THEISTWATCH for July 19, 1995 Contents: Washington, D.C. - ABORTION BAN TERMED +quot;BEGIN
THEISTWATCH for July 19, 1995
Washington, D.C.--ABORTION BAN TERMED "BEGINNING OF THE END"
FOR ROE v. WADE
New York--BIZARRE SEX ABUSE CASE INVOLVING MINISTER RAISES
DOUBTS, CASE APPEAL
World--THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
ABORTION BAN TERMED "BEGINNING OF THE END" FOR ROE v. WADE
Religious Conservatives Win Another Important Round in Their
Fight to End Abortion Rights
by Conrad Goeringer
In a major victory for religious conservatives, a bill
to outlaw some late-term abortions cleared the House
Judiciary Committee following three hours of impassioned and
partisan debate. The vote followed party lines, passing the
proposed legislation by a 20-12 margin.
It was another piece of legislation which had been
specifically targeted for action by the Christian Coalition
in its "Contract With the American Family," released just a
few weeks ago in Washington, D.C. Termed the "Partial-Birth
Abortion Ban Act," it makes it a crime for doctors to perform
so-called "partial birth" abortions, a procedure "in which
the person performing the abortion partially vaginally
delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and
completing the delivery." The law would subject doctors to
fines or up to two years in prison and give family members
the right to sue the physician for damages. The bill had been
introduced by Committee chair Rep. Charles Canaday, R-Fla.
"This is the beginning of the end for Roe v. Wade,"
lamented Colorado Representative Pat Schroeder, who warned
that the bill was a serious threat to abortion rights.
"They've just taken a big chunk out of it and clearly want to
go after the whole thing."
Schroeder was apparently right on the target,
especially after the committee rejected an amendment offered
by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee of Texas. Her amendment would have
exempted doctors from prosecution if the late term abortion
were performed to save the woman's life -- but even that
stipulation didn't find sympathy in the GOP-run Judiciary
Critics note that from its very introduction, Canaday's
legislation was "loaded" with terminology and goals which
were lifted word-for-word from the Christian Coalition
"Contract." The term "partial birth abortion" appears in the
first section of the Contract's section dealing with
abortion, where it is also called a D & X or "dilation and
extraction." The section reads:
"This 'partial-birth abortion' procedure is also known
as dilation and extraction,' or D & X, in which forceps are
used to remove second and third-trimester babies, with only
the head remaining inside the uterus. The child's life is
then ended, and the dead child is delivered."
Nowhere in the Contract's section on abortion is the
word "fetus'' used; instead, terms such as "unborn child,"
"child," "victim," "innocent human life" and "babies" appear
constantly. In addition, the phrase "partial-birth abortion"
appears to be an invention of the Coalition and its allies as
well. By implication, abortion is semantically linked to
"birth," and late-trimester abortions are thus pictured as
procedures performed on "children."
Passage of the bill in the Judiciary Committee is a
major hurdle for the legislation, which still faces passage
of a Senate version and, of course, the signature of
President Clinton. It nevertheless is an important victory
for the religious right and is a testament to the sheer
political clout of the Christian Coalition. Roe v. Wade,
once considered an unshakeable foundation for abortion
rights, may indeed be in serious trouble.
BIZARRE SEX ABUSE CASE INVOLVING MINISTER RAISES DOUBTS, CASE
by Conrad F. Goeringer
It may be a national scandal which for too long has
resulted in imprisonment for innocent men and women. And it
is something which even today brings emotional responses from
all sides of the issue, especially since it involves
Beginning in the mid-1980s, fears of "ritual child
abuse" became widely publicized through numerous television
specials and talk shows. Many of the concerns were linked
to something referred to as "Satan's Underground," supposedly
a nationwide, covert network of satanic cults which engaged
in numerous illegal activities, including murder, mutilation
of animals, and the abduction and sexual molestation of
children -- all ostensibly in "service" or "sacrifice" to the
devil. One religious magazine claimed that satanic worship
"was America's best kept secret" and charged that "normal,
everyday people" such as lawyers, doctors, teachers, firemen
and others could well be cult members.
The fears of a widespread, heretofore undetected
organization of Satanists were also echoed by religious
fundamentalist ministries and preachers, many of whom
appeared on talk shows. There were also "professional"
therapists, counselors, and "experts" on the subject.
Although they were frequently quoted in magazine or newspaper
articles, and appeared as guests on afternoon television,
their claims were rarely questioned or examined critically.
Among the claims:
--- Up to 50,000 persons each year in the United States were
being kidnaped and sacrificed in satanic cult rituals.
--- Children were often targets of cult sexual abuse (by
strangers as well as parents). This abuse included forcing
the children to drink human blood, kill animals, or have
intercourse with groups of strangers including parents or
siblings. Other actions included burying children in
coffins with dead bodies or killing babies.
--- Women were recruited, sometimes with mboney or drugs, to
be "satanic baby breeders"; the children, brought to term in
anonymity and cared for or delivered by "cult doctors," would
then be sacrificed to Satan.
--- A nationwide satanic cult (or group of cults) may have
been behind Charles Manson, David Berkowitz (Son of Sam), and
--- Daycare centers, schools, and even churches were
favorite targets of cult members, because of their access to
As the charges about "Satan's Underground" became more
bizarre, some journalists began to investigate these claims.
Although individual police departments had even conducted
"seminars" in "satanic cult activities," there has gradually
developed an awareness that -- as the FBI's Behavioral
Research Unit concluded -- there was little or no substantive
evidence for the claims.
Individual self-proclaimed "experts" on Satanism such
as former FBI agent Ted Gunderson "played out" the devil
worship angle. It was no longer of interest as a subject to
many talk show producers, and by the early to mid-1990s had
been replaced by more introspective topics such as safe sex,
meaningful interpersonal relationships, or generation-X.
Social scientists began to autopsy "Satan's Underground" as
what they termed an "urban legend" -- and a lesson about mass
hysteria and social anxieties.
But an important component of the legend survived --
obsessive fears of child abuse, especially group or ritual
child abuse which might involve anyone. Carried over from
the Satan's Underground hysteria was the notion of "recovered
memories" -- the ability of people to "recover" memories of
past events, even those which might have happened at an
extremely young age -- through the efforts of a therapist.
The new paradigm of "recovered memories" involved certain
--- First was a "trigger" -- anything from sleeplessness to
free-floating anxiety -- that supposedly "might mean"
something. In young children it could be bed wetting, loss
of appetite or withdrawal. Symptoms could emerge at any
time, even into adulthood.
--- The paradigm held that "memories" were "trying to come to
the surface" of conscious awareness, which they had been
suppressed due to trauma such as sexual abuse. In order to
"help" this process, the therapist "guides" or even
hypnotizes the patient, and under questioning and relentless
probing, ostensibly "draws out" the hidden truth.
Of course, it might not just be a therapist. With
children, anyone from parents and teachers to police and
"behavioral experts" can be called in to elucidate these
The problem is that the paradigm is often false. Memory
may not be like a "tape recording" of events from the past
which is "lost" or suppressed and be found -- and hence
"replayed" years later, even under hypnosis. Hypnotic
regression is also resulting in a babble of pseudo-scientific
claims by patients, including stories of exciting "past
lives" and abductions by space aliens. Controlled studies
have suggested that even "false memories" -- demonstratably
inaccurate "memories" can be constructed and reported by
patients thanks to manipulation by therapists.
And children "lie." Studies now indicate that children
will often follow the lead of investigators and questioners
probing for tales about sexual abuse or other horrors. Even
sincere investigators, in their zeal to "uncover the truth,"
can unknowingly manipulate children into the desired
So, enter the Rev. Nathaniel T. Grady, who is starting
the tenth year of a prison sentence for child molesting.
Grady may be typical of many individuals who have been
accused and convicted of sexual abuse charges, often on
little or no corroborative evidence, often on the "word" of
one or more children, and on the basis or standards and
procedures now obsolete. The details are frighteningly
simple. Five men, including Grady, were convicted for raping
and sodomizing more than a dozen preschool children. While a
pastor at the Westchester United Methodist Church in New
York, Grady had an office next door to a classroom. Before
that, he had been head of a congregation at the Church of Our
Savior in Yonkers; he had no criminal record. While at the
Westchester church, he had played the role of Santa Clause
during the Christmas season and "wore a scary mask at
Halloween," according to the N.Y. Times.
In April 1984, one of the three-year-old preschoolers
awoke from a nightmare and told his mother about "the robber"
-- someone who allegedly molested him during naptime at the
day care center. According to the Times, the child's father
had been an informer in a federal labor racketeering case and
quickly called in an FBI agent he knew. Thus began a
relentless round of questioning which soon involved other
children and produced some 640 hours of video surveillance
footage. Grady was identified by one of the children as
"Jason's Daddy," one of the abusers.
By June of 1984, Grady had been approached and
volunteered to submit to a polygraph; this was refused,
however. In August, the parents filed a civil suit against
the day-care facility and the City of New York. During
trial, one of the children who had earlier identified Grady
as the molester could not identify him in court. Physical
examination of the children was even inconclusive, and a
pediatrician admitted that scratches and other marks on the
children's genitals could have been the result of infections
or allergic reactions. Even so, in January of 1986, after
deliberating for seven days, a jury found Grady guilty of
molesting five of the six children.
Concerns over Nathaniel Grady's case have grown,
especially in light of the infamous McMartin Preschool trial
of 1990. That was the most expensive trial in the history of
the California legal system, and despite literally dozens of
charges against the defendants, everyone was found "not
guilty." Numerous claims had been made by children -- and
later, their parents -- including the one that children were
molested in satanic rituals in underground chambers. The
McMartin trial was recently the subject of a network movie
which was critical of the prosecution in the case, and the
manipulation of children by prosecutors, law enforcement,
and self-proclaimed "experts" and therapists.
Rev. Grady may well be the victim of a similar set of
circumstances, especially the shaping and massaging of
statements made by children, under persistent and repetitive
questioning. In Grady's case, the alleged victims were
interviewed over a dozen times. None of these meetings were
The eagerness of prosecutors, and sometimes therapists,
to participate in unfounded charges of ritual sex abuse,
individual molestation or other activities is resulting in a
backlash. Some therapists are now being taken to court by
parents accused of molesting their offspring, all on the
basis of "recovered memories" of satanic rituals.
Often, for reasons not quite clear, the accused are
either ministers like Rev. Grady or "godfearing" religious
people in small communities.
The law is changing, too. In New York, it is more
difficult to bring unsubstantiated charges thanks to the
Keindl ruling, which stipulates that each charge of abuse
must cite a specific incident "in a relatively precise time
There is still the residual damage of being accused of
pedophilia, even after being found innocent of charges.
As for Rev. Grady, he is appealing through the U.S.
District Court in Manhattan, and maintaining that his
conviction was based on what the Times describes as "the
confused accounts of 3-year-olds and . . . the prosecution's
methods (which) would not meet current legal standards."
There is still a movement of religious, civic and
various parents groups which hold to the legend of Satan's
Underground, and claims that ritual or individual abuse of
children is widespread. You might also see an occasional
bumper-sticker reading "Believe the Children," suggesting
that even the most outrageous charges may very well be true.
Studies suggest that the overwhelming preponderance of child
abuse cases, however, involve persons within the victim's
immediate family, and rarely, if ever, have a "cult" or
"group" component. And the victims in such cases rarely
repress the memories of such acts, but rather live with them
as a "dirty secret" for years to come.
It may be that "Satan's Underground" is being replaced
by unfounded fears of "cyber-molesters" who cruise computer
networks in hopes of molesting children. Or the "legend" may
have metamorphosed into the now-popular hysteria over alleged
UFO abductions -- a pop-culture claim which enjoys
surprisingly wide publicity thanks to shows like "Hidden
Mysteries" and even "The X-Files." The Satanic High-Priest,
in real life a parent, minister or teacher, is now replaced
by the eerie stare of hairless, short aliens busy conducting
genetic experiments and breeding with humans.
Either way, the legend has left in its wake a good deal
of fear, nonsense, and victims.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
by Conrad F. Goeringer
In Kiev, (former Soviet Union), a funeral for the head
of a breakaway faction of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church
turned violent as "people of faith" and cops clashed in the
streets. Seems that the followers of the late Patriarch
Volodymyr wanted his carcass buried in an official state
church, St. Sofia's Cathedral. Church officials turned them
down, and the riot ensued after a funeral service for
Volodymyr had been held in another nearby church.
The nomination of a homophobic minister to the New York
City Civilian Complaint Review Board has been withdrawn,
although the Rev. Ruben Diaz remains on that committee as
a holdover member. Since his appointment two years ago, Diaz
has attracted growing criticism from the gay community,
especially for his opposition to the Gay Games, an
Olympics-style competitive athletic event. Rev. Diaz opposed
the Games' New York venue, saying that the event "would teach
our young adults and children that homosexuality is O.K.,
that it is not immoral or sinful behavior, or that this kind
of behavior is not biologically dangerous."
The review board has thirteen members and monitors
complaints from citizens about police brutality. The mayor
technically appoints all members, but five -- like Rev. Diaz
-- are picked by the city council. Last week, the furor over
Diaz heated up again when he remarked at a council meeting
that "if being a Christian, if being a preacher and believing
in God and the Bible, if opposing certain behaviors, if
preaching the truth of Gospel makes me homophobic, then I am
proud to be homophobic."
In somewhat of a mystery, however, The New York Times
(July 19) quoted Diaz as then insisting that he was NOT
homophobic, although he didn't bother explaining the obvious
Diaz supporters said that their tally of council votes
necessary for Diaz's full appointment indicated that 23 of
the 51 members opposed the minister. Diaz will remain on the
board, however, until the Bronx delegation finds a
Hey, things may not be that bad! There's hope for
humanity yet, especially when a record 9,158 people flock to
the University of Utah's Huntsman arena to hear quantum
physicist Stephen Hawking discuss black holes and subatomic
particles. Hawking, an Atheist and leading scientist, is the
author of bestsellers like "A Brief History of Time." He
holds the chair of Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at
Cambridge University (once occupied by Sir Isaac Newton).
Hawking unfortunately has the degenerative neuromuscular
disorder known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease," named after the
famous ballplayer, and uses a motorized wheelchair and
The Salt Lake City turnout surpassed his previous
audience record established several years ago, when 4,000
interested fans attended his lecture in Berkeley,
Taking a Miquetoast-like stance, the president of NBC
says that he supports the notorious "V-chip," but opposed
"a government body trying to decide what's violent and
what's not violent." Warren Littlefield made the statement
to the Scripps-Howard News Service.
The V-Chip is an electronic device that would "read"
signals sent out with television programs and would permit
parents (or others) to screen out "unwanted" programming.
The V-Chip is part of a larger telecommunications act which
has the support of President Clinton. It would require the
television industry to establish a board to rate all
television programming, or, in lieu of that, a government
bureau to do the job.
Critics charge that the V-Chip is a dangerous step
toward censorship. The chip would be required equipment
with new television sets. Littlefield said that he opposed
any ratings board, however, insisting that screening out
violent programming was a responsibility for parents. Critics
of the chip, incidentally, charge that the device actually
relieves families of that responsibility, turning the job
over to the government "with a flip of the switch."
Littlefield also noted that there are problems about
rating various programs. He also criticized complaints over
shows such as "Mad About You," which he described as an
adult comedy about a married couple "committed to each
"I wish we could force kids to watch that. I think it's
great television," said Littlefield. He also insisted that
NBC had plenty of "traditional family programming," including
"Fresh Prince" and the pseudo-science dud "SeaQuest."
New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman suggested that
Islamic militants may be running out of steam -- or going
underground, in their battle to establish "Islamic Social
Republics" throughout the Middle East and the rest of the
world. Writing in the July 19 "Foreign Affairs" column,
Friedman points out that "Islamic fundamentalism seems to be
either going underground or going mainstream. That is,
fundamentalist groups are either engaging in more hard-core
violence, and losing to the secular authorities, or playing
by the rules of the game and being coopted by the secular
political systems." Friedman also suggests that the
"Islamic fundamentalist phenomena has peaked" and marshals
evidence ranging from Egypt's thus-far successful war against
Muslim terrorists to the Arab-Israeli peace process.
But despite this optimism, it may be too early to nail
shut the coffin on religious dogmatism. People were
surprised when the Ayatollah Khomeni succeeded in
overthrowing the autocratic Shah of Iran, despite the
intervention of oil companies and the CIA. And throughout
sections of the former Soviet Union, Islamic movements are
enjoying widespread and growing support. Islamic ethnic
minorities are the fastest growing segment of the population.
And who would have thought that the once-invincable Red Army
which had so successfully turned back Nazi Panzer divisions
and served as the glue of the Kremlin's geopolitical empire,
would crumble in Afghanistan?
Even without the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism,
the pervasive influence of the Muslim religion -- even in its
more "moderate" form -- still manages to stifle and oppress.
And while the Arab countries are undergoing major economic
and social transformations, the dislocating forces inherent
in such processes create a potent appeal for political and
religious orthodoxy. America -- and the recent success of the
Christian right -- is a case in point.
The "Muffled Militants" of Islam, as Friedman terms
them, may be in a down slump now. But like the guy in
Terminator says, they'll be back.
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