An Update on Negotiations, by Jacob Michael

Visitors who came to this web site after October 1 are already aware that there has been a controversy brewing concerning Robert Sungenis, president of Catholic Apologetics International ("CAI"). For those who have been fortunate enough to remain "out of the loop" concerning the controversy, a brief chronological summary of past events is in order.

A few weeks into September, Michael Forrest, a former associate of Sungenis and CAI, published a web site, Robert Sungenis and the Jews, critiquing Sungenis' demonstrably prejudiced attitude against Jewish people. Forrest's copious documentation, using multiple examples culled from Sungenis' own writings, convincingly demonstrated that Sungenis has a reflexively negative attitude towards Jewish people, and that he has been willing to sacrifice accuracy, fairness, and sound research in pursuing his pet projects. Perhaps most disturbingly, Forrest documented that Sungenis has more than once relied on historical revisionist sources, white supremacist sources, and neo-Nazi sources, sometimes posting entire articles written by these sorts of authors, without any sort of attribution. In short, Forrest more than adequately proved that Sungenis should in no way be considered any kind of expert or authority on Jewish issues, because he cannot be trusted to be objective or fair in his approach to these subjects.

Sungenis responded to Forrest's web site with what can only be called a calumnious personal attack, publishing a 72-page tome entitled "Michael Forrest and the Jews: Let's Separate Fact from Fiction." Among the many so-called "facts" presented by Sungenis were included several outright falsehoods, including:

  • That "Michael [Forrest] did not leave CAI of his own accord. I terminated his stay with us."
  • That Forrest was "terminated ... because of the underhanded activity he was doing at CAI."
  • That this so-called "underhanded activity" consisted of Forrest "[rearranging] our website, without telling me, so that ... 'offending' material no longer appeared."
  • That Forrest engaged in this underhanded rearranging of CAI's web site because "Michael's concert promoter told Michael that he would not hire him to play in the concert because of his association with CAI and because of some of the 'Jewish' articles on our website."
  • That Forrest "decided to sacrifice our friendship" because of the threat CAI posed to "his blossoming musical career."

Suffice it to say that none of this was true: Forrest left CAI of his own accord, and Sungenis' own private emails prove it; Forrest never rearranged the CAI web site, nor did he ever remove any material from the site - what he did was ask the webmaster to post a short statement when John Paul II was on his death bed, which said that CAI's prayers were with the Holy Father; not only did Forrest not leave CAI because of a "blossoming musical career," on the contrary, he had definitely ended his musical ventures nearly a year prior to leaving CAI (I have an email on file in which Forrest mentions to the bass player in his band that he is selling all of his musical equipment - not typically a smart move for someone who is hoping to further a "blossoming musical career"); there never was a "concert promoter," nor was there a "musical gig" on the line - there was a high school boy who had asked Forrest to give a speech on traditional marriage at the high school, and Forrest's association with CAI was never raised as an issue by this young man (Forrest volunteered his time to the high school pro bono, by the way, contrary to Sungenis' insinuation that there were mercenary motives involved).

In response to Sungenis' blatantly false allegations, libel, and calumny, I posted a defense of Forrest at this web site; in that response, I made use of some private email correspondence between Sungenis and Forrest in order to prove, beyond any question, that Sungenis was lying, and that his accusations were demonstrably false.

Nearly a week later, Sungenis sent me a threatening email, saying that he was going to sue me for libel and invasion of privacy if I did not remove his private emails from the site and issue a public apology. The irony is rich indeed. One wonders, of course, how publishing someone's own words can be called "libel," when "libel" deals with the spread of false information; more than this, however, one wonders precisely when Sungenis started caring about the publication of private correspondence, given the fact that he did this very same thing to Mario Derksen in February of 2005. Derksen's response can be accessed here, in which he complains that "To my dismay, Robert Sungenis has published on his web site what I thought to be a private conversation"; Derksen also complains that Sungenis not only posted a private correspondence without permission, but that he dishonestly "posted our conversation, though not in its entirety."

It is evident from this that Sungenis operates according to a double-standard. It was apparently acceptable in his mind to post Derksen's private correspondence, and for no other purpose than to have a new article for CAI's web site, but yet it was a clear case of "invasion of privacy", deserving of a lawsuit, for me to post his private correspondence, for no other purpose than to clear Forrest's name of the defamatory charges Sungenis had made against him.

Let us step back for a moment, then, and consider the big picture as it stands so far. Sungenis reacted to Forrest's initial critique with hostility, and rather than simply engage the substance of Forrest's arguments, he chose to engage in blatant libel and character assassination. Thus, he brought upon himself the discomfort of having his private correspondence published on the Internet; I would have preferred to refrain from doing something like that, but Sungenis' calumnious and reputation-damaging response to Forrest necessitated it. In response to my defense of Forrest, Sungenis again chose to take the low road. He could have simply admitted that he had fouled up the facts and libeled Forrest, offered to post a public apology, and asked me to remove my essay in exchange for such an apology. I would have been happy to do so. Instead, he responded with more hostility, threatening to take legal action against me (sadly, this kind of bluster is a common tactic used by Sungenis, as others can verify). As a side note, one can only marvel at Sungenis' fearlessness; after all, he believes in a well-orchestrated and world-wide Jewish conspiracy to take over the media, the movies, the government, and everything else, and yet he apparently thinks that the civil courts would give him a favorable hearing when the central subject of the case would concern his negative articles against the Jews. I suppose it's good to know that there is at least one area, namely the legal system, which Sungenis believes has not been taken over by the Jews.

Given that his consistent response to Forrest and myself had been one of hostility, it was a little surprising when Sungenis' "Vice President of Apologetics" Ben Douglass contacted Forrest with a proposed truce. Douglass expressed his desire to put an end to the controversy, and so he offered Forrest a proposal. Once again, in the interests of making everything surrounding this controversy crystal clear, so that no one can accuse either me or Mr. Forrest of misrepresenting the facts, I will quote Douglass' exact words:

CAI will take down all of Robert's old articles on the Jews and Judaism, and the latest articles in response to your website, Robert will stop writing about Jews and Israel, and in the future I will handle all matters Jewish at CAI ... In exchange you and Jacob Michael take down your articles. (Douglass, email of Sep. 29, 2006)

Having already seen how Sungenis was handling matters, with his typical posturing and bravado, a proposal such as this seemed a little surprising. Douglass was offering more than Forrest had ever proposed to Sungenis, and when Forrest initially offered a far less stringent proposal to Sungenis several weeks earlier, Sungenis accused him of trying to censor CAI. Now here was CAI's own VP of Apologetics, offering a deal in which Sungenis would agree to stop writing about the Jews completely?

Once again, the bizarre schizophrenia at CAI seemed to be rearing its confused heads. Which voice does one listen to in such an instance? The voice of Sungenis, or the voice of Douglass? Forrest chose to listen to Douglass, and to give CAI another chance. No one can say he didn't at least try, nor can anyone accuse Forrest of not leaving his door open.

In his response to Douglass, Forrest wisely insisted on confirming one critical point: was Douglass speaking for himself, or did he have Sungenis' authority to even be offering such a proposal?

Forrest wrote to Douglass, "Before engaging in negotiations with you, I need confirmation that you have the authority to speak on Bob's behalf in order to reach an agreement." (Forrest, email of Sep. 29, 2006)

However, precisely as this exchange was taking place, Sungenis sent us yet another 70-page rebuttal - this time attacking me and my defense of Forrest. More confusion, more signs of schizophrenia. Sungenis indicated to us that this rebuttal had not yet been posted, and that if we were going to enter into negotiations with CAI, all parties involved were required to pull down their respective articles as a sign of good-will. If we would not do this, Sungenis insisted that he would be posting his rebuttal immediately. In other words, the negotiations for a truce began with a bizarre and needless threat. It is almost as if Sungenis had forgotten that it was he who had left the first series of negotiations in a huff, accusing Forrest of all manner of dishonesty and treachery in the process.

Douglass got back to Forrest, and forwarded Forrest an email exchange between himself and Sungenis. Again, it is necessary here to publicize exactly what was said, because it demonstrates something of the most critical importance. In this exchange between Douglass and Sungenis, Douglass had said, "I gave Forrest the same proposal I gave you. He said that he wanted confirmation that I had authority to negotiate on your behalf before he negotiated with me." (Douglass, email of Sep. 30, 2006, emphasis added) Sungenis had responded, "Of course you have my permission." (Sungenis, email of Sep. 30, 2006)

Two things are to be noted here: First, Douglass affirmed that the proposal he sent to Forrest was "the same proposal" he had shown to Sungenis. Thus, Sungenis was fully aware of the terms contained in that proposal, namely, that Douglass would be writing all future articles on Jewish issues at CAI, that Sungenis would not be writing on Jewish issues any more, and that all the old material on the Jews would be permanently removed from CAI's site. Second, it should be noticed that Sungenis slightly altered the terminology used by Douglass: Forrest had asked if Douglass had authority from Sungenis; Sungenis only said that Douglass had his permission. This is a slight difference, certainly, but it proved in the end to have made all the difference. As we would soon discover, Douglass had no authority whatsoever - but he did have permission.

Following this, I had a short exchange with Douglass via an instant-messaging program. In this conversation, I asked Douglass whether he had any confidence in Sungenis' willingness to abide by the terms of Douglass' proposal. After all, in the unpublished rebuttal Sungenis had sent to us as a threat, he had written:

Forrest demanded a moratorium on writing on Jewish converts for a year, and even requested that this moratorium go on indefinitely. I make no such promises. In fact, whenever a Jewish issue comes up on our QA board, I will be answering it as forthrightly as I did before. I just won't be putting up any more Feature articles on Jewish issues, or quite frankly, many other issues, since I simply won't have the time to do so. (Sungenis, "Response to Jacob Michael's essay 'Sungenis and the Jews: Comments on a Controversy'", unpublished draft, emphasis added)

This admission was quite interesting, given the fact that Sungenis' Open Letter to the Patrons of CAI had said that he would be backing away from Jewish issues in the future, that he would be focusing more on biblical theology from now on, and that he was sorry he had offended people with "the words I chose and some of the sources I used." It is clear now, reading his words quoted above, that what this "apology" really meant is that Sungenis would only be backing away from "Feature articles on Jewish issues," not because of any personal remorse or recognition of wrong-doing in the past, but because "I simply won't have the time." Far from backing away from Jewish issues, as he insinuates in his Open Letter, Sungenis insists above that "whenever a Jewish issue comes up on our QA board, I will be answering it as forthrightly as I did before."

Mark well: for anyone who read Sungenis' Open Letter and interpreted it as anything like a real apology, or a manifestation of contrition and repentance, these stunning admissions should make the truth clear: the Open Letter was nothing but a sham, a piece of Public Relations propaganda - it was a very well-crafted statement that there would only be a shift in emphasis at CAI, and only for the period of time required for Sungenis to focus on other projects, such as the CAI Study Bible.

This admission of the truth, and the real meaning of the Open Letter, fits the facts quite well. Sungenis promises to continue addressing Jewish issues in the Q&A forum "as forthrightly as ever"; meanwhile, as evidence of the fact that he has had no change of heart or twinge of conscience, the questionable material - for which he "apologized," mind you - remains on Sungenis' web site, even though it has been three weeks since he supposedly apologized for it; there appears to be no rush to remove the material, now that the heat is off and the patrons of CAI seem to have been placated by the Open Letter. Fortunately, we now know the truth: Sungenis hasn't changed a bit, and he has no intention of turning over a new leaf.

But we must return to the chronology of events. Sungenis' admissions to us were somewhat troubling, to say the least. In light of his apparent refusal to change his ways, I asked Douglass, "do you really think Bob is going to abide by any terms of negotiation, given what he said in his 'rebuttal' to me?" (instant message chat log, October 1, 2006) I then quoted for Douglass the disturbing admission of Sungenis which was just quoted above, but Douglass assured me "that will change if we are able to negotiate something," because "[Sungenis] gave me permission to propose that deal to Michael, and set me in charge of negotiating." (Douglass, instant message chat log, October 1, 2006)

Note again: just as he did with Forrest, so also Douglass affirmed for me that he was operating with Sungenis' permission (though not necessarily with Sungenis' authority), and more importantly, that Sungenis had granted this permission even after having seen the proposal that was given to Forrest. Read his words again: Sungenis "gave me permission to propose that deal to Michael." Sungenis knew full well what was being offered by way of negotiation, and in full possession of this knowledge, he gave Douglass permission to continue on with the negotiations.

Taking Douglass' assurances at face value, and satisfied that this was not going to be a waste of his time, Forrest agreed to enter negotiations with Douglass, and also agreed to pull his web site down for the duration of the discussions; he asked me to remove my own essay which I had written in his defense, and I did. Sungenis, for his part, quickly removed his attack on Forrest, as well as Thomas Herron's response to Forrest, from CAI's site. All of this was completed by the end of the day, October 1, 2006, and negotiations were ready to begin.

After a few days of talks, Forrest and Douglass had worked out an extremely clear and precisely-worded agreement. It is worth emphasizing that both men were involved in the writing, re-writing, revising, and finalizing of the document, and both men sacrificed quite a bit of time and effort to complete the agreement in a timely fashion. This is an important fact to recognize in light of Sungenis' later rejection of the terms agreed upon by Forrest and Douglass. Throughout his lengthy and sustained criticisms of the agreement, it is hard to believe that Sungenis' own VP was involved in crafting the text, so harsh are his words.

It should be noted again that, throughout the course of the negotiations, all of Sungenis' articles on Jewish issues, complete with their use of sources which Sungenis himself admitted were imprudent (cf. his Open Letter, last paragraph), remained up at the CAI web site. The significance of this point should not be missed. Sungenis proved that he is capable of acting quite quickly in removing material from his web site when his own reputation is on the line, as evidenced by the fact that he had removed his response to Forrest within a matter of hours, as part of the negotiations. One must wonder, then, why it is taking him so long to remove material from his web site which he admits has been a source of offense to others. He supposedly apologized for this material in his Open Letter, yet the material remains publicly accessible, even now, nearly a month after he has admitted its problematic nature. As was seen before, Sungenis appears to have one set of standards for everyone else, but another set of standards for himself. If nothing else, this proves again that Sungenis is concerned for no one but himself; his Open Letter was an obvious attempt at damage control, nothing more. As an interesting aside, it is worth noting that Sungenis made a very general apology in his Open Letter, but whenever he is challenged on specific points of contention, he defends and justifies himself; it might be an appropriate inquiry to ask Sungenis to what specifically his apology refers? Perhaps Sungenis would be willing to supply us with an itemized list of where he has been naughty and where he has been nice?

Because the fact of these negotiations was such a public matter, not only through its mention at Forrest's site, but also at this web site, it seems necessary and entirely appropriate to reproduce here, in its entirety, the text of the agreement which Forrest and Douglass reached.

Agreement between Robert Sungenis/Ben Douglass and Michael Forrest/Jacob Michael

October 3, 2006

The following apply to Robert Sungenis and Ben Douglass:

1) All articles by Robert involving Jews will be permanently taken down at CAI.

2) All current Q and A's of a non-theological nature that involve Jews will be permanently taken down at CAI.

3) All current Q and A's of a theological nature involving Jews will be evaluated by Ben and Michael Forrest. If any is determined to be biased or negative in regard to Jews it will be permanently removed.

4) There will be no future "News Alerts" (articles written by others, posted at CAI) that stereotype or broad-brush Jews at CAI. There will be no "News Alerts" that entertain Jewish conspiracy theories, focus primarily on Jewish political issues, use dubious sources or originate from dubious sources. Neither will such "News Alerts" raise the issue of any individual's Jewish lineage in a way that implies that this lineage is cause for suspicion or derision.

5) No articles will be written by Ben involving Jewish stereotypes, broad-brushing, conspiracy theories or dubious sources. Any articles written by Ben on Jewish issues will be primarily of a theological nature and will not raise the issue of any individual's Jewish lineage in a way that implies that such lineage is cause for suspicion or derision. It is acknowledged that certain Catholic theological issues may arise in the context of a political situation (e.g. just war doctrine) and this agreement is not intended to prevent Ben from legitimately addressing them under such circumstances.

6) A reasonable attempt at balance on Jewish issues will be made (positive vs. negative, volume, etc.).

7) Robert will not write on Jewish issues, whether Q and A's or articles. Ben Douglass may write future articles and answer future questions involving Jewish issues at CAI and elsewhere under the same guidelines set out in #5 and #6.1

The following apply to Michael Forrest:

1) The website will remain down permanently with the exception of the statement indicated in #3.

2) If Michael believes a violation of this agreement has taken place, he will first contact Ben and/or Robert in order to try to resolve the issue privately (making a fair and reasonable effort to reach a resolution).

3) Michael will put up the text of this agreement at and will ask others to please refrain from unnecessary and unconstructive banter and argument about this situation.

The following apply to Jacob Michael:

1) Jacob's article will remain down.

2) If Jacob believes a violation of this agreement has taken place he will first contact Ben and/or Robert in order to try to resolve the issue privately (making a fair and reasonable effort to reach a resolution).

1Note: Ben also agreed to take a hiatus of several months before returning to any Jewish issues (excluding Q and A's), in order to allow things to begin to heal. Although this is not part of the formal agreement, it is a prudential decision to help build good will. (Forrest/Douglass, Agreement of October 3, 2006)

This was the final text of the agreement as it was sent to Sungenis for his approval. When one considers the text of this agreement and compares it to the much shorter "proposal" that Douglass sent to Sungenis and Forrest, it is clear that the two proposals are of the same essence and substance, the latter being merely an extended clarification and more specific iteration of the former. In some cases, the final text was even more lenient than Douglass' original proposal; for example, the final text says that Forrest and Douglass will evaluate existing QA material at CAI, and determine which pieces should be removed, while Douglass' original proposal simply offered to pull all the Jewish material. Be that as it may, Sungenis, as it has been repeatedly shown, had seen Douglass' proposal, and had agreed to let Douglass go forward as his representative in the negotiations. He voluntarily bowed out of the discussion and left Douglass to negotiate for him, knowing full well what the terms of the initial proposal were. In a note to us before negotiations began, he had said, "When you think you've arrived at a reasonable resolution, then contact me and I'll give my input." (Sungenis, email of Sep. 30, 2006)

As it turns out, when Sungenis said, "I'll give my input," he actually meant, "I will reject the final agreement almost in its entirety." And that is precisely what he did.

On October 5, Forrest received his response from Sungenis. Much of this response will be reproduced below, in the interests of putting the black-and-white facts fully into view. Lest anyone should wish to make the accusation that what is produced below is wrenched from its context, the entirety of Sungenis' response to the joint agreement is being made available here. While it is not the normal policy of this web site to publish private email correspondence, unfortunately Sungenis has demonstrated that he is all-too capable of misrepresenting the facts and spinning the truth to further his own agenda, and thus there is no alternative but to pre-empt such an eventuality by making his entire response available.

It is worth repeating yet again: Douglass had sent Sungenis his initial proposal, which said "CAI will take down all of Robert's old articles on the Jews and Judaism," yet even though Sungenis agreed to let Douglass negotiate with Forrest based on this proposal, in the end Sungenis rejected point #1 of the joint agreement completely, stating that "there [will] be no outside censorship of CAI." (Sungenis, email of Oct. 5, 2006)

We can be excused for asking why Sungenis considered this to be "censorship," when he clearly didn't consider it to be "censorship" when Douglass first made this precise proposal to Forrest. For whatever reason, Sungenis agreed to move forward with negotiations based on Douglass' proposal, and then flatly rejected the joint agreement as "not acceptable."

Also "not acceptable" was the second point of the agreement, that Q&A material of a "non-theological nature" concerning the Jews would be removed from CAI's site. Keeping in mind that it was partly in these Q&A's that Sungenis had previously availed himself of unsavory sources, stereo-typed the Jews, and dabbled in conspiracy theories, it was somewhat confusing to read Sungenis' response to this point of the agreement: "Those questions and my answers will stay where they are unless there are: (a) falsehoods stated in those answers, which are proven by verified documentation, (b) uncharitable remarks, (c) sources that are questionable." (ibid.)

It should not be missed by the reader that Sungenis changed the terms of the discussion with these words. No longer is this a question of negotiation and mutual attempt to achieve a peaceful resolution; it is now a challenge to debate: he will only removed the QA material that contains "falsehoods," but these must be "proven by verified documentation." Given what Forrest has already exposed concerning Sungenis' sloppy scholarship (which Sungenis himself admitted in his public response to Forrest), is it not strange that Sungenis should now behave as though his QA material is unimpeachably solid, and can only in turn be challenged by "verified documentation" (a responsibility of which Sungenis absolves himself when he is the one writing the material)?

Beyond this, as has been mentioned, Sungenis already admitted in his Open Letter that the material on his site sometimes draws on questionable sources - but here, he promises to remove material that uses "sources that are questionable" only if such a charge can be demonstrated. To anyone who has been paying attention, the matter is clear: it already has been demonstrated that Sungenis' sources are questionable, and Sungenis himself admitted this very thing three weeks ago, and yet the material remains on CAI's site at the time of this writing! It is beyond question now what Sungenis' noble-sounding words and protestations are worth.

Not content to merely reject the third point of the agreement, that "All current Q and A's of a theological nature involving Jews will be evaluated by Ben and Michael Forrest," and that "If any is determined to be biased or negative in regard to Jews it will be permanently removed," Sungenis also felt it necessary to throw in a few more personal jabs at Forrest: "As of this juncture, I can hardly trust Mr. Forrest as a human being, much less his attempt at dictatorial censoring of the CAI website, considering the collusion and calumny he has perpetrated on me the last few weeks, and the manner in which he left CAI a year ago, which was basically dishonest." (ibid.)

Even though Sungenis' allegations concerning Forrest's dishonesty have been proven false by Sungenis' own emails, it is clear that he is going to remain obstinate and continue to hurl falsehoods. This is why it is impossible to negotiate with Sungenis, or to interact with him in any meaningful way; he simply does not inhabit the space known as "reality."

At this point in Sungenis' response to the joint agreement, it is clear that the negotiations have broken down and utterly failed. I repeat again: Sungenis approved these negotiations based on Douglass' proposal, and he gave Douglass permission to negotiate on his behalf; yet here, he behaves as though these very attempts at negotiation are nothing but an insult from Forrest - apparently Sungenis forgot that Douglass was largely responsible for crafting the text. Perhaps Sungenis should look for another VP of Apologetics, if Douglass is apparently moronic enough to approve an agreement so clearly reprehensible in Sungenis' eyes. This much is certain: we are no longer dealing with an attempt at making peace at this point in Sungenis' response. On the contrary, Sungenis here returns to the personal insults against Forrest, saying he can "hardly trust Mr. Forrest as a human being," accusing him of "dictatorial censorship" and "collusion and calumny," and calling him "basically dishonest." Here the obvious question arises: if this is how Sungenis feels about Forrest, then why did he agree to let Douglass negotiate with this vile excuse for a human being in the first place? There is a word for this: schizophrenia.

Thus far we have seen how points 1-3 of the joint agreement met with complete rejection and continued self-justification at the hands of Sungenis. Point #4 of the agreement did not fare much better:

Proposal: 4) There will be no future "News Alerts" (articles written by others, posted at CAI) that stereotype or broad-brush Jews at CAI.

R. Sungenis: We will put up whatever "News Alerts" that we desire. Furthermore, we don't make a practice of "stereotyping" or "broad-brushing" Jews at CAI anymore than we do Protestants, Muslims, the Democrats or the Mafia. If you see an example of such treatment, you can submit your concern to CAI and we will act promptly on your request. Our only interest is stating factual remarks about any issue we cover. Moreover, "News Items" contain the opinions of those not affiliated with CAI. In any case, if we feel there is any merit to a News Item, we will post it, regardless of who it concerns.

Proposal: There will be no "News Alerts" that entertain Jewish conspiracy theories, focus primarily on Jewish political issues, use dubious sources or originate from dubious sources.

R. Sungenis: CAI will focus on any issue when it chooses to do so, whether it deals with Jews, Muslims, the Republicans or Democrats, Cesar Chavez or any other issue. CAI will not use sources without qualification and has already apologized for some of the sources it used in the past. As for conspiracy theories, CAI does not entertain conspiracy theories as factual material. We, however, caution our critics that, just because the material deals with Jewish history, it does not automatically make it a conspiracy theory.

Proposal: Neither will such "News Alerts" raise the issue of any individual's Jewish lineage in a way that implies that this lineage is cause for suspicion or derision.

R. Sungenis: It is not our objective to create suspicion or derision for anyone. It is merely our goal to tell as much factual information as we can about certain persons, places or things, and let the chips fall where they may. (ibid.)

Note that Sungenis cleverly dodges responsibility for the scandal involved in his previous posting of News Alerts that came from White Supremacist sources, by saying that these items "contain the opinions of those not affiliated with CAI." How would Sungenis respond to his own argument here? We turn to his rebuke of Dave Armstrong in a January, 2005 Q&A at CAI:

Regarding the references on your site to Kristol, Coulter, et al:

If you have no political affiliation with these neo-cons, then I suggest you put a disclaimer on your site, otherwise people are going to get the wrong impression, and you can't blame them if they do. Any person with common sense who sees their names on your website would assume that you support the political views of the aforementioned unless you say otherwise. (Sungenis, Q&A, January, 2005, emphasis added)

Precisely. But here again, we are watching a double-standard at work. When Dave Armstrong refers to "neo-cons" like Kristol and Coulter on his web site, Sungenis demonstrates remarkably clear vision: Armstrong is giving people "the wrong impression," and further, Armstrong "can't blame them" for coming away with the idea that Armstrong is in agreement with his sources - nay, further, such a conclusion is "common sense," according to Sungenis. Yet, when the tables are turned and Sungenis' must measure up to his own yardstick, he suddenly loses all objectivity. We insist that Sungenis abide by his own rules; he has affiliated himself with White Supremacist and neo-Nazi sources, which, according to his standards, means that he cannot blame anyone for assuming that he supports the views of those sources. The fact that he has yet to remove this material from his site should, according to his own standards, be more than enough proof for "any person with common sense" that Sungenis agrees with historical revisionists and White Supremacists. There is no reason to believe otherwise, at least, for those of us with "common sense."

The last words in the quote from Sungenis' response to the joint agreement above are also interesting: "It is not our objective to create suspicion or derision for anyone. It is merely our goal to tell as much factual information as we can about certain persons, places or things, and let the chips fall where they may." This appears to be another way of saying that it's not Sungenis' fault if people come away from his site feeling suspicion and derision for the Jews; after all, according to him, he has been doing nothing more than publishing "factual information," and then letting "the chips fall where they may." Can he help it if people draw the natural conclusions, if that's where those particular chips fall?

Point #5 on the joint agreement was likewise rejected by Sungenis, with more boasting promises that Sungenis and Douglass will continue to write and post whatever they darn well please:

Proposal: 5) No articles will be written by Ben involving Jewish stereotypes, broad-brushing, conspiracy theories or dubious sources. Any articles written by Ben on Jewish issues will be primarily of a theological nature and will not raise the issue of any individual's Jewish lineage in a way that implies that such lineage is cause for suspicion or derision. It is acknowledged that certain Catholic theological issues may arise in the context of a political situation (e.g. just war doctrine) and this agreement is not intended to prevent Ben from legitimately addressing them under such circumstances.

R. Sungenis: Besides what was already stated above about CAI's commitment not to "stereotype," etc., Ben Douglass will write whatever he pleases on Jewish issues, or any other issue that he feels is of concern to the public. Ben, being the kind and dedicated person that he is, will never denigrate or castigate Jewish people. He will simply do his research and state the facts as history has recorded them, and let the chips fall where they may. For example, Ben plans on doing a paper on the Talmud. Knowing Ben as I do, he will use the most impeccable sources, give the material the highest caliber of research, and communicate his ideas in a non-offensive way. (Sungenis, email of Oct. 5, 2006)

Is Sungenis not behaving here, as well as in previous statements, as though Forrest's concerns have no basis in reality? He acts as though it is an insult to even suggest that CAI would host articles that stereo-type the Jews, broad-brush the Jews, promote conspiracy theories, and use dubious sources. The facts of the matter, however, are that Sungenis has done this very thing repeatedly; he was called on the carpet for it back in 2002, and Forrest has compiled nearly 100 pages of evidence on that prove Sungenis has only gotten worse in the last four years. Forrest posted his critique of Sungenis precisely because Sungenis has a problem in this area; despite the mountains of evidence, however, Sungenis pretends as though there is no problem whatsoever, and speaks as though CAI has a stellar reputation for being above board in dealing with Jewish issues. It is almost as though he feigns indignation that Forrest would even suggest such things. Again, Sungenis' behavior here suggests that he is simply no longer in touch with reality.

Finally, the last two points of the proposal that concerned CAI were likewise brushed off and/or rejected:

Proposal: 6) A reasonable attempt at balance on Jewish issues will be made (positive vs. negative, volume, etc.).

R. Sungenis: That will always be the case at CAI, with any issue that we address.

Proposal: 7) Robert will not write on Jewish issues, whether Q and A's or articles.

R. Sungenis: Not acceptable. I will write on any issue I desire, and no person outside of CAI, except my bishop or the pope, is going to inhibit my freedom or censor my articles by force of canonical law. I have voluntarily decided that I am not going to write articles on political issues. If someone asks a question on our QA board about Jewish issues, I will answer it, but it will be done in the most respectful, charitable way possible, and all sources will be checked before divulged. (ibid.)

Here too, Sungenis behaves as though CAI has "always" used balance when dealing with Jewish issues, even though the facts prove that such is not the case; more importantly, such a contention renders his apologies incoherent and meaningless. Why apologize if CAI has ever been a paragon of balance and uprightness? But consider: how many articles at CAI deal with critiques of Islam, for example? And how many deal with critiques of Jews? This is no kind of "balance" worthy of the name!

Sungenis once again insists that he will retain the right to "write on any issue I desire," even though - at the risk of redundancy - he agreed to negotiate with Forrest based on the proposal that Douglass offered, which precisely denied him the right to "write on any issue I desire." He appears obsessed with the issue of censorship, and is at great pains to make it clear that he will not be censored, except by "my bishop or the pope." This claim, however, falls flat when one considers that Sungenis believes he has a Divine mandate as a true prophet of God; as he said to Forrest in an email, "I have a job to do and that is to protect our Catholic Church from any charlatans or erroneous doctrine, whether it happens to be John Paul II, Scott Hahn or anyone else." (Sungenis, email of March 22, 2005) If Sungenis thinks it is his job to protect the Church against the Pope, what reason is there to believe that he would humbly receive correction from the Pope, much less his bishop, on Jewish issues?

The rest of the joint agreement, as was seen earlier, dealt with issues pertaining to myself and to Forrest; of course, Sungenis had no problem with these points. In short, he systematically, and point-by-point, rejected all the portions of the joint agreement that pertained to CAI, but was quite happy to affirm the points that suggested Forrest and I should keep our respective articles out of the public eye.

Beyond this, he further requested that, in addition to keeping my defense of Forrest down on my site, I should offer him a public apology for:

  1. publishing his private emails
  2. "maintaining the accusation that I did not read Schoeman's book"
  3. "Denying that when Michael Forrest left CAI it was in the midst of an engagement he was trying to arrange with a promoter"
  4. "Stating or implying that Calamus Intl. University is a "diploma mill"
  5. claiming "that I stated that I 'initiated email contact with Mr. Forrest.' I didn't 'initiate' any email. I only 'prompted' a further discussion with Mr. Forrest to test his motives"
  6. claiming "that I choose the picture of Jesus and the quote 'the bulls of Bashan' because I have a 'Messiah complex'"
  7. claiming "that Mr. Forrest left CAI because I was being 'hyper-critical of the pope,'"
  8. claiming "that Mr. Forrest did not put up an article on the CAI website that was unauthorized by me."

For someone so concerned about "censorship," Sungenis appears to have no problem refusing me my own rights to express my opinions, which is understandable - if you are Robert Sungenis and you operate according to a double-standard, that is. By way of brief digression, it seems appropriate to offer a few brief comments on these eight charges that Sungenis makes against me.

1) I published his private emails with Forrest's permission, and only because Sungenis falsely represented the information contained in those emails. It was necessary to put his actual words in public view in order to defend Forrest from Sungenis' libel.

2) I did not merely accuse Sungenis of "not reading Schoeman's book." I demonstrated, using his own words, that he critiqued Schoeman's book before he had read it. I am quite certain that he got around to reading the book eventually, but Forrest has supplied the proof, in the form of Sungenis' own confession, that he wrote a critique of Schoeman before he had read Schoeman's book. Why he continues to deny this when his own emails have been publicized and prove the contrary is beyond me. He wrote a 1,500-word "Letter to the Editor" and submitted it to Culture Wars in March of 2004, both critiquing Schoeman's theology in Salvation is from the Jews and accusing Schoeman of dishonesty in his use of patristics, before he had read the book. This is not an accusation so much as it is a statement of fact.

3) I did not deny that Forrest left CAI "in the midst of an engagement he was trying to arrange with a promoter." That would be a foolish thing to deny, in light of the fact that Forrest publicly divulged all of this information on his web site, before Sungenis had written a single word in response - that information is here, in a lengthy footnote to Forrest's piece. Permit me to quote the most relevant portion:

Then, in mid-late 2004 a series of events unfolded that led directly to my departure from CAI ... Fourth, I was invited to speak about traditional marriage at a public high school in Massachusetts.

... I had recently been invited to speak at a public high school in Massachusetts about traditional marriage (gratis) and I accepted. I thought it wise and prudent to be prepared with concrete, indisputable proof in case the anti-Christian liberals likely to crash such a presentation decided to try to discredit both me and defenders of traditional marriage by associating us with anti-Semitism. My name was posted all over the school. Any simple google search would reveal that I was associated with Catholic Apologetics International. And what had happened in 2002 at CAI was readily accessible as well.

After doing the research recounted above in this study, I recognized a dilemma in regard to my pending presentation at the public high school. I knew I could no longer honestly claim that Bob had retracted and apologized for the things he wrote in 2002. And if I was asked, "then why do you continue to support and work for him?", I also knew I could offer no satisfactory answer. Additionally, in light of the imminent threat to traditional marriage in Massachusetts, I felt it would be imprudent to endanger the nascent, beleaguered movement to protect it. It was almost miraculous that we had even been permitted to speak at public high school. And I could not reasonably contend that I found the views expressed by Bob to be serious and wrong while simultaneously publicly supporting and defending him. (Forrest, "Robert Sungenis and the Jews", Section 2, "Background", fn. 3)

All of this information has been publicly accessible since the day Forrest published his web site. Despite this fact, Sungenis wrote his hit piece on Forrest and publicly accused him of leaving CAI because of "his blossoming musical career", and so that "he could look good in the eyes of his concert promoter." (Sungenis, "Michael Forrest and the Jews", p. 8) That is what I denied, because it wasn't true. There was no concert promoter, there was no "gig" (a word Sungenis uses a total of 26 times in his attack on Forrest and in his unpublished attack on me), there was no "blossoming musical career" on the line. It was a public speaking engagement at a secular high school on the subject of traditional marriage, and all of this has been public information since Forrest published his web site, despite Sungenis' accusations that Forrest has been "hiding" this information. The fact of the matter is that Sungenis simply didn't read Forrest's piece before he launched his criticisms, which, as we have shown, is a recurring theme in Sungenis' rather spotty track record.

4) I did imply that Calamus International University has the earmarks of being a "diploma mill." It is a non-US-accredited institution without an on-site campus, based in the West Indies, with a "store front" in the UK. I think it smells fishy, and since Sungenis is so sensitive to issues of censorship, I am certain that he will agree I am entitled to my opinion on the matter.

5) I did claim that Sungenis took credit for "initiating" email contact with Forrest, and that is precisely what he did. Here are his words: "After a brief exchange of emails (which I prompted in order to test Forrest's real motives), Forrest wrote back ..." (Sungenis, "Forrest and the Jews", p. 3) Sungenis wants to make an issue out of the fact that he used the word "prompted," while I used the word "initiated." This is why he protests, "I didn't 'initiate' any email. I only 'prompted' a further discussion with Mr. Forrest to test his motives." I invite the reader to consult a thesaurus. He will find that the word "prompt" has several synonyms, including, "cause", "incite", "induce", and "instigate". Merriam-Webster's Dictionary gives as a primary meaning for "prompt" the following definition: "to move to action, to incite." But this is nothing more than a red herring anyway; that Sungenis wants to split hairs over two words that are synonymous in the face of all the other serious issues we have raised only further demonstrates the fact that he has missed the point entirely. The bigger issue here, though, is why he wants to take credit for "prompting" an email discussion specifically "to test Forrest's real motives" - in other words, admitting that he was not being forthright and fully honest in his discussions with Forrest. He was playing games, trying to bait Forrest, by his own admission.

6) I did claim that Sungenis has a Messiah complex. When a man applies a Messianic Psalm to himself, sticks a picture of Jesus next to his own written defense, refers to his one-time "best friend" as "Judas" for having "betrayed" him, and claims to be a prophet of God with a mission to protect the Church, even from the Pope, I am entitled to the opinion that this man has a serious Messiah complex. Further evidence of this fact is what Sungenis himself wrote in his attack against Forrest; not only did he apply the "bulls of Bashan" quote to himself, but he also said, "I am indeed within my Catholic prerogatives to advance this position without being crucified as 'biased' by Michael Forrest." (Sungenis, "Michael Forrest and the Jews", p. 47) The linkage between the verb ("crucified") and the adjective ("biased") doesn't even make sense grammatically; one can be "labeled" as biased, or "called" biased, or even "accused" of being biased, but to say one has been "crucified" as biased is awkward. Of all the possible verbs Sungenis could have used, he picked the one verb that is most obviously associated with Jesus Christ, even though the use of that verb doesn't make sense in the sentence. Why? Because he has a Messiah complex, perhaps?

7) I did claim that Forrest left CAI because Sungenis was being too critical ("hyper-critical") of the Pope, as well as because Sungenis was saying some disturbing things about the Jews. Those were two very important reasons that factored into Forrest's decision to leave CAI. If we must get technical, the final straw, according to Forrest, was when he raised these issues with Sungenis, and Sungenis' response was "that's your problem." The claim is correct, and is mentioned in the footnote to Forrest's piece quoted above.

8) I never denied that Forrest "put up" an article on CAI that was unauthorized by Sungenis, although here again Sungenis is being sloppy with his language: Forrest "put up" nothing on the web site, because he didn't have the site passwords that would even allow him to do so. He asked the web master to "put up" a notice - not an "article" - that CAI's prayers were with the dying pontiff, John Paul II. The text of this "article" is as follows:

To all of our patrons, We ask that you fervently pray for the Holy Father, for his health, for his soul and that God's will be done. He has suffered greatly and has been a witness in his suffering against a world that views life as disposable. He has returned to the hospital once again.

Thank you,

Robert Sungenis, Michael Forrest, Patrick Morris, Ben Douglass, John Novotny and Maureen Sungenis

That Sungenis calls this "underhanded activity" says a lot more about Sungenis than it does about Forrest; yes, of course, how dare Forrest publish anything at CAI expressing love and prayers for the Holy Father! What an underhanded thing to do at a Catholic web site! Notice, though, that Sungenis has once again quietly softened his accusation. Here he uses the phrase "Mr. Forrest ... put up an article on the CAI website that was unauthorized by me." Compare that to Sungenis' previous accusation, published on his web site:

One day Michael's concert promoter told Michael that he would not hire him to play in the concert because of his association with CAI and because of some of the "Jewish" articles on our website. To rectify this situation, Michael rearranged our website, without telling me, so that the "offending" material no longer appeared, since he knew that his concert promoter was going to be checking our website ... now that a music gig was on the line, Michael didn't want [his promoter] to see certain articles ... (Sungenis, "Forrest and the Jews", p. 7, emphasis added)

Is there anything in this accusation that even remotely corresponds to the truth? Is there anything here about Michael putting up a prayer for the Pope? On the contrary, here Sungenis claims that Forrest rearranged the web site, specifically by removing articles from the site so that his imaginary "concert promoter" wouldn't see those articles (again, there was no "concert promoter" and no musical "gig," it was a speaking engagement at a secular high school - the obvious question here is why a secular high school would care if Forrest was associated with a web site that was overly critical of the Pope, as Sungenis insists on claiming). Sungenis can't even get the most basic facts right here, and he accuses Forrest of doing something that Forrest never even had the capability to do - and now Sungenis wants me to publicly apologize? I have a better suggestion, but it rather goes without saying.

Obviously, Sungenis' accusation and subsequent insinuation that Forrest was involved in underhanded activity is ridiculous, but what about his insinuation that Forrest was not "authorized" to put articles up on the site? The reader is asked to consider the following: Forrest sent this short statement to then-CAI webmaster John Novotny with a request to post it, and Novotny complied. This fact alone presents us with an interesting point: if Novotny were a truly loyal associate of Sungenis and CAI, he should have rejected Forrest's request, or at the very least, instructed Forrest to get Sungenis' "authorization" first. That he did no such thing, but promptly posted Forrest's piece without blinking an eye, leaves us with basically two explanations: either Forrest did have implicit and on-going "authorization" to make such requests (and this authority was recognized by CAI's webmaster), and thus Sungenis is exaggerating his charge just slightly, or John Novotny has been in collusion with Forrest and assisting him in his underhanded activities since 2005. In any event, the question is raised: why didn't Sungenis "terminate" John Novotny as well? After all, Forrest merely put in the request for the prayer/statement to be posted; it was Novotny who actually posted it. The conclusion is plain: Sungenis is blowing smoke and waving more red herrings here in his attempt to justify his continued evasion of responsibility for his own actions. It is always someone else's fault in Sungenis' ego-centered universe (Galileo Was Wrong indeed!), even when laying the blame on someone else only exposes further inconsistencies.

In summary, then, Sungenis systematically rejected the terms of an agreement that his own VP suggested - terms which he initially accepted, mind you - as part of an agreement that he himself authorized; in turn, he issued a completely different set of terms which bind no one but myself and Forrest. It would be difficult to imagine a more one-sided agreement!

Suffice it to say, then, that the attempted negotiations ended in utter failure as soon as Sungenis got involved. Even his own VP seemed confounded by him. We can only scratch our heads at why he even bothered to authorize Douglass to negotiate with Forrest in the first place, when it is clear now that he never had any intention of abiding by the proposal that Douglass initially offered. A more honest response would have been to simply tell Douglass from the start that his proposal was unacceptable; instead, Sungenis chose to play a game, waste the time of both Forrest and Douglass, and buy himself a few days of peace and quiet by getting us to remove our public criticisms of his work. We are left with two explanations here, one of which calls into question his moral fiber, and the other which raises questions about his emotional and psychological stability.

Since Sungenis has seen fit to lead Mr. Forrest and myself down a rabbit trail, only to lash out at us once again just when we had agreed to try to work things out, we have no other choice but to re-post our criticisms. Unfortunately for Sungenis, we must now add to those criticisms this most recent round of hanky-panky. It appears clear that this entire attempt at negotiation was little more than a charade, a bargaining chip that was used to get Forrest to pull down his web site for as long as possible.

For whatever reason, Sungenis seems intent on burying himself with his own admissions and arguments, and there appears to be little that we or anyone else can do to stop him. Most illustrative of this point is the final communique from Douglass:

I'm not sure what we could accomplish by talking more. I tried to convince Robert that a compromise is the prudent thing to do, but he disagrees, and I'm not going to change his mind. I think the best you can get is what he's already promised. No more articles on Judaism in the forseeable [sic] future as he works on the study Bible, some editing in the articles already at CAI on Judaism, and more caution and sensitivity in answering questions in the future. (Douglass, email of Oct. 6, 2006)

Even Sungenis' VP of Apologetics recognizes that Sungenis is being imprudent, but does that make a bit of difference to Sungenis? No. How quickly do men that Sungenis deems to be incredibly bright, trustworthy and honest mutate into naive dimwits at best, or agents of Satan at worst. This is a long-established pattern at CAI and current CAI volunteers would do well to take careful notice of it.

As was shown in my first defense of Forrest, Sungenis believes himself to be a prophet of God with a Divine mandate, and he has made it clear with his own words that he will sacrifice even his friendships in order to fulfill his mission. Forrest couldn't convince him, and Douglass won't be able to either. However, while Sungenis may think himself to be a prophet, the way in which he continues to implicate himself with his own words, and his obvious blindness to the fact that he only gets himself in a little deeper every time he launches another 70-page missive, makes one wonder if perhaps a comparison between Sungenis and Pharaoh may not be a little closer to the mark.

At this point, there is not a single individual who contributed to Forrest's piece who believes there is any point in further negotiations with Sungenis. He has proven himself to be disingenuous and self-centered to a degree that makes it impossible to reach him, or bring him out of his delusions. He has taken his stand and is bent on defending it at all costs. As such, it is now necessary to refocus our attention on those for whose benefit Forrest first published his original piece: the innocent people who may be harmed by Sungenis' propaganda and animus. For their sake, further information must of necessity soon be forthcoming, and will be published on this web site, about this false prophet who represents no one but himself - information that until now has been held back in the hope that Sungenis might not harden his heart yet again, and refuse to hear the pleas of his brothers. After all is said and done, others will at least have the information necessary to protect themselves from the virus Sungenis spreads like typhoid Mary.

Jacob Michael
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