ministry credit card.
- The church sends you a receipt for donations and the amount listed doesn’t match your own records of what you have given. (Anonymously given cash offerings will not be tracked.)
- The church suddenly starts showing large unexplained debts.”
NONE of these factors were alleged to have manifested themselves at All Saints, Beverly Hills. NO NOT ONE.
Except that every one of Barry’s friends to whom I have spoken have affirmed that he NEVER USED a Church Credit Card or Charge Account and NEVER PRESENTED RECEIPTS for reimbursement from his expenditures. And it is undeniably true that the ONLY member of the Clergy at All Saints housed in a somewhat extravagant manner is the Rector, Reverend Stephen Huber himself, complete with servants and a nearly unlimited entertainment budget—as is totally befitting of the neighborhood. But Barry Taylor did not partake of such luxuries….not perhaps by choice, but because of internal Church Policies.
Churches are now regulated by the IRS under 501(c)(3). This is the provision by which they maintain their Tax-Exempt Status. The IRS is one of the major symptoms of alien domination and domestic slavery in the United States (of Untied Constitutional constraints) today. There are those who believe that Churches who seek IRS protection are voluntarily serving Caesar rather than God—and yes, that was part of Barry’s Second Sermon at Westwood Village Lutheran Church two weeks ago.
A couple of years ago, Glenn Beck, one of whose “Reclaim America” Rallies I attended in Orlando back in the Spring of 2010, had asked Pastors to defy 501(c)(3) and preach on religion for at least one Sunday.(http://www.glennbeck.com/2012/09/27/pulpit-freedom-sunday/) I believe it was Stephen Huber’s First or Second Year as Rector of All Saints, when Barry’s alternative service was consigned to the small All Saints Chapel, before it was given full AS2 Status in the main Church, but Steve made it clear that All Saints WOULD NOT participate in “Pulpit Freedom” Sunday and that it planned on obeying all IRS regulations and that all IRS agents, officers, and tax collectors were welcome at All Saints. The Gospel Truth and Christian validity of admitting Tax Collectors and (all other) Prostitutes to Church is unquestionable in light of the “WWJD?” formulaic question. Jesus would invite the Publicans, and possibly even some Republicans (say I, speaking as both a former President of Tulane College Republicans,and one of the few Confessing Harvard graduate school Republicans known ever to have lived, a supporter of both the Buckley brothers and Ronald Reagan, both as California Governor and President of the USA, and of Pat Buchanan, and of Texas Representative Ron Paul both as congressman and presidential candidate, but also as one who has become strangely intolerant of and uninterested in Senator Rand Paul, whose emails have become very “spammy” rather than welcome information in my inbox).
But in spite of the Reverend Huber’s Gospel accuracy that we should tolerate tax collectors and IRS officials in our midst, I thought his message AGAINST Pulpit Freedom was something of a cop out. (and compare also: http://www.alliancedefendingfreedom.org/pulpitfreedom). And I think that Huber’s and the Bishop’s “paper pushing” attack on Barry Taylor was wrong, untrustworthy, and generally, MORALLY unworthy.
Great men like the Reverend Barry Taylor need to be preaching at “Central Places” to reshape and reform the Episcopal Church, and to guarantee the transformation and survival of the Christian Faith into the current millennium. Things cannot be forever as they have been. They must Change. Barry Taylor Represents Change. Barry Taylor needs a Centrally Placed Pulpit from which to Preach. If All Saints and the Episcopal Church cannot accept the indictment of hypocrisy which the dismissal of Barry Taylor has leveled upon them, the members of the Church need to revolt, and to demand a “new birth of freedom” in the Episcopal Church—a new birth of Christian life and authenticity.
Strange indeed that Barry reminds me more than anyone of the Irish Catholic John Dominic Crossan, with whose work I first became familiar when he visited for a fortnight at Bethesda-by-the-Sea in Palm Beach (also in the Spring of 2010). But unlike the highly academic Crossan, Taylor takes his message to the people. And it seems that All Saints has ERASED all of Barry’s Recorded Sermons and DELETED all of his contributions over the years at All Saints, and this is one of the greatest tragedies in the English Church, comparable on a small scale to the monstrous destruction and abolition of the monasteries and the confiscation of their property under King Henry VIII.