LETTERS

The article also mentioned briefly the low wages paid to church and ministry employees--but even more than the low wages, the entire work environment could hardly be called Christian (or even tolerable). In data entry, questions could only be asked of one's immediate supervisor, any conversation among co-workers was resolutely discouraged, and our rate of work was timed to the nearest minute. A definite hierarchy existed, with those workers who were also Happy Church members on top and the rest of us "heathens" on the bottom. From a business standpoint, I thought the oddest practice was that everything produced or handled in data entry had to be shredded; nothing was to be thrown away. I later found out that there were full-time employees who did nothing but shred the immense amount of paperwork generated by Marilyn Hickey's "Christian" enterprises. In fact, I am surprised Harkavy was able to obtain the information presented in his article.

Mostly, I would like to compliment Westword and Harkavy on the story exposing the Happy Church, and I just want to add, based on my own experiences there, that I hardly consider the Happy Church or Marilyn Hickey Ministries to be truly Christian organizations. Rather, I think they are both enterprises whose primary purpose is to generate profit by exploiting the tax-exempt status granted to religious organizations and by preying on the faith and trust of the thousands who send in millions each year as Marilyn's "customers."

Jessica R. Schneider
Denver

Let me say first off that I don't go to the Happy Church and I don't give to Marilyn Hickey's ministry. Now, having said that, two things came to mind as I read Ward Harkavy's article. One is, couldn't he make his bias and slanted view a little less obvious? I hope this was not supposed to be an objective outsider's view of a national ministry. I know, Westword is coming to the defense of the elderly from another one of the money-grabbing televangelists, right? How noble.

The second question is, what is the point? From what I read, there is no major scandal here, and all this long, drawn-out article did was try to drum up something that is not there. So what if the ministry makes $17 million a year? Is it me? I just don't get it. She gave $175,000 to overseas missions. How much did Westword give?

I know slamming Christians may be good for circulation, but some of us see through weak reporting like this.

Mike Evans
Denver

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I have been anticipating that you would run a piece on Marilyn Hickey Ministries. In 1991 and 1992, I was there on the inside working as a temp. I was already a mainstream Protestant. During my time, they tried to convert me. I refused to be the kind of Christian they wanted me to be. Finally, I was fired for being "ungodly."

I completely agree that MHM is a fraudulent organization. There should be a special place in hell for religious organizations that con and fleece people out of outrageous sums of money.

Tracy Bechtel
Denver

I am a Christian and love the Lord Jesus Christ with all my heart. I say kudos for your exposŽ of Marilyn Hickey and her organized business of religion. There are many more here in Denver who, under the guise of love and humility, are bilking many out of their hard-earned money and pensions with the so-called fear of bad things happening unless you do as they say.

Name withheld on request

Guardian Angles
Regarding Michelle Dally Johnston's "The Clients," in the August 23 issue:
Your article on GALs was excellent. Michelle Johnston did a wonderful job of investigation into guardian ad litems' tragic neglect of foster-children clients. It should be astounding to taxpayers that we pay $4.6 million a year for this representation, and yet some attorneys we hire to protect children would not recognize their child clients if they saw them on the street!

During my eight years as a volunteer child advocate, I have known, and known about, hundreds of GALs. There are a few marvelous GALs, including those at the Children's Legal Clinic. I have seen one of the best GALs retaliated against because she fought Social Services' dangerous "plan" for three small children. This is the type of attorney our abused and neglected children must have.

Alan Alderman says that he thinks (but is not sure!) that maybe one or two children that he represented died, and "maybe" he could have done better!? Taxpayers should be asking how he can sleep at night. We should be asking about many other GALs whose practices seem to be similarly neglectful--how can any of them sleep at night, when they agree to terribly dangerous decision-making concerning vulnerable child clients they may never have seen? Colorado law does not specify that the abused child's voice be heard in court (they cannot hire their own counsel). The GAL (appointed by the court; paid for by us!) may be the child's only chance for protection. We must insist upon accountability, for our most vulnerable children's sakes.

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