Another Failed MAGA Catholic Stab at Utopia

Down in Tyler, Texas lives the single worst bishop in the United States: Joseph Strickland. He was first out of the gate to go for the jugular when the epic kook Archbishop Vigano hucked his “RESIGN” grenade at Pope Francis, who was the only Pope to actually act to get rid of the abusive Cardinal McCarrick. That, I think, is why Vigano attacked him: to cover the fact that he had done nothing while he was Nuncio to the US.

Hours after the Viganò dossier dropped, Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, in Texas, wrote to his diocese saying: “Let us be clear that they are still allegations but as your shepherd I find them to be credible.” He even ordered his priests to post his statement on parish websites and across social media.

He is likewise the noisiest bishop in the US to prattle about COVID conspiracy theories and give his blessing to anti-vax nuts.

He backed the rebellious kook priest Fr. James Altman, who spoke of lynching as “capital punishment” and suggested the Jews of Warsaw had it coming during the Holocaust.

And he promoted QANON nuttery too.

Naturally, MAGA Catholics–having been so wrong about so much so many times for so long–glommed on to him as a Great Spiritual Leader sent to guide the Church and save it from Pope Francis. So they opened their pocket books wide when he promised to build a Real Catholic Utopia in Tyler.

That’s how it started.

Here’s how it’s going:

***

Kari Beckman was going to build Veritatis Splendor, a village of Catholic “true believers” in the heart of Texas. Now, after acknowledging an illicit relationship, reportedly with Texas Right to Life head and Regina Caeli board member Jim Graham, she’s moved out of the property’s luxury ranch and back to Atlanta, and has stepped down as executive director of Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor. 

As for the village, one $3 million loan later, not a single structure has yet been built on the land, and the members of Regina Caeli across the nation are left wondering if their homeschool tuition fees and bake sale fundraising dollars paid for the grandiose Tyler, Texas project, or for any of  Beckman’s other, more clandestine activities of the past year.

Beckman, who founded the homeschool hybrid Regina Caeli Academy in 2003, sent a letter to the members of Regina Caeli at the end of last week acknowledging “a terrible lapse in judgment with a personal relationship.” Multiple sources confirmed the relationship was with Jim Graham. Beckman and Graham are both married. Beckman said she immediately sought forgiveness through the sacrament of confession, and then, months later, confessed to her husband. She said that she and her husband then both went to the board of Regina Caeli and told them “what had occurred,” and then stepped down as Executive Director. 

Shortly before she stepped down, the Board of Directors received an anonymous letter alleging Beckman had carried on an illicit sexual relationship with Graham.  Graham was also, until recently, on the Board of Regina Caeli, but his name has recently been removed from that site, along with Kari Beckman’s name. Beckman’s husband remains listed as a board member. Three other board members are no longer listed on the site, and Nicole Juba has been named acting Executive Director.  

Texas Right to Life is the organization that launched prolifewhistleblower.com, the tipline website that lets people report abortions in hopes of collecting a $10,000 bounty under the controversial new “Texas Heartbeat Act” (SB8), and Jim Graham has been instrumental in the Texas pro-life movement’s hard shift toward the right. The website has gone offline twice, and now redirects to the Texas Right to Life site, but does not currently function as a tipline. The law, which has undergone several legal challenges, has been unpopular even within some factions of the conservative pro-life community, some of whom view it as anything from distasteful to politically reckless to counter-productive.https://e6c552837d65659b1cbce79575dd097a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

Graham, who appears in a fundraising video for Veritatis Splendor along with Beckman, has been Executive Director of Texas Right to Life, which was founded by his father, since 1994. Neither Graham nor the media representative for the Texas Right to Life returned phone calls seeking comment.

“This is two heads of very Catholic organizations. We literally do hold ourselves to a higher standard. And to be lectured about virtue while this was going on . . . unbelievable,” said one Regina Caeli Academy parent and former tutor. She asked not to be identified, for fear of reprisal. 

The parent is referring to the fact that Regina Caeli and Veritatis Splendor, including in the very video in which Beckman and Graham both appear, both explicitly framed their organizations as a refuge from the immorality of the secular world. Parents flocked to Regina Caeli in part because it emphasizes the development of personal virtues and traditional values like chastity and self-control. 

“The fact that my kids’ tuition was funding their affair,” the parent said, and then attached a “vomit” emoji to their message. 

“We essentially bought them a ranch.”

But it’s not merely a matter of spiritual hypocrisy that distresses this and other Regina Caeli families. The anonymous letter-writer told us they also filed two complaints with the IRS on November 12 asking for an investigation of Beckman’s possible financial misuse of Regina Caeli funds. The complaints accused Regina Caeli of “using assets for personal gain” and “questionable fundraising practices.”

As one RCA parent put it, “We essentially bought them a ranch.”

But the alleged financial malfeasance goes deeper than that. The letter-writer alleged, “Mrs. Beckman uses Regina Caeli as her personal bank account” and that Beckman hand-selected the board to do her bidding, and deliberately hid her financial activities from the families who supplied the money she allegedly spent. Regina Caeli’s most recent tax forms list their total assets in 2018 at $4.2 million, with $3.4 million in liabilities.

The letter to the IRS enumerates four major complaints involving Regina Caeli Academy and Veritatis Splendor:https://e6c552837d65659b1cbce79575dd097a.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-38/html/container.html

-That Regina Caeli Academy employees were pulled from their RCA jobs to launch and raise funds for Veritatis Splendor;

-that RCA borrowed over $3 million from an RCA board member to finance the property for Veritatis Splendor;

-that the RCA board approved the purchase of a $45,000 Chevy Tahoe for Veritatis Splendor, and has been paying for its insurance, even though the vehicle does not serve Regina Caeli in any way;

-and that the property, purchased by RCA, contains a luxury lodge in which the Beckman family has been living for many months.

The complaint says:

 “Fundraising at Regina Caeli was of the utmost importance. Families were required to fundraise in a variety of ways, and were always told that this fundraising was to support the education and mission of Regina Caeli. Of the $423,509.79 that was fundraised between Oct. 20, 2020 and May 21, 2021, how much of that was used for Regina Caeli? How much was used to purchase a piece of land in Winona, Texas so Mrs. Beckman could form a cult?”

The person filing the complaint also had further questions:

“When Regina Caeli Academy used travel and hotel rewards programs for training, campus visits, etc, who reaped the benefits of those massive rewards points? Were those put on Regina Caeli rewards cards, or Mrs. Beckman’s personal rewards cards? Did the Beckman family travel and vacation using those points? 

“Is Regina Caeli going to provide Board meeting minutes for the Board meetings where Jim Graham was present as a member of the Board, while the affair was taking place? 

“Is Regina Caeli planning to undergo a financial audit? If Mrs. Beckman had such a major lapse in judgement with regards to her personal life, what would prevent her from having a lapse in judgement in the financial affairs of the organization?”

No board member has responded to our repeated calls for comment. Kari Beckman, Rich Beckman, Jim Graham, Nicole Juba, and Regina Caeli and Vertitatis Splendor’s communications offices have not responded to our repeated calls for comment. Bishop Joseph Strickland, an outspoken booster of Veritatis Splendor, was not available for comment.

There is much more to the story here. Please do read the whole thing.

What is so amazing about this story is how absolutely unamazing it is. Anybody familiar with this subculture of hyper-righteous Inquisitors, convince they are sent by God Almighty to save the Church from Pope Francis and all the Impure, filled with a sense of moral rectitude, sure that they and they alone have the chops to create Utopia, given to believing the biggest and most visible-from-space cons again and again and again could have easily foreseen that this was all going to end in disaster.

But the MAGA cult learns nothing. Over and over and over, they learn nothing from self-inflicted disasters like this. They just fall radio silent and sail on, filled with a deathless sense of their invincible Righteousness and more convinced than ever that they have what it takes to be Saviors.

Share

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin

19 Responses

  1. Why does italways seem to be holier than thou right wing mega (and MAGA) Christians (whether Catholic or Protestant or whatever) doing this, rather than left-wing progressive Christians or the ordinary “muddled middle”? Is it that they actually do this more often or more blatantly, or is it that it is more newsworthy when it us the MAGA lot doiing it, or is it that the MAGA lot can raise way more money, or that their donors are much more gullible or unprepared to scrutinise what they are doing?

    1. Good question. Probably a little bit of all of it, though I suspect the largest reason is that the more right-leaning groups are more obsessed with money. There are more left-leaning commune style communities (like the Catholic Worker Movement), who I am sure are not immune from the occasional scandal. But they never have any money because they are too busy helping the poor rather than constructing ranches and “learning” centers.

    2. Because progressive Christians tend to be SJW types, living and working among the sheep, willing to pick up the smell of those sheep.

    3. @Iain Lovejoy

      Father Sergius by Tolstoy. https{:/}/www.gutenberg.org/files/985/985-h/985-h.htm

      “Pashenka is what I ought to have been but failed to be. I lived for men on the pretext of living for God, while she lived for God imagining that she lives for men. Yes, one good deed–a cup of water given without thought of reward–is worth more than any benefit I imagined I was bestowing on people. But after all was there not some share of sincere desire to serve God?’ he asked himself, and the answer was: ‘Yes, there was, but it was all soiled and overgrown by desire for human praise. Yes, there is no God for the man who lives, as I did, for human praise. I will now seek Him!'”

      Father Sergius is repeating story – Pavonne, Corapi, and it’s my (biased ) view that Barron is on the same train.

      The story changed me. It made my question all my pretensions to being virtuous, so I have a special attachment to it.

    4. I am pretty sure the Clinton Foundation is a scam. Remember when the Bernie Sanders supporters sued because the fund raising money was misused. Fortunately, they weren’t using religion for the grift.

      1. Charity Navigator disagrees with you, giving it a 3 out 4 rating, and giving it 100% for accountability and transparency, something that could not be said of Sanders’ former foundation. I’m no fan of the Clintons, but much of Sanders’ accusations were sour grapes when he couldn’t get the support of a party he’s not even a member of, at least back than.

  2. The entire conservative political movement has a major problem with grifters in their midst. Grifters clearly see conservatives as much easier marks than liberals, and have been “playing the field” among conservative organizations and PACs to great profit. The problem has become so bad that even conservative media outlets are acknowledging it and openly wondering what to do about it.

    – joel

    https://www.nationalreview.com/the-morning-jolt/the-real-problem-conservatism-faces-today/

    1. Considering that MAGA is led by the grifter-in-chief, and every lie is being swallowed, no matter how ridiculous (JFK Jr is alive!), of course thieves and charlatans are going for them.

    2. @ joel

      Surely you are NOT referring $10,000 per speech by antiabortion superstars for preaching to the choir at anti-abortion pep rallies about them Precious, preciousss, precioussssssssss babies that require those $10,000 speeches.

      Holy St. Grifty! that’s not even a drop in the bucket compared to raising one of those unwanted children, so why waste it on them.

      1. Meh. They were paid to give a speech and they gave it. That’s not even grifting.
        I’m talking about all those conservative PACs that spend 95% of their revenue on “overhead”. Or those people who collect millions of dollars to start a conservative university but then build nothing and hire no one, while treating themselves to fancy cars, condos, and travel. This kind of thing is a much bigger problem on the right wing than on the left, as many righty leaders acknowledge.

      2. @ joel

        I can’t see the difference. Just one of those speeches— more accurately, the money— might convince a woman to carry her pregnancy to term. And there os nothing more precioussssssssss than that.

  3. As to why MAGA Qhristians never turn on people like this; even when they get outed as grifters and con men?

    Sunk cost fallacy. Admitting you got conned, that the movement you’ve been chasing, realizing that all the blood, sweat, tears and lost friendships and family connections went in service of this?

    It’s more painful to admit you were wrong than accept that you’re fallible, that you’re not on the “good side,” that those friends and family were right about you.

  4. Goshes! For once, it isn’t ME writing about the Qhristian Reight’s obsession with power, money, dominion, and revenge, or the Qhristian Reight’s obsession with what other people are doing with their genitalia— bad things, so I’m told, like stuff that isn’t adultery or breaking vows to god, to church, and to others — or the Christian Reight’s use of kookbabbling Hannity/inanity/insanity to distract everyone from “lapses in moral judgment” and having their hands in the cookie jar, like Branstad, or down the cookie jar’s pants, like “Daddy” Ted.

    MAGAtry is sort of like covid, but without the sparkle— you can see it in action at sorryantivaxxers.com. It is so predictable: the absolutely batscheiss theories and explanations, the deep, deep conspiracies involving the kookbabbler’s favorite daemon-du-jour, the despite directed at anyone who stands in their way- LET’S GO, BRANDON!

    Or the insistence that no authority has any authority because you can do your “own” research, so do your own research like I tell you to, and let the Debbil take the hindmost. SAV, like this article, is all about the refusal to care about others except in the most abstract and useless fashion, all the while insisting naked self-interest and other-exploitation are the height of unselfish moral rectitude, and on and on and on.

    Trumpianity isn’t the problem, except to us Murkans. And maybe the Poles, the Hungarians, and the Rooshians. It isn’t even the hypocrisy of theft and adultery being called lapses in judgment, or pointing one’s stinky fingers at others and hissing “sssssssssinnersssss! Get ‘em, and let slip the dogs of war!”. Because those unborn babies are not going to raise money themselves, and they are way too young to vote, let alone vote QOP. All tied up in a pretty bow of moral rectitude (some restrictions apply) and “send moar munnie” to do God’s Work (TM)— usually, to someone else’s detriment. Doesn’t matter, because they are just scapesheep anyway.

    It’s the symptom of a much deeper moral, intellectual, and spiritual corruption—and worse, laziness. But as an atheist and an unrepentant ‘mo, i’m not allowed to write about that because it means I hate the church and need to “land a punch”, as someone I like and respect once put it. Well, yes and no. I don’t actually hate the church, as I’ve said many times. And punching, if that is the right word, is done in self defense from those who actually do hate the church, or at least see it the way a shepherd might see his sheep, if he’s a practical fellow.

    As Cassandra once put it, BEWARE OF GIFTS BEARING GREEKS. Or, if you need a more contemporary reference…

    The call is coming from inside the house!

  5. Isn’t there a story in the Bible about an attempted utopia? People thinking they could build something to get them to God? Fue algo κακώς.

  6. As a dissolute libertine, I’ve been wasting time among the atheists and pagans. The real action happens in these conservative Catholic communes (and Liberty U)! I might have to launch one of them myself. If I took in enough of these rubes, I could become a Rodrigo Borgia for the new century.

  7. I have to be honest, my first response was to say, “Of course!” (schadenfreude)

    But then I read the comments in Simcha’s com box. Oh my God. Some of them triggered me (I wanted to tell them off), but the poor suffering parents, and the victims of deluded confessors broke my heart.

    This is what happens when you fetishize purity.–It makes the impure–that much more exotic. It gives the devil that much more power to make humans jump, hop and skip to his silly tune.

    What desolation.

  8. The dirty dozen spreading lies about vaccines were on that e ent list. Nobody should be endorsing them. EVER. This is not their first rodeo.

  9. Wow. Am new to reading this blog. Am reeling a bit from the shockwaves of pride bombs being tossed in the comments. Everyone has “the right” to do what they like with their body parts. Is not prudish to say there is wisdom in choosing to follow Christ’s teaching and example of living with strength, gentleness, self control, and love of God and neighbor and self. To teach the freedom and peace and joy that can come from living a chaste life. And to also declare that the “right to privacy” ends when a person inflicts harm on another. Such as in the case of rape. Or abortion.

    Regarding the Catholics pursuing this “dream” or utopia near Tyler – it sounds as though both pride (again) and a lack of wisdom corrupted otherwise good intentions from folks seeking to build something beautiful. Foolishness, perhaps. And any intentional grift/graft should be rooted out and aired. Same holds true for the utopias being painted and promised by hardline leftists seeking to corrupt the party and policies of liberal democrats. Which used to be a bastion of ideals and thought and prolife voters and persons. Instead, one finds there now the tendency to use violence and censure to suppress free thought, individual liberty, and the dignity of the human person and family.

    Satan does a happy dance when any of us choose to demonize “the other” for their thoughts, beliefs, or actions. It seems to me that in his writings, Mr Shea tries to see Christ in his own life and how the church can best share Him. Will be praying his readers, myself included, choose to do the same. Peace be with you.

Leave a Reply

Follow Mark on Twitter and Facebook

NEW BOOK!

Advertisement