A Case about Workplace Discrimination and Retaliation over Intelligent Design

SUMMARY
An employee at JPL was disciplined, demoted, and terminated for sharing DVDs about intelligent design (ID) with co-workers. The case is reminiscent of the documentary Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (2008) featuring Ben Stein.

THE PLAINTIFF
David Coppedge worked for 14 years as a System Administrator (SA) for the Cassini program at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in California. For 9 consecutive years he was Team Lead of the SA’s, in charge of most of the computers for the prestigious mission to Saturn. David worked on Cassini from before launch (October 1997) into the Second Extended Mission (2011).

WHAT HAPPENED?
Coppedge would, occasionally, share DVDs on intelligent design with willing co-workers. The DVDs, produced by Illustra Media (for whom David is a board member and researcher) present scientific evidence for design without reference to religion. They include:
Unlocking the Mystery of Life, examining evidence for design in life, the cell and DNA.
The Privileged Planet, exploring evidence for design in the Earth and the universe (this documentary includes interviews with 4 JPL scientists).

He had also given out a few flyers in favor of California’s Proposition 8 (the traditional marriage initiative) before the 2008 election.

Triggering Incident. On March 2, 2009, one co-worker complained to Coppedge’s office manager about the DVD, saying that she felt harassed by David’s “religion and politics” (referring to ID and Prop 8). The manager confronted David and accused him of “pushing religion,” claiming a “number of people” had complained. He shouted, “Intelligent design is religion!” and ordered Coppedge to stop discussing religion or politics in the office under threat of termination.

Coppedge responded that he would comply, but stated that the order got into issues of freedom of speech and religion and could be construed as creating a hostile work environment. He did not file a complaint. The manager, however, immediately reported him to other managers and Human Resources (HR). HR investigated Coppedge for harassment. On April 13, he was issued a Written Warning, alleging he was in violation of JPL’s Harassment and Ethics Policies. He was simultaneously demoted from Team Lead.

LEGAL ACTION
While pursuing internal remedies at JPL and appealing the discipline, Coppedge called the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). William J. Becker, Jr., an ADF affiliate attorney, responded, serving JPL a Demand Letter in Sept. 2009. JPL did not respond for 7 months. Becker filed suit on April 14, 2010, alleging discrimination for “perceived religion” (even though ID is science, not religion).

Termination. Eight months later, on January 24, 2011, Coppedge was abruptly terminated and escorted off lab. Subsequent depositions showed that the decision makers had been meeting with JPL counsel specifically about the lawsuit and layoff process from the time the lawsuit was filed. In March, Becker amended the lawsuit to include Retaliation. Later that year, Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige denied the Defendants’ Motion for Summary Judgment, and trial was set in California Superior Court.

Trial. Both sides opted for a bench trial rather than a jury. The trial began March 9, 2012, and continued for 5 weeks through April 16, with 22 witnesses testifying. Defense attorneys argued the case had nothing to do with ID, but that Coppedge was let go due to a planned reduction in workforce and for performance/communication issues. Plaintiff witnesses disputed the performance complaints, while Becker argued that Coppedge’s treatment followed a pattern of discrimination against advocates of intelligent design.

Media. The case attracted international media attention and was monitored by the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), a pro-evolution group, whose mission is to keep “creationism” and ID out of public schools. The Discovery Institute, a pro-ID think tank in Seattle, supported the case, along with ADF. Coppedge and Becker had to file more briefs and wait 9 months for the verdict.

VERDICT
In January 2013, Judge Ernest M. Hiroshige of the California Superior Court ruled against Coppedge on all 10 counts, offering no explanation. JPL then demanded $51,000 in court costs. An appeal was discussed (as a state case, the highest appeal was California Supreme Court), but with Coppedge now broke, out of work and facing cancer surgery, and with little hope of success on appeal, he was advised by ADF to settle with JPL for elimination of court costs. Nevertheless, public awareness of ID was raised by this case. Coppedge’s story is scheduled to be included in Vol. 3 of Slaughter of the Dissidents by Dr. Jerry Bergman.

— More information on the Coppedge vs JPL case can be found on www.EvolutionNews.org, a Discovery Institute blog. --
 

Educating for Life

09/15/2016

 
Picture
Thanks to Kevin Conover of Educate for Life for the chance to tell my story on KPRZ radio (San Diego) this month. We recorded about an hour in studio on Sept. 1, 2016; it aired a couple of days later. The interview, videotaped in studio, has been posted online.

See Highlight (4.5 minutes) on YouTube.
See entire interview (about 45 minutes) at EducateForLife.org.

Picture
Kevin is a bright and articulate host, who has a lot going on in his own life and ministry. Not only is he up to speed on many issues in creation and intelligent design, having interviewed many leading spokespeople for those subjects and family issues, he is also running for a local school board in San Diego County.

In the interview, we talk about my youth and parents' ministry, how I got interested in creation, my experience at JPL, the trial and its results, and my cancer surgery and recovery. We also talk about Illustra Media's films and I share amazing news from science.

I appreciated Kevin's enthusiastic promotion of Creation-Evolution Headlines and Illustra Media. His own website, EducateForLife.org, is loaded with resources, includ- ing an apologetics curriculum called Unshakeable Faith, to help families, students and adults deal with the issues of our day. His staff regularly witnesses to people in public places. I hope you will support his ministry and his run for school board. Like me, he believes in standing for the truth and making a difference.

 
 
At first glance to most people, it would seem a court would want all evidence to be available. That was certainly my assumption; I had nothing to hide, so lay it all out there, I naively thought. Would that human nature could accept that. Our adversarial system of justice is built on the notion that men are not angels. We lack the holiness that would make matters of justice obvious to everyone. As it is, disputing parties have to fight it out at every stage and trust a referee who is fallible, too. Except for law, a court trial would be more like a game of rugby or two-man pinball than justice with a capital J. But even applicable laws can be selectively cited. It's the best we can expect in a fallen world. One important play is the skirmish between the parties on what evidence should be presented at trial. Sometimes evidence that is disallowed or withheld can bias the outcome
PictureJPL's legal offices in downtown L.A.
Dealing the Cards

The first step in evidence gathering is discovery. Each side is supposed to present all documents that bear on the case. In practice, however, there is subjective interpretation about what constitutes relevant evidence. One side could flood the other side with stuff that has little or no bearing on the issues, swamping their ability to sort through it all. 

JPL should have had every relevant document about me in their own records, but my lawyer and I provided much of it anyway. Fortunately, I had kept some very hot emails that supported my case, but there were also hundreds of normal everyday work emails that didn't bear on the issues involved. So I hunted for keywords and key people, and supplied everything that had to do with the case. We presented 571 documents to JPL's lawyers. When they learned in deposition that I had kept personal notebooks of my work, they wanted all of them, too, even though 95% of the material (or more) was just incomprehensible computer geek-talk, task lists, and records of meetings. They had the manpower to go on a fishing expedition for incriminating evidence about me or my work, and made hay of it during depositions and at trial. You'll see in a minute that my ability to counter their interpretations was limited, due to other rules of evidence.

PictureDarwin fish found on JPL scientist's door
The first data dump of discovery documents is often incomplete, so I provided additional documents as their possible relevance reached my awareness, such as JPL announcements about lectures on the origin of life, additional emails, or photos I took of "Darwin fish" on the doors of JPL scientists (right).

The Delayed Fuse

JPL's lawyers, however, committed a serious blunder, omitting highly relevant emails almost a year after initial discovery, right as Becker and I were completing our important "Plaintiff's Opposition to Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment" in September 2011. I remember the situation well. Bill and I were working feverishly out of his home office to get the legal brief done before the deadline, supported by 88 pages of supporting arguments, when JPL's lead attorney Jim Zapp sent a little "whoops" message, saying they had inadvertently omitted 13 emails in discovery 10 months earlier. Bill asked me to see what was in them while he continued typing. Some were boring, but a couple of them almost burned my fingers. I told Bill, "You might want to look at this." Stopping to read them, he came the closest to swearing as I had seen. Here was incriminating evidence that HR (human resources), my boss, my group supervisor, and the Cassini Program Manager were conspiring to get me off the program or fired—within 38 days after Greg Chin's tirade! (see The Triggering Incident.)  One HR employee wrote, "I think we need to ensure that there is no retaliation going on."

Becker fired off an angry email to Zapp, saying, "On the evening before opposition to your summary judgment motion was to be filed, you dropped a bombshell in my lap." It meant that some of the witnesses may have perjured themselves in their depositions. "Your client, JPL, and specifically HR, withheld a key piece of evidence that contradicts testimony in this case and may require me to redepose virtually everyone," he wrote. Sheepishly, Zapp accepted that the trial would have be delayed so that additional depositions could be taken. Conveniently for JPL, most of HR's witnesses had forgotten those emails when they were brought in to testify, now that 2.5 years had passed since they were written. One HR lady literally said "I don't remember" to every question. This episode illustrates how timely production of documents is vital to getting a fair trial. 

PictureCartoon mocking Prop 8 on a JPL scientist's door
Limine Cricket

Motions in Limine (rhymes with "jiminy"), or MIL, are requests that parties make to the court to try to exclude evidence. You heard me right. For various reasons, parties to a trial believe certain evidence to be prejudicial or irrelevant. JPL's lawyers, for instance, opposed our intent to show the DVD's "The Privileged Planet" and "Unlocking the Mystery of Life" to the jury. They opposed our presenting an expert witness on intelligent design. They opposed mentioning that other people had suffered discrimination for their views on ID, as shown in the movie Expelled. They wanted to exclude any reference to "viewpoint discrimination". They wanted to exclude any testimony that my activities were justified because JPL conducts research and activities on the "origin of life."

For our part, we wanted to exclude testimony regarding Proposition 8 (California's "gay-marriage" initative) on the grounds that jurors in Los Angeles might be too prejudiced by that hot issue to be able to address the larger issue of free speech. We wanted to exclude testimony by a JPL economist claiming that I didn't look hard enough for a new job after I was fired. We wanted to exclude "cumulative and irrelevant defendant witnesses" that would not provide new evidence, but would just keep hammering on the defendant's theme. (JPL, remember, could call in anyone they wanted, give them time off work with pay, and coach them on what to say. We were limited to retirees or former employees.) We wanted to prevent JPL from arguing that they had a "right to interfere" with my "political activities" (such as they were: handing out a few Prop 8 flyers on one day in Nov. 2008).

Both sides had other MILs, but you get the idea: each side doesn't want to prejudice the case, and so it is in their interest to include or exclude certain evidence or lines of argument. For each MIL, we had to present additional facts and evidence to the court arguing our reasons, and additional documents opposing the other party's arguments. All the MILs were presented when we thought we would have a jury trial. Since we later opted for a bench trial, the MILs became largely irrelevant; the judge knew all the motions and could not un-learn them ("You can't un-ring a bell," lawyers say). Judge Hiroshige still ruled on each MIL in chambers (with the lawyers behind closed doors). Based on his decisions, he was not "supposed" to take excluded evidence into consideration for his final decision, but who knows what biases entered in anyway? For instance, he was supposed to watch the DVDs privately, but we never found out if he actually did. It's hard to imagine any fair-minded person thinking the films are "pushing religion". I sure wish I knew if he fulfilled that obligation, and what he thought of the films. I can only speculate that he either did not watch them, or is so prejudiced against ID himself that he did not want me, an ID proponent, to succeed. God only knows.

PictureCoppedge's JPL notebooks
What Did You Hearsay?

Another way to bias a trial is with rules about "hearsay" evidence. This can help or hurt a party to a trial. In my case, I think I was hurt. Becker and I could not understand some of the judge's courtroom rules on hearsay. For instance, I had a box full of my personal notebooks from all my time as a JPL employee. We had submitted these to JPL's lawyers to photocopy and examine. They were already in the discovery evidence pool. But during trial, I was hamstrung in using them, on the grounds that they were "hearsay." They were my interpretations of events, the judge said, and therefore were not admissible. 

How much can you remember of things you did seven years ago? That's why I took copious notes. My notebooks provided contemporaneous accounts of events, like who was present at a meeting, what was said, and what was decided. In my thinking, it constituted the best evidence of certain events that were discussed at trial—often the only evidence. JPL's witnesses were allowed to speculate out of their own faulty memories about things that had happened up to 9 years earlier, but I had it all written down! For instance, Ms Weld, one of the Cassini managers, got her facts all confused (and wrong) about meetings I had with her about solving problems with one of her employees, Pam W., back in 2004-2006. In my notebooks, I had the exact dates and records of what she said to me at eight separate meetings, when she was cordial and thanked me for bringing the matter to her attention. But on the stand, she only remembered three meetings, and forgot what she herself had said. This was unfair, I thought, but she got away with it because of rules about hearsay. Becker was able to cross examine her, but we could not consult my notebooks as a source of evidence.

There were exceptions. The judge allowed me to consult my notebooks from the stand for the purposes of "refreshing my memory" before testifying. But I could not read aloud what I wrote into the court record; I had to find the right page in the notebook, read it silently, then close it before I could say anything. That's hard to do under pressure when there are multiple facts written down. There were also a few pages in evidence we were allowed to reference. For instance, Pam had just trashed my reputation on the stand when Becker cross-examined her with an excerpt from one of my notebooks that showed I had met with her on Sept. 2, 2004, to build a better working relationship, and that she appreciated it. Only then did she recall that. She testified that my notes were accurate. But for most of the other JPL witnesses, they were allowed to freely speculate about distant memories with no documentation whatsoever. It would have been far better, I think, to allow my notebooks to be offered for witnesses to look at, to confirm or dispute my record, rather than to ignore it completely.

PictureAward signed by Greg Chin, Jan. 2001
Blind Man's Bluff

The judge's rules allowed JPL's attorneys to use my notebooks against me. For instance, in 2004, Greg got angry with me three times over rumors Pam had spread up the chain. I had dutifully recorded everything he said at those meetings. It looks pretty damaging until you know the context; in March and August of 2004, Pam had badmouthed not just me but all the System Administration (SA) team. Since I was in the "line of fire" as Team Lead, I got the brunt of her complaints. Greg was responding to her gossip that had gone to Pam's boss, her boss's boss, and the Program Manager, and was unloading it on me, the team lead. Within months, as my notebooks from 2005-2007 show, Greg changed his tune, because he started getting in Pam's line of fire himself—so much so that the Program Manager was about to fire him!  He wrote in emails to the Program Manager and his sub-managers in that period that he felt the attacks on the SA's were unfair. I gleaned choice quotes from Greg and his deputy Tammy in emails and notebook pages about how they had changed their mind about Pam and about me, were no longer accusing us as being the problem, and were defending us before the top managers.

JPL's lawyers took my earlier notebook pages from 2004 out of this broader context. They harped on them to build their case that I was a troublemaker with a long record of poor interpersonal skills. You can ask any of my team members and others in Greg's office about that period, and they will confirm that I was not the problem. The situation involved strife between Greg's office and Pam's office about how to do things. It was turf war that troubled us all. Some of the heat I took was for defending my team's actions against her gossip with the facts. Context matters!  (Note that these conflicts all occurred long before the trouble started over the DVDs, and were resolved when Pam left Cassini in 2007. After that, there was harmony between our offices with her replacement, who was much easier to get along with. Notice too these were work-related conflicts—common in any office—having nothing to do with my case about discrimination and retaliation.)  My notebooks recorded all this, but very little of it was heard in court. Instead, Greg, Tammy, Pam, Ms Weld, the Program Manager, my co-workers and others who testified against me at trial were permitted to speak off the tops of their heads with no written record whatsoever!

Surprising as it seems, hearsay rules also disallow a witness from attesting his own emails. I possessed several time-relevant emails I wrote to myself in 2009 after key events occurred, but these were not considered admissible evidence. Only when a recipient could attest to receiving an email was it admissible. Because of this rule, there were some "hot doc" emails by others that didn't make it into evidence because a key person could not recall receiving it, or was mentioned in the email but was not on the recipient list. 

Even if a witness does attest a document, and it makes it into evidence, it may not get the notice it deserves (see "Crystal Clear: What This Trial Was All About.")

PictureJPL lead attorney Jim Zapp
The Attorney-Client Huddle

The ability of an attorney and client to keep their discussions confidential is an important safeguard in our justice system. Attorney-client privilege was won through a series of historic precedents. Abuses are certainly possible when an attorney or client are forced to reveal what they said in confidence. It can also mean, however, that incriminating evidence will never see the light of day in the courtroom. That happened in my case.

During 2010, after my lawsuit had been filed and before I was laid off, JPL's lawyers met with key decision makers specifically about my case six to eight times. We wouldn't have known about these meetings except that a witness disclosed the fact at deposition, leading to follow-up questions and more revelations about them by that witness and others. In deposition and at trial, we were allowed to inquire about the dates of these meetings and who was present, but we could not ask about what was said, on the grounds of attorney-client privilege. Not even the judge could know.

It's not hard to imagine what was going on. Jim Zapp and the defense team were most likely scheming with Cassini management, HR and my line management about how to get me out of JPL without making it look like retaliation. This would explain a lot of subsequent events: the low ranking, the terrible annual review, the addition of two additional SA's a few months before my firing, the delay of the layoff to appear to coincide with "reduction in funding" for 2011, and the firing of another SA on the same day. It looked very suspicious, but we didn't have a fly on the wall at those meetings, and nobody present was allowed to discuss what was said. This made it difficult for us to prove our retaliation case except by circumstantial evidence. We knew, however, that all those meetings were specifically about my lawsuit, and the key decision makers were present with JPL counsel.

Becker told me that after a trial is adjudicated, the rules of attorney-client privilege are no longer in force. Any participant at those meetings is free to tell me what was said. I doubt that any will, and it wouldn't make any difference in the outcome, but it would be interesting to know. It's another example of not having access to "the whole truth" that bears on a case.

PictureMoses with Decalogue at L.A. Superior Court
The Winnowing Game

The photo shows Moses with the Ten Commandments outside the L.A. Superior Court building where my trial was held. "Thou shalt not bear false witness" is the standard. Witnesses swear to tell "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." The whole truth, however, is often unbearably voluminous for mortals who are not omniscient. There's a winnowing process to reduce the whole truth to the relevant truth. This is the last game I'll mention that courts play with evidence: the winnowing game. Who decides what is wheat and what is chaff?

As discussed earlier, discovery is often unwieldy. Both sides give their discovery documents numbers that are Bates-stamped onto the pages. When referred to in depositions, they are given exhibit numbers. As trial approaches, a subset of the Discovery Docs is agreed on by both sides to become the Trial Exhibits. These are given new Bates numbers, requiring tedious cross-correlation of three sets of numbers. All of the Trial Docs had to be printed out in quadruplicate, one set for the court, one set for the plaintiff, one set for the defendant, and one set for the witness. In my case, we had to print 4 copies of five 4-inch binders full of paper. That recalls a long night at the copy center! But we're not done winnowing yet.

During trial, no document can be considered relevant to the case until it is formally "admitted into evidence." During examination and cross, each side's counsel asks the court to admit Exhibit nnn into evidence. If the opposing side agrees, it becomes part of the official case evidential record. There's not time to admit all of them, certainly not the 380 Trial Exhibits in my case. So unless an attorney succeeds in getting all of his "hot docs" submitted while court is in session, essential evidence can be excluded from consideration for the decision. Moreover, the attorney can only ask for admission while examining a witness capable of attesting to the exhibit's veracity (e.g., "Is this your email, Mr. Burgess?"). It means that only a small subset of initial evidence can be considered by a jury (or the judge, in my case) when contemplating the verdict.

PictureJudge Ernest Hiroshige
The Gutter Ball

Even then, the winnowing game is not over. Attorneys know that jurors often develop a "gut feeling" about the case based on what they hear and see in the courtroom. That was one worry we had when considering a bench trial vs. a jury trial. Would a typical panel of inner-city jurors—probably many of them government workers (or out of work)—be able to process the intricacies of law that pertain to a case like mine? Or would it turn into a popularity contest, ending up with a decision based on whether they liked me or my lawyer better than JPL's lawyers? Would the prestige of JPL and NASA bias them against a lone plaintiff? 

When we decided on a bench trial, the "gut feel" issue became refocused sharply from worries about the biases of 12 people to concerns about one man's integrity. Judge Hiroshige was an experienced employment-law judge with many years' experience. But he was a Jerry Brown appointee, and registered Democrat. We don't know his feelings about ID, but we do know that most Democrats lean left, and leftists are usually the most stridently opposed to intelligent design. How well was he able to lay aside his own biases (if any) and focus completely on the winnowed-down evidence? It's impossible to know. All we know is that despite mounds of evidence, and a painstaking, four-year effort on Becker's part, it came down to one fallible man's judgment. And he wasn't telling what evidence, or lack thereof, influenced him to rule the way he did. 

The weight of the evidence depends what evidence makes it to the scales. Then it depends on how much weight is ascribed to each piece on the stack. As I look at piles of boxes of paper in my garage from this trial, most of it concerning "evidence" that got subjected to all these tricks of the courtroom, I think sometimes we could have saved a lot of trees by tossing a coin. I'll let the reader decide whether justice was served.


 
 
Picture
Hi, I'm David Coppedge.
You may have seen me in the news.  I'm the guy who sued JPL – and lost.
I've done much more than that.  I've shown multi-media presentations at over 300 locations.  I've led 350 hiking and backpacking trips and other outdoor expeditions, called Creation Safaris.  I have degrees in physics and education.  I'm a photographer with over 1,000 photos on Flickr.  I play the French horn, trumpet, baritone horn and piano.  I compose orchestral music.  I give Powerpoint presentations about creation, evolution and intelligent design to large groups, most recently in Canada.  I am the creator and editor of a widely-read news service on origins, Creation-Evolution Headlines.  I'm on the board of Illustra Media, maker of the world's finest intelligent design documentaries, like Metamorphosis, Unlocking the Mystery of Life, and The Privileged Planet.  I write for several other leading creation and ID organizations.  I'm on three boards of directors of non-profits, and have been President of two of them.  At JPL for 14 years, I was the team lead system administrator for the Cassini Mission for 9 straight years, a proud member of a large team that made space history at Saturn.

My life has been characterized by ceaseless activity on simultaneous fronts. My "list of things to do" is always long. This was going to be my year to rebound and catch up on many back-burner projects, long delayed because of the trial and my need to find new sources of income after getting fired from JPL.  Finally, disappointing as my loss was, I could put that trial behind me.

Those dreams came to a screeching halt on January 10, when a CT scan showed a large tumor in my gut and more in my liver.  Six days later, I learned that the judge ruled against me on all counts.  With no resources to pay the $51,000 for JPL's court costs they were seeking, and now expecting major medical bills,I had no choice but to give up any right of appeal.  Now I face a major abdominal surgery in a few days at City of Hope hospital.  Even if I survive (which is probable but never guaranteed), I will face a shortened life from a progressive cancer that is, at this time in scientific knowledge, incurable.

Needless to say, this is an unfamiliar trail for me.  I always wanted to glorify God by what I could do (realizing, of course, that the omnipotent Creator of the universe does not need any help from me).  I was the one to help promote His cause.  Now I feel helpless.  I've been out of work for 2 years, scrambling with 1/6 of what I was earning at JPL, writing for non-profits while working long hours for years on a high-profile case with my attorney, only to have the worst-case scenario hit me last month--a complete loss--just after learning about the cancer.  The media, hearing about JPL's win, told mostly JPL's side of the story, making me out to be a poor worker with no social skills, giving me no opportunity to respond.  My reputation was trashed around the country, and parts of the world, when a distorted AP story hit the wires and was copied uncritically by all the leading news organizations.  I have been the target of vicious diatribes by bloggers who hate my views, and have used the news reports to justify their hate.

We've all heard, "God works in mysterious ways."  I know and believe that God has purposes for what He causes and allows, purposes for the eventual blessing of those who follow Him.  And I know that many, many around the world suffer far more than me.  Probably all of us know someone with cancer.  Many die of it in childhood, long before experiencing all the joys I've had for 62 years.  Many get injustice when they stand up for the right.  The history of God's people is stained with the blood of martyrs  My sufferings seem puny by comparison.  I still have much to be thankful for: I own a home, I live in a free country, and most importantly, I have eternal life through Christ Jesus my Lord. 

This is God's will for me right now.  It's the trail I must take to get to be able to hear His "well done" at the final destination.  As I learn the painful lessons ahead, I will have an opportunity in this blog to share what I'm learning and hopefully encourage others.  And now that the JPL case is finally over, maybe I can finally tell things about it you never heard in the news.  I hope you will join me in this (my first) blog, as I discover new joys and sorrows in the days ahead.

Jesus never promised an easy path.  As my pastor said recently, He never promised to keep us out of the valley of the shadow of death; just that He would be with us.  That's enough for me.  I'd rather have that than all the health and wealth this world has to offer.  If you are on the wide path that leads to destruction, you need to turn around and get on the straight and narrow before God's righteous judgment falls.  Read Romans 1-6 and John 1-3.  Turn from the darkness to God's light.  Since Jesus paid your debt of sin; you only need open your empty hands to receive His gift of eternal life.  Become a Christ follower today.  Let's walk this trail together (see Map).