Wayne Laugesen Vs. Richard Baker: The Debate

Categories: Media

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A June 17 More Messages blog revolves around a column written by Colorado Springs Independent scribe Rich Tosches about Colorado Springs Gazette editorial page editor Wayne Laugesen. In the piece, an activist accuses Laugesen of insensitivity and more in regard to comments he made in a series of e-mails he traded with another Colorado Springs resident, Richard Baker. Below, find most of those notes, which date from early April until late May; Laugesen supplied them. There's an incredible amount of material -- more than 20,000 words' worth -- with Baker's offerings appearing in bold and Laugesen's in italics. Together, they comprise a massive theological debate featuring something to please or appall just about anyone. Dig in. -- Michael Roberts

From: Richard Baker
Posted At: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 2:15 PM
Posted To: Opinion
Conversation: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.
Subject: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.
Dear Editor

So the Gazette doesn't think the separation of church and state is in the Constitution?

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;

Just because the words "Separation of Church and State" do not appear in this amendment doesn't mean it hasn't been interpreted as exactly that.

The Supreme Cout of the United States has held the "Establishment" clause to mean that no one in federal government and by extension any state, county or local government including government agencies, departments or divisions, may curb or advance any religion by law, statute, decree or de facto establishment. Now that seems pretty clear to me.

By the same token, the "Free Exercise" clause does not contain the words: "The free practice of religion may not include animal or human sacrifice, the ingestion of Class One Controlled Substances, unwilling participation, promotion or endorsement of candidates running for public office, interference with other religious practice or the violation of any federal state or local statute, law or code prohibiting religious practice considered to be a public nuisance. Yet the US Supreme Court has held that the "Free Exercise clause is in fact subject to all that.

In fact the Amendments to the Constitution are modified by thousands of words that result from decisions, rulings and reviews. The Supreme Court found volumes to add to the Fourth Amendment in Roe Vs. Wade.

So when one wishes to define any of the amendments it would be recommended to see if it as been modified and what further codicils have been added.

America is a secular nation, in which all religious and non-religious beliefs may flouish but none dominate. Therefore it is impotant to know that Christians are not being disinfranchised, since they were not given a franchise in the first place. For Christianity to have been franchised would have been an egregious violation of the First Amendment.

It is true that Christianity has had a rather undisturbed run in America but what with the national scandals and crimes in which American Christianity has been recently implicated, thinking Americans are taking a second look at the immunities Christianity has enjoyed in our history and yes, askig more questions.

Richard Baker

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 3:18 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.

Mr. Baker:

Thank you for your letter. A few thoughts:

1. Avoiding establishment is not the same thing as "separation." A president who declares his love for Buddha does no enshrine Buddhism as the established religion of the land. The belief of a politician does not become an established religion unless a law is passed that says as much, and any such law would violate the First Amendment. We don't have "separation." If we did, then nobody could carry religious beliefs into public office, which is an impossible notion to begin with. Elect a Rabbi president and you'll have a president who's guided by Jewish law and belief. No way around it.

2. Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The volumes added to the Fourth Amendment were fabrications concocted for political expediency and to uphold personal agendas. Roe v. Wade represents a blatant violation of states' rights, and it won't stand up to the scrutiny of today's court.

3. We did not suggest that Christians have some special "franchise." By "disenfranchised" we obviously meant that some would try to keep Christians from particpating lawfully in the political process, simply because they don't like Christians. This is a common usage of the term, so you either misrepresent it intentionally or lack knowledge of this common word. Millions of Americans despise Christians and would be happy to deprive them of their rights in order to satiate their hatred. Your last paragraph reveals some of this intolerance, and your desire to end an "undisturbed run" by Christians. Please explain how Christians have had "immunities" that aren't afforded to others, and exactly what you mean by an "undisturbed run." I'm afraid you would like to "disturb" the run by eliminating the religious freedoms of Christians, probably because they annoy you. It sounds like you would like to deprive them of their First Amendment rights. This is dangerous stuff.

Wayne Laugesen
editorial page editor
The Gazette

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Wednesday, April 09, 2008 7:53 PM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.

In a message dated 4/9/2008 4:16:58 P.M. Mountain Daylight Time, wayne.laugesen@gazette.com writes:
Mr. Baker:

Thank you for your letter. A few thoughts:

Mr. Laugesen,

Thank you for your response.

You do not say whether my letter will be published or not but based on your record of defense of Christianity rather than a measured discourse of the issues, I rather doubt it.

1. Avoiding establishment is not the same thing as "separation." A president who declares his love for Buddha does no enshrine Buddhism as the established religion of the land. The belief of a politician does not become an established religion unless a law is passed that says as much, and any such law would violate the First Amendment. We don't have "separation." If we did, then nobody could carry religious beliefs into public office, which is an impossible notion to begin with. Elect a Rabbi president and you'll have a president who's guided by Jewish law and belief. No way around it.

Sir,

Avoiding establishment IS separation. As to a president who declares his love for a deity, it would be fitting that his faith be neutral. But as you are well aware, our president has said "I believe God wanted me to be president."

In addition he has stated that he consulted God many times as to the direction of his presidency and the Iraq war. He has said God told him to invade Iraq. This, my friend, is a puposeful, if not pathological, display of the insertion of faith in public business, which I think we could do entirely without.

Add to this the blatant disregard for the constitution, faith based initiatives
that infused millions into Christian Organization coffers, favoritism of all sorts to Christian organizations, the installation of so-called "Born Again" department and agency heads, incuding the very first director of religious affairs in the White House, Jim Towey, who further bastardized the intent of constitutional law by holding Christian Bible studies in the white House weekly. And may I say that it is not impossible to keep religious beliefs out of government while keeping them for your person. It only takes your oath
to the constitution. As an Air Force veteran, I value mine.

2. Roe v. Wade will be overturned. The volumes added to the Fourth Amendment were fabrications concocted for political expediency and to uphold personal agendas. Roe v. Wade represents a blatant violation of states' rights, and it won't stand up to the scrutiny of today's court.

I am glad that you are a clairvoyant Christian. Your confididence is admirable but sadly, misplaced. Those volumes in Roe V. Wade you feel were concocted to uphold personal agendas were part and parcel of the same procedures which now favor the right wing of the SCOTUS. But there is the matter of "settled law" which I think, following the election of a somewhat more moderate administration, will remained settled.

3. We did not suggest that Christians have some special "franchise." By "disenfranchised" we obviously meant that some would try to keep Christians from particpating lawfully in the political process, simply because they don't like Christians. This is a common usage of the term, so you either misrepresent it intentionally or lack knowledge of this common word. Millions of Americans despise Christians and would be happy to deprive them of their rights in order to satiate their hatred. Your last paragraph reveals some of this intolerance, and your desire to end an "undisturbed run" by Christians. Please explain how Christians have had "immunities" that aren't afforded to others, and exactly what you mean by an "undisturbed run." I'm afraid you would like to "disturb" the run by eliminating the religious freedoms of Christians, probably because they annoy you. It sounds like you would like to deprive them of their First Amendment rights. This is dangerous stuff.

Wayne Laugesen
editorial page editor
The Gazette

Your meaning vis a vis "Christian disenfanchisement" was not clear or obvious. Frankly it sounded as if Christianity had some kind of leg up on other religions and non-beliefs. This is common where a religious majority exists and has held sway for some time in a certain venue. It is much as Islam has dominated the religious landscape in the Mid East despite the smattering of Christians and other variant religions.

Christians in America have been anything but barred from he political process as the number of restrictive religious "Blue Laws" throughout the country will attest. Christmas week, Easter and other Christian holidays dominate the calendar with nary a Wiccan "Winter Solstice" day off to assuage the Pagans. And try to buy a car or bottle of booze on Sunday.

What I mean by an "undisturbed run" is that Christianity has been given a free pass despite it's repressive nature. And only when exposed as child molesting perverts was the faith even questioned. Over 800 priests, Monsignors, Bishops, Cardinals and even the Pope, himself, were implicated in the widespread sexual assaults on children and resultant coverups. The protestant community fared no better with disclosures of theft, sexual misconduct and misdeeds of all sorts. The latest being the enslavement and sexual molestaton of hundreds of Mormon women and girls in Texas. Christian hands are not clean.

It is not I who woud deprive Christians of their first amendment rights. It is the Dominion Christian Community, which I fear you appear to be championing, that would enforce a "Christian America," one in which Christians reign supreme and all others are relegated to second class citizenship or worse.

There is a ring of Christian Supremacy to your editorials, that exceeds
normal debate. Yours is less a defense of Christian doctrine than a promotion of it. I'm afraid, my friend, that you may be mired in the muck of religious mediocrity and as such, are disqualified from objective debate.

But strangely, I respect your posiiton, as I am instructed by my liberalism to do.

As an aside, I notice you use the term "we" when describing your positions. Is this the "royal" we or do others co-author your editorials?

Richard

PS. Please excuse any spelling errors as my spell checker has joined the Christian Right and refused to correct any liberal documents.

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 9:25 AM
To: Richard Baker

Subject: RE: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.
I do plan on publishing your letter. I just wanted to further explain my position, as you are clearly interested in the topic. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, April 10, 2008 10:48 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Separation of Church and State is indeed in the First Amendment.

Avoiding establishment IS separation. As to a president who declares his love for a deity, it would be fitting that his faith be neutral. But as you are well aware, our president has said "I believe God wanted me to be president."

Mr. Baker:

>It may be fitting, from your perspective, but it is not required by law. Personally, I agree with you that it's unbefitting of a president to say things like "God wanted me to be president," and "God told me to bomb Iraq." This means that you and I look forward to a new president. I have strongly opposed the war in Iraq, and it's my belief that if God decided to choose our president it wouldn't be George Bush. I merely defend his right to be a religious fanatic, and Americans have the right to elect a religious fanaticsof any faith. Presidents have the righ to beleive that God communicates with them.<

In addition he has stated that he consulted God many times as to the direction of his presidency and the Iraq war. He has said God told him to invade Iraq. This, my friend, is a puposeful, if not pathological, display of the insertion of faith in public business, which I think we could do entirely without.

>Again, I don't dispute your assertion that we may be better off without purposeful insertions of faith in public business. My point is that Bush has the legal right to wax religiously all he wants. And we have the legal right to elect such people. My defense of one's right to speak does not equate to agreement with the message.<

Add to this the blatant disregard for the constitution, faith based initiatives
that infused millions into Christian Organization coffers, favoritism of all sorts to Christian organizations,

>I don't personally like faith-based initiatives, initiated by Bill Clinton, mainly because they threaten the autonomy of private, non-profit organizations. Take a government check and you answer to government. However, I have to challenge your characterization of an infusion of millions into their coffers. In the case of Cahtolic Charities of Colorado Springs, the federal money has gone straight to poor families in need of housing. The govenment merely used the private organization as a way to avoid the cost of establishing public bureaucracy to manage grants. Only a non-profit that's breaking the law could possibly be enriched by federal money that's directed at the poor. Most social charity is private, and our govenment has used private non-profits for the sake of efficiency, not to enrich non-profits. If you look into it, you'll find that the vast majority of homeless shelters, soup kitchens,public clinic and AIDS hospices are funded and run by churches.<

the installation of so-called "Born Again" department and agency heads, incuding the very first director of religious affairs in the White House, Jim Towey, who further bastardized the intent of constitutional law by holding Christian Bible studies in the white House weekly.

>Who cares if someone studies the Bible in the White House. We cannot scour reading material because of the nature of the content. That's would be censorship. Elect a Muslim as president and he/she may study the Koran. So what? We get what we elect.<

I am glad that you are a clairvoyant Christian. Your confididence is admirable but sadly, misplaced. Those volumes in Roe V. Wade you feel were concocted to uphold personal agendas were part and parcel of the same procedures which now favor the right wing of the SCOTUS. But there is the matter of "settled law" which I think, following the election of a somewhat more moderate administration, will remained settled.

>I'm not clairvoyant, but please mark my words: Roe v. Wade will be overturned. It has no legitimate constitutional basis. This, of course, is merely a prediction on my part. The prediction, however, is based in fact: Strict onstructionist justices hold a majority on the bench, and they are rabidly anti-abortion/pro states' rights. Most states will maintain legalized aboriton on demand, and certainly Colorado will. Frankly, I'm saddened by the wanton destruction of unborn life and will be glad to see some states impose more restrictions on abortion when Roe gets overturned.<

Your meaning vis a vis "Christian disenfanchisement" was not clear or obvious. Frankly it sounded as if Christianity had some kind of leg up on other religions and non-beliefs.

>I regret not being more clear. I hope you understand what I meant, now that I've explained it. For the record: I believe Christians have the same rights to participate in the political process as does anyone else.<

And try to buy a car or bottle of booze on Sunday.

>I and the Gazette have editorialized many times in favor of liquor sales on Sunday, and come July it will happen. It infuriates me that I can't buy wine on Sunday. Modern opposition to Sunday liquor sales comes not from churches, but from liquor store owners. They like having a day off. Your point, however, is understood. Christians have successfully made laws that reflect their morality. This can't be avoided, and it's fair. Most laws are based in morality. Laws against murder, rape and speeding are based in morality. It is impossible to legislate without legislating morality. Poeple who like to drink probably shouldn't live in Utah, where Mormons succeed in making most laws.

Over 800 priests, Monsignors, Bishops, Cardinals and even the Pope, himself, were implicated in the widespread sexual assaults on children and resultant coverups.

>Child predators find their way into all institutions that put them close to children. The public schools harbor the largest percentage of perverts, by far, and are also far more guilty than the Catholic church of orchestrating institutional coverups. The Associated Press made this perfectly clear in a thorough series that, unfortunately, was mostly ignored by the AP's clients. Those who are genuinely concerned with child welfare will honestly admit that churches are the least of the problem. The facts simply don't support efforts to malign the church as a purveyor of perverts. But yes, the church has mishandled child abuse in the past, just as most institutions have. It is egregious.<

It is the Dominion Christian Community, which I fear you appear to be championing, that would enforce a "Christian America," one in which Christians reign supreme and all others are relegated to second class citizenship or worse.

>I have no interst in a "Christian America." I'm merely defending the law. Majorities have rights. In our constitutional republic, in which some democratic processes are employed, majorities will in some circumstances have influence and clout. Majorities tend to win elections, for example. Fortunately, we are a nation of laws in which majorities can't do certain things. For example, majorities can't stifle unpopular minority views. They can't stop you from saying nasty things about Christians or Christianity or the president. Majorities can't force everyone to worship the same God. Majorities can't decide guns are bad and take away the weapons of fanatical right wing hillbillies in Idaho. But majorities can elect religious wingnuts to public office, and those wingnuts can say stupid things like "God made me president." This is freedom of speech and freedom of religion. What's great, however, is that you are free to grab a microphone, go on the radio, or publish a book to say Christians are evil, they need to shut up, and nobody should vote for them. I become concerned when people start looking for ways to use force of government, rather than lawful process and persuasion, to silence the people who they find annoying. <

There is a ring of Christian Supremacy to your editorials, that exceeds
normal debate. Yours is less a defense of Christian doctrine than a promotion of it. I'm afraid, my friend, that you may be mired in the muck of religious mediocrity and as such, are disqualified from objective debate.

>My position has nothing to do with favoritism of one religion over another. Because of my personal religious beliefs, the average Colorado Springs evangelical would believe I'm destined for hell. My position is one of concern that some people, frustrated with majority opinions and beliefs, want force of law to silence an annoying majority. This is not what our country is about. Our country is not about equality, it's about equal opportunity in individual rights. Members of majorities have the same rights to exercise their freedoms of speech and religion as do members of minorities. <

As an aside, I notice you use the term "we" when describing your positions. Is this the "royal" we or do others co-author your editorials?

>We co-author editorials. Our unsigned editorials represent the compromised views of an editorial board. Our editorial board has pledged to uphold and defend the libertarian values of Freedom Communications founder R.C. Hoyles. However, these e-mail communiques are simply my own words.<

PS. Please excuse any spelling errors as my spell checker has joined the Christian Right and refused to correct any liberal documents.

>My spellchecker has run off to work with the Hillary Clinton campaign, so I completely understand. I appreciate your thoughtful response to the editorial. Dialogue is the best way for all of us to learn and advance. -- Wayne<

From: Richard Baker
To: gtop@gazette.com
Sent: 4/18/2008 11:25:20 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time
Subj: Fwd: The National Day of Prayer Excludes Many American Religions.

Wayne,

I just found out the National Day of Prayer excludes many Christian and non-Christian religions from planning and participation.

What are your thoughts?

Mine are below.

Richard

Sent: 4/18/2008 10:46:48 A.M. Mountain Daylight Time
Subj: The National Day of Prayer Excludes Many American Religions.

Heard of the "National Day of Prayer? It's scheduled for May 1st.

A better title for this exclusive event would be The National Dominion Christian Day of Prayer.

It has just been disclosed that this event, managed primarily by a task force headed by Focus on the Family and other Dominionist Evangelical Christian Sects excludes clergy and leaders representing Jews, Catholics, Muslims, Buddhists, and even moderate evangelical Christians from its observances.

Last year, the Task Force obtained proclamations from all 50 governors -- and in many cases, held its discriminatory observances on government property.

Now I don't expect the God Fearing folks at Focus to invite Satan's Spawn such as Atheists or Agnostics but it would have been nice to see some of this brotherhood James Dobson keeps spouting about in action by at least inviting other religious folks.

What has happened to this once pluralistic nation under the reign of George Bush? Frankly it has become a de facto Dominion Christian Theocracy, run by extremists in the name of an exclusive sect of Christians, infiltrating government agencies and departments and the Armed Forces.

The National Day of Prayer has been co-opted by Dobson and his ilk and turned into yet another Dominionist scam to establish supremacy for this growing blight on the American Constitution.

I am urging everyone to e-mail their Governors offices, City Councils and County Commissions and demand the National Day of Prayer cease being the National Day of Domininist Prayer and to include all religions practiced in America or to be banned unless the organizers make it inclusive.

I am also asking Military leaders from the Pentagon on down to block participation by soldiers, sailors and airmen in this event unless all American religious practitioners are included in it's planning and execution and to prevent the use of military reservations as staging areas unless such a change is undertaken.

Tax payers are victims of exclusive religious organizations receiving government support.

Do not stand for this any longer. Extreme Christianity is no different from other religious extremism in its agenda and must be required to practice within the parameters of the First Amendment which prohibits government favoritism or estabishment of religion.

Dobson's efforts are clearly to elevate his brand of exteme Christianity above that of all others. Dominion Chirstianity is an ugly stain of the Constitution of the United States of America.

At the head of this unAmerican activity is the president, George Bush, who has basically sold America to the Dominionists. A recovering alcoholic and drug addict, Bush entered the 12 step Alanon program in which he traded his addiction to drugs and alcohol for an addiction to this extreme form of Christianity.

There is a toxicity to this kind of religious practice. The kind of toxic paradigm which powers any extreme religion. It is a sect bent on the conversion or extermination of world populations employing methods not far removed from extreme Islam.

Without question it is time to apply the brakes and prevent the further acquiring of power by such subversive Christian organizations. Let's start with the National Day of Prayer and make it truly a whole nation event or ban it.

Richard Baker

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Tuesday, April 22, 2008 10:29 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: The National Day of Prayer Excludes Many American Religions.
Richard:

I don't know much about the "National Day of Prayer," but it sounds quite exclusionary based on your comments below. I find that extremely unfortunate, and I will look into this further. Thanks for your e-mail.

Wayne Laugesen
editorial page editor
The Gazette

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Sunday, April 27, 2008 11:06 AM
Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Why Prayer Doesn't Work
Why Prayer Doesn't Work

The primary reason prayer doesn't work is that there is no one there to hear it.

But for the sake of argument, let’s talk about why prayer won’t work even if there were an omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, perfect God.

Now let’s say that Blanche’s husband Ralph contracts cancer. This is a scary proposition and Blanche, being a faithful wife and faithful Christian prays to God for a miracle to cure Ralph’s cancer.

God, who is claimed to exist beyond all time reference lives in each millennium, each century, each year, week, hour minute and second of time from the beginning to infinity. That’s Omnipresence.

As an omniscient being, God knows everything that has happened and everything that will happen to any person, place or thing. Therefore God knew that Ralph was going to get cancer and when. As a perfect being, God has planned every event down to the most minute detail and for the most propitious purpose. And, as we might suspect, a perfect God doesn’t need to change his mind as everything planned has a purpose and is irrevocable. God’s plans are ordained and part of the entire cosmic plan. It is not possible for God to make a single mistake, ergo, he will never change his mind.

Basically, Blanche's prayers will fall on deaf ears; not because God is callous or uncaring but because he has already set the table. Whatever happens to Ralph has been pre-ordained. Whether he recovers or dies has been known by God and planned for eons. And since all things are intertwined in a celestial tapestry God can’t be changing things based on entreaty; plus he has already known of Blanches prayer request forever, far in advance of her even making it.

So if Ralph dies, Blanche will say that she didn’t get her miracle but that it is God’s will. If Ralph survives, Blanche will declare a miracle and thank God for Ralph’s life, even though the recovery was planned long ago. Her prayer had el zippo to do with it.

So we go along thinking that if we get what we ask for in prayer, by coincidence or through our own unconscious effort, God is involved. If we don’t, there must be a good reason why God did not. And since all our prayers are in the present, in real time, we are probably praying to change an event that was decided by God a billion years ago.

Prayer may have some benefits such as self-comfort. But when someone prays for himself or another there just isn’t a way that it can be answered in real time.

Prayer has always been thought to be a positive activity. Lately I have learned about imprecatory prayer. Imprecatory prayer is prayer to God that would have him kill or disable your enemies. Imprecatory prayer has recently been employed by Dr. Wiley S. Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, who asked his flock to join him in praying against the executives of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State when it initiated an investigation by the IRS into church irregularities.
This prayer called for the illness, suffering and death of several AU officials. So far it hasn’t worked but if one of them gets killed in a car accident you can be sure that the Preacher will claim it was his death prayer that did it.

Apparently imprecatory prayer has been around a long time, not as long as God but a long time.

So there you have it. Prayer doesn’t work if there’s no God and prayer won’t work if there is a God because a perfect God does not change his mind.

Besides, what good is having a God to hear your prayers if he won't even kill your enemies?

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 10:33 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Why Prayer Doesn't Work
I used to go through this line of logic in the sixth grade. It's interesting stuff within a certain limited context. The moment we expand the perameters, however, it goes to mush. One must not ascribe his own limitations and logic to an omniscient God who is not constrained by time, space or options. We must not ascribe motive to God, asking "why would he, if...", because the moment we do that we're failing to genuinely accept his omniscience and limitless supremecy. Believers and non-believes alike are generally angry at God, or at least frustrated, to one degree or another. We must let go, trust, accept, and pray if we choose. It's impossible to understand God, but we're free to love him. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 12:15 PM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: Why Prayer Doesn't Work

Wayne,

What you're saying then is that man is dog doo doo and there is an invisible being we are totally unable to truly define, of absolute power and control, knows all, sees all, wields life or death powers, has created a world in which all is in order, has taken on a son and a holy spirit in a trinity but remains one god and is immune from responsibility, absolved of blame and guilt, gives us freedom of choice while at the same time has an individual plan for each of our lives and is a being to whom logic or law does not apply.

I guess if you are going to manufacture a God, you might as well make him unassailable. You have made him absolute but perhaps more like Zeus than Yahweh or Jehovah. You have also made him sound almost whimsical like Dickens' Ghost of Christmas Present.

Given all those wonderful traits you have assigned to god, wouldn't you agree that the premise is too fantastic and that even god would have a hard time living up to his press clippings?

Actually you reinforce my contention that such a god, if he were in fact real, would be so far above the poor intellect of man as to make him superfluous and unnecessary. And to what purpose would prayer be to such an absolute god? Of what value can a god so far intellectually removed from man be? Is not such a god obsolete? And wouldn't man, if indeed looking for god, pass up the one you described in favor of a more "down to Earth" god?" I would have a hard time even liking the god you proffer, never mind love him. I deserve more than to be an unwilling vassal to what sounds a lot more like a medieval king than a god.

I think a more vulnerable god would better. One of the guys.

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 12:48 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Why Prayer Doesn't Work

Rick:

I believe in an entity undiscovered, unproven and magnificent. The human race has barely begun to read the writings on the inside wall of the cave, let alone venture out into the great unknown. No theories religious or non-religious haven't even come close to educating us as to the origins of time, space and life. Atheists, unlike most great scientists of our time, desire to go on a short exploration and draw conclusions from a miniscule amount of information and a mountain of speculation. They limit their ability and willingness to accept and learn beyond a certain point in time in which they believe a few inanimate elements came together by mistake and formed a life that began to evolve. Fine theory, and one I have no interest in discounting, but it's incredibly narrow in context of time and space. Where did these elements come from? What space and time did they occupy, and what's the origin of that time and space? And this accient that brought them together... where did that phenomenon come from? These are simple and natural questions anyone would ask, absent some agenda to expediently end conversation, speculation and imagination regarding the beginings of time, space and life. I choose to love and embrace the vast body of truth that nobody has come close to discovering yet, an in that is ample space for a belief in "god" or an original source of intelligence and life. Humans may never discover it, and it certainly won't happen in my lifetime absent something unexplainable and therefore "miraculous." -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Monday, April 28, 2008 7:55 PM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: Why Prayer Doesn't Work

Wayne,

Forgive me for interrupting what I know must be vital job related activities.

I sense in you an almost child-like fascination with the god thing that I have not witnessed since "Peter Pan."

There is the faith that Dad will return home from his deployment in Iraq or his business trip to Georgia or his visit to never never land.

Methinks you are still searching for your father.

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2008 9:33 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Why Prayer Doesn't Work
Methinks you are still searching for your father.

And me thinks you are still angry at yours. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 10:39 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: I opine on your response to Lou

Rick:

I've never suggested that religion and science are the same. My concern rests in the fact a small group of scientists -- not including most serious scientists, by any stretch -- have an infant-like notion that science is almost done and has all the answers. A handful of scientists, mostly self-proclaimed scientists, has taken up a crusade to discredit any and all supernatural beliefs with an extremely small and laughable body of work. Science has not begun to explain the origins of space, time, diminsion and life, yet this group has decided to declare that God can't possibly exist, an original source of intelligence or life can't possibly exists, and all theories and beliefs that haven't been proven are simply impossible. It makes them look moronic, because anyone with an IQ above 140 should have a full grasp of just how little science has yet to discover about this vast and limitless universe, let alone anything that may lie beyond it. Please don't come at me with Big Bang and Chaos theories and say you've found the origion of all that exists. It's postively silly. Whatever you bring to the table existed in a time and space we haven't begun to explore.

Your diabtribe about TV preachers reveals a ridiculously political and unscientific agenda. I'm to believe that God, or a creator, or an original space alien can't exist because clowns on TV are drawn to exploit people of faith? That's like debunking the principles of societal law with an argument that some men become cops in order to steal money from the evidence locker. It's absolutely silly, and it has nothing to do with this debate. I'm interested in determining whether an inetelligent life form may exist at or near the beginning of all that we've seen, and you're talking about Tammy Faye's makeup. Don't you see how shallow that sounds? Don't you understand how that goes counter to the fundamental mission of science, which is to objectively search? You can ask me not to believe, and that's fine. I'm asking that people stop trying to limit the potential findings of science by imposing agendas that are basically rooted in suspicion of televangelists who have nothing to do with the origins of time, space, dimension and life. This discredits you. Snap out of it. -- Wayne

Lou:

It is, of course, possible to love a car. The fact that you refer to this car as the product of a human mind makes it no different than a painting, such as the Mona Lisa. Lots of people love the Mona Lisa. Cars and paintings, in fact, prove Intelligent Design. Your e-mail proves Intelligent Design. Sources of intelligence, such as your brain, design things all day every day. I merely theorize that at the beginning of the time-space continuum exists an original source of intelligence, some call it God. I don't begin to know what it looks like or how it came to be, or what space it existed or exists in, or where that space came from. But neither do you know where inanimate objects came from that accidentally began working together to form life. I don't reject such a theory, I simply suggest that it far fall short of disproving an inexplicable original source of intelligence. It fails to provide the source of the lifeless building blocks that became life and then intelligent life. I want the source. Until I know the source, I will do what most great scientists have done throughout time: I will humbly examine the writings on the inside walls of the cave, and then believe in something magnificent that I've yet to discover or prove. To disavow the magnificence of all you have yet to discover is to sell short your imagination and ability to learn. -- Wayne

Wayne,

You are such a dreamer. You should have been a liberal.

Without question, true science examines only physical evidence and eschews any superstitious or so-called spiritual phenomena.

Now, ethereal phenomena is not rejected out of hand by true science because there might be an unrecognizable phenomena accompanying a known or understandable physical event. These, like swamp gas, have, however, been almost exclusively proven to be a diaphanous adjunct to the physical event and explained adequately as such.

Your beliefs require only gratuitous faith whereas science requires experiment and evidence. Faith renders you uncritical. It is therefore much easier for you to throw faith at a question whereas science bears the responsibility to study, examine and prove. It is therefore possible for the charlatans to waltz in with any fantastic claim and waltz out with your money.

Having witnessed the Bakker's and Robert's and other thieves I find it incredible that the religious still succumb to the very same shop worn homilies reprised by the new flock of prophets such as Hagee, Parsley, Warren, Dobson, Robertson, Osteen and others in whom vast sums of money, trust and belief are invested.

There is also a reticence on the part of believers to examine or be critical of any religious proposition too closely. I assume this is in fear that it might be proven to be untenable. So much of religion is acquired by rote that it suffices to repeat mantras and scriptural phraseology to appear knowledgeable and authentic.

There is no integrity in the unprovable, no industry in the unfounded and no safety in abject, unquestioning obedience to any discipline.

Rick

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 3:18 PM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: I opine on your response to Lou

Wayne,

One must not let debate anger him.

Your diatribe: "My concern rests in the fact a small group of scientists -- not including most serious scientists, by any stretch -- have an infant-like notion that science is almost done and has all the answers. A handful of scientists, mostly self-proclaimed scientists, has taken up a crusade to discredit any and all supernatural beliefs with an extremely small and laughable body of work." sounds very similar to my "diatribe about TV preachers."

You say I am silly to equate Televangelist clowns with serious religion yet you are willing to ascribe a similar equation to that small group of scientists and make them represent all of science. LOL

This a case of the pot calling the kettle black.

In fact Televangelist's do represent religion to the bulk of American protestants. They are your front men and their dog and pony shows portray what the average American believes is the essence of religion. Their power over the masses would astound even Marx. I'd much prefer a small cadre of astute but demure scientists working away at scientific discovery wherein even the simplest of equations proves that absent an ability or desire to manifest a corporeal appearance, god does not exist.

My wife has agreed to help me "snap out of it" later this evening. LOL

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Friday, May 02, 2008 4:04 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: I opine on your response to Lou

Dear Rick:

I really wasn't trying to say a small group of scientists represent all of science. Quite the contrary, in fact. My point was this: Most great scientists don't pretend to have information proving that the origin of time, space and dimension has nothing to do with creation. Pasteur, Newton, Einstein, Plank, etc., all had profound beliefs in God. You, by contrast, did try to paint religion with the brush of a few weird televangelist types. I don't care how many millions they might influence, because it has nothing to do with the question of "does God exist?" It's not scientific to say God doesn't exist because a bunch of obnoxious people on TV say he does. This merely exposes your agenda, which is apparently based in hatred of a group rather than open curiousity. I don't mean that as an insult, I just really believe that lots of people have been so turned off by the behaviors of other people that they'll oppose anything those people believe just to feel better.

I am NOT a Protestant or an evangelical, and have been told by people fitting those descriptions that I'm destined for Hell. I am a curious person who accepts the fact that science has barely begun to discover our origins. I have no dog in the hunt. If science were to prove tomorrow that all exists devoid of a supernatural God, then I'm there. Why would I care about a God that was proven to not exist. I'm just curious, and a bit discouraged by the fact that a motivated group of atheists has become more zealous than most TV preachers in trying to prosthelytize their belief that God doesn't exist. I have no issue with someone believing this, or even with someone trying to cram it down my throat. Have at it. What bothers me is this idea that we're not going to allow science to even examine the possibility that supernatural creation exists. Nobody knows this for a fact, so the crusade stands in the way of discovery.

I regret that my arguments seemed angry to you. I'm really not angry in the least, just disappointed that people are using our relatively small body of scientific knowledge to ridicule and dismiss beliefs that could be rooted in something perfectly valid. I lose faith in scientists who go forth blindly with an agenda of dismissal, rather than an objective willingness to learn what they haven't decided they already know. Again, most of the truly great scientists throughout history believed they were studying God's handiwork. Pateur was discredited for a long time because nobody could see, feel or touch what he was studying -- life in the form of microscopic bacteria. He was considered a quack, just like scientists today who wish to study a potential god that can't yet be seen or touched or heard. My point is this: Who knows? None of us, really, so let's not condemn curiosity, belief and a willingness to study what some consider unimaginable. Don't let annying people stand in the way of objective discovery and an open mind. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Saturday, May 03, 2008 10:09 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: I opine on your response to Lou

Hi Wayne,

One of the Christian tenets centers on not hating the sinner but hating the sin. In reverse fashion my agenda is not to hate believers but to hate their destructive beliefs. Just as Christians would save a sinner I would save one who calls for the conversion or death of a non-believer. It is somewhat like those who call war protesters "America Haters" when in fact nothing could be further from the truth. Dissenters hate the present government for what they are doing to America. While still loving evangelicals for their humanity I am against evangelism for what it is doing to America.

I'm sorry but the old "just because you can't see it, doesn't mean it doesn't exist" argument doesn't hold water. Yes, Pasteur was ridiculed. But in just a few short years his study of microorganisms was validated by scientific means. A process and devices by which the microorganisms could be seen were produced by science. Sub-atomic particles, smaller even than microorganisms were unseen yet mathematical equations pointed to their existence. Soon the scientific discovery of electron microscopes proved that existence.
There are no such equations relating to religious phenomena nor any instruments through which to observe them.

The big three Religions have had over two millennia to come up with even a glimmer of proof as to their claims. Yet not one shred of empirical evidence has surfaced. Islam, Judaism and Christianity still depend on hearsay, questionable sources and unreliable documentation. Extolling the "truthfulness" of religion and saying it loudly and often is the only methodology employed by the religious. There is currently no investigative body of which I am aware within the religious community, including that of the Vatican, that is currently engaged in a serious study of the origins of their faith or any of the myths and fables to demonstrate a corporeal deity or credible manifestation of even a spiritual god. Absent that effort and given the enormous number of truly child-like attempts to lend substance to belief ranging from the Virgin appearing to some Mexican children who were late getting home and Jesus appearing an a mildew stain in a subway station men's room, not to mention the two thousand year wait, how can any person of even moderate intellectual ability keep an open mind as to the veracity of religious belief?

As to curiosity, I am one of the most curious persons I know. But I am discerning in my curiosity. If someone said: "here is a study on why witches are real along with several recent documented events which substantially support that proposition," my curiosity would peak.

But a proposition that is entirely unsupported except for hearsay, which is not even allowed in courts of law, holds little interest for me.

My only interest in religion is it's long and destructive existence that has served only to delay scientific discovery and punish progressive thought. Religion is a not a positive philosophy and its history is rife with the very things it purports to reject. Injustice, torture, theft, sexual deviancy, coercion and death. Of course any philosophy, including religion, is benign and its practitioners the true perpetrators.

Therefore, I am not patient, nor should anyone be while destruction is being wrought by practitioners in the name of an as yet undetectable god.

Cheers,

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Monday, May 05, 2008 11:40 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject:

Rick:

If Pasteur had hypethesized invisible bugs 1,000 years earlier, they wouldn't have been proven in a few short years. I'm trying to point out that all which exists isn't limited to that which we've so far discovered. We don't know whether there's intelligent life on other planets, much less whether a creator of some kind exists out there somewhere. I am not trying to convert you. I'm merely expressing a concern about segments of the scientific community that jump to conclusions motivated by a sociopolitical agenda that's a product of the here and now, and one that dismisses appreciation for the vast unknown. It seems arrogant and small-minded to pretend that science has nearly run its course, knowing all about the origins of a universe with parameters we can't even define.

Who cares if Mexicans believe they saw the Virgin Mary? This neither proves nor disproves anything regarding the topic of an original and intelligent creator. Again, I fear that you're allowing a predjudice against common religions to shut down your curiosity regarding the possibility of an origional source of intelligence and life. In scientific considerations, please let go of baggage pertaining to televangelists, stories that seem silly, predatory priests and religious wars. These are fascinating anthropological topics, but they have nothing to do with hard scientific inquiry into the beginnings of time, space and dimension.

Your talk of religion's "long and destructive existence" only casts more light on your dismissive, non-scientific agenda. The role of religion in society does not interest me in the context of scientific openness to the possibility of a creator or intelligent source of design. It simply isn't relevant. However, since you brought it up, I will indulge a reaction to your general assertion: Yes, religion has often been at the crux of destruction, with holy wars, crusades, Klan rallies, and such. But let's not forget that all the world's most notorious despots -- Hitler, Pol Pot, Moussolini, Stalin, Ho Chi Men, Amin -- were imposing secularist agendas against the will of believers. And don't forget that religion is the single biggest source of charity in the world. In Colorado, for example, Catholic charities dwarfs most other charities combined. Without relgious charity, millions more would starve and die of disease. Before most doctors would enter the same room as an AIDS patient, nuns were housing and caring for them in religious hospices. The vast majority of our country's soup kitchens and homeless shelters are founded, funded and staffed by religous organizations. In the years following Katrina, plane loads of church-goers have traveled to build and repair homes (the ACLU and Freedom From Religion Foundation have been nowhere in sight). The majority of our country's great universities and hospitals have been founded, funded and staffed by religious organizations. I have yet to discover a Jihad or terrorist act that was initiated by the Quakers, the Amish, or even the Methodists. The good will and charity mentioned above, which is a tiny fraction of what comes immediately to mind, are wrought by religious practicioners in the name of an as-yet undetectable god. You've made it clear that you don't like religion, and that's fine. But don't let this anger affect your ability to objectively accept possibilities that are neither proven nor disproven, which defines the most of what exists. Humans have discovered practically nothing, when you consider we've only visited our own moon a few times and have never landed a human on even the planets in our own back yard. We know almost nothing at this juncture. Be smart enough, objective enough, and humble enough to appreciate what we do know without simply dismissing anything we don't know as impossible. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Tuesday, May 06, 2008 10:48 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: (no subject)

Rick:

I, too, expect more scientific discoveries but at the same time expect no new religious discoveries as we understand them. I'm afraid that I would not count on any future scientific discoveries including religious revelation in today's genre.

Well, I'm not counting on it either. But you never know. Jesus and Mary may just drop down in your living room someday Rick. I wouldn't bet on it, but you don't know for sure that it won't happen. I happen to doubt that God is a white bearded old guy sitting on a cloud, as depicted by at artists, but anything's possible.

There are those who care deeply about religious apparitions as can be attested to by the millions who acclaim such apparitions as "miracles." And who, by the way, will defend them vigorously and often to the death.

Yes, their faith in miricles equals your faith that no such miracles could possibly exist. Neither perspective impressive me more than the other.

Religion and the practice thereof must be considered as a whole and all of it's benefits and drawbacks must be judged in order to portray it as a negative or positive force.

Yes, Rick, but you seem interested only in the darkest, silliest and sleeziest aspects of religion. I dearly love and respect science, but one can choose to dwell only on aspects of the scientific community that helped Dr. Mengele pick apart Jews or Margaret Sanger's eugenic Negro Project. We can focus on the for-profit aspects of scientific discovery that sometimes dismiss all social and ethical considerations. I simply asked you not to view all religion through the Tammy Faye Baker/pedophile priest prism.

You will not find a Biblical God, in the form he is currently described, in any study of time, space or dimension. If you mean that god could be a an energy source from a distant black hole or the emission of superheated particles from the core of a forming galaxy, then you must couch his description in different terms.

Though intelligent design has won the hearts of Christians and Jews who probably picture God as a bearded old guy on a throne, the theory is that some origional source of intelligent life formed the foundation for all life as we know it today. I ask you again, as before, to look beyond the understandable disdain you may have for some religions and religionists. I think your distrust and disrespect for some simple-minded or artistic portrayals of God have turned you off to the possibility that a magnificent and highly complex form of life engineered all that we know today. If this is correct, does it look like a space alien, or a blob of protoplasm? I have no idea. Perhaps its an old guy with a beard sitting on a throne that floats atop a cloud. I don't really care. I'm just interested in the value of a scientific community that remains open to the possibility of creation, because nothing has proven it false.

Certainly an unexplained yet somehow familiar phenomenon could be claimed as a god, but there would be no sensible connecting descriptor. If you are looking for the God of the future and are prepared to eschew all prior doctrines and tenets then I am sure you could find an ersatz god in science. But that, of course is not what I mean.

It's possible that God is a highly intelligent creature resembling artistic descriptions of a space alien -- something that's surprisingly more amenable to atheistic scientists than the depiction of a benevolent old man in a cloud. It's possible that God, if he or she exists in any form, communicated with Moses, and sent Jesus in the form of man. I'm not trying to convince you of any of this, I'm just suggesting that we shouldn't be so forceful and certain when dismissing the beliefs of cultures and individuals. There is a lot we don't know, so we must give people the space to believe, speculate and dream.

To say that the secularists are at least as bad as the religionists begs the question that all religions require a quid pro quo. Nothing, not charity, shelter, food, medical care, nothing is given freely without the expectation of return on investment or opportunity to proselytize and convert. That's what missions are all about. There is little concern for the human and all efforts are directed to the capture, conversion and delivery of the soul.

I disagree 100 percent with the premise of your above statement. Go visit the Denver Rescue Mission at lunchtime. Homeless people walk in, they eat, and they leave. There's no sermon, and no interaction other than food service. Two years ago I traveled with members of a black church to Mississippi to help rebuild a house that was ravaged by Katrina. We didn't even meet the family that owned the home. We didn't meet anyone but the person who unlocked the door. There was no preaching, no prayer, no expectation of anything in return. It was just a few wealthy black people trying to follow the advice of Jesus and help someone in need. The entire city of Pascagoula was full of similar groups, which had travled great distance to offer assistnace for nothing in return -- not even public recognition. As a long-time reporter, I have seen hundreds of examples of religious people, mostly Christians, giving anonymous help to the poor without any interaction whatsoever with the recipients and no expectation of a return of any sort. The only return, I suppose, is that giving to people feels good. That's why I give money to street beggars. I don't preach, and I don't tell them how to spend it. I just give the money away because I like to. Lots of people act this way, and the only return is the joy that comes with giving. Someone gave my family a house once. There were no strings. He just wanted us to have it, and we seldom even heard from this person again.

Often the poor in our community are bused to loci such as the Cornerstone Baptist Church, where they are made to listen to hours of sermonizing, participate in baptisms and such before a crust of bread can pass the lips of a hungry hungry child. . Some of our churches hold carnivals ostensibly to give parents a day off from children, only to strip the children naked and dunk them into tanks for the salvation of their souls. This can not be ignored or set aside. This must all be considered when you extol the virtues of your purified search for god. I also do not see this procedure changing even with the discovery of a palpable entity.

We can always find examples of bad behavior. Most people attracted to a teaching career are motivated by a conern for children and the future of society. A few (equaling thousands nationwide) are molesters attracted to an environment that puts them close to children. Most scientists are people motivated by an insatiable desire to discover truths. A few are motivated by greed for money or control. Again, you know that most religious people are not Tammy Faye and such.

It is also fair to point out that you are not a conventional religious person and would probably be considered a heretic by today's Christian standards. Yet you do not declare yourself as such. I think you might be more at home with the Mormons who espouse the ascendency to Godhood and the population of other planets.

It's true that I'm not a conventional religious person, and I've quickly grown accustomed to Evangelicals here in the Springs explaining that I'm destined for Hell. This does not bother me. People can believe what they choose. I'm someone who hasn't seen enough information to dismiss stories of God and a creator. I'm also one who remains highly impressed by religious charity, which dwarfs religious hypocrisy and thievery (despite media portrayals).

And I never thought about the search for god in scientific terms. That frankly approaches the Intelligent Design Arena which I find totally absent of merit.

I find absent of merit scientific theories that end with a rock, or a speck of dust, that accidentally became all things. Again, we can't stop there. In what time and space did the dust exist. How did it get here. What created the circumstance that led to the chaos that led to evolution. My most sincere concern involves an attitude among some scientists that we should explore to a certain point and then stop, all in the interest of disproving religion. The agenda sells humanity short. Let it go. Nobody's likely to prove or disprove God in the next few million yeras, so let's just keep searching objectively for origins and stop fussing about a few ugly people who pray.

Religion, itself, is too busy with intramural disputes, jealousies, pooh poohing and cultural wars to undertake any meaningful studies.

Of course I agree with this. I'm not counting on religion to discover the source of all things. I'm counting on science to at least make the effort, but I lose confidence when anti-religion agendas inspired by TV preachers are allowed to narrow the perameters of inquiry. Scientific bigotry is at least as harmful, probably more, than the intramural disputes of high-profile religion.

Oh, and may I say that your pontificating about Buddhism being a religion in today's editorial confirms your unshakable belief that you know more about a person's religion than he does. LOL.

By any definition in any culture this discipline known as Buddhism comes under the umbrella of religion. You can paint a rock purple, call it "Object B," and it's still a rock. The religion label may not appeal to people who left their parents' synagogue to study Buddha, but it's a fact. I could sit here and tell you that Catholicism isn't a religion, and instead is a cult-like intellectual discipline in which Canon law defines how one lives. But that wouldn't make it a fact. The courts and society would continue to view it as a religion, because it's a philosophy involving common morality and belief -- just like Buddhism. Coming from Boulder, trust me when I say I know Buddhism well. Several of my closest friends are Buddhists. It's religion in every possible sense of the word.

Atheism, despite the clouded judgement of the new Pharisees on today's Supreme Court, is not a religion but the absence thereof. Let people define themselves.

If we're going to let people define themselves, then I'm going to insist that Catholicism and the rosary aren't religious. Then I'm going to insist that we use them in the public schools, as we use Hindu yoga mantras. It's not the Supreme Court that defined atheism as religion. It was a circuit court and it did so for the benefit of an atheist who wanted an atheistic study group in prison. State prisons cannot interfere with the free exercise of religion, so the decision freed the inmate to teach his beliefs. And atheism is nothing other than a belief that no god exists. Its a philosophy of belief, and therefore a religion. Again, you're allowing your prejudices to cloud reason. If I believe in a God and can't prove my belief, my belief is religious. If you believe in an origional spec of dust that exists in a time and space devoid of God, and you can't prove it, your belief is religious. Go to the root of language, Rick, so your perceptions aren't distorted by contemporary circumstances. Religion is belief, even though your TV set defines it as Tammy Faye Baker, Rev. Wright and Ted Haggard. Don't be fooled by infotainment.

By the way: How do you know who I am? How did you get my e-mail address? I'm glad you did, and none of it's a problem. I'm just curious as to whether I'm speaking with someone I already know. Did we meet at a party, perhaps? -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 9:35 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses
Christian Counseling in the Workplace?
For HumanistNetworkNews.org

May 7, 2008

A week or so ago Humanist Network News Editor, Ruth Geller, drew my attention to an article from the Globe and Mail about the introduction of Christian chaplains to Ontario workplaces.

This practice is certainly news to me, but not all that surprising because, as the article points out, there have been chaplains in the military and in police and fire departments for some time. Their new presence in the general workplace does raise some questions, however.

If they were to follow the practices of their military, police and fire department colleagues, they would run afoul of Human Rights Commissions across Canada. These commissions are united in their policy that an employer cannot force religion on a worker.

According to the article, these chaplains are not in the work place to deliver a religious message, but to look after the spiritual needs of the workers. Apparently they are also qualified counselors. This raises the question of what would happen if a humanist officiate were to apply. "Why Christian?" is a question that also comes into my mind.

First, I need to deal with the definition of spiritual. The Canadian Oxford Dictionary gives, as its first definition, "of or relating to the human spirit or soul; not of physical things." Then it gives four other definitions that relate to religion, church and as a noun to a type of religious song. Presumably, the employers are worried about the emotional well being of their employees or about their souls.

Now, as a card-carrying agnostic humanist, I am certainly not convinced that there is a soul for the chaplain to relate to and I wonder what is meant by "human spirit." Morale? This seems a more personal approach than is appropriate. If there is a need for this personal intervention, why are the counselors specifically Christian? For that matter, why are they referred to as chaplains?

Apparently these counselors are quite proactive and initiate counseling through seemingly casual conversation. What can an employee do to end such a conversation without seeming to be non-compliant with employer policy? In such a case, might the employee’s dissatisfaction about the counseling prompt concerns about morale? This kind of interference in one’s personal life is just as apt to cause problems as resolve them.

In addition, intrusion into the personal lives of employees by employers seems to be increasing. Certainly this is partly because of the availability of email and other electronic devices provided by the employer, but the presence of proactive chaplains is a potentially further erosion of employee privacy.

How should humanists respond? As individuals we would have to make it clear that we are not seeking counseling and that proactive attempts to deal with our personal lives in the workplace are not appreciated. Of course, this in itself could prompt more concentrated efforts on the part of the chaplain. Unfortunately, Human Rights Commissions will not likely intervene if the chaplains claim that they are not pushing religion.

Once again, we humanists find ourselves in a position that requires us to insist on our right to freedom from religion regardless of its packaging.

It is interesting to note that many US Corporations have had active Christian Chaplain programs for years, replete with Chapels, prayer rooms, Bible study areas, etc.

Doug Thomas is an English teacher and novelist, an agnostic member of SOFREE (Society of Ontario Freethinkers), and a Canadian nationalist fanatic who has written a Humanist version of O Canada in both official languages. His novel, The Bloody Boy, is available through Keltoi Publishing.

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 10:46 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses

Wow, this is truly hysterical. It appears the author believes he and other humanists need some kind of third-party protection from the potential messages they might receive from non-humanists with potentially religious views. Shall the Canadian government start dictating to private employers the philosophical/religious bent of the counselors they hire? Suppose the employers are forced to hire only so-called humanists as on-site counselors. Then what's the poor Christian employee to do when the prosthelytizing humanist come to his cubicle offering advice? Mercy sakes, the poor Christian believer may find himself having to hear the advice of a godless humanist? And if he refuses, well then he's jeopardizing his job. Somebody pass a law!

Enough, already. Are you atheists and humanists so weak in your beliefs that the mere presense of someone with a religious philosophy might do you harm, or violate your rights? Does the word "God" turn you to salt? If you really believe all existence is limited to what you can see, feel and touch, then muster the stength to defend your belief without resorting to victimology, and complaints that beckon the rescue by government from opposing ideas on private turf. Let me assure you, you're not the minority you think you are. In my field, most people are in your camp. Religious employees in the media find themselves mostly surrounded by humanist and anthiest colleagues, supervisors and employers each and every day. We don't go seeking protection from the views of atheists and humanists, in an effort to quell their rights to express religious beliefs.

Do we really need another weak victim class in North America? No, we don't. In the United States, at least, the Supreme Court has defined secular humanism as "religion" (Torcaso v Watkins). Likewise, the Fourth Circuit has defined atheism as religion (Kaufman v McCaughtry). Therefore, godless beliefs have all the rights and privileges to compete in the marketplace of ideas as the Southern Baptist Conference or the Church of Scientology. So have at it, and share your message at will. I think it's great. But don't cry and whine when a private employer hires a "chaplain" with a perspective you don't like. That's the prerogative of the employer, and employees have no inherent right to third-party protection from ideas they that aren't identical to their own. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 11:59 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses

Wayne,

Are you truly so naive' as to think the Chaplain program is about leaving little messages of God's love to employees? Doesn't it strike you as unusual for the Chaplain programs to contain Christian -only Chaplains?

Wayne, the essence of Christian proselytizing in the Corporate world and the Armed Forces has been and continues to be an aggressive and coercive effort. It is an intrusive and perpetual onslaught in which elements of management or high ranking officers figure prominently. It is well planned, organized and funded with a communications network second to none.

There is an implied threat that unless an employee or soldier, sailor or airman is willing to listen and respond to proselytizing that their advancement could be stunted or even stopped.

Christian evangelism is simply coercive conditioning.

It appears you are in denial.

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 12:31 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses

Rick:

I did not say the chaplaincy was about leaving little messages of God's love to employees. I don't even care what it's about, because the relationship between employee and private employer is supposed to be a voluntary association between consenting adults. A private employer is not "government," and therefore it can't be construed as a branch of "Congress" establishing a state religion. This is particularly true in at-will employment states such as Colorado. I realize Canada was at issue, but I was speaking from a philosophical platform in defense of freedom, a concept that doesn't involve third party governments protecting individuals from annoying thoughts and ideas on private property.

As for military, that's another subject because the employer is government. I think I've been clear in stating that government should not sponsor prosthelytizing, by hiring religious chaplains and such, but it also shouldn't forbid individuals from sharing religious thoughts and ideas on government turf. Though I can barely keep up with defending the onslaught of modren attacks on religious expression, by people like you, I'm the first to oppose wrongful policy such as the federal recognition of Christmas as a holiday. We have some government violations of separation, but we have far more attempted abuses of free exercise and free speech.

By hiring religious chaplains, the government may be in dangerous flirtation with the concept of establishment. Likewise, it's in the business of establishment through the denial of free exercise and free expression when it forbids speakers, or the free exchange of religious ideas among employees and government consumers. When it does that, government engages in an establishment of secularism through exclusion of all else. As previously pointed out, our courts have defined secularism as a religious belief that a god does not exist or is not important. The courts have clearly stated that secularism cannot be viewed as common ground. Again, we must make fine and legalistic distinctions between efforts to avoid establishment by government and efforts at blunt oppression of religious freedom disguised as hedges against establishment. My great concern these days is that people of your philosophical persuasion would happily have the government regulate from existence any and all expressions you find annoying, simply because it benefits you. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I can hardly imagine that you would cry foul if some cop came along and removed a sidewalk preacher from public space. Based on past statements you've written, you would likely see this as a defense of the so-called separation clause. In fact, it would be an outright violation of the First Amendment protection of free speech and the free exercise of religion. Nowhere in the founding documents of this country are we granted protections from annoyances. -- Wayne

Wayne,

If a couple of workers want to eat lunch together in the corporate cafeteria and discuss their faith, I have no objection to that. I don't care if they pray together in their office.

What I object to is the organized evangelical effort in which a coercive strategy of utilizing forces and powers recognizable as such by the employee are employed to require attendance at religious meetings, events, etc.

We are in fact protected from annoyances in the form of harassment, disturbing the peace, fighting words, public nuisance, etc. There is that "bubble" created by the Supreme Court, originally used to protect patients at women's health clinics that now applies to other citizens in the line of fire from obtrusive groups or individuals. That bubble should apply to defenseless employees subject to religious harangues at work.

My interest in regulating religious expression in the public square is only if it is to the exclusion of others. I am against the establishment of religion. Ask any Christian you happen to meet if they would enjoy sharing the space next to the Decalogue with the Satanist Manifesto or Atheists Ten Reasons Why God Does Not Exist.

The problem is that Christianity demands exclusivity in its bailiwicks as Judaism or Islam does in theirs. Therefore since the other two big religions have their own religious countries our American Christians wish to make America a Christian receptacle, hence all that "Christian Nation" blather.

The Dominion Christian "Putsch" is underway.

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 2:19 PM
To: Richard
Subject: RE: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses

Rick:

If one works for Focus on the Family, he can expect to be coerced into attending religious meetings, events, ect. If one works for Sun Microsystems, he can expect to be coerced into attending religious meetings about the enourmous power released by getting in touch with the inner self. If one works for the Environmental Defense Fund, he can expect meetings that express a religious worship of Mother Earth -- something offensive to many. If one works for the Freedom From Religion Foundation, he can expect to be pressued into meetings that talk about the benefits of secularism and the evils of religion.

What I'm defending here is the reasonable expectation that employees and private employers work together at will. If they don't like each other, they should separate. Our government should not be in the business of guaranteeing us any particular source of livelihood. It just isn't government's job.

I, too, object to the "organized evangelical effort in which a coercive strategy of untilizing forces and powers recognizable as such by the employee are employed to require attendance at relgious metings, events, etc." However, my objection is largely irrelevant. If I object, then I shouldn't work for a company that employs such tactics. It's a big diverse world, and I'm free to associate only with those people who make me comfortable if that's what I want. I'm also free to go along with that which makes me uncomfortable. What's far more dangerous than sitting through an uncomfortable meeting is a law that says a private employer can't stage an uncomfortable meeting. It's a fascistic ideal to suggest government protection from content presented in an at-will private relationship.

The growing "bubble" you mention is exactly what concerns me. Most recently, people have been fighting to outlaw the ages-old practice of beggars asking fellow pedestrians and passing motorists for money. Advocates of this bubble say the beggars make them uncomfortable and scared. What's frightening is when members of society advocate for laws that interfere with free association so that someone might be made comfortable.

I believe your interest in regulating expression in the public square is for the sheer exclusion of mainstream religions you don't like. Again, I ask: Would you fight for the Christian preacher removed from a street corner by a cop? Answer honestly.

And I ask you this: Would you fight for the the athiest prosthelytizer, hauled away from the street corner for preaching "God is a fraud."

I'm guessing, based on your past arguments, that you would defend the athiest and not the religionist. Answer me honestly on this.

Re: American Christians wish to make America a Christian receptacle, hence all that "Christian Nation" blather.

This sounds like a far-fetched conspiracy theory, but I suppose Christians would like this. Most would simply like to freely exercise and express their religious beliefs, and you don't like it. What you seem to want is a govenment regulated "equality" of beliefs, rather than a free marketplace of ideas in which some flourish while others flounder. Please don't confuse dominent opinion and belief with establishment, because they are two very different things. If Chistians want a "Christian nation" they will have to go through the painstaking ordeal of revising the Constitution. I think you're pretty safe. -- Wayne

Wayne,

You speak as if Christians have the right or at least some special privilege to dominate in the public sector as well as in their private venues You must remember that the free practice clause of the constitution is not absolute. Given the full range of operation Christians have at home, church, private school, TV and Radio Networks, numerous publications, camps, cruises, etc., why is it necessary for any religion to intrude into areas where plurality must be preserved? The "Great Commission" is not part of American law.

I would certainly fight for the right of the street preacher's freedom of speech but that, too, is conditional. Free speech is also not absolute and when it is a public nuisance or intrudes on the privacy of others it must be regulated. Since there are no atheists of which I am aware that preach that religion is a fraud on street corners but only in voluntarily attended
intellectual settings and publications, I would dismiss that scenario out of hand.

As for the changing the constitution being a painful process, may I remind you of Mr. Huckabee's speech in North Carolina when he said it would be darn sight easier to change the constitution to more closely follow the laws of God than to change the word of the living God. He proposed doing that if elected.

I'm not sure you are aware of the dangers posed by this Dominion movement. It might do well for you to get caught up on it's agenda.

The government is tasked with the protection of it's citizens from enemies foreign and domestic. The bubble of which I speak and that the supreme court has validated is a necessary tool to protect the innocent from the ravings and overt actions of domestic enemies. I consider anyone who violates the law in the process of advancing a political or religious agenda to be a domestic enemy of the people.

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 08, 2008 3:39 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Christian Chaplain Company Invades Ontario Businesses

Rick:

I speak as if anyone has the right to dominate the public sector, if what you're talking about is the public square -- as in public space that we're all free to inhabit. Again, I'm advocating the free exchange of ideas. Some will dominate. others won't. The law does not guarantee equal outcomes, but equal opportunity.

Yes, free speech must be regulated in some circumstances in which it intrudes on the privacy of others. However, in the public square we have no reasonable expectation of privacy. None at all. It cannot be considered a public nuissance unless it violate obscenity laws or a noise ordinance. Religious content cannot be considered a nuisance. If you're unaware of athiests preaching in the public square then you haven't spent much time in Boulder. Often I walked along Pearl Street to hear a man say "God is a fraud" who was handing out brochures. That is one of many, many examples. Christians may be a loud majority in Colorado Springs, but that certainly isn't the case everywhere. In Boulder, Buddhists comprise the dominant prosthelytizing religious group.

If Mr. Huckabee thinks he can change the laws of the and, he's free to try. We have a process in place to change the Constitution. Unless and until that happens, I choose to live by the one we have. You, by contrast, would like a government that suppresses majority views despite the law.

I suppose you support a bubble to protect you from anyone with an irritating view. If this is the case, then you do not support free speech. You support free speech for those with a message that isn't offensive to you. That frightens me. Instead of seeking government restrictions of free speech, why don't you just be strong in your own convictions. If you're jealous of dominent views, then try to make your own views more dominent. Compete, rather than complain. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 7:39 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Our View May 9, 2008

Hi Wayne.

There is an element of "kill the messenger" in your writing today.

Given the high position in the community enjoyed by Mr. Newsome, once an impropriety is discovered and reported on by the media, all other motives beyond the public's right to know are obviated.

In short, it was Mr. Newsome who was 100% responsible for this report and no one else. Ergo, the reasons behind the News First 5 and 30 investigative report other than bona fide news gathering are rendered moot.

For whatever reason, John Newsome ignored the possibility that such behavior by a man in his position would attract some attention. District Attorney is a politically charged job and calls for irreproachable comportment and impeccable judgement in filing charges against offenders. It is therefore necessary to avoid circumstances in which that judgment can be seriously questioned.

As for him not having committed a crime because he was not arrested or charged, it must be remembered that thousands of crimes go undetected and are therefore not prosecuted. Yet the act remains. The commission is the key not the detection. Mr. Newsome's acts do not inspire confidence in his judgement.

It is possible, if not likely, that others who may have been caught and charged with acts similar to Mr. Newsome's, are this very day, in legal custody.

Richard

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Friday, May 09, 2008 9:35 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Our View May 9, 2008

Rick:

In my opinion, it's unfortunate that society has moved once again in a prohibitionist direction. People should be able to drink heavily if they choose. Professionally, Newsome should be judged by his results and not his personal habits. However, he did appear to drink too much and then drive which poses a legitimate public safety concern. My question was this: If it's such serious public safety concern, then why didn't these messengers get a message to 911? That's my only real concern with the work they did. Otherwise, it was a fine job.

Regarding your previous e-mail, I fail to understand how the free exercise of religion equates to fascism. You are simply bitter about majority views. Without fascism, however, we will always have to live with majority views. Only fascism can regulate the expression of belief. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2008 9:09 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Christians Finally Getting It?
Happy Mother's Day to all.

Snuck out this morning at 6:00 AM and got my wife a dozen roses and a musical Mother's Day Card that sings "I Melt." I spent a few moments remembering my mother, a gentle soul who suffered greatly as all four of her sons and husband get involved in some conflict or another. She was an Italian immigrant at age 3 moving to Boston with her family and flourished in her new surroundings. She rose to the occasion of moving every two or three years after meeting and marrying my Dad. With the exception of my wife I have never met a more loving and caring person.

I saw "Constantine's Sword" yesterday. I recommend it.

Frankly, I knew just about all of the historical Catholic pogroms against Jews and others. I was gratified to see the connection between that age-old exclusivity and today's evangelical movement known as "Dominion Christianity" and the strangle hold it maintains on our armed forces, military academies, corporate community and government. I think the author could have stressed the connection a bit more strongly but then, I am an activist not a moderator.

Mikey Weinstein was in good form and his sons and daughter-in law were bright and erudite in their appearances. You should know that Mikey's wife Bonnie has not been feeling well with symptoms of muscular dysfunction brought on mostly by the daily stress of receiving death threats and other overt acts of hate from certain members of the Christian Community. Of course keeping up with a firebrand like Mikey is not easy to start with. But Bonnie gives as good as she gets. It also must be difficult to be so often mistaken for Mikey's daughter.

I don't know exactly what to make of the following but I hope it's the beginning of realization by the Christian Community that they have too often used misfeasance in politics to achieve religious goals.

Of course the Dominion Christian extremists such as James Dobson have not signed this document and I don't see Hagee's or Parsley's name on the dotted line yet.

But hope springs eternal.

Rick

'Evangelical Manifesto' Ponders Politics

By RACHEL ZOLL AND ERIC GORSKI,
AP

Conservative Christian leaders who believe the word "evangelical" has lost its religious meaning plan to release a starkly self-critical document saying the movement has become too political and has diminished the Gospel through its approach to the culture wars.

The statement, called "An Evangelical Manifesto," condemns Christians on the right and left for "using faith" to express political views without regard to the truth of the Bible, according to a draft of the document obtained Friday by The Associated Press.

"That way faith loses its independence, Christians become `useful idiots' for one political party or another, and the Christian faith becomes an ideology," according to the draft.

The declaration, scheduled to be released Wednesday in Washington, encourages Christians to be politically engaged and uphold teachings such as traditional marriage. But the drafters say evangelicals have often expressed "truth without love," helping create a backlash against religion during a "generation of culture warring."

"All too often we have attacked the evils and injustices of others," they wrote, "while we have condoned our own sins." They argue, "we must reform our own behavior."

The document is the latest chapter in the debate among conservative Christians about their role in public life. Most veteran leaders believe the focus should remain on abortion and marriage, while other evangelicals - especially in the younger generation - are pushing for a broader agenda. The manifesto sides with those seeking a wide-range of concerns beyond "single-issue politics."

Among the signers of the manifesto are Os Guiness, a well-known evangelical author and speaker, and Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary, a leading evangelical school in Pasadena, Calif. Organizers declined to comment until the final document is released.

They say more than 80 evangelicals have signed the statement, although only a few names have been released. A. Larry Ross, spokesman for the authors, said the theologians and Christian leaders involved are seeking to "go back to the root theological meaning of the term evangelical."

Some champions of traditional culture war issues are not among the supporters.

Richard Land, head of the public policy arm for the Southern Baptist Convention, said through a spokeswoman that he has not seen the document and was not asked to sign it.

James Dobson, the influential founder of Focus on the Family, a Christian group in Colorado Springs, Colo., did not sign the document, said Gary Schneeberger, a Dobson spokesman. Schneeberger would not say whether Dobson had read the manifesto or had been asked to sign on.

Phil Burress, an Ohio activist who networks with national evangelical leaders, said that if high-profile evangelical leaders such as Dobson and Land don't support the document, "it's like throwing a pebble in the ocean" and will carry no weight.

But the drafters hope they can start a movement among evangelicals to reflect and act on the document. "We must find a new understanding of our place in public life," the drafters wrote.

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Monday, May 12, 2008 10:08 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Christians Finally Getting It?

Rick:

It is increasingly clear that you simply hate Chrisitans, including Catholics. You're terribly concerned with Catholic pogroms "against Jews and others," yet you and the movie "Constantine's Sword" completely ignore the enormous amount of support the Christian and Catholic communities gave to Jews during the Holocaust. You ignore the Christian support given today regarding the constant attacks on Israel by the Muslim world. I myself, as a Catholic, have written far more in defense of Jews than in defense of Catholics or other Christians. Yet Christian-haters like to comb history for any bad human behavior they can find that can be somehow attached to "Christianity." Let's see whether atheists would like that, or Jews. How about the fact that nearly all dictatorial genocides have been carried out by secularists and atheists. And let's consider the fact that it's the Jewish community, which has receive far more embrace than persecution from Christians, that has boldly fused church with state with the sanction of the United Nations. And talk about pogroms, Rick. From the perspective of a so-called Palestinian there could be no greater pogrom than what Jews and the Jewish state have carried out in Israel.

Constantine's Sword is a ridiculous and gratuitous attack on on one religion that you happen loathe. You, and Mikey, and such talk about how hateful and intolerant all of Christianity is, but you fail to look in the mirror. You are motivated by your own brand of hatred and intolerance, and it's getting more palpable by the day. Seriously, look in the mirror. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Tuesday, May 13, 2008 11:07 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Christians Finally Getting It?

Hi Wayne,

RICK SAID: Therefore I do abhor most of the dogma embraced by Christians, Islam, and Judaism while often feeling pity for most of the practitioners.

Rick. While some practicioners abuse these religions, most do not. Most Muslims, for example, are not terrorists. A few are, and they misuse and exploit religion to carry out their crimes. This is not the fault of Islam. Most Christians are not money-grubbing televangelists, either. A few of them are. The amount of Christian charity, resulting from the dogma of selfless giving dwarfs the religion-based obscenities you dwell upon. If Christian charity were to cease tomorrow, you would not recognize this world and you would not like it. It's not the skeptics, and the secular humanists and the atheists who are pouring time and money into homeless shelters, hospices and starving children in Africa. It's the Christians. I know a woman in Boulder who few have ever heard of. Her name is Donna Auguste. She's an African American woman who grew up in abject poverty, being fed, educated and cared for by Catholic nuns. She invented the Newton for Apple Computers, then went on to start a company in Boulder called Freshwater Software. She sold it in 2003 for $147 million cash. Today, she continues living a modest life. She spends her time and considerable fortune building houses in Africa and Mexico City. She invented and funded a way to refrigerate vaccines in remote African village so children would no longer die of Polio. She does this all because she wants to follow the teachings of Jesus and the Catholic Church. Yet nobody has heard of her, because people like you and the mainstream press get off on stories about people like Tammy Faye and Ted Haggard. But people like Donna Auguste far outnumber the those who exploit religion for personal gain. The good that emanate from religion far surpasses the bad. How many wars have the Amish or the Quakers started, Rick? They do good because of religious convictions. The reason I believe you hate Christians is because you go out of your way to dwell on a few bad actors, and you completely ignore the fact that Christian charity is far more prevalent. No, you do more than ignore this fact. You actually told me that no Christian did anything good without some selfish motive. You said Christians help the poor only after spending hours trying to recruit them. You are simply wrong, Rick. I have been to too many Christian hospitals, hospices, homeless shelters, soup kitchens, etc., to relate at all to what you have said. Far more often than I've encountered someone with a selfish motive I have encountered people who are giving of themselves simply because they believe in the dogma of their religion. You dismiss all of this because a few unpleasant people have annoyed you and done so in the name of religion. That's like characterizing all black people as sinister criminals if one black criminal steals your wallet. It's like casting all law enforcement as evil and sinister because a few people are attracted to the police force in order to commit crimes. What sinister motive have you ascribed to Mother Teresa? Please tell me how she and her many followers have harmed us all.

RICK SAID: in conservative religious or political circles there is little, if any criticism to be heard about government or religion. It is therefore much more likely that dissenters will be seen as attackers rather than critics. One has to be able to make a distinction between hate and criticism.

I am a religious conservative, Rick, and you'd be hard pressed to find anyone more critical of government. One reason I value freedom of religion so much is that it gives a person the right to obey an authority higher than government. Our system has actually upheld this. When Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali) was told by his god to sit out the war, our courts respected that. Examples abound of how a free-for-all of religious beliefs keep government in check. But you are annoyed by some religious actors, so you seem to favor goverment suppression of religion. And why? So that you won't have to be annoyed. I think you should defend greater ideals than that. You have the same religious freedoms as anyone else. Your disbelief in a God works great a as a religious belief in our court system. You can do anything I can do, but you'd sure like to silence people like me.

RICK SAID: As for today's support of Israel by Christians, one would be totally naive to believe it is a genuine friendship outreach. As you know, Dominion Evangelicals believe that in the end times, Christians will return to rightfully repossess Israel with gangs of Christian Tribulation soldiers in preparation for the return of Jesus.

While I'm certain this is true of some Chritians, I don't know a single Christian who view Israel that way. I have been supportive of Jews because I like them. I believe Israel belongs to the people who control it today, unless and until they and their allies are successfully overthrown by someone else. Again, you have found the silliest and smelliest element of Christianity and decided to paint with a broad brush. Your MO is to condemn an enourmous segment of society because some people annoy you.

RICK SAID: Wayne, one does not have to "comb" history to find episodes of bad Christian behavior. Christian injustice and discrimination against minority religions and populations is rife throughout the centuries and spans Christianity's entire history. From the Crusades to today's sexual assaults on children and the heinous activities in between, what little good Christianity has done is dwarfed by it's awful practices which reach, even now, into the 21st Century.

Please give me the data to prove that the "heinous activities" dwarf the good. I don't know where to get such statistics. However, I can walk around Colorado Springs and Denver with you and stumble upon hundreds of examples of Chrisitan charity at work on any given day. You will be hard pressed to find even a handful of Christian attrocities on this tour. And of course you had to invoke the "sexual assault" in your deliberate attempt to smear Christianity. Child molestation in the Catholic Church never even came close to approaching the prevalence of child molestation in public schools. Nothing excuses the criminal negligence of some bishops in the church decades ago. But today, we have rampant child molestation in secular society and no place is safer than Catholic istitutions, which have basically imposed martial law. One can't even volunteer to look in the direction of a Sunday school class without first agreeing to a background check, getting finger printed, and taking a course. Catholic teachers are fired if they even put an arm around a child. And why? Because the anti-Catholic mainstream press made scandal of the fact that a small amount of sexual abuse -- smaller than what occurs in most organizations -- was mishandled. Most of this took place decades ago. You don't care about the mischaracterization and the unfairness of it all, because you hate the church. It brings you joy to see it wrongfully maligned and sued. If your concern were child molestation, you'd be on a crusade right now against the public schools in your own backyard. The AP did a huge series that proved the epidemic of sexual abuse in public schools, and it also proved that school boards and administrators commonly shift the criminals to other schools with high recommendations. Where's your outrage, Rick? You have none, because you are motivated by hatred of Christianity. If that were not the case, you would be furious at the public school system.

RICK SAID: Certainly not every sect of Christianity, every order, priesthood, pastorship, monastery, convent, individual churches, etc. are guilty of the dastardly acts committed in the name of God. But internal criticism apparently doesn't exist because in their silence even the good Christians give tacit approval to whatever Christian agenda is afoot.

No internal criticism exists? What do you suppose happened in Dallas in 2002, Rick? The bishops of the United States met, invited in the press from around the world, and devised a plan for uncovering and disclosing the entire scope of any and all sexual abuse that may have occured anywhere in the church going back most of a century. It established the only bureaucracy of its kind, a regulatory agency in Washington D.C. to help eradicate sexual assault from the church. It established the most extraordinary zero tolerance police ever employed by any institution in the United States. It did all of this in response to revelations that it had a sexual abuse problem similar to that of any major institution anywhere. Yet no other instititions, including those with worse problems, have acted in similar fashion. Where's the Department of Education's bureacracy for the prevention of childhood sexual assault? It doesn't exist, and you probably don't care because what's important to you is pointing out that Christianity sucks.

RICK SAID: You say that "Constantine's Sword" is a gratuitous attack on one religion that folks like me and Mikey undertake. Yet, you do not say we are wrong, only that we attack. You also employ the age-old "Tu Quoque" defense which basically says that the critic is equally guilty as the perpetrator.

Again, you will not acknowledge that all day, ever day, 24-7, Christians feed, shelter, clothe, and give comfort to the poor throughout the world. You do, in fact, comb thousands of years of history to find episodes in which attrocities were committed in the name of God and then stand there with a who farted look and point to the Christians. That's what you do, Rick. You and Mikey are on an all-out crusade to get the Christians. This is more obvious that you know. The measure of Christian charity would be millions to one if counted against Christian attrocity. If Christians committed a crime for every act of kindness they perform in their homeless shelters and hospices, our world would be an intolerable bastion of daily crime. Can you possibly deny this, Rick?

RICK SAID: I believe that you are getting personally involved in our discussions and allowing your beliefs get in the way of the debate.

No, I'm getting somewhat frustrated at the fact I can prove to you the following: Christianity is mostly good, it gives more than it takes, and it forms the social services network that makes this world a much better place. And you respond by point to Tammy Faye, the crusades, and some corrupt priests from way back when. I'm not gettting personal, but I do feel like I pounding a concrete wall. And I do feel that you have an agenda of hatred and intolerance that's repulsed by reason. You want the Christians to be bad, becasue some have annoyed you, and you will hear nothing that doesn't prove that Christians are bad.

RICK SAID: I must say, however, that history and truth is on my side in this debate and you cannot change that. One cannot ameliorate actuality.

Is history not on my side, Rick? Or are you simply going to remain in denial about the fact that for every scandal you dredge up I can point to the fact that Christianity has for thousands of years inspired people to give selflessly of themselves to others, making this a better world. Nearly every great university, hospital and charity -- the institutions that make our world better -- have resulted from Christian charity. History's on my side, as well, and my examples far, far, outnumber yours. Again, a few Christian attrocites will happen today. Yet millions and millions of dollars and countless man hours will be donated by people trying to live by the words of Christ. You can whine and fuss all you want, but you will never harm an institution that forms the fabric of charity throughout the world. If the skeptics, secular humanists and atheists are jealous about the size and success of Christianity, then maybe they ought to get in the game. Maybe they should start rebuilding hurricane zones, and feeding the poor, and staffing shelters and hospices. Do that, and maybe you won't feel like such the beleaguered minority. Simply bashing Christians with damning diatribes and movies that ignore historical context won't get you too far.

Your friend,

Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 6:30 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Correction

Wayne,

Rat's! Yesterday I made a monumental point in our correspondence in which I haughtily announced that there were no Jews, Muslims, Buddhists or Atheists heading up any agency or department in the Bush administration.

Then I remembered Michael Ukase, a Jewish person, being appointed Attorney General and although late in the game his appointment by Bush obviates my prideful declaration.

Pride goeth before a fall.

In the interest of accuracy I withdraw my blanket statement and replace it with the following:
"In the entire Bush administration there is but one non-Christian in charge of an agency or department"

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 9:10 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Correction

Rick,

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I did not know Ukase's religious affiliation, but I'm glad to hear that Bush has not appointed only Christians. I don't think most non-Christians understand this, but there is an enormous divide between Evangelicals and Catholics. Evangelical Chrsitians, the kind we typically see in Colorado Springs mega churches (Ashcroft is Evangelical), do NOT consider Catholics as Christians. They consider Catholics as Pagans who worship Mary and the saints. They pray for us and try to set us straight. That's why I find it significant that Bush has appointed Catholic judges and includes at least one Catholic advisor in his talks with religious leaders. I would be surprised if he doesn't speak routinely with someone representing the Jewish faith community, but I have no information to support this. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 10:27 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Further Correction

Also, I am surprised at the vehemence protestants often show Catholics. I was fascinated by the Bob Jones University stories and it's rabid hatred for Catholics. I can't remember exactly but I think it was Bob Jones senior who called the Pope the Antichrist. And Pastor Hagee is calling the Catholic church The Great Whore." Meanwhile Pastor Parsley, another of McCain's spiritual guides is condemning all of Islam as a false religion. How can he tell? They all sound the same. Some sects a bit more aggressive than others but all claim truth and the real God. Without empirical evidence how can anyone make such definite and confident statements?

Hi Rick,

Relgions will probably never all agree to just get along. All we can do is advocate religious freedom and tolerance, and outlaw bad behavior such as murder. We cannot legislate the beliefs and words of relious leaders and followers. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 11:14 AM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Re: Further Correction

Hey Wayne,

You say "We cannot legislate the beliefs and words of religious leaders and followers. But how about legislating their actions? I'm thinking that murder is a tad beyond "bad behavior" nez n’est pas? And how about outlawing unwelcome, annoying, illegal and
unconstitutional proselytizing? LOL

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 11:21 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: Further Correction

Rick:

Murder is illegal in all 50 states. No, we can't outlaw unwelcome, annoying, "illegal" and "unconstitutional" proselytizing because there's nothing illegal or unconstitutional about free speech. What are you talking about? It really is the root of fascism to suggest outlawing something simply because it annoys you. The Jews annoyed Hitler, so he outlawed them. The Turks annoyed Saddam Hussein, so he exterminated them. What part of "Free Speech" and the "Free Exercise of Relgion" do you fail to understand? Do you really think we can just outlaw words that you find offensive? I sure hope not. -- Wayne

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Friday, May 16, 2008 7:08 PM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: CLARIFICATION to "Christians Finally Getting It?"

Five million is for one organization. As pointed out earlier others total many millions.
America is certainly founded on the right to have radical ideas but no right to subversive ones that call for dissolution of democracy and installation of Theocracy. Pat Robertson calls for Theocracy in his book :"The Secret Kingdom." His five million members support him, and therefore by extension support his subversive ideas.

It's amazing that you think subversive ideas aren't a right. Of course they are. Anyone has the right to advocate Martial Law, communism, socialism, Nazism, you name it. All kinds of organizations with subversive, anti-American ideas meet every day in this country hoping to somehow change the system. They are perfectly within their rights to use process to try to change the Constitution and our form of government. You just hate Christians Rick, and it's ridiculously obvious. You wouldn't believe how many people on your own mailing list agree.
Wayne, you are forgetting that there is a political system within a system in our Representative Republic. This political system is quite separate from the normal political process and is controlled largely by Protestant and Catholic religious leaders. As I have pointed out, millions of evangelicals are instructed to vote as a bloc. Catholics vote as a bloc and you recall the hoopla about bishops not giving communion to anyone who was pro-choice?

So the theory of true representation is voided by large religion driven political groups. The 78% Christian majority in the United States, with continued prompting from religious leaders could effectively vote for Theocracy. That's why religion has been basically forbidden to preach politics from the pulpit, although they all do. Add to that the Dominionists effort to infiltrate the armed forces and it is clear that an agenda to control US arsenals is afoot. Bush has already admitted our adventures in the Mid East is a "Crusade." This movement is bigger and further advanced than you think.

You have become frightening. You are actually coming out against the right of people to encourage their peers how to vote. You are against the political process in this country, and your philosophy boils down to this: Anyone who doesn't think like Rick is a bad person who should be controlled. No, Catholics don't vote as a block. They're pretty much divided along the lines of the rest of the country. They've voted Republican in only one national election, to the best of my recollection, and they tend to vote without regard to the abortion issue, which is unfortunate.

Bush doesn't have to impose evangelical Christianity on America now. That comes in the end times. Right now an alliance between Catholic and Protestant Christians will serve Dominionists much better. Then when the time comes, Israel will be occupied, Israelis required to convert or perish, Catholics and all others including atheists the same, and all enforced by the happy to be of service Dominion Christian Tribulation Force

That jingle from The Twilight Zone is running through my head. You should consider getting some help. Seriously.

You must remember that under the constitution, religion has no more force in power than atheism. You would like to think so, and Christians have violated that premise for centuries. Religion must take its place alongside other civil liberties and guarantees and not supercede them.

I would like to think that religion has more force in power than atheism? Rick, where have you been? I'm they guy who's been posting case law that proves our court system has ruled that atheism and secular humanism have the same protections as religion, and are considered religions in their own right. I have posted this to assure you that the "Evil Christians" can't possibly carry out the paranoid conspiracy theory you have ascribed to them.

Pol Pot and Stalin were conservative Communists. Hitler was a Nazi/Fascist. You confuse Fascism with totalitarian communism. Remember the formula I posted above.

Sure, they were conservative just like those Christians you hate. Conservative just like Reagan!

Oh dear are we waxing satiric?

Humor.

I never said there weren't good Christians. Your field trip probably had a lot of nice Christians.
It seems Mother Theresa even wrote a letter confirming her loss of faith. If she didn't become a full fledged Atheist, her doubts at least put her squarely in the Agnostics corner. How can an agnostic be a Saint?

We all lose our faith from time to time. I don't claim to know the status of Mother Teresa's faith. I can say with absolute certainly that she was inspired by Jesus, Scripture and the Catholic Church to devote her life to the needs of others, just like millions of other Christians.

Is the scrap of scripture:"There are none so blind as they who will not see," ring a bell? An undercover investigation to find Christian crooks to justify my bigotry?

You'd be lucky not to stumble over Christian crooks on your way to work. From Jim Bakker, to Ted Haggard, Jimmy Swaggart to Benny Hinn, Richard Roberts to the Aryan Nation, KKK to the skin heads. 880+ Catholic priests, monsignors, bishops, etc, charged with sexual assaults on children or the cover up thereof. In addition 85 percent of U.S. Catholic Diocese report embezzling, financial irregularities or other criminal activities.

http://www.catholic.org/national/national_story.php?id=22459

America is up to its neck in Christian crooks Do you live in a cave?

And in your world of bigotry, they're the only crooks that matter. Furthermore, a Christian crook means that all Christians are crooks.

What I think should reflect my world view is world peace, harmony, brotherhood, love, cooperation, no poverty, no sexism, no religious supremacy and free Southern Comfort ... etc., etc. blah blah blah...

That's great Rick, but what organized efforts are you and other Christian-bashers making to spread peace, harmony, etc., and etc. I could fill millions of pages trying to list the obvious efforts Christians make, and I've already spelled out the few that I've personally come in contact with in just a the last few years.

You are correct in that I don't like pushy people. I do not excuse pushy and aggressive ideologues just be cause they are religious and pray fro me. Actually they do more preying than praying.

It's fine that you don't like them. What's frightening is that you would outlaw them, and to accomplish this goal you ascribe to all Christians some extremely bizarre conspiracy theories that nobody believes.

Defending oneself against religious aggression cannot be called intolerance. As I have pointed out that would be akin to being called intolerant for defending yourself against physical harm. For one to remark on the clearly unconstitutional activities of certain Christian sects cannot be classified as intolerance. A grade school student could see the distinction. As for fear of Christians , should not African Americans and Jews be afraid of the KKK, World Church of the Creator, Army of God, Aryan Nation and other Christian Identity Groups? Shouldn't Catholics be afraid of Protestants who call the Pope the Antichrist and their church a "Great Whore?" Should children be even a little frightened of Catholic priests? Shouldn't moderate Muslims be afraid of Pastor Parsley when he says the should all be destroyed? There's a lot of reasons to fear Christians.

I'm not much for living in fear of people who don't like me. Do you fear the Rev. Wright, Obama's pastor? We're supposed to fear him, but I don't. He doesn't like you, Rick, so do you fear him? No, I'm not afraid of Protestants who calle the Pope the Antichrist, or my church the Great Whore. I'm not a professional victim. As for children and priests, statistically a child should be far more afraid of a public school teacher than a priest, now and in the past. I suppose there are lots of reasons to fear Christians if one wants to live in hatred and fear. On the other hand, if one has the humility to respect the rights of others to possess and express their own views, then one finds words a lot less threatening.

White Southern Baptists believed firmly that God condoned slavery and were the largest bloc of slave owners in the South. This belief was kept alive during segregation.
That's pretty extreme stuff, Rick. One of my best friends in the world is a white, Southern Baptist minister. His name is Tre Cates, and he's also a successful high tech entrepreneur. He's from the South, but started a church in Boulder in the 1990s for white Southern Baptists. I've met many, many, white Southern Baptists and never found a racist among them. You are a fear monger. You think up hateful attributes, and then say things like "White Southern Baptists believe firmly that God condoned slavery." I hope you keep talking like this, because it tanks you credibility. Too many people know someone who's a "White Southern Baptist" to believe that most of them are racists.

White Protestant Christians always discriminated against Hispanic Catholics.

They always do this? Well that's absolutely amazing, considering the fact I can easily find you dozens of White Protestant Christians right here in Colorado Springs who are helping to feed, shelter, clothe and protect Latino immigrant workers trying to gain legal status or citizenship. One of the great concerns in the Catholic Church has been that Protestants reach out more to immigrant Catholics than American Catholics do. This has been an issue of discussion at meetings of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. You sound absolutely, certifiably delusional when you say things like "all" these people and "all" those people have horrible attributes. You sound like a hateful bigot.

One of the severe problems with Christianity is that they believe that anyone who does not subscribe to it is insane, when in truth it is the other way around.

If this sweeping and negative generalization were true, then I would consider my best very friend in the world, Scott Weiser of Boulder, insane. He is a lifelong, card-carrying atheist. We have a long and respectful friendship. The difference between him and you is that he doesn't hate people who choose to believe in God. He doesn't ascribe disgusting attributes to them, suggesting that they're all racists and pedophiles. I must also consider one of my columnists here at the Gazette, who I respect and admire and get along with nicely, insane. I have no issues with your atheism, Rick. I have issues with your hatred of anyone who doesn't believe as you do. You've convinced me of one thing in these discussions: all the negative attributes you ascribe to Christians really belong to you. It's perfectly clear in that you live by sweeping stereotypes and overarching hatred and intolerance. It's very sad. I must be done with this now, because you have made up your mind to live in judgement and hatred of others. You may have the last word. -- Wayne

Wayne,

I regret your decision to terminate our correspondence.

Given that most of my posts were constructed at least in part with tongue planted firmly in cheek, I assumed you would be of sufficient intellect to extract the serious from the ridiculous.

This is disappointing to me since I sensed in you a budding intelligence yearning to break free of the years of indoctrination and suppressive catechism of which you are obviously a victim.

I am now resigned to your being in a position in a major market newspaper where your opinions, subject to the superstitions and fables of religion, will truly be a disservice to our community.

I hope you realize that your qualifications are seriously tainted by the non sequiturs of religious application so frequently substituted for legitimate opinion.

You have given your brain to fantasy, an unforgivable act in the world of intellectual reality. It would appear that you have had one of your Christian mentors monitoring our repartee and recommending your withdrawal.

I am saddened by your surrender.

Rick

From: Wayne Laugesen
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 11:15 AM
To: Richard Baker
Subject: RE: The Lasty Volley

Hi Rick:

Don't read too much into my surrender. I was getting ready to leave town and needed to use my time efficiently. While I cannot continue daily volley's back and forth on this, it's not my inetnion to shut down the conversation entirely. I have enjoyed it. -- Wayne

From: Richard Baker
Sent: Friday, May 30, 2008 7:55 PM
To: Wayne Laugesen
Subject: Celebrity is such a burden

Well,

All you Indy readers got an eyeful in yesterday's Ranger Rich column.

Who knew that my friend Wayne Laugesen of the Gazette was a true libertarian and proved it in that almost Rambo-like attack on the historic windows in where was it, Boulder?
Of course one has to ask, what the hell is a Libertarian doing in Boulder?

Wayne knew he could not abide a historic society browbeating a wealthy property owner, even if George Washington slept there.

And who knew Israel was a western super power? I thought Israel was still a struggling mid eastern democracy. I say struggling because they have the same problems all democracies have. In order to have majority rule some minority is going to be diminished. Hopefully, as America is continually working on solutions with it's minorities, Israel will settle it's problems with the Palestinians and the Palestinians will agree to admit Israeli's are human beings after all. And I hope it's soon, because my supply of blintzes has been seriously curtailed of late.

And who knew my name would be bandied about with those of the famous?

I hope this is all taken in the spirit of good fun and helps to convince those trying to kill Mikey and his family that they have absolutely no sense of humor and that their annual membership dues to the RNC and yearly tithes to the Church of the Certain Death and Discount House of Worship are overdue. Also shouldn't they be thinking about the Christian classic: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you?" Kill, kill, kill, doesn't anybody love their neighbor anymore?

I love my neighbor, especially when she wears those short shorts to mow her lawn. My thoughts tend to the impure and I am given over to lust and thoughts of fornication.

Then like an angel of the lord, my other neighbor, a Salvation Army Tuba player emerges from her house adorned in her Confederate gray uniform., clean shaven and resembling, almost eerily, a portrait of George Bush, ears and all, tuba polished as if with the light of a thousand votive's, shaking her finger at me and warning of Satan's power of temptation. Thank the lord that I was able to resist. No, not the lady in shorts, the rather presidential looking Salvation Army lady.

Hopefully, all involved will realize that none of this stuff is worth hurting each other over and that many such volatile issues have been settled over a beer without the necessity of pain and suffering. I know that whenever I am upset with someone, a shot of Southern Comfort and a cold beer seem to sooth the savage breast and my neighbor's breasts desperately appear to need soothing. My wife, however, points out , and rightly so, that anyone living in our house who soothes any breast other than hers will be speaking in a higher register.

Good point.

Rick


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