Subject: AAFWD; Theistwatch for 2/21 (THEISTWATCH is a service of American Atheists, a nat

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From: Subject: AAFWD; Theistwatch for 2/21 (THEISTWATCH is a service of American Atheists, a nationwide movement founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the total, absolute separation of government and religion. It is distributed to members and supporters of the AAFWD list; our thanks to Rich Daniels for operating this list. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer.) **************** 'BLOODY TUESDAY' AS BUCHANAN WINS OVER DOLE IN NEW HAMPSHIRE Pat Buchanan surged over six points in as many days to overtake GOP frontrunner Senator Bob Dole and capture a sweet win in yesterday's New Hampshire primary. He grabbed 27% of the vote, one point ahead of Dole and 4% behind "moderate-conservative" Lamar Alexander. Steve Forbes finished a distant fourth with only 12%. If the Buchanan total is an indication of the strength of the Christian conservative right, it may actually be bigger than 27%. Another 3-5% is expected to go to Alan Keyes, who mirrors Buchanan on most social issues like abortion, gay rights, censorship and state-church separation. Preliminary autopsy results on the Dole debacle suggest that he split moderate votes with Alexander, giving Buchanan and his campaign just the opening it needed to capture the top slot. Behind the Buchanan campaign are some curious names and faces, including: Terry Jeffrey, former writer for the Moonie Washington Times, and an "Arabic-speaking scholar." The campaign's advisory committee lists Thomas Monaghan, chairman of Domino's Pizza, and John Breen, chairman of Sherwin Williams, Co., a paint manufacturing firm. Buchanan's campaign is on a money roll, taking in over $600,000 in just the last week. ************* MORE ON "UFO LOU FARRAKHAN Last week TW reporting that Nation of Islam honcho Louis Farrakhan had praised the authoritarian, cleric-led government in Iran, terming it a "perfect example of a government based on the Koran," the Muslim holy book. While touring the various despotic regimes of Africa and the Middle East, though, it's doubtful that Farrakhan happened to bump into critics of Islamic tyranny like Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nesrin. But for the record, this is the same guy who declared just a few years ago that while visiting Mexico in 1985, he had a vision of being abducted by a wheel-shaped flying saucer, piloted (naturally) by blacks from a distant world. He also insisted that he had received advanced news about planned U.S. air strikes against Libya, and that his fellow UFOnauts carried out electronic warfare against American ships. With loonacy like this, is it any wonder that Farrakhan rambled on and on during the Million Man March about numerology and crank theories of history? We should be under no illusions that white folks have the monopoly on new age foolishness. THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Even after dropping out of the GOP Presidential battle, Texas Senator Phil Gramm is still catching flak from the right. The latest incident involves racist pamphlets blasting Gramm's interracial marriage. The Gramm campaign accused members of the Buchanan organization of distributing this file stuff as far back as the Louisiana caucuses. "He divorced a white wife to marry an Asiatic!", declared the know-nothing style pamphlets. *** On Tuesday, First Lady Hillary Clinton hosted a reception in the Old Executive Office Building for Muslims, marking the end of Ramadan, the "holy month." Ramadan is characterized by the usual round of fasting and mortification -- something Christians are kicking off during the "Lent" holidays. THAT'S why the Mardi Gras blow-out takes place -- got to cram in all the good living you can until the miserable holy season kicks in. ***** OOOOoooooo -- is a major victory for Beelzebub in the works? Might be. Down in Waco, Texas, the Baptist-operated Baylor University is planning to give its students PERMISSION TO DANCE. That's right; for 151 years, the Baylor kids haven't been permitted to strut their stuff on campus. Dancing is only one of many prohibitions for the conservative Baptists, who also shun boozing, card playing and smoking. A leading Texas historian told USA TODAY that "the idea of dancing being sinful has become a little ridiculous," especially in lieu of growing sophistication and urbanization. But not evan all the Baptist ruling gerontocracy agrees. Rev. Miles Seaborn, president of the Southern Baptists of Texas warns that "there are things that go on at dances than bring out the natural desires of the person, their appetities and flesh." He asks "Who's going to be the lewd-gyration inspector?" But even the good Reverend is joining it, when dancing is made permissible at an April 19th gathering on this campus of some 12,000 students. He and his wife plan to dance a minuet. But don't expect a cameo appearance from Dr. Dre. *************** Hey, family values at work? Everyone from religious conservatives to repentant liberals is singing the chorus about the sanctity and need for "families" -- but consider some statistics from the Violence and Family porject of the American Psychological Association, just released: ....57% of kids under twelve aren't killed by anonymous gang members or kiddie-porn lords, but by their parents. It's the same with sexual abuse; up to 34% of girls and 20% of boys. ....The elderly are increasingly at risk of violence by family members, including offspring. ....About a third of murders of those in the 60-plus age range are committed by family. *** Several years ago, AMERICAN ATHEISTS noted the disturbing trend of "non-religious public religion." Confused? Well, this is a somewhat tedious label to describe the defense of clearly-religious actions or policies as being something OTHER than religious. We noticed this popping up when things like prayers at city council meetings and other public events were defended by officials who declared: "The prayer isn't really religious, it's just to create an 'aura of sanctity' for the proceedings." Sounds like Alice in Wonderland, doesn't it? This malaise might be affecting the U.S. Supreme Court, which yesterday declared that the State of Colorado may keep a stone monument engraved with the Ten Commandments in a public park near the State Capitol building. The court insisted that the monument was a "cornerstone of the American legal system" according to AP, and "does not have the purpose or effect of endorsing religion." While some state-church separation groups cried foul, Jay Sekulow of the Pat-Robertson funded American Center for Law and Justice was jubilant. He insisted that the court's ruling "is in tune with the concensus of people of faith who are tired of being marginalized in an increasingly secular society." ***** A QUICK THOUGHT... Pat Buchanan and Louis Farrakhan are just two manifestations of a wider process taking place within American culture -- the revolt against Modernity or, more specifically, post-modernity. Whether it's Buchanan harkening back to a pre-NAFTA, 50's TV style of America, or Farrakhan projecting his youthful experiences in Roxbury, N.Y. as a model for black civility, both constitute a nostalgic yearning for a past-that-never-was -- and in the face of a disruptive and uncertain future. Both represent, in their own peculiar ways, a social conservative backlash. So do a lot of other things going on in our culture, of course. There is the gap between how we PERCEIVE the world, and what statistics say the world is really like. For instance, politicians and religious demogogues know that fears of violent crime are a "hot button" that can trigger sympathy with a range of different agendas. People are embracing everything from chain gangs and work-camps to wider use of the death penalty, even caning and public flogging. It fits in well with the Muslim code of "justice", or the scary and crankly social vision of Christian Reconstructionism, does it not? But violent crime has remained generally steady, for over half-a-century. The same "expectations" gap exists in other areas of life as well. But nostaliga always tells us that "the good ol' days" were surely better, and that by pulling a voting booth lever (or punching a card), we can magically go back. As an aging population confronts a future which changes faster and faster and remakes the world before our eyes, the appeal of social nostalgia grows accordingly. But the past is like the future -- it too has a plasticity which, in the hands of demogogues, can be fashioned to look any way we desire it. In the hands of religious demogogues, the past, and the future, can look equally seductive. So for this writer, anyway, the old political and social descriptions may be still somewhat useful, but don't serve to contain everything that is really taking place. Maybe the message is that it doesn't matter where on the political spectrum a candidate or movement or idea is to be found -- it's whether they want to keep the clock moving, or turn back the hands. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************


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