On June 29th, 2008, University of Central Florida student and student officer Webster Cook was involved in the incident that has since become known as Crackergate. Mr. Cook, while trying to leave the premises of the the school’s Catholic Church with the un-swallowed bread that is believed by some Catholics to be Jesus Christ, was physically assaulted and restrained. Later, Cook filed charges against the Deacon of the church who had physically attacked him, and the Church, for hazing (the most relevant available campus regulation), which prohibits the forced consumption of food by a student. Cook also filed underage drinking charges because of the consumption of wine by the underage churchgoers.

But these charges were filed only after a series of charges were filed against Cook.

According to Benjamin Collard, Cook’s friend, “there were 3 charges filed against Webster Cook at the office of student conduct.

1-Disruptive conduct- this charge was very vague

2-Misconduct (this is very similar to disruptive conduct)

3-Providing false or misleading information to a university official (a member of CCM claimed that Webster lied about his identity. These charges were dismissed because members of CCM are not university officials, and cannot demand that a person reveal their identity).”

After being reported by PZ Myers on his blog, Pharyngula, this story developed legs of its own on the Internet, and in fact has probably had a long term effect on the debate, ever rising in prominence, between supporters and opponents of Religious Privilege.

Yesterday it was learned that the final stages of the Trial of Webster Cook … a student government affair … were over, with Webster acquitted. Last night, I received a reflective essay by Benjamin Collard, friend and sometimes co-defencent of Cook’s, describing his feelings about the incident, updating us, and discussing interesting aspect of the politics behind Crackergate.

Mr Collard tells us that the trial consisted of a panel of 2 students and 2 administrators selected to decide innocence or guilt….

During the trial witnesses were called into the room with Webster and the panel and they were instructed to give their account of what happened on June 29th. The panel had the ability to ask questions of the witnesses ( I cannot say what questions were asked because I was not in the room) in order to come to an understanding of what happened. After all of the witnesses made statements, and Webster gave a closing statement, the panel met in private and they came to a decision of degree of punishment or not in violation of the charges. Webster was found not in violation of the charges. … I do not think that Webster will make a statement about this event until he has had a decent amount of time to reflect.

Please read Mr. Collard’s words:


“The ‘Eucharist Scandal’ has finally come to an end and all charges against me and Webster Cook have been dismissed. I am very upset (and have been for the past 40+ days) that people such as Bill Donohue, the Bishop of Orlando, and many members of the catholic community have decided to make statements regarding this situation without having a conversation with myself or Webster. Bill Donohue and the Bishop are seen as leaders in the catholic community and when they decided to make statements about this issue to the press and to the student conduct board, they caused long term harm to Webster’s reputation. It is unfortunate that these people decided to make statements without having a conversation with Mr. Cook regarding this situation. If they had taken the time to place a simple phone call or schedule a meeting with Mr. Cook, they would realize that this situation was a misunderstanding and not a protest or an attempt to upset the catholic community.

It should be noted that the Catholic League did not seek forgiveness or understanding in this situation instead they sought punishment.

Catholic Campus Ministries (CCM) was willing to allow a person (myself) who did not have any direct involvement in this situation, to face disciplinary actions. The threat of disciplinary actions and the implication that I was involved in this situation has caused my family, my friends, and myself to experience an extreme amount of undue stress. Association with this event has also caused irreparable damage to my reputation. I am very upset that members of CCM knew that I did not have any involvement in this situation, and decided not to speak on my behalf to have the charges dismissed. It is upsetting to know that an organization would not say anything to protect someone who they knew was innocent. It was reassuring that employees at the Office of Student Conduct were interested in investigating this matter in order to find truth. I am very happy that the person from the Office of Student Conduct who spoke to me was willing to hear what I had to say in order to develop an understanding of what happened during the mass on June 29. I feel fortunate that I was treated in a fair manner by the Office of Student Conduct.

I would like to point out that the student conduct charges against Mr. Cook were filed by Andrew Johnson. Andrew Johnson was not in attendance during the mass on June 29. Andrew Johnson is a member of University of CentralFlorida’s Student Government Association (UCF’s SGA) and is a political rival of Mr. Cook. I don’t want to speculate about the reasons that Andrew Johnson filed the charges against Mr. Cook, but it was unfortunate for all parties that were involved (in the incident that occurred at the June 29 mass), that Andrew Johnson decided to involve himself.

Webster was told that charges were filed against him at the Office of Student Conduct but he was not told who filed the charges and assumed that CCM filed the charges. Webster in turn filed charges against CCM for physically attacking him. Before the charges were filed Webster was planning on talking to leaders of CCM to discuss the matter and return the Eucharist.

Without the involvement of Andrew Johnson, charges would not have been filed against CCM. Webster would have met with leaders of CCM and discussed the misunderstanding and would have returned the Eucharist at the next CCM event. The news would not have covered this event because their initial focus was the hazing and physical abuse charges that were filed against CCM. The most unfortunate part of this situation is that a third party decided to involve themselves in this matter and agitate both parties who WERE involved in this incident.

Going forward- It is my hope that in situations such as this one (where party A feels party B is being intolerant, and party B feels that the party A is being insensitive), people will be able to sit down and talk to each other and work out their problems and seek understanding.

This may be cliche, but the catholic league should consult the WWJD bracelets that became popular during the 1990’s. For some reason I am having trouble picturing Jesus, lobbying a school board to have a student expelled or suspended. When I think of what Jesus may have done in this situation- I picture a man trying to talk with, seek understanding from, and attempt to educate Mr. Cook regarding the incident, not a person who would seek vengeance if they felt that they were wronged.”

Benjamin Collard

Comments

  1. #1 Virgil Samms
    August 14, 2008

    When I think of what Jesus may have done in this situation- I picture a man trying to talk with, seek understanding from,…

    Jesus would seek understanding? Omniscience ain’t what it used to be.

  2. #2 william
    August 14, 2008

    presumably, he is just a guy somebody wrote a book about.

  3. #3 gillt
    August 14, 2008

    Jesus to Cook: “Bite me!”

  4. #4 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2008

    Kudos to Mr. Collard for being polite, restrained, diplomatic, loyal, and just generally more of an adult than most of the people who have involved themselves in this.

    As for his reputation, well, it may have been damaged among those who get their news from the Catholic League and their like, but it’s pretty solid among people who have been paying attention. When the scandal mongers move on to their next scandal, which won’t take long, the people who couldn’t be bothered to get the full story will quickly forget the little bit they did know about this. As uncomfortable as the current situation is, reputations shouldn’t take any lasting damage.

    And neither of these young men will ever have to pay for their drinks at a local Pharyngufest, assuming they’re old enough to get in. :)

  5. #5 Benjamin Collard
    August 14, 2008

    Virgil,
    I should have been clear with my statement regarding Jesus. I wanted to highlight that the catholic church makes Jesus out to be a wonderful man who would enact the right/peaceful policy (of handling a problem) in every situation. I wanted to show that they deviate from this; they do not practice what they preach.

    I wanted to show that they say they are followers of Jesus, and during their mass they read (what they call) the teachings of Christ. Then they are involved in a tense situation and they ignore what Jesus would have done (according to their bible) in the situation, and they immediately go for blood.

    Sorry if I wasn’t clear or if this explanation is not clear. I did not want to say that Jesus is the greatest man and this is what he would have done, I simply wanted to show that they are not acting like the person who they make Jesus out to be….

  6. #6 Virgil Samms
    August 14, 2008
  7. #7 Zeno
    August 14, 2008

    At the end of 2005, during the phony furor over the supposed “war on Christmas,” Bill Donohue got mad at the White House for sending out a Christmas card that said “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas”. When asked if Jesus would have reacted in such an angry way, Donohue replied that he didn’t know Jesus: “I’ve never met him.” This is a particularly funny line from someone who professes to be a Christian and in fact believes he’s actually munched on Jesus hundreds of times.

  8. #8 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2008

    Benjamin, I think you’re pretty clear. Virgil frequently comments as though Sam and Max rules (no penalty for choosing the funny option) applied in real life, or at least on the web. Who knows, maybe they should.

  9. #9 Oran Kelley
    August 14, 2008

    Uhhh, WHY was he trying to leave with a communion wafer?

  10. #10 negentropyeater
    August 14, 2008

    Benjamin,

    Oh but not only Jesus, Pope John Paul II made this point very clear in his encyclical Redemptoris Missio

    This is an article I found written by George Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, and a leading Catholic theologian, you might find it interesting :

    In contrast to this thin account of tolerance — we should be tolerant because it works better — there is the argument for tolerance given by Pope John Paul II in his 1989 encyclical letter on Christian mission, Redemptoris Missio [The Mission of the Redeemer]. There the Pope taught that “The Church proposes; she imposes nothing.” The Catholic Church respects the “other” as an “other” who is also a seeker of truth and goodness; the Church only asks that the believer and the “other” enter into a dialogue that leads to mutual enrichment rather than to a deeper skepticism about the possibility of grasping the truth of things.
    The Catholic Church believes it to be the will of God that Christians be tolerant of those who have a different view of God’s will, or no view of God’s will. Thus Catholics (and other Christians who share this conviction) can “give an account” of their defense of the “other’s” freedom, even if the “other,” skeptical and relativist, finds it hard to “give an account” of the freedom of the Christian. That the Church did not always behave according to these convictions is obvious from history.

    The point today is that the Church recognizes, publicly, that acts of coercion undertaken in its name were offenses against its own true doctrine. That is why, on March 12, 2000, Pope John Paul II led a “Day of Pardon” at St. Peter’s Basilica. This was not an exercise in Catholic political correctness, nor was this pandering to approved victim groups. This was confession: an acknowledgment of sin and a plea for divine mercy that recommitted the Church to live the truth it professed about the freedom of the human person.

    the Church only asks that the believer and the “other” enter into a dialogue that leads to mutual enrichment rather than to a deeper skepticism about the possibility of grasping the truth of things.

    a dialogue ?

    What about the violent reactions of Catholics to Webster Cook ? Did they try to enter into a dialogue, or were those acts of coercion undertaken in the Church’s name and therefore offenses against its own true doctrine ?

    What about Bill Donohue and all the violent reactions of Catholics to PZ that he stimulated by his various bigotted press releases ? Did they try to enter into a dialogue, or were those acts of coercion undertaken in the Church’s name and therefore offenses against its own true doctrine ?

    Yes, Catholics failed once again to resist the temptation to behave according to these bad reflex that they have so deeply rooted in their brains.

    No, the Church still won’t do a thing about it, only maybe in 20 years a nice encyclical letter that noone will read and another “pardon” from yet another Pope.

  11. #11 Benjamin Collard
    August 14, 2008

    Oran, he did not intend to leave with the wafer. He was physically attacked by 2 women after he accepted but did not immediately consume the wafer. The women were worried that Webster was going to steal the wafer for black magic or witchcraft. He was simply going to return to his seat and eat the wafer. If these women did not assume that he was going to use the wafer for black magic/witchcraft and then proceed to attack him, this incident would not have occured and you never would have heard about this.

    Webster did mention the seperation of church and state in one of his on camera interviews. He mentioned that he was upset that UCF’s SGA uses public monies (more than $40,000 per year) to finance religious events. After watching this interview many people could reasonably assume that Webster took the wafer as a form of protest to bring attention to the seperation of church and state. This was not the case, Webster simply mentioned that religious organizations receive public monies for their event and this needs to be investigated because it appears to be unconstitutional not that he took the wafer to bring attention to this issue. Now that the charges have been dropped, UCF’s SGA needs to take a serious look into the legality of financing religious events with public funds.

  12. #12 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2008

    Oran, do you mean to tell me you’ve been pontificating on this situation for this long and you haven’t asked that question yet? Catch up, dude. Better yet, read before writing. It’s not as though this hasn’t been explained before.

  13. #13 negentropyeater
    August 14, 2008

    Benjamin,

    just a quick question;

    you write :

    He was physically attacked by 2 women after he accepted but did not immediately consume the wafer. The women were worried that Webster was going to steal the wafer for black magic or witchcraft.

    Is there any objective evidence for this ? Did any of the witnesses’ statements acknowledge this ?

    A commenter over at Pharyngula by the name of Dervin was claiming that the assault on Cook never happened and that there were no witness accounts that showed that it did.

    Can you please enlighten us here ?

  14. #14 Benjamin Collard
    August 14, 2008

    NEGENTROPYEATER,
    Yes there is objective evidence… The people who Webster accused of attacking him, made statements and in those statements they admitted to attacking him. I was told by the associate minister J.S. of CCM, that they(ministers and leaders in CCM) are instructed by the catholic church to use physical force to take back the wafer if someone does not consume it. He also mentioned that the reason that the catholic church takes this issue seriously is because they are worried that people will use the wafer for black magic and witchcraft.

    Within 3 weeks the impeachment trial will take place. A documentary is being made regarding this matter. During the impeachment the statements that I just referred to will be made public and you can hear more about these attacks. Included in the statements that CCM filed, they did on multiple occassions admit to attacking Mr. Cook.

  15. #15 negentropyeater
    August 14, 2008

    thx Benjamin, I’ll put a link over at Pharyngula to Greg’s post and your reply and ask this Dervin fellow to stop spreading false information.

  16. #16 Benjamin Collard
    August 14, 2008

    Negentropyeater,

    I will find a way to mention a link for the documentary, when it is complete (It will be posted on youtube upon its completion).

  17. #17 Loudon is a Fool
    August 14, 2008

    Ben,

    Thanks for clarifying some of these facts. Can you provide a little more detail on the aggravated assault and battery? Was is the attack:

    a. A punch to the face.

    b. A little girl putting her hand on Mr. Cook’s arm.

    c. A big guy who tackled Mr. Cook.

    d. A few people who made scary frowny faces in Mr. Cook’s general direction.

    Any additional clarity would be appreciated. Of course, if you were too busy wringing the urine stains out of your panties to properly view the vicious and violent attacks on Mr. Cook I would understand. It must have been very scary and traumatic for you. Thanks a bundle.

    Hugs and Kisses,

    Loudon is a Fool

  18. #18 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2008

    Fool, you’re asking about courage while hiding behind a pseudonym? Really? Care to throw in some death threats while you’re at it?

  19. #19 Patricia
    August 14, 2008

    Thanks for posting this. Hopefully some of the goons shooting off their mouths will see it and calm down. (Ha!)

  20. #20 Virgil Samms
    August 14, 2008

    I was told by the associate minister J.S. of CCM, that they(ministers and leaders in CCM) are instructed by the catholic church to use physical force to take back the wafer if someone does not consume it. He also mentioned that the reason that the catholic church takes this issue seriously is because they are worried that people will use the wafer for black magic and witchcraft.

    1) Someone should tell them magic isn’t real.
    2) I guess cannibalism is a much more acceptable fate for the actual flesh and blood of a person.

  21. #21 Oran Kelley
    August 14, 2008

    Oran, do you mean to tell me you’ve been pontificating on this situation for this long and you haven’t asked that question yet? Catch up, dude. Better yet, read before writing. It’s not as though this hasn’t been explained before.

    I’ve “pontificated” about the communion wafer thing? Where?

  22. #22 Stephanie Z
    August 14, 2008

    Oran, I’m referring to your remarks at Framing Science on the topic of victimhood and atheist confrontation-seeking. Now, I did assume you knew of l’affaire de cracker and that it had relevance to those two topics when you made your statements there. If you had managed to miss all the hoopla, however, I withdraw my comment about pontificating without informing yourself.

  23. #23 echidna
    August 14, 2008


    I would like to point out that the student conduct charges against Mr. Cook were filed by Andrew Johnson. Andrew Johnson was not in attendance during the mass on June 29.

    It is very unfortunate that charges were accepted by a non-involved party – and then kept anonymous. This is a system flaw that invites trouble.

  24. #24 Pierce R. Butler
    August 14, 2008

    According to one (blatantly biased, but consider the source) tv report, the panel which cleared Collard & Cook comprised six individuals and took seven hours to do so.

    Mr. Collard: you say the panel had four members – any idea how Fox Noise got that inflated figure? How long did the whole process actually take? Any other comments about media coverage (including the “Great Desecration” at Pharyngula)?

  25. #25 watercat
    August 15, 2008

    Even though I’ve been following this pretty closely, this confuses me. The student senate voted to impeach, I knew that, but I was not aware that expulsion was ever on the table. What is this the Office of Student Conduct that convened this panel? The people the complaints were filed with?

  26. #26 Elizabeth
    August 15, 2008

    I would like to know more about the actual event inside the church. I’m not questioning Mr. C’s account, I am just hungering for more details.

  27. #27 scooter
    August 15, 2008

    Thenks for posting the follow up , Greg.

    Fool

    Can you provide a little more detail on the aggravated assault and battery?

    The initial report stated that Cook was grabbed by the arm by a woman who tried to pry his fingers open and retrieve Jesus.

    Nowhere has aggravated assault and battery been mentioned by any credible source.

    What the woman did is technically referred to as misdemeanor battery, or if she verbally threatened him fist, misdemeanor assault and battery, if charges are filed with law enforcement.

    I have not heard of any charges being filed with law enforcement by Cook. He must file, no one else, unless the DA wants to file, which is highly unlikely.

  28. #28 scooter
    August 15, 2008

    Stephanie Z

    Oran, do you mean to tell me you’ve been pontificating on this situation for this long and you haven’t asked that question yet?

    Intertroll Oran has a full time job ‘moderating’ comments on his blog and does not have time left over for research, especially since the google thing is so confusing

  29. #29 Oran Kelley
    August 16, 2008

    Oran, I’m referring to your remarks at Framing Science on the topic of victimhood and atheist confrontation-seeking. Now, I did assume you knew of l’affaire de cracker and that it had relevance to those two topics when you made your statements there. If you had managed to miss all the hoopla, however, I withdraw my comment about pontificating without informing yourself.

    No, I was speaking generally.

    The whole “crackergate” thing seemed pretty silly, so I didn’t read much about it. From what little I read, I assumed that the communion taker had just stumbled into the controversy.

    Reading the above and linked stuff made me think he was, actually, purposefully mucking about in a religious ceremony to try to bring attention to a church state separation issue.

    Which was why I asked.

    And, BTW, scooter isn’t a bad specimen of what I was talking about over at Framing Science.

  30. #30 bokonon
    August 16, 2008

    Mr. Collard, from the facts as you present them here, the CCM had no justification for attempting to punish you for Mr. Cook’s act. I’m glad that you’ve been cleared, and I know it must be a relief to you.

    I do still have a couple of questions, which you as a colleague of Mr. Cook and an eyewitness to the events may be able to answer.

    You say that Mr. Cook did not intend to leave with the eucharist, but intended to consume it at his seat. Why didn’t he do so? If that was truly his intention, why is it that someone grabbing his arm and asking that he eat it or return it would cause him to decide not to eat it?

    I have also read on the internet, by someone who claimed to be an eyewitness, that he had a plastic bag with him. Is that true? If so, did he carry the bag to the meeting with some other purpose in mind than leaving with the eucharist inside it?

    You mention that Bill Donohue, the Bishop of Orlando, and many members of the Catholic community made statements without speaking with Mr. Cook first. You suggest that, had they done so, they would have realized that the situation was simply a misunderstanding rather than an attempt to upset the Catholic community, and that may well be true. At the point they made these statements, however, Mr. Cook had left with the eucharist, and had not returned it. He had filed charges against the CCM. Is there not perhaps some justification for viewing these facts as more than a mere misunderstanding?

    It also seems to me that Mr. Cook could have avoided some of these problems, even after walking out with the eucharist, if he had taken your advice and communicated with the CCM before filing charges against them. Certainly, that would have cleared up the part of the misunderstanding that led him to conclude they deserved retaliation, since according to your account, they had not filed charges against him at that point. Once again, you claim intentions for Mr. Cook which are belied by his actions. You say that if Andrew Johnson had not filed charges, “Webster would have met with leaders of CCM and discussed the misunderstanding and would have returned the Eucharist at the next CCM event.” My question is, what prevented him from doing so anyway?

    Meeting with leaders of CCM would have made him aware that it was not those leaders who filed the charges against him, so there was no need to “punish” them by filing charges against them. It seems like Mr. Cook is still a little immature, which is perhaps to be expected given his age. He “punishes” the people at the meeting who restrain him and ask him to consume or return by walking out of the meeting with the eucharist, and he “punishes” the CCM for the charges he mistakenly thinks they’ve filed against him by filing countercharges.

    There is no excuse for Bill Donohue’s hysterics, or any death threats Mr. Cook or you may have received. You do seem to be an innocent victim here, but I do have one final question: Why do you blame the CCM for not speaking up in your defense, if it wasn’t the CCM which brought the charges? Were the CCM leaders eyewitnesses to the events? Do you think that if they had spoken up, they would have had the power to have the charges dismissed, even though they were not the ones who filed the charges?

    Finally, I think your call for better communication is a good one. If there is any lesson to be learned from this whole sorry mess, it’s that people should take a moment to hear and consider the other fellow’s viewpoint before going off half-cocked over assumptions that may be unsupported by the facts.

  31. #31 Stephanie Z
    August 16, 2008

    Bokonon, obviously I can’t speak to many of your questions. However, if I were attacked by someone physically, accused of planning to engage in witchcraft, then told charges had been filed against me because of the incident, my first thought would not be, “Oh, they must have been filed by someone else.” Nor, after those three events, would I assume that rational dialog was possible or desired by the other party. Obviously in this case, I would have been wrong on the first count, but I don’t think that speaks to my level of maturity or that of anyone but the young man who brought the first charges.

  32. #32 bokonon
    August 16, 2008

    >> According to one (blatantly biased, but consider the source) tv report, the panel which cleared Collard & Cook comprised six individuals and took seven hours to do so.

    Mr. Collard: you say the panel had four members – any idea how Fox Noise got that inflated figure? <<

    Mr. Butler, I’ve read elsewhere that it was 4 students and 2 administrators, so possibly both accounts are correct.

  33. #33 Benjamin Collard
    August 17, 2008

    Bokonon,
    Webster’s intention was to consume the wafer at his seat. After he was attacked by 2 women at the alter, then grabbed and had his person’s searched at his seat, I think the last thing on his mind was eating the wafer (I think he was probably starting to worry about his safety, but I’m just speculating).

    As for the plastic bag-False, didn’t happen. There were many witness statements (at Student Conduct), and not a single one mentioned Webster putting the wafer into a plastic bag. I don’t know where that came from, but it is completely false. A documentary is being produced regarding this situation. Hopefully the documentary will show the impeachment trial (everyone who submitted a witness statement will be questioned regarding their account of the June 29 mass at the impeachment trial). Please watch this documentary, because it will clear up a lot of your questions. The documentary will be posted on youtube.

    I can understand that many people viewed this situation as more than a mere misunderstanding. However, we (Webster, the diversity coordinator at UCF, and myself) tried to setup a meeting with CCM on many occasions to explain the incident and have a conversation about how both sides over reacted in trying to injure the other side after the mass. CCM rejected every invite for mediation.

    Before the charges were filed Webster asked to talk to the Bishop and offered to return the wafer at that meeting. The meeting with the bishop was rejected (a spokesperson for the bishop made a statement on the local news saying that he would meet with Webster next month, but that was only after charges were filed and after the Bishop prepared and sent statements to UCF outlining what Webster did wrong (which is interesting considering that the Bishop was not in attendance during the mass but made statements that implied that he personally saw Webster do things that he(the bishop) considered wrong), and how he should be punished. A spokesperson for the bishop spoke to the abc affiliate in Orlando and accused Webster of kidnapping Jesus.

    It is true that Webster could have avoided this situation if he tried to talk to CCM before filing charges. Minutes after the event we talked to an associate minister from CCM. I tried to talk to him about the situation. This minister completely ignored what I had to say and immediately started to threaten Webster. If the documentary covers the impeachment you will see these statements.

    Nothing prevented him from returning the wafer, and he did in fact return the wager at the ccm mass the following week.

    I don’t understand what you mean when you say that he punished ccm by walking out of the meeting with the wafer.

    CCM filed many witness statements against me. That is why I am upset. In their witness statements they don’t accuse me of doing anything wrong. In the statements the witnesses said ‘they did this’ and ‘they did that’. ‘They’ referred to Webster and not me. If the witnesses were clear, I would not have faced charges. Further, there were witnesses who claimed to have seen things that they could not have possibly seen (I will go through this in depth during the impeachment hearing).

    I will try to answer short questions but I don’t want to go through any more long statements. If you watch the documentary, you will get a clear picture of what happened that day.

  34. #34 Benjamin Collard
    August 17, 2008

    Butler,
    The panel only had 4 members. I posted a link to the office of student conduct page which outlines the panel hearing (2 students and 2 administrators). The ‘trial’ lasted 6.5 hours and we waited 30 min for a decision.

    ABC led with this story, and made it look like a protest. Fox was next and needed a different angle, so they covered my story (about being falsely accused, it was titled ‘guilt by association’, I think that you can still find it on myfoxorlando.com). I don’t really have many complaints about the media- except that UCF was considering and may still be considering filing charges against Webster and me for talking to the media.

    I think that the “Great Desecration” was thought provoking. It caused many heated debates here at UCF. I was considering posting a long comment on the blog about the “great desecration” but I think I would have been wasting my time because my post would have been lost among the thousands of other posts.

    Sorry its taken so long to get back to you.

    http://www.osc.sdes.ucf.edu/?id=studentconductreviewprocess

  35. #35 bokonon
    August 17, 2008

    Mr. Collard, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. I can certainly understand your desire to put this behind you, so I won’t trouble you with more questions. It was wrong for CCM to make statements alleging “they” did this and “they” did that, when they knew “they” was really “he”. It was wrong of them to refuse to meet with you to discuss the matter before going public. I look forward to seeing the documentary when it is completed.

  36. #36 Tony Sidaway
    August 17, 2008

    Benjamin, thanks for your clear, calm and thorough responses to questions. If you should want to contribute more to understanding, might I ask who is going to produce the proposed documentary?

  37. #37 Anna
    August 17, 2008

    Benjamin,

    I am glad that you have been taking the high road here and strike me as an intelligent and mature individual. I am curious as to who or what campus group helped you most on campus in dealing with this situation?

  38. #38 Rayven Alandria
    August 17, 2008

    Benjamin, I will not ask questions. You need to rest. I will offer a bit of advice though. Please watch your back. There are undoubtedly some Christians who will believe you and Webster are Satanists, no matter what evidence there is to the contrary, so please be careful. Certain types of people live in a deluded state and will convince themselves that this was a Satanic attack against Jebus and that we are all part of some evil conspiracy to steal the world. I am sure some of them have convinced themselves that y’all were indeed trying to steal Jebus crackers to use them in some evil cult ritual and that they barely saved the day by stopping you. Anything that came after that will not matter to them because they feel *right*.

    The minds of religious people baffle me. It seems to me that IF there were any truth to their religion it wouldn’t matter that a Satanist stole a Jebus cracker (they must not think Jebus is very powerful if he can be harmed by Satanists). It’s quite odd that these humans have decided that they need to physically assault someone to *save* their GawdFairy from harm, and yet at the same time they think that their GawdFairy is almighty and powerful. Those thoughts are not compatible. They are irrational.

    Irrational people can be very dangerous, so please be careful. They think the universe is at stake and people kill over idiotic beliefs like that.

  39. #39 Benjamin Collard
    August 17, 2008

    Tony Sidaway,
    The ‘documentary’ is being put together by a UCF film student. He has been to every public hearing on the matter, and is the only person who has filmed these meetings. Im trying to stay out of his way so he can present the information in an objective matter. Im really hoping the impeachment trial makes the final cut because I want everyone to see the witness statements that CCM produced (every statement that was submitted, contradicts every other statement that they submitted). Im really looking forward to questioning these witnesses.

  40. #40 Benjamin Collard
    August 17, 2008

    Anna,
    Outside of my friends, Campus Free Though Alliance really helped and provided support to us. When this manner was brought to the attention of the CFA president, he (the president) asked us to come to the next CFA meeting, where we had a mock trial. During this mock trial, CFA asked many questions to come to an understanding of what happened. Members of CFA came to the conclusion that the incident was a misunderstanding. CFA decided to work in a civil manner to help us, by starting a letter writing campaign asking for student conduct to handle this matter in a fair manner. CFA is an extremely professional organization, they are a fair organization, and their support was a great help. They never asked if we were catholic/christian/atheist/agnostic/fill in the blank. CFA heard that there was a problem and offered to hear us out, without regard to our religious affliation.

    I have attended meetings hosted by different on-campus organizations, and I have founded a few; I have yet to meet an organization that has members that are as professional or as intelligent as members of CFA (at UCF).

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned- a member of CFA was in attendance during one of the public impeachment hearings. This person was taking notes, and was subsequently interviewed by the school paper. This person was listed as Webster’s legal advisor (which he was not) in the next issue of the school paper (this person asked the paper many times to issue a correction). The ‘legal advisor’ was followed (at night) until he was by himself. When he was by himself, he was physically attacked (punched and kicked many times). The attacker mentioned something to the effect of ‘you need to stop helping webster cook.’ Fortunately, the ‘legal advisor’ fought back and defeated (sorry I could not come up with a better word) his attacker.

    Im sorry that I am becoming repetitive, but take a look at the video that is being produced. Im hoping that the ‘legal advisor’ is interviewed and you can see everything that traspired (from the witness accounts) during the mass, and everything that has taken place since….

  41. #41 Pierce R. Butler
    August 17, 2008

    Benjamin Collard –

    Thanks for your reply, and for the care and clarity of your statements. Your attitude toward the media’s coverage (particularly Fox’s, with its repeated assertions of “theft” and the like) is much more forgiving than they deserve.

    I hope the CFA member who was punched and kicked by the apparent cracker fetishist was not seriously injured, and his case is getting due follow-up by the UCF and Orlando police. Please keep us posted!

  42. #42 khan
    August 17, 2008

    He also mentioned that the reason that the catholic church takes this issue seriously is because they are worried that people will use the wafer for black magic and witchcraft.

    People really believe in black magic and witchcraft?

    That is so sad.

  43. #43 Whispers
    August 18, 2008

    People really believe in black magic and witchcraft?

    That is so sad.

    Posted by: khan | August 17, 2008 6:23 PM

    I’m failing to see the clear line between believing in resurrection and believing in black magic and witchcraft.

    Indeed, churchgoers have believed in witchcraft for a very long time. More to the point, I don’t see how a person could be a Catholic and not believe in witchcraft. If you take the religion seriously, you believe in Satan, and if you believe in Satan, you’re already 99.9% of the way to believing in black magic and witchcraft. (And I don’t mean the Wiccan sort.)

  44. #44 Tammy
    August 18, 2008

    @Rayven Alandria: An explanation of why don’t trust Jesus to rescue himself from the cracker is here: http://nickmilne.wordpress.com/2008/07/16/when-there-are-faces/ It’s a thoughtful explanation–the blogger seems pretty even-handed and considerate, at least on the communion wafer affair.

    @Benjamin Collard: Before you go further in the “SGA gives unconstitutional funding to CCM” investigation, you might want to do a bit of research: http://www.firstamendmentcenter.org/speech/pubcollege/topic.aspx?topic=fees_and_clubs

    Glad the student hearing board did the right thing.

  45. #45 Benjamin Collard
    August 19, 2008

    Tammy,
    I am not asking wether they should get funding because they are a religious organization. I am asking wether they should receive funding because they force(physical force) their beliefs upon students who attend their meetings. Webster was physically attacked, and restrained while his persons were searched because members of CCM thought he did not eat their lord. A member of CCM yelled at Webster many times ‘eat it, eat it now’, on-campus organizations do not have the right to intimidate students into doing anything. I do not think that an organization who engages in these type of actions against a student because the student did not follow the norms of a religious activity, should receive funding.

    Just because a court rules a certain way on an issue, does not mean that the same court will not rule a different way on the same issue at a later date.

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