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More Katharine-Jefferts Schori cover-up: hiding evidence after Wiki-wacks

More Katharine-Jefferts Schori cover-up: hiding evidence after Wiki-wacks

by James Coder
May 28, 2011

A few months ago, the online biography of Katharine Jefferts-Schori was edited by an Episcopal Church Center staff worker at her behest - noted here and here.

The staff worker removed in its entirety, without providing any reason for this removal, a paragraph about how the description of candidates for election for Presiding Bishop contained information about Jefferts-Schori which was false - namely, that she was "Dean of the School of Theology of the Good Samaritan, Corvallis, Oregon." It turned out that at that time, she was merely in charge of her parish's adult education program - and not a very large parish, at that.

This was revealed shortly after the election, before her installation as bishop. Jefferts-Schori most certainly was aware of the election materials; we have no evidence that she warned the House of Bishops or General Convention of the falsity; and as evidence to the contrary, one of the General Convention delegates blogged about the discovery. To date, there has been no public inquest regarding this rather astounding election anomaly.

On the Wikipedia discussion page, it was pointed out that TEC Church Offices should have known about the ethics of Wikipedia editing, and that one musn't remove items without reason - since in 2007, Barbara Alton had been so persistent in removing items from Bishop Bennison's Wikipedia page, after having been warned, that her account had been deleted, and this was reported in an international news source (as well as various Anglican news outlets). It was pointed out that an EpiscopalLife article on the site of EpiscopalChurch.org noted that Alton "never received an order from Jefferts Schori." Though the article quotes the Church Times for this information, Episcopal Life is a branch of TEC's media department at Episcopal Church Center; so Episcopal Church Center was at the very least informed of this incident, as they themselves reported on it. So Episcopal Church center should have known better than to simply edit without providing information as to why the information was false (which it seems, it wasn't).

Now, this specific article brought up in the discussion has been removed from the site of The Episcopal Church. The original url of the article is http://www.episcopalchurch.org/79901_89447_ENG_HTM.htm - an archive of the article can be viewed at archive.org. Another archive of the ENS newsletter highlighting the top stories of August 25, 2007 shows that this is the only one of the four stories highlighted which has been removed; i.e., the article most definitely wasn't removed in a routine "clean-up" of old stories selected by date.

The Episcopal Church does seem to be trying to eliminate the digital "paper trail" of evidence of culpability. It seems also that it's getting itself somewhat entangled in the Barbara Streisland Effect: in the attempt at hiding information, unwittingly prompting others to further disseminate it.

This may seem insignificant - the removal of a single article from 2007 from the TEC website. But it does seem to fit a larger pattern of attempting to remove information which is important for the critical discernment regarding its character by its own members, other members of the Anglican Communion, and the public at large.

The initial issue here was transparency: instead of an admission of impropriety, we are seeing further signs of cover-up.

When the issue was first raised - there should have been some sort of investigation with public findings. How did the false information find its way into the election materials, who was responsible for putting it there, and why? Was it an honest mistake, or an attempt to make Jefferts-Schori seem more experienced than she was? Who amongst those who read the materials, was aware that this was false, and failed to mention this to General Convention and the House of Bishops? Why did Jefferts-Schori herself fail to make clear the false description?

Perhaps TEC Church Center, or the Standing Committee, wished to "save face" and hoped that the issue would not be published beyond the single article at VirtueOnline. If so, they were wrong - it also became a news item at WorldNetDaily. And with a number of steps afterward in efforts at silencing the issue - more opportunities have arisen to alert members of TEC, the Anglican Communion, and the public at large of this ongoing cover-up regarding the likely election fraud.


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