For Further Evidence

More Resources on This Topic

• Gary R. Habermas and J. P. Moreland. Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality. Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway, 1998.

• Michael J. Murray. "Heaven and Hell." In Reason for the Hope Within, ed. by Michael J. Murray, 287-317. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1999.

William V. Crockett, editor. Four Views on Hell. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan. 1996.


Christianity has (by certain people) been used throughout history as an excuse for some of the most brutal, heartless, and senseless atrocities known to man. The historical examples are not difficult to recall: the Crusades; the Inquisitions; the witch-burnings; the Holocaust I did not see much in Christianity that I considered to be worth the having.

Ken Schei, atheisti

Christianity has been a boon to mankind... (and) has had a beneficent effect upon the human race Most people today who live in an ostensibly Christian environment with Christian ethics do not realize how much we owe Jesus of Nazareth What goodness and mercy there is in this world has come in large measure from him.

D. James Kennedy, Christian2

Wayne W. Olson was always the life of the party. An imposing, avuncular judge, with pale blue eyes and a crown of white hair, Olson would regale everyone with side-splitting stories from his often-bizarre experiences at Cook County Criminal Court. He had a keen wit, a prodigious capacity for booze, and the backslapping friendliness of an old-time Chicago alderman.

Olson was an undistinguished but seemingly conscientious jurist. He especially liked to see his name in the paper, so he would frequently slip me stories when I was the Chicago Tribune's reporter at the Criminal Courts Building on Chicago's West Side.

At the end of the day, sometimes we would lounge around his chambers and swap jokes. Occasionally we'd have some laughs over drinks at Jean's, a popular hangout down the block, where he would entertain everyone with stories about how he worked his way through law school as a drummer in a polka band. An inveterate extrovert, he couldn't stand to be alone.

Once he called the press room and invited me to a wedding. I went up to his chambers and found a jovial Olson presiding over the impromptu marriage of a handcuffed burglar-whom he had just sentenced to three years in prison-and his very pregnant girlfriend. Olson instantly designated me as the best man.

"Sorry," he said with a smile as deputies led away the groom after a two-minute ceremony. "No honeymoon."

As a narcotics judge hearing routine criminal cases, Olson wasn't in a position to pave any new judicial paths. At least, not on purpose. However, on Thanksgiving weekend of 1980, Olson unwittingly became entangled in an incident that was unprecedented in American jurisprudence.

After Olson had driven away from the courthouse, anticipating a restful four-day vacation, a team of FBI agents surreptitiously broke into his darkened chambers and planted a judicially approved listening device. This marked the first time in United States history that federal investigators had bugged the chambers of a sitting judge-an honor that Olson, had he known, would have gladly relinquished to someone else.

Terrence Hake, the prosecutor assigned to work in Olson's courtroom, actually was an undercover agent who was part of a clandestine government investigation called "Operation Greylord." After Olson returned from the holiday, whenever anyone under surveillance would walk into his chambers, Hake would use a hidden transmitter to send a coded message to an FBI agent stationed in a car parked outside. The agent would then signal another investigator to activate the bug so that agents could eavesdrop on what transpired behind the closed doors.3

In all, more than two hundred and fifty hours of conversations were secretly recorded-and they confirmed government suspicions that the judge had been leading a double life. The likable, easy-going Olson-Mr. Popularity of the county courthouse-turned out to be a thoroughly corrupt extortionist who was cynically selling justice to the highest bidder.

Preserved forever on tape was Olson taking kickbacks from attorneys and perverting justice at every turn. At one point, he was overheard to say, "I love people that take dough because you know exactly where you stand."4 In fact, within days after the bug was planted, agents listened in astonishment as Olson brazenly fixed a narcotics case with a crooked lawyer:

Olson: I'm a coin collector.

Attorney: Is two [hundred dollars] enough-sufficient, judge? I cleared seven hundred and sixty five [dollars] for the day.

Olson: Well, I made a deal with somebody, but I'd rather give it to you; you'd do a better job. Attorney: I gave you a deuce [two hundred dollars]. If it's not enough, just tell me. Whatever the deal is

Olson: I like the guy that gives me half of ... what he gets It's just that some days I get nothing. It's a shame to have a guy come here and not have anything.5

I had already left the Tribune to edit another newspaper when the stunning news broke: Olson had been indicted on fifty-five counts of bribery, extortion, and racketeering. I shook my head. He had deceived me, his colleagues, and the public for so many years. I felt betrayed and angered over his cavalier trashing of the very laws he had sworn to uphold. It was an incredible reversal of fortune-the judge who had once presided so regally over the fate of others now found himself sentenced to twelve years in a federal penitentiary.

And he didn't go to prison alone. Dozens of other crooked judges and lawyers also found themselves swept up in the net of Operation Greylord, the most successful undercover probe in the history of the Cook County court system-and an investigation which raised questions that, by analogy, also are relevant to Christianity.

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