Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 26, 1996 Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 17:06:15 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 26, 1996
Date: Fri, 26 Jul 1996 17:06:15 -0700
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#109 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/26/96 (Evening Edition ~ Part One of Two)
In This Issue...
* Atheists Call For Separate AOL Area
* Christian Coalition, Supporters Prepare For San Diego Convention
* Reconstructionism: Theopolitics And Dominionism
THE SUMMER OF (ATHEIST) DISCONTENTS AT AOL
Atheists and agnostics on the world's largest cyberservice -- America
On-Line (AOL)-- are being marginalized and harassed, possibly out of
existence. With some 6,000,000 subscribers, AOL has positioned the
non-believer community in a section within the Religion & Ethics Forum; from
there, users must click their way to the Atheism board. That was tolerable,
for some, but now the individual areas of the Atheism section are filled with
intrusions from squabbling religionists.
This has prompted two AOL Atheists, HellSurfr(Tom) and HypatiaSM (Susan)
to begin a petition drive to the "powers that be" to create a new
Atheist/agnostic Forum within the community, presumably not as part of
Religion & Ethics. Some Atheists left the present board for a space provided
by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) within a "Religious Minorities"
area; but the AOL pair note in their letter to fellow Atheists that this
board is difficult to locate, and is three levels deep "in a forum that few
people visit, and it is not even called an atheist forum."
The need for a moderated, Atheist operated forum for non-believers is
pretty obvious; there are plenty of sites within AOL for religionists, and
Tom and Susan note "There are at least three fundie forums on AOL --
Christianity Online, Focus on the Family and R&E."
Those AANEWS subscribers interested in helping out in this venture should
contact HellSurfr or HypatiaSM through the internal AOL mail system. We wish
them luck in establishing an autonomous area within AOL for Atheists and
non-believers, and a moderated forum protected from the constant rantings of
RELIGIONISTS COUNTING DOWN FOR ''BATTLE OF SAN DIEGO''
With the Republican National Convention just two-and-a-half weeks away,
religious groups like the Christian Coalition are fine-tuning their plans to
assure that all goes as expected, especially over key platform issues like
abortion and the choice of candidates.
The Coalition has scheduled its 1996 "Faith & Freedom Celebration" for
August 14 (during the GOP Convention) at Balboa Park in San Diego. The
group promises a roster of "some of today's best known pro-family leaders and
entertainment...by top Christian artists."
Meanwhile, anti-abortion groups continue planning their strategy for
demonstrations throughout the area targetting clinics and even the homes of
abortion providers and workers. The San Diego police have "suggested" that
doctors and administrators at family planning centers or abortion clinics
"take a vacation" and leave town. Planned Parenthood in San Diego still vows
to be open for business as usual.
There continue to be reports that some party leaders, including House
Speaker Newt Gingrich, have explored the possibility of replacing frontrunner
Senator Bob Dole as the nominee. New polls still reflect a hefty lead for
President Clinton, and the spectre of GOP control of the House of
Representatives being lost in a potential Dole debacle has some party
officials worried. Even so, Gingrich is pushing his own personal list of
vice presidential hopefuls if Dole stays in the race. They are: Michigan
Gov. John Engler, Ohio Gov. George Voinovich, California Attorney General Dan
Lungren, and Florida Sen. Connie Mack. All four are staunchly anti-abortion.
COALITION OFFERING CHRISTIAN RECONSTRUCTIONIST HATE BOOK
(Part One of Two)
A book which insists that homosexuality is a "kind of convenantal
violation...so serious in God's eyes that He actually declared it subject to
capital punishment" is being recommended to members of the Christian
Coalition through the group's magazine, "Christian American." The latest
issue of Church&State notes that the January "Christian American" featured a
laudatory article titled: "Legislating Immorality: The Homosexual Movement
Comes Out of the Closet" written by George Grant and Mark Horne.
At least one of the authors is active in the Christian Reconstructionism,
a small but influential and growing movement which advocates "Dominionism"
and the "reconstruction" of society along strict, biblical laws.
In "Legislating Immorality," the authors all but reveal the
Reconstructionist teaching on homosexuality, and the penalty -- death --
which goes with it. They tell readers that in Puritan New England, sodomy
was punishable by death and that "Sadly, the twentieth century saw this
remarkable two-thousand-year-old commitment suddenly dissipate." Grant and
Horne also echo the Reconstructionist goal of electing only male
representatives "who take the Bible seriously" in forming a "positive program
of civil justice and corporate mercy."
What Is Christian Reconstructionism ?
Few people, including many who monitor fundamentalist and evangelical
political developments, have ever heard of the Reconstructionist movement;
but it is influential far beyond its numerical membership, and is gradually
attracting support from extremist elements. It is not, however, linked to
other fringe movements such as Christian Identity and the neo-nazi Aryan
Nations Sect. Reconstructionism is a distinct body of teachings, based
largely on the writings of theologian Rousas John Rushdoony, including his
800-page "Institutes of Biblical Law" (1973) . Theologically, it arose out
of conservative Presbyterianism in its belief that the application of Old
Testament law would "Reconstruct" society in the image of a New Jerusalem.
Reconstructionism is a form of Calvinism, named after John Calvin
(1509-1564), the French theologian who twice established a theocratic
dictatorship in Geneva. Calvin was part of the Protestant Reformation of the
times in denoucing the religious hegemony of the Catholic Church, but he went
much further than his contemporaries in relying on the use of Old Testament
law as the basis of social organization. According to "The Creed of
Christian Reconstruction" by Rev. Andrew Sandlin, a Rushdoony associate,
which appeared in the movement's Chalcedon Report, Reconstructionism
embraces five critical elements. Calvinism requires the acceptance that
"God, not man, is the center of the universe -- and beyond; God, not man,
controls whatever comes to pass; God, not man, must be pleased and obeyed."
Sandlin adds that "A Christian Reconstructionist believes the Faith should
apply to all of life, not just the "spiritual" side. It applies to art,
education, technology, and politics no less than to church, prayer,
evangelism and Bible study."
Other elements including Theonomy ("God's Law"), and Presuppositionalism.
The Reconstructionist "holds to the Faith because the Bible says so, not
because he can 'prove'it. He does not try to convince the unconverted that
the gospel is true. They already know it is true when they hear it. They
need repentance, not evidence..."
Reconstructionism also embraces a Postmillennialist doctrine, a belief
that the second coming of Christ will take place "after the Holy Spirit has
empowered the church to advance Christ's kingdom in time and history." Most
fundamentalists and evangelicals active in the current religious right are
"premillennialists" who believe that Christians will be raptured, lifted
physically into heaven, before the Day of Judgment and the final Battle of
Armageddon; they will later return to "rule and regin" with the messiah for a
1,000 year period. But the "postmillennialists" believe that Christ will not
return until after that 1,000 year reign, presumably by god-fearing
Christians who have reconstructed all society along the lines of "Bible-based
law." Sociologist Sarah Diamond, writing in her book "Spiritual Warfare: The
Politics of the Christian Right" (Boston, 1989) noted: "Postmillenialists
(sic) seek to evangelize entire institutions. As activists, they tend to
operate strategically and because their plans require careful step-by-step
planning and action, they tend to attract individuals inclined toward covert
activity who are mature enough to wait for long-term political pay-offs."
That process includes the final, and perhaps most disturbing component of
the Reconstructionist agenda -- Dominionism. Sandlin says that followers
take "seriously the Bible's commands to the godly to take dominion in the
earth...that every area dominated by sin must be 'reconstructed' in terms of
the Bible. This includes, first, the individual; second, the family; third,
the church; and fourth, the wider society, including the state." The "Creed"
cryptically notes that a Reconstructionist "believes in the separation of
church and state, but not the separation of the state -- or anything else--
It is this element of Dominionism, the explicit belief that Old Testament
law must pervade every aspect of society and culture, which underpins some of
the draconian and frightening aspects of Reconstructionist ideology.
Rushdoony and his theological allies call for the death penalty for 18
categories of sin and misbehavior, including sodomy, rape, kidnapping,
murder, heresy, blamphemy, witchcraft, astrology, adultery, incest, striking
a parent, incorrigible juvenile behavior, apostasy (abandonment of faith) and
in the case of women, "unchastity before marriage."
What would a Reconstructionist society be like? Diamond suggests that "it
would include no prison system -- crminals would either die for their crimes
or work as indentured servants to make restitution to their victims.
Likewise, there would be no credit system; indigents would be forced to work
off their debts. The economy would be based on the gold standard, children
would be educated at home and there would be no property or income tax --
instead, everyone would give a ten percent "tithe" to the church which would
administer welfare projects."
While different religious group continue to argue over the impending
vision of Armageddon -- especially with the advent of the year 2000, an event
which for many is repleat with eschatological significance -- the Dominionist
aspect of Reconstructionism has attracted considerable interest from
"premil's" on the religious right. Jerry Falwell, for instance, is a
supporter of Dominion Press, a Reconstructionist publishing house operated by
Rushdoony's son-in-law, Gary North. North, in turn, has influenced a whole
generation of Protestant ministers, including Everett Sileven, of Nebraska's
Faith Baptist Church. Sileven is a hero to the religious "home school"
movement; he began a church-operated elementary school in 1977, but in 1982
landed in jail for refusing to use state-certified teachers and provide a
roster of students. The "padlocked church affair" propelled Sileven into the
national media spotlight, especially after making statements like: "Theism
and secular humanism cannot co-exist. One will rule, the other will serve or
In October, 1982, Sileven defied a court order to shut down the religious
school; local sheriff's deputies arrived and arrested the Baptist preacher,
along with dozens of supporters.
The case became a cause celebre with the Christian right, according to
Diamond. Pat Robertson's "700 Club" devoted several program to the incident,
including film footage of the sheriffs hauling off the congregation and
numerous out-of-town supporters. Two years later, the "padlocked church"
incident was resolved; Faith Baptist Church was represented by Michael
Farris, attorney for the anti-abortion, home-school Concerned Women for
America. The state agreed to drop charges against all concerned and cancel
warrants for women who had fled Nebraska with their school-age children; in
exchange, parents agreed not to send their kids to Faith Baptist School until
it received state accreditation.
(End Of Part One of Two)
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