Rev Elise Brown posted an “apology” on her Facebook page tonight. You can find it here:
(TW: binary language, emotion/spiritual manipulation.)
Two quick thoughts from me, then some excellent theological reflections
from a colleague.
1. “Sisters and brothers” is an inappropriate way to address the entire LGBTQIA+ community, as it leaves out anyone with a nonbinary identity. Rev. Brown ought to have known to use “siblings.”
2. The repeated use of “confidentiality vs transparency” is very odd here. Is she intending to imply that when Dr Latini “disclosed” her previous leadership of OnebyOne, she did so confidentially? That wouldn’t be much of a disclosure, is inappropriate for a job search/call process, and ought to have raised red flags. It seems Rev. Brown continues to confuse confidentiality with secret-keeping.
But these are not the biggest issues with this non-apology. My most excellent colleague, the Rev. Carolina Glauster, wrote this comment, which I feel gets at the heart of what a true apology, with confession and repentance, could have looked like:
“Elise, I don't know you well or in person, although I have been following you to some degree in your connection to ELM and now in your connection to these events. I feel moved to comment here for two reasons: (1) because I see that you have posted this on your own wall rather than somewhere where most of the people your actions have hurt are likely to see it, and so the comments seem pretty skewed and I worry that will make it harder for people who are frustrated and disappointed by your words to post and (2) because the shape of the way you have held this "apology" is a shape I am familiar with and I think needs to be named to each other as best we can--and charitably I am willing to assume that maybe you don't see it.
I am definitely frustrated and disappointed by the way you've framed things here. I am not jazzed that you used gender binary terms in an address to the queer community and I can't believe you've been at annual anti-oppression trainings with the ELM board and not had folks explain to you multiple times why that is wildly unhelpful. But beyond that, and harder to name, is how you've managed to craft something that could be credibly defended as an apology but is basically functioning as a defence of your actions and your person and a plea for your friends to defend you. You can see that it's functioning that way from the way the comments are running--people rushing to your aid. It doesn't seem like you are interested in understanding the harm that you've done or how that is functioning for people or what they need, and it *definitely* doesn't seem like you are asking or helping your friends and facebook followers to understand what went wrong or learn how not to create that kind of hurt--even though you say your fervent hope is that healing and learning and commitments to do better will come out of this. I don't see a lot of accountability from you, or a lot of pastoral concern for folks who have been harmed.
I guess my wish would be that you would decide that the doing better starts now, rather than in some unnamed future. That you would show in a post that seems crafted to at least look like an apology that you were more concerned that we would see the hurt of those you harmed than that we would see your hurt. That you would admit to some of what you don't know or are working to learn. That you would point to the words of some of the folks who have been educating you on what you did wrong, so that we could all learn from them--including your supporters. That you would display a Christlike willingness to sacrifice some of what you want if that turns out to be helpful to the healing of others less powerful and more vulnerable than yourself. I know that stuff is hard. I am not in your position, so it is maybe easy to wish for these kinds of things from the cheap seats. But this just seems like so much about trying to shore up support for yourself and I simply expect more, under the circumstances.”