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Richard Hogan and Richard Hogan Jr. -- Religious Rape, A Prison Problem You Never Hear About

April 3, Morning Session

The morning session closed with a delightful presentation by Dick Hogan and Richard Hogan, Jr., who spoke on “Religious Rape -- A Prison Problem You Never Hear About.” Dick is Treasurer of American Atheists, Inc. and its associated corporation. He has been the major strategist in relocating the American Atheist Center from Austin, Texas to New Jersey. Richard Jr. is the son of Dick Hogan.

Dick led off by reminiscing about how he decided to put a small marquee on his property calling public attention to select Bible quotes. The reaction was quick in coming; shots through his window, and other forms of harassment. A local “committee for morality” was formed. He added that in his home town of Weatherford, Texas there are 140 churches, 80% of which happen to be Baptist.

Dick then recounted how his son was cited for a DWI (Driving While Intoxicated) offense, and ended up being cited for a felony. At the sentencing, the judge began, literally, to sermonize; he then sentenced Richard Hogan, Jr. to a nine-month sentence in a substance abuse program run by outside contractors. He added that all of these programs are AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) based, and questioned the claims of success which AA is usually credited with.

Literature from the State of Texas claimed that a program sponsored by Secular Organization for Sobriety (SOS) was available to the religion-based Alcoholics Anonymous program. There was, in fact, no program in place. The Hogans then contacted SOS directly, and began to take steps to put a secular alternative in place. Needless to say, prison authorities resisted this openly, making all manner of rules and regulations in hoping to make the program fail.

Richard Hogan, Jr. then discussed his experience in this program. “You start getting mistreated from the second you enter the building,” Richard noted. “The first thirty days, you’re scared to death. The first three things I had to do to complete my orientation phase was to complete the first three steps of the AA program...”

Religious inmates turned out to be vindictive and mean-spirited. Richard began to encounter problems when he informed his fellow inmates, counselors and others that he was an Atheist, and had difficulty finding sense in the AA demand to “turn your will and life over to the will of God as you understand him...”

“I told them that I just didn’t understand God...”

Following orientation, Richard began the “drug treatment” phrase of the program. This consisted of a boring routine, including an outside-the-walls community service job. Afternoons consisted of the AA-based programs, reading religion-based books, and a Bible discussion group. Naturally, Richard began reading HIS select verses from “the good book.”

This was followed by a “process group” which turned out to be the only session with a trained, professional counselor. This session, like the others, opened and closed with prayer. After that was a “confrontation group.” Richard Jr. was frequently targeted during this part, where other inmates threatened that he was headed for hell, would fall into becoming a “drunk” and other calamities.

Richard Hogan, Jr. did finally succeed in holding functional SOS group meetings, despite the opposition of prison authorities, other inmates and even counselors in the unit.

And what was the oddest -- and perhaps most horrifying -- incident Richard could recall? He was “exorcised” by a religious counselor on six occasions in the Chaplain’s office. “I had a lot of fun with it.” One day the counselor began babbling in tongues during the session!

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