MARCH 5, 2006, SENATE HEARING ROOM F, TOPEKA, KANSAS
After spending two months searching for un-Christian activities in university departments, the legislature turns its gaze on nonfaculty employees.
Rep. Landwehr, chairwoman of the Kansas Committee on UnChristian Activities: Good morning. Would you state your name and job title, please?
Miss Wedgwood: Emma Wedgwood. I work in housekeeping.
Rep. Landwehr: Miss Wedgwood, are you now, or have you ever been, an atheist?
Miss Wedgwood: Well, I've never been all that comfortable talking about my religion in public, you know?
Rep. Landwehr: I'll get straight to the point, Miss Wedgwood. We have sworn statements here that you have been seen reading atheist literature at the university.
Miss Wedgwood: I'm not sure what you're talking about. I pick up trash in the hallways. I take down fliers from the bulletin boards, after they're out of date. Sometimes I look at them ...
Rep. Landwehr: Have you ever attended a meeting of the KU atheists?
Miss Wedgwood: I've never even heard of the KU atheists.
Rep. Landwehr: Do you go to church, Miss Wedgwood?
Miss Wedgwood: I haven't been to church since they caught the minister cheating on his taxes.
Rep. Landwehr: So you are an atheist.
Miss Wedgwood: I'm not saying that.
Rep. Landwehr: In your work in the housekeeping department, have you ever associated with any known atheists?
Miss Wedgwood: I just mop the floors. I'm a single mother with two boys to take care of. I just do my job.
Rep. Landwehr: I wouldn't be bragging about your divorce if I were you. You made your bed, and you'll lie in it. Back to what's going on at the university, though. I've had people tell me about professors who ridicule and intimidate students and make them feel embarrassed just because the student has a different viewpoint. Have you ever engaged in any discussions about Christians with other members of the housekeeping staff?
Miss Wedgwood: I don't really like talking about God with other people. I don't like it when they push God in your face and stuff.
Rep. Landwehr: So you admit that you've been guilty of fostering an atmosphere of intolerance toward Christians there in the housekeeping department.
Miss Wedgwood: I'm not rude about it. I just try to change the subject.
Rep. Landwehr: So you admit that you've infringed on Christians' right to free speech.
Miss Wedgwood: They still talk about it. I just walk away.
Rep. Landwehr: Are you aware, Miss Wedgwood, of how your actions toward these Christians might make them feel?
Miss Wedgwood: Excuse me?
Rep. Landwehr: Are you aware that your actions are a clear indication of intolerance and anti-Christian bias? I would venture a guess, Miss Wedgwood, that you're the type who disrespects and mocks the religious views of your co-workers by telling them "happy holidays" instead of wishing them a "merry Christmas."
Rep. Mary Pilcher Cook, Republican from Shawnee: Excuse me, madam chair, but I just have to say something to Miss Wedgwood.
This is not about the First Amendment or freedom of speech in the housekeeping department, Miss Wedgwood. This is about being accountable to the public and being responsible for one's actions. You know that the people of Kansas pay your salary, don't you?
Miss Wedgwood: It's not very much. I have to work a second job at the Stop-N-Go.
Rep. Cook: That's not the point. The point is, Kansas is a Christian state, and its taxpayers won't have state employees disrespecting religious people just because they speak up in the workplace. I know plenty of us here in the Legislature won't stand for the kind of religious intolerance people like you are practicing in the housekeeping department.
Sen. Kay O'Connor, Republican from Olathe: Here here. We're not in the taxpayer-funded hatred business. Why should taxpayers give you an opportunity to profess your hatred for Christians?
Sen. Karin Brownlee, Republican from Olathe: We have to set a standard that it's not culturally acceptable to mock Christianity in America.
Miss Wedgwood: But I didn't even say anything!
Sen. Brownlee: Well, you don't have to say anything, Miss Wedgwood. I can see it in your eyes. You, along with everyone else at the University of Kansas, are a threat our way of life. And I know that many of the people who are watching these hearings at home will agree with me. They're the people who pay your salary. They're your neighbors, Miss Wedgwood. You better watch yourself.
And go back to church.