UNEXPECTED VISIT TO THE PSYCHIATRIC WARD
In November of 1999, the Temple University Theater Department
decided to produce the play, "Corpus Christi."
The play is about a homosexual Jesus who engages in sex
with his disciples.
When I heard that the Theater Department was going to allow
a student to produce this play, I notified the Dean of the
School of Communications and Theater (which at the time
I was a student of) and the president of the university.
In addition, I posted fliers around campus so that all Christians
on campus would be aware of this horrible play. The flier
urged Christians to voice their disappointment by telephoning,
emailing, and sending letters to the administration.
After posting the fliers, I spoke to the Christian groups
on campus and also contacted various churches in the area.
Because of my actions, I received a large amount of telephone
calls from pastors, students, and members of the community
requesting additional information. Some of the calls that
I received came from as far away as the state of Wisconsin.
As time passed, I was able to speak to the Vice President
of Campus Safety, William Bergman. Bergman met with me several
times to speak about this play. He told me that he was worried
about what type of reaction that the students and community
would have, therefore he called in the Director of Campus
Safety, Carl Bittenbender.
During one of our meetings, I told William Bergman that
I have spoken with several Christian groups on campus and
many citizens of the Philadelphia community who are upset
about the play, and we decided that protesting outside the
theater would not be the best approach. I then said that
we did not want to bring attention to the play, but rather
use it to our benefit and have our own event.
The Vice President felt that my non-violent approach (as
he called it) was a good idea and promised a stage so that
we could use it for our event. In the meantime, several
people and I put together a program of the various activities
that we wanted to do on the dates of the play. We carefully
planned everything down to the last detail. We planned on
having several local pastors speak, the Temple University
Gospel Choir sing, and to put on a play of our own.
The dates of the play drew closer and I met with the Vice
President again. I had a schedule of what we wanted to do
and showed it to him. I also told him that we did not intend
on mentioning the "Corpus Christi" play at all.
We just wanted to have a peaceful event somewhere else on
campus to show the students who Jesus really is. He looked
over the schedule that I gave him and questioned me on how
we intended to keep the students interested in what we were
doing. I explained to him that we had spent several days
planning our presentation and believed that it would be
very appealing to the students.
Carl Bittenbender, Director of Campus Safety, asked me what
we would do if it rained, and Vice President Bergman replied,
"They believe that God is on their side." After
they finished laughing, Bergman said that the stage would
be put up in the morning on November 8, which was the opening
date of the "Corpus Christi" play.
The same night, I received a telephone call from Carl Bittenbender
who told me that he was not sure if there was going to be
a stage. I asked him why. He didn't answer. I told him that
we agreed this morning that the stage would be setup in
the morning the day of the play. He said nothing. I then
said that we had everything prepared for the event and without
the stage we could not do it. I asked him to tell me what
the problem was. Bittenbender then said, "Let me call
you back." He then hung up the telephone. I waited
and received a telephone call a few hours later. He said
that I needed to meet with him and the Vice President the
next morning (Nov. 2, 1999). I asked him about the stage
and he told me that that decision would be made in the morning.
I told him that I would come.
Ten o'clock the next morning, I went to the Vice President's
office and met with both of them again. The Vice President
said that there would be no stage. I asked him why. He said
that it was too much money. I asked him how much money he
needed and said that I would write him a check. He ignored
what I said. I told him that he promised us a stage. He
said nothing. At that point, I excused myself from the office.
I went into the bathroom and washed my face and prayed about
what I could say to them.
I then heard pounding on the door. "Michael, come out
of there...we need to talk to you!" Bergman yelled.
The pounding continued, so I opened the door. William Bergman
then put his hand on my shoulder and said come with me.
I told him that I believe our conversation is over. I tried
to turn around but he put more pressure on my shoulder and
forced me back into his office. He then pushed me into a
chair and held me with his arm. I told him that I would
like to leave now. He refused, and said that I need to sit
down. I asked him if I could make a telephone call, but
he refused to let me. When I tried to get up from the chair,
he tripped me to the floor.
Then, Bergman and Bittenbender pushed me into a couch. They
held me to the couch as I struggled to free myself. They
twisted my arms as I continued to hurt from the pressure.
They refused to let me go. Moments later, I saw a Temple
police officer enter the office. I told him that I didn't
do anything, and he told me to calm down. The Vice President
told him to put handcuffs on me. He did. I then was carried
out of the building and placed in an awaiting police car.
I asked them what they were doing, and they did not answer
I found myself at the Temple University Hospital in the
Emergency Crisis Center. A woman in a white robe approached
the police officer that was holding me and said, "You
can't hold him like this, you either got to arrest him,
or fill out some paperwork." Three and 1/2 hours went
by as I sat in the waiting area. A doctor then saw me and
asked me why I was brought there. I told him that he should
ask Vice President William Bergman that question. The doctor
released me from the hospital moments later.
Later that day, I went to file a police report at the Temple
University police station. Two officers began to take the
report. They asked me who was involved. I told them it was
William Bergman. They laughed for a minute and said, "Sorry,
he is just our boss. The boss over the entire department."
One officer left the room and came back with Carl Bittenbender
who helped the Vice President push me in a chair and hold
me. He then told me that they were not going to take the
police report, because no crime had been committed. I then
went to the 6th District Philadelphia Police Department
and filed a report with them.