Sunday, September 19, 2010

Say it ain't so, Don.

Beloved Sinners around the world are wailing and gnashing their teeth in shock at the news that little Don Armstrong has finally entered a no-contest plea in response to the paltry 20 counts of felony theft he’s been facing. Even though everyone knows (because David Virtue told us, so it must be true) “a separate, independent audit of the parish books, commissioned by the breakaway parish itself, found Armstrong innocent of any wrongdoing

As “John316” said at Viagraville back in August 2007: “This case cries out for justice from a civil authority.” Which we can now safely assume wasn’t quite the outcome our Donny was hoping for. Nor should we forget the sage advice offered by “Mari” in November 2008: “I believe when this is through, he should file suit based on defamation, false charges and harassment.” Now the attorney who runs that one will really be a cut above your average ambulance chaser. Perhaps here’s finally a challenge worthy of the great Allan “Perry Mason” Haley – better known to you and I as “the Anglican Curmudgeon”.

Still, you’ve got to admire the good folks of St. George’s of the Schism for doing their best to keep us all laughing at this sad, sad time. In a wonderful piece entitled “Parish Response to Father Armstrong’s Plea Agreement” (NB: little Donny's removed the original - undoubtedly for reasons of personal humility - so the link's been updated to Google's cached version. And when that goes I'll shift it again to my own saved version - you can't hide the truth that easily my schismatic friends) a faux-Nigerian called “Admin” (please tell me the author’s last name isn’t really “Armstrong” – not that I’ll believe you for a moment) delivers such gems as:
“In preparation for the now canceled (sic) trial we have become convinced even more strongly that controversies within the larger denominational church were the catalyst for the Diocese’s investigation and complaint, for the purpose of silencing our bold and successful defense of orthodoxy through our parish’s life, discipline, and teaching ministry.”
Although if a “bold and successful defense” involves losing all your property and assets, and pleading guilty in a last ditch attempt to avoid serving twenty-to-life, I’d hate to see what little Donny’s cultists call breaking even. And you’d better believe that right now you-know-who is feeling absolutely delighted to see his name dragged into their closing sentence: “We are thankful we can now move forward under our Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Martyn Minns, into a future productive for the Kingdom of God.” Just what little Martyn needs to further his already good name, I’m sure: a confessed criminal productively moving about underneath him…

I’m Father Christian and I teach the Bible.

26 comments :

Anonymous said...

Fr. C. Unfortunately the links you have presented to St. George's website do not currently work. It may be the site has crashed due to overload. David Virtue, however, in what he notes as an "exclusive" has presented phone comments from Armstrong and quotations from St. George's at http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13272

Emily H has presented a copy of Virtue's article at: https://www.blogger.com/comment.g?blogID=10326675&postID=3471754865056742911

Anonymous said...

Fr. C. Possibly due to excessive hits, St. George's website seems to be down. David Virtue, however, has provided The Reverend Armstrong's comments in a telephone interview: http://www.virtueonline.org/portal/modules/news/article.php?storyid=13272 as well as an abstract of the response letter by St. George's.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure that the only reason Don is pleading no contest is to save the church the indignity of a trial.

It's certainly not because he really stole all that money.

David |Dah • veed| said...

Even the sycophants at the Virtueless website are not sucking down this Kool Aid. More than one smells a rat in the spin.

Anon 2, what they meant to say was that it saved Dio Colorado and TEC the indignity of the ass whoopin' which they have deserved for quite some time!

Jim said...

A no contest plea generally is not the stuff of a deal. For a deal one generally has to plead guilty and elocute the indictment. I wonder what the sentencing will be like and what Bp. Minns will do. St. George's may be in for a shock or two more.

I think this is a real tragedy. I personally like Fr. Don. Even in CANA however, how does not being able to defend a charge of massive theft from a parish not constitute "conduct unbecoming?" Bp. Minns may be asking himself why he wanted the job.

FWIW
jimB

Lapinbizarre said...

I imagine, naming no names and initialing no initials, that those who fed freely at Fr Armstrong's trough will be chipping in their mites to help with the restitution.

Anonymous said...

Hilarious. Ah, the effects of the laying on of hands and the indelible character of ordination!
Priceless. Dawkins and Hitchens together with guns to their heads couldn't have made this stuff up.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

You're right Brad - Dawkins and Hitchens couldn't have made this up. Imagination and creativity have never been their strong points.

Anonymous said...

I have found the following....

"A further note....from the Colorado Springs Gazette after interviewing the District Attorney posted at its website at about 3 o'clock Mountain time:

'As part of the agreement, Armstrong admitted guilt to a new charge, misdemeanor theft, said Pueblo District Attorney Bill Thiebaut. A sentencing hearing on this charge will happen before the end of the year.
Armstrong’s sentence could include a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in the El Paso County Jail. Misdemeanor charges are brought for thefts between $500 and $1,000.
On the felony count, Armstrong has been placed on four-year’s probation. If violated, he will be a convicted felon and could face four to 12 years in prison, Thiebaut said. A restitution hearing will be held, probably in January, to determine how much money Armstrong must pay back to Grace Church.' http://www.gazette.com/articles/armstrong-104949-indicted-don.html

EmilyH"

smithj1 said...

Dear Father Christian

"Imagination and creativity have never been their strong points".

Well put, but I have to admit that Brad the atheist, and all other atheists, have more than a point here - trawling the Christian sites on the internet is revealing, and you don't have to be a Dawkins disciple to feel that the lions in the arena must have had a nasty bout of indigestion after feeding on Christians.

Yes, I know. We're all sinners in need of redemption and I the chief of sinners, as someone said, but does it have to be this bad - whatever church one belongs to? Theft, child abuse, financial pilfering (a speciality in the Orthodox Church - an organisation that seems to get off rather lightly IMHO), snide asides, vitriol in tankloads, greedy and dishonest bishops, the list is endless!

Does any church actually do any good? I do wonder!

If you want a laugh at Dawkins and Hitchens expense, Terry Eagleton is the man to read and listen to. And if Brad is reading this, Eagleton is a Marxist and an atheist.

Jane (Pretoria, South Africa)

Anonymous said...

From Fr. Armstrong's Plea Agreement in Case No. 09-CR-1950:

“1. The defendant pleads nolo contendre to count Number Fifteen of the Indictment which charges a violation of C.R.S. 18-4-401(1), (4), as amended (a class three felony), in that the defendant committed the offense of Theft-Series ($15,000 or More).

“The factual basis for this plea will be the factual basis contained in the Indictment.

The defendant will further enter an Alford plea pursuant to North Carolina v. Alford, 400 U.S. 25, 91 S.Ct. 160, 27 L.Ed.2d 162 (1970), as to an added Count Twenty-One, Theft ($500-$1,000), C.R.S. 18-4-401(1)(2)(b.5) (a class one misdemeanor). There is no factual basis to support this charge, however, the defendant is entering a plea to this charge to obtain the benefit of a plea arrangement in which he is receiving a deferred sentence to a felony”

From the Colorado Supreme Court, People v. Darlington, 105 P.3d 230:
“We have held that, for the purpose of a criminal case, a plea of nolo contendere is fully equivalent to a plea of guilty. See People v. Birdsong, 958 P.2d 1124, 1127 (Colo. 1998); Jones v. District Court of County of Routt, 196 Colo. 261, 264, 584 P.2d 81, 84 (Colo. 1978); People v. Carpenter, 709 P.2d 72, 73 (Colo. App. 1985). The sole distinction we have made between a guilty plea and a plea of nolo contendere is that the latter gives the defendant the advantage of not being estopped from denying her fault in a civil action based upon the same facts. Jones, 196 Colo. at 264, 584 P.2d at 83. Where the defendant knowingly, voluntarily, and understandingly pleads nolo contendere she may be punished just as if she had entered a plea of guilty. See Alford, 400 U.S. at 36 n.8; People v. Meier, 133 Colo. 338, 340, 296 P.2d 232, 233 (1956); Young, 53 Colo. at 253, 125 P. at 118. Therefore, there is no distinction between a plea of nolo contendere and a plea of guilty for sentencing purposes. People v. Canino, 181 Colo. 207, 210, 508 P.2d 1273, 1274 (1973).”

Point of Order said...

The really interesting thing about "delayed sentencing" is that you're still a convicted felon. And, unless the court clerks are very efficient, you go on being a convicted felon.

"They called it close to a dismissal." Denver Post

Well, that's not close enough to get a job in most churches.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

Thank you Jane. You’ve raised a point close to my heart – so close that I’m going to break character in order to answer…

There are churches which do a great deal of good: places which bring much wonder, love, and companionship to their communities. Unfortunately these places are often few and far between, and easily lost in the noise from those who (consciously or otherwise) use Christianity as an excuse to indulge their own yearnings to exploit and abuse, or to draw attention away from their own pitiful inadequacies. Still, they exist, and, like the people who make them what they are, are wonderful.

Sadly the internet doesn’t direct much publicity towards good churches. Such is the nature of any popular media that the ranting egocentric will always receive more attention than those striving to love, listen, and understand. Thus has it always been: the situation was no different in the world of the 18th century pamphleteers.

Remember: “religious” people were behind Christ’s death – and ones with a phenomenal knowledge of scripture at that. Conversely, the person Jesus praised for having the greatest faith in Israel was a pagan military officer, and the religious leaders of Jesus’ day would have been hard pressed finding anyone they considered less worthy of that title (not to mention the fact that this soldiers’ relationship with a beloved slave was sufficiently noteworthy for the writers of the gospels to mention – but that’s another story).

Father Christian is part of my own antidote to this: mimicking and ridiculing those who take themselves and their vitriol so terribly seriously helps me - and hopefully a few others as well – keep some sense of perspective with regard to these descendants of the Pharisees. The down side is that it’s very hard to use Father Christian to praise what is good and right in our faith: as an instrument he’s as coarse and blunt as the buffoons on whom he’s based.

So while I know Article XIII says “Works done before the grace of Christ, and the Inspiration of his Spirit, are not pleasant to God… … we doubt not but they have the nature of sin.” I prefer to put my trust in Christ, who by means of the parable of the Good Samaritan explicitly taught our role model is not to be the doctrinally astute priest, nor the biblically scrupulous Levite, but the theologically heterodox and textually ignorant Samaritan. Who responded to another’s injustice and suffering with love and action.

Because it’s in the nature of those who emulate the good Samaritan to avoid fanfare, it’s so easy to overlook them. But that doesn’t mean they’re not there, and we cause ourselves needless grief by forgetting this. Whether they be atheists or babbling charismatics, a whole army of doctrinally sound church big-wigs from any religious structure you can name isn’t worth just one of them.

And thanks for pointing me in the direction of Terry Eagleton: his review of Dawkins is priceless.

“Fr. C”

smithj1 said...

proDear Fr Christian

Thank you for breaking character! A great reply - I need to remember that really nice people tend not to get noticed.

Glad you liked Terry Eagleton.

Jane

Lapinbizarre said...

Text of the plea agreement

Vestavia Fortunoff said...

So the whiny little shit is a felon after all. Isn't that the gist of it?

Point of Order said...

Inelegant, but accurate! His new status as a felon will, at minimum, restrict his movement. There will be no visits to the rest of the Southern Cone, or anywhere his Parole Officer doesn’t think he should go.

Anonymous said...

So will Martyn-With-A-Y now do what CANA canons require, namely depose Don?

Lapinbizarre said...

Do not forget that Armstrong jumped ship to CANA so as to claim that he was not subject to Colorado's Diocesan Court, which by then was then hot on his tail, rather than for theological reasons - though he & his will no doubt claim otherwise.

Anonymous said...

Terry Eagleton is a very prominent literary critic who has remained a Marxist throughout his career. His Christianity has varied from distant to to close, but he has never been an atheist. It would be much more accurate to characterize him as a liberal Roman Catholic and a Christian socialist of the left.

The Rev. Dr. Christian Troll said...

Little Don's dead links have now been updated to a cached version. And don't worry - I've saved a version for when his sycophants manage to get that taken down...

Anonymous said...

Well, seems like +Minns has given 'The Don' a pass:

"It is my belief, based upon a thorough investigation of the contested facts, that this entire situation never should have been made the subject of a criminal investigation."

Read it all

Ms A Solemnis said...

Mr Minns does not seem to be terribly fussy where damaged goods are concerned. The lengthy post on this subject at Episcopal Café indicates that CANA accepted one Randolph Bragg, convicted of immorality, conduct unbecoming and violation of ordination vows by the Diocese of Virginia, who, like Armstrong, jumped ship to CANA as defrocking loomed. Presume Bragg's immorality involved an individual of the female gender.

Ms A Solemnis said...

Mr Bragg and friend.

smithj1 said...

Dear Anonymous

Yes, I know who Eagleton is and have read his most popular work "Literary Theory".

His religious standpoint, like that of all mature and reflective adults, has altered over the years and has never been entirely clear to anybody, including himself, I suspect.

He certainly went through a period that was akin to atheism - weak atheism if you like - it's only in recent years that he's taken a more theistic stance.

If Father Christian wants a "laugh break" from Canterbury and other places, he should also look at Eagleton on YouTube, where he holds forth against the bumptious twins: Ditchkins.

Jane

Anonymous said...

For Martin Minn's response posted on the CANA website:

"09-26-10
+Minns: Pastoral Letter to St George's, Colorado Springs
Below is the text of a pastoral letter from Bishop Martyn Minns to the congregation at St George's Anglican Church in Colorado Springs, delivered in person by CANA Suffragan Bishop Dave Bena on September 26:

* * *

18th Sunday after Pentecost
September 26, 2010

Dear People of God at Saint George’s Anglican Church:

You have been in my prayers as the legal nightmare that you have all endured seems to be coming to a close. While a number of definitive actions have been taken, there are still more decisions to be rendered and hearings to be held; therefore at this juncture it is not appropriate for me to comment on specific legal issues. I am looking forward to my visit next month when I will meet with members of the leadership and legal teams to more fully understand the situation and its likely trajectory.

In the meantime, one thing I can and will say is that my love and respect for Don and Jessie and the leadership of St. George’s has not diminished but rather increased by the way in which you all have conducted yourselves. You have all been examples of God’s grace at work. I am delighted to count you as friends and it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

It is my belief, based upon a thorough investigation of the contested facts, that this entire situation never should have been made the subject of a criminal investigation. I am convinced that if ever there was a situation that underscored the wisdom of our Lord’s teaching in the Sermon on the Mount about settling matters out of court (Matthew 5:25– 26), this is it! Millions of dollars have been wasted; lives have been disrupted; reputations destroyed; and the Gospel of Christ obscured by the controversy — and we are still far from reaching a place where we can show the world the power of God’s transforming and reconciling love.

There is still a great deal of healing that must take place, but we serve a God who took a cruel cross and transformed it into a symbol of eternal life. Nothing is impossible with Him! Until then, 'The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.' This day and for evermore!

Your brother in Christ,
+Martyn
The Rt. Rev'd Martyn Minns
Missionary Bishop of CANA"

'nuff said