Each day Google sorts through the various news stories about Kansas, and on Friday chose as top story one based on a Wichita Eagle story headlined, “Kansas prisons impose Christian ‘propaganda,’ inmate alleges.” Having a lot of time on her hands, at least 40 years worth, Shari Webber-Dunn filed suit on Wednesday alleging officials at the Topeka Correctional Facility have created a “coercive atmosphere where inmates are pressured to spend their time in a highly religious atmosphere and to participate in religious activities and prayers, thus violating the establishment clause.”
The things that trouble Webber-Dunn about Kansas prisons include: “religious messages and symbols being placed on bulletin boards; encouraging prayer requests; display of a large cross in a multi-purpose room; airing Christian movies on facility televisions; and otherwise ‘imposing strong Christian values’ on inmates.”
Webber-Dunn is a practitioner of Thelema, a religion of sorts spawned in 1904 by Aleister Crowley, an Englishman who called himself “the Great Beast 666.” The British press dubbed him “The Wickedest Man in the World,” a title that did not displease the “pansexual, mystic, occultist, ceremonial magician, deviant, recreational drug experimenter, poet.”
Crowley’s guiding philosophy was encapsulated in his mantra, “Do what thou wilt.” Webber-Dunn would seem to have been following this code for some time, especially when she had her husband murdered nearly 25 years ago to avoid the legal fees in a child custody suit.
This story makes particularly good fodder for Kansas Newspapers as it gives them one more chance to take a shot at parting Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback. Writes Tim Carpenter, the resident Brownback-basher at the Topeka Capital Journal, “The lawsuit emerged while Gov. Sam Brownback awaits U.S. Senate confirmation as international ambassador of religious freedom in the administration of President Donald Trump. Brownback has touted reduction in recidivism rates among state prisoners who participated in a faith-based mentoring program.” The nerve!
“Prisons are not exempt from the Constitution and prisoners do not lose the shield from state-sponsored religion provided by the Establishment Clause,” said David Niose, legal director of the American Humanist Association, which filed the suit.
Were he still alive, Scott Webber might question his estranged wife’s commitment to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.