Friday 21 May 2010

I am not ashamed

I received a very interesting email the other day:
I am going to be in London over the summer with my girl friend Amy and we are interested in your fellowship. The issue is we are both people in the arts and grew up in conservative churches .. me Roman Catholic, she Protestant fundamentalist and we really got hurt. We found a Unitarian fellowship in America and this was healing for us both. Would we fit with you? We are "out there" in terms of style. I (Chad) wear short skirts and tall boots and Amy goes bra-less and wears very very short dresses. We have been rejected in our home churches and wonder if we would be welcomed dressed as we are in your church. 
Chad Bradford
The message came through the British Unitarian Association's web site contact system. My intention was to contact these folks and find out more about them. There are certainly people who are biologically men and identify as women and I would and do welcome them completely. This didn't sound like that at all though. The story seemed - well - more than a bit odd.

So I poked around just a bit and what do you know! The return email address is This address belongs to Canon Mark Pearson, the pastor of the Trinity Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC) in Kingston, NH, USA.

I contacted Canon Pearson. He replied by email that Chad and Amy were staying with him and had borrowed his computer - but that they were good people. All my requests for contact information for "Chad" and "Amy" were fruitless...  "Oh, Chad doesn't have an email address..."

The CEC is a conservative church. It opposes "...theological liberalism, gnosticism,Theosophy, non-traditional sexual ethics, and the ordination of women to the priesthood." Is a picture becoming clear now? Do you think that Canon Pearson with his strict CEC morals would have house-guests like Chad and Amy? I think not. I think that Chad and Amy might be figments of someone's over-active imagination.

What can we learn here?

First, some conservative Christians are so insecure about their position that that they have to bait more inclusive religionists in the hope that they can find some way to portray us in an unflattering light. When you don't have anything to say, it's always helpful to have a good enemy!

Second, some conservative Christians are obsessed with sex. Really - can we not find a better use of our time in a world that is fraught with war, starvation, and oppression than conjuring up images of men in short skirts and high boots? One has to wonder what's really going on in a mind that is focused on images of braless women in "very very short dresses".

Third, some conservative Christians are technologically challenged! Don't we all know how easy it is to get another email address?

In a world that so needs to feel the connection between all people - a world where divisions and misunderstandings are literally killing our brothers and sisters - religion must play a unifying role. We must promote love and understanding in all its forms. We must be a force for acceptance and never the instigators of exclusion. We must recognize the beauty of all human beings in all their wonder and with all their many flaws.

Someone tried to shame us for standing on the side of love. Where does the shame truly belong?


  1. And curiously, members of the board of the Netherlands UU Fellowship in Amsterdam also received nearly verbatim (trade Amsterdam for London and it's the same) the same e-mail over the past couple of days. Well, if they show up, I'll buy them a beer, but I don't expect to see them any time soon.

    Rev. Derek Suchard

  2. Well done for catching on to Canon Pearson's odd and ill-conceived ploy. Not only is the tactic deeply flawed but its underlying aims are as repellent as they are baffling.

  3. The "Chad email" also went to other Unitarian congregations in the UK. I wonder how broad they were sent?

  4. Funny! As I was reading the letter, I thought, "Huh-uh. This doesn't smell right." So I was amused to read what you discovered.

    Taking more than a second to think about it, though, I'm not amused. I'm saddened and frustrated. There is so much important work to be done in the world, and these yay-hoos are wasting it, acting like 6th grade boys huddled around a "National Geographic." (With apologies to 6th grade boys.)

    Keep fighting the good fight!

  5. This cleric is so sad on so many levels!
    Chad and Amy sounded curiously interesting to me though.

    Seems like these characters, maybe the clerics innermost fantasy, are at the forefront of his mind and maybe his congregation should consider what he actually wears under that clerical robe? They seem to have a block opinion about everything else!

  6. After reading the e-mail, though it was quite suspicious... I couldn't help but think to myself, "Of course they'd be welcome into the congregation! But it does get a little chilly for very very short skirts!"

  7. Is there not a fundamental law that says, "thou shalt not bear false witness" perhaps Canon Pearson should read his Bible a little more carefully in future.
    Rev Andie Camper
    Westgate Chapel Lewes (Unitarian)

  8. Just a thought for giggles...

    Maybe Canon Pearson is actually a closet transvestite/transgender, "Chad." Canon Pearson travels the world during the summers, the only time he is allowed to express his fluid sexuality, then must repress himself during the year in NH.

    In which case, you outed him!

    (However, considering the proliferation of the emails, from the UK to the Netherlands, it's just bait. I doubt "Chad" travels that much.)


  9. thanks for posting this widely so we all can learn. For me, the tip off was "short, short skirts." I'm thinking thoseof us who actually wear (or have worn)such garments would not describe them as such. I'm just sayin'
    Mostly we all tip our hands when we mask our lamentations. Come on out, Chad/Amy Cannon Pearson. There's room for you in God's love.

  10. @ TK, Leigh, et al - Let's try really hard not to make assumptions or speculations about the personal psychology of a person we've never even met. There are plenty of things that can be said and have been said legitimately about Canon Pearson's little e-mail campaign. About what he has DONE. But it does no good to crow about what might or must be at the root of this behavior when we cannot possibly know - not even if we were in his congregation and saw him every week. Maybe not even if we were his wife (or other partner) and shared a home and a bed and family with him for 25 years...

  11. @Paul Oakley- Thanks for the advice but I'm sure even Canon Pearson could spot tongue in cheek comments when he sees them. But I'm trying really hard not to speculate about it!

  12. As irony would have it, it appears the Canon authored a 1995 book entitled "Why can't I be me?"

  13. Weird. Having just had a relationship with a man who wears a skirt (but is not a transvestite or transgender or transsexual), I find this email campaign with its fictitious characters somewhat offensive.

    But I am glad to say that no eyebrows were raised and no adverse comments were made when my boyfriend attended a Unitarian service (and did a reading) wearing a skirt.

    Chad and Amy sound quite interesting; it's a pity they are fictitious!

  14. Hey Andy, I see that Kingston is next town over from Exeter, New Hampshire, where there is an active Unitarian church -- have you contacted the minister there? -- maybe she knows this fellow? Just a thought.