I receive quite a bit of hate email. I regard it as a badge of honour as it shows that I am getting under the skin of the haters. But I received the following unsigned attack through the post this morning and I can see from its contents that it has come from either someone at my previous church or someone on the bishop's staff. I don't believe it to be the latter. Although I am reading and writing about people actually being treated as less than human, physically attacked or even killed, everyday due to the hatred inherent in those who claim to be religious in this world, it still surprises me, and in this case, upsets me, when a so-called Christian can act on the hatred and bigotry in their hearts in such a way. I have met many mentally ill people in my recent life and I can promise you this letter did not come out of madness. It came out of evil.

Now, I completely accept that not one of my regular readers will expect me to justify any of the points raised by my anonymous libeller, but I need to say the following.

All donations are recorded and I have already spoken to my accountant about them. After the 31st of March this year I will have to declare them to the taxman. Due to amount I have received so far, I will not have to pay any tax on them as my total income will fall under my allowances. I will have to pay a small percentage of what I have been given to pay for national insurance.

I have received no money from the diocese since the end of August last year. I received my first donation in respect of my unemployment on 24th. September 2011.

I am a beggar. If I was a Hindu or Buddhist cleric, chances are that is how I would earn my money. Saint Francis, and all his followers up to the present day, have survived through begging. Jesus and his disciples survived by begging (I know this because I actually read the Bible everyday). It took me a while to get used to the concept but I now embrace it and rejoice at the freedom from hypocrisy that it gives me.

My anonymous correspondent does not want me to know who he or she is. Since I began OCICBW... my real name and location has been up on the sidebar for all to see. I do not write or say anything that I am not prepared to own and I can be easily tracked down. Heck, if people feel so inclined, they can even write me a letter.

Okay, here's a cheeky suggestion from your very own holy beggar. If you really want to get up Anon's nose, and only if you can afford to do so, you could always send me some cash in support of my "immoral" ministry. My unemployment benefits ceased today (£65.00 per week), so I could do with the money. These are the details of how to do so:

The administrator of this site is the Reverend Jonathan Hagger (a.k.a. MadPriest). He is a Church of England priest but he receives no salary from any church or any other employer.
At present his ministry consists entirely of his work at St. Laika's and OCICBW...

However, he likes to eat occasionally and his blogs cost quite a bit of money to run. So, in true Anglican style a collection plate is being made available for your donations (via PayPal).

Full accounts will be posted here each year. You will never be asked to pledge or tithe but a regular monthly contribution from you would give him security and peace of mind.

You do not need to have a PayPal account to subscribe or donate via the buttons below.

Another way to help Jonathan is to buy Amazon products via his Amazon shop. Details of how to do this can be found below.



  1. Pardon my French, but…

    …what a cock.

    (Your yellow-bellied correspondent, that is, who could not even sign his/her name to that letter.)

  2. Yeah, I get it. I once got an anonymous piece of hate mail saying that I was a completely vile and despicable human being. Mercy!

    I made a decision many years ago (that I made public, by the way) when I was still mostly in the music side of the ministry of the Church that I would not take under consideration any anonymous message. I also have regularly refused to listen to any repetition of an opinion if the person talking to me would not identify the source.

    Why is this person even concerning himself/herself with you? (Rhetorical question, of course.)

    To the anonymous hate mail author: Those of us who hang out here love Fr. Jonathan dearly. If you can’t understand that, do consider spending more time with the four gospels. I would also recommend the whole book of Galatians for serious reflection.

  3. PS to “Anonymous”:

    I already send a monthly pledge to Fr Jonathan out of thanksgiving and under the rubric that “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” But I just threw in an extra five quid in your name! 🙂

    Have a nice day, now!

  4. This is obviously savage and nasty beyond the point of any charity.

    Regardless of anonymity, such a comment does thrust in a blade. One way to deal with this is actually tackle what it says.

    When I left Unitarian College because I was told to go, there were several feeble reasons given, and only by tackling those could I be clear that they were or were not sound. Some points made were untested. One I accepted was about where they would put me. Only when you ask, ‘In what sense is any of this true?’ can you dismiss it. Although it is not easy it is the more secure approach, I suggest.

    So what if this is your hobby. If it morphs into an online Church then well and good for those who want it. There are lots of semi-independent priests out there, self-supporting or in other jobs at the same time.

    Where I suggest you are going wrong is you haven’t made any break. You still want to hang on to an institution that has spat you out. I would leave and go elsewhere, even independent. Perhaps you could follow people like Simon Mapp and be yourself and in a different more welcoming institution that is more loosely formed. But to reassess you need to make a break.

    Blogging itself is also a dangerous business, and it forces independence to some degree.

    Best wishes to you and keep going.

  5. Dear Anonymous,

    It must be tough knowing that unlike you, Fr. Jonathon has friends, supporters and a ministry of love. How sad for a hateful, unloved twerp to deal with that.

    The church is open to all even disgusting, pathetic worms who do not have the decency to sign letters. So consider dropping in! You have plenty to learn there.


  6. The measure of your ministry here would be, I think, the experience of those here who feel ministered to, who are spiritually fed by your online work. I, for one, have experienced that. And I’m quite sure I’m not the only one. Thus, your online ministry is as real as one in real life (whatever that is – I don’t know why we consider online life not “real”).

    I don’t get to the blogs as much as I used to, and even more rarely comment. This is one of the few places I check in almost daily. Any donations I’ve made are just a small expression of the gratefulness I have for the community you have opened up to us here at OCICBW.

    Anyone throwing out vile hatred and anger, without coming to you personally to discuss their grievances, is a coward and is not following the gospels. I hope he or she will spend some time in self reflection to discover what is driving his or her anger, and I pray this person finds the peace of forgiveness.

  7. A person who’s not willing to sign his own complaint letter is hardly in a position to hold anyone else accountable. Clearly he hasn’t read Matthew 18:15 (“If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you”).

    I am grateful for your ministry, which is very real to me – more so than if you were in a church, since I’m several thousand miles away! You can count on my support.

  8. Anon reminds me of a bumper sticker I see now and then. So here goes, my “honest reflection”:

    Jesus loves you, Anon. Everyone else thinks you’re an asshole.

  9. last year I received 2 anonymous letters from a next-door neighbour complaining about our dogs’ over-enthusiastic barking in the morning, and about our windchime. We knew who had sent them, because the first was in French, and she’s the only francophone on the block.
    This was the woman who greeted us when we moved into the rectory with a tirade about ice sliding off the rectory roof and into her fence (a hideous white plastic affair that neighbours said replaced a beautiful row of lilacs).
    We have circulated her letter to friends and colleagues because it is really funny, in a pathetic sort of way.
    Some people really need to get a life.

  10. hmmmmm, this person seems to have an advanced degree in Trolling! We live in the USA which (sad to say) is now a country where people feel free to publicly accuse others of the most ludicrous things, example “the president was born in Kenya” and other things much nastier. They do this out loud and with great intensity, with no conse ences apparently. As this progresses and no ill effects discourage them, they let loose with more ferocity than before. I guess this is catching on in the UK, sad to say.

    You are blacklisted in the C of E, most likely because u have not catered to or joined with the power that is tearing the churches apart. So you made a choice to do and say what u think and write it. Now u have to come to believe that 200+ applications for the position as
    Vicar will meet with the same result. So now u have to decide what u will do for a living besides being a Vicar. The C of E, like the RCC, is a hierarchical organization and u cannot forever criticize the management without getting pinched. It is a bit like the old BO (body odor ads) even your friends won’t tell u what your problem is.
    Your blog is my first stop every day. I hope u blog on and I respect what u do, as do others who come here regularly. If blogging won’t earn u enough, get some serious vocational testing to widen your choices. The world is full of things to do but it takes some serious sorting out to find the best place for you. I wish you luck and send affectionate wishes….


  11. What an awful letter. And I’m most offended about what they think of me, as a follower of your blog!!!

    Of course you could work in a supermarket. Big deal. You could probably flog shit door-to-door and make a motza as well. Really what do people want?

    It’s the “causing disruption” wherever you go that bowled me over. Geez we can’t have that! It reminds me of a famous law case that reached the Australian High Court in the 1970’s. Justice Lionel Murphy at the time came up with the then flabbergasting judgment (which in 2005 was made the title of a documentary on the life of the ground breaking Judge) “Mr Neal is Entitled To be an Agitator”.

    But you know I once had a blog. A pale imitation of yours, where I criticised the Sydney diocese as much as I could using their news magazine The Southern Cross. My blog was very critical and I was smug and self-righteous and possibly self-deluded (just like you are being accused of) but the worst thing was I was….anonymous!

    Even now when I comment on your blog I am anonymous and it’s always concerned me that I have hidden behind the fact that Sydney is a small town.

    So what I am saying is your willingness to put your name and address to your blog puts you far and above others ethically, including me.

    By the way I closed my blog because I found myself mixing socially and professionally with people I was criticizing in my blog. I was no longer attending their churches, having settled at one of the few inclusive, non-evangelical Anglican churches but I said to myself, “If you can’t say these things to these people face to face, or let readers know who you are, you’d better not say them at all.” I guess I wimped out but you, MP, are made of stronger stuff so just keep going.

  12. I had been dithering about subscribing, but this letter pushed me over the edge. I too am unemployed and living off my absolutely fabulous husband, but £5 a month is not too much to pay, is it?

    BTW, I had lunch with my Archdeacon on Tuesday and your name came up. I did give him the URL of your blog (perhaps that was a bad move?). Southwark is not a place for everyone, but you never know. There are lots of people here who broke moulds in other dioceses.

  13. Thanks, everybody.

    The disruption thing is pure fabrication. I wish it wasn’t. But the truth is I am an incredibly ordinary parish priest. I don’t talk about my politics in the pulpit. Heck, I don’t even tell jokes from the pulpit. I was at mylast place for 8 years and there was no trouble until the organist decided he was not going to allow me to suggest any of the hymns (when I had been told by my rural dean to choose all of them – something I never insisted on). Anyway, I couldn’t cause disruption, because I have only ever been an assistant. I didn’t even go to the P.C.C.s I was so uninterested in church politics. It was my vicar who, before he left, told the choir and some others to make sure I didn’t get the job as the new vicar, that started all the disruption.

  14. I trust you posted this so your anonymous albeit cheeky corespondent would be able to see the responses.

    I suspect that s/he is embarrassed by your mendicant online ministry – which is what prompted him/her to write the letter to you in the first place.

    Good! S/he should be embarrassed. OCICBW, but I suspect s/he may be one of the ones who whispered something in the bishop’s ear so you wouldn’t get the job.

    In any event it’s about her/his discomfort/guilt. Not anything about you or what you have or haven’t done. Keep that in mind, Jonathan.

    Good for you. Keep up the good fight, mate. It’s good to know you won’t let cowards like this get you down.

  15. Wow. Ayn Rand emails from the Great Beyond.

    Well . . . buck up, Jonathan; all us social parasites live so high on the hog and make such huge money we can afford to be gracious! Sarcasmo speaketh!

    I do wonder if such a person as Anonymous would actually believe they are a follower of Christ. Perhaps, they believe they are Christ? I can think of no one else who could claim to know as much about you as the Anonymous claims.

    Actually, I’ve always found you extremely, at times uncomfortably, forthcoming. When one says that they do something from “pride” or “madness,” it’s hardly an attempt to self-justify. You’ve never claimed that your view of your relationship with the church was a completely objective one – indeed, I’ve seen comments from several commenters-regular asking if you may not be misperceiving the situation.

    I do hope Anonymous has the chance to enjoy the same lifestyle you’ve so luxuriated in for so long, now. In fact, I pray such blessings to be upon Anonymous. Oh, God of justice and mercy, please let Jonathan’s Anonymous detractors experience exactly the same conditions as Jonathan, so that, by so doing, they may benefit! Amen.