Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 16:59:59 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 24, 1996 nn nn

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Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 16:59:59 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 24, 1996 Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #138 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu8/24/96 http://www.atheists.org In This Issue... * Islamists Organize, Bomb, Kill * TheistWatch: Hanky Panky Priests, Zondervan Protests CDA * Our Offer You Can't Refuse! * About This List... MUSLIMS TO RALLY FOR WORLD POWER Across the globe, Islam is fast emerging as a leading force in the religious confrontation with secularism. While groups like the Christian Coalition in the United States promote an agenda based on bible law, studies suggest that the actual numbers of evangelicals and fundamentalists here has been relatively stable for the past two decades. What has changed is the level of involvement by conservative churches. In Europe, the Middle East and Asia, however, growing numbers of people are turning to militant expressions of Islamic belief. Strategic planners and intelligence analysts in the west consider the expansionist designs of Muslim religious leaders a major factor which will affect cultural, economic and political alignments well into the twenty-first century. In Britain, for example, a major Muslim conference known as the "Rally for Revival" is scheduled to take place next month, and is expected to attract up to 14,000 Islamic activists from across the world. This meeting could mark a significant step in melding diverse Muslim groups into a cooperating, unified force. The London Times said that the Rally claims "to herald the arrival of Islamic fundamentalism in Britain," and will include video messages "calling for a global holy war." Among the known players expected at the "Rally for Revival": * Muhammed al-Masari, London-based Saudi dissident who considers the ruling House of Saud to be lax in applying religious law, and guilty of profaning sacred Islamic soil by allowing foreign troops and economic interests in the country. *Osama min-Laden, a multi-millionaire "terrorist financier" with ties to several Islamic groups. "He has advocated an all-out war between Muslims and America," says The Times. * Omar Abdel-Rahman, the so-called "Blind Sheik" linked to the bombing of the World Trade Center. A twenty-minute video has been record featuring Rahman, which is scheduled to be shown at the Rally for Revival; the paper reports that his talk "calls for more cooperation between Islamic groups." * Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, considered a "spiritual guide" of the Iranian hard-line Mullahs. Thousands of miles away in South Africa -- a country which has experienced more than its share of tribal, ethnic and racial divisions -- Islam is emerging in communities like Cape Town as an organizing force against rampant crime, drug use and social dislocation. A group calling itself People Against Drugs and Gangs which operates out of a network of mosques, is believed responsible for armed attacks and even murders of drug users and leaders. Major rioting erupted two weeks ago when several thousand members of the group, known also as Pagad, marched into parts of Cape Town which are considered turf to some of the 140 gangs that operate in South Africa. "The sudden collision of vicious gangs, deadly drugs and militant Islam has rocked President Nelson Mandela's fledgling democracy, "noted the Los Angeles Times, "and exposed a dangerous new fissure in a nation struggling to overcome the bitter legacies of apartheid." Reports suggest that Pagad may be as much of a threat to stability and freedom, though, as the gangs they fight; People Against Drugs and Gangs is believed to be a "front" for militant Islamic groups operating out of Iran. Iran may prove to be the biggest beneficiary of militant Muslim activity. On the economic front, though, despite a multi-billion dollar oil and gas deal with the new Islamic government in Turkey, the Iranian economy has fallen on tough times. Taxes have skyrocketed, and the clerical regime has stepped-up its campaign of religious vigilance and proselytizing. As Associated Press report in late July noted that merchants "complained that their taxes had increased by up to 10 times in ayear...export regulations were so cumbersome that it had become almost impossible to do business." Meanwhile, the regime has made considerable public display of its crackdown on "crime." On July 10, new laws took effect which "fully guarantee the security of the country," according to the nation's prosecutor-general Ayatollah Morteza Moqtadaie. Lending money for profit is punishingable by public whipping (74 lashes) and a prison term of up to three years. Those convicted of theft face the draconian penalty of losing four finger of the right hand for the first offense, and toes for a second theft. Like some judicial codes in the United States, the infamous "three strikes" law, conviction of a third offense will result in life inprisonment. Other laws prosecribe the death penalty for those found guilty of rape and adultery. A collapsing economy and clerical fascism at home, though, haven't stopped Tehran's religious leaders from exporting Islamic revolution and terror. Earlier this month, emigre resistance groups in Paris noted that the activities of Iran's foreign intelligence service had become so blatant in Germany that the country's intelligence advisor, Bernd Schmidbauer, made a secret trip to Tehran to ask officials there to curtail their campaign of murder and bombing. Tehran's price tag for a truce is a high one; Schmidbauer was asked to release Kazem Darabi, the Iranian agent who commanded the assassination of four dissidents at a Berlin restaurant in September, 1992, and the revoke an arrest warrant which has been issued for Ali Fallahian, the head of the Iranian Intelligence Ministry. Schmidbauer was also told that Bonn should "institute restrictions" on resistance groups operating in Germany. *** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS The Roman Catholic Church has vigorously denied an accusation by a group of married former clerics in the Philippines who say that two out of three priests there engage in sex. The charge was made by an organization known as the Philippine Federation of Married Catholic Priests, which also called for an end to a mandatory vow of celibacy. The group claims 200 members. According to spokesman Justino Bacazares, the church adherence to the chastity rule "has driven many priests out of the ministry." And how's this for "family values" --Msgr. Petro Quitorio of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines said that under church rules, priests found guilty of keeping a partner or even have children must leave their partners and kids if they wish to remain in the service of god! ** The appeal of so-called "miracle cures" and other quack therapies never seems to diminish. In Hong Kong, the leader of the Church of Zion says that drinking large amounts of hydrogen peroxide can cure everything from cancer to heart ailments. That has health and fire authorities worried, especially since the Church is storing huge quantities of the bottled placebo which it sells to its 2,000 members and the general public at a hefty profit. Those familiar with the "culture of quackery" know that purveyors of dubious nostrums usually like to compare themselves to trailblazing pioneers like Galileo, or insist that they are victims of a "conspiracy" to cover-up word of their wonderful discovery. The Church of Zion's head, Leung Yat-Wah, told the South China Morning Post that doctors and multinational pharmaceutical firms were concealing the truth about the hydrogen peroxide cure since it was so cheap and effective, and threatened corporate profits. But the president of the Hong Kong Medical Association warned people not to swallow Yat-Wah's embellished claims about his miracle cure, and avoid ingesting hyrdrogen peroxide. He noted that the substance was a household disinfectant, and is only effective in cleaning and treating external injuries. *** When Benjamin Netanyahu became Israel's new Prime Minister recently, we warned readers that a wave of religious fervor and superstititon would sweep that country and threaten the social progress made by secularism. We also noted that in exchange exchange for supporting Netanyahu in the hotly contested race with incumbant minister Shimon Peres, the new leader would have to "pay the piper" by giving Israel's religious parties coveted, powerful ministry portfolios. One of those is the Antiquities Authority, a department of the Housing Ministry which controls all archaeological permits and excavations throughout Israel. . Last week, Rabbi Meir Porush sent archaeologists packing from a salvage dig at the country's largest construction site, where 7,000 new apartments for Ultra Orthodox Jews are under construction. Porush declared: "If there are Jewish graves, there is no reason why the grave of my grandfather's grandfather should be destroyed without checking is there is another way to develop the site." In this, however, religious nationalism may be self-defeating. Israel's new government has embarked on an aggressive plan to expand Jewish settlement, a key element in the platforms of religious groups like Rabbi Porush's United Torah Judaism group. *** We recently received a clipping of a story carried by Newhouse News Service titled "Religious Left - Growing Numbers of Evangelicals Leaning Away from Conservatism." We're informed that 64% of white evangelicals, and 67% of black evangelicals "have a favorable opinion of the Christian Coalition," while 20% of white evangelicals and 18% of their black counterparts give Ralph Reed & Co. low marks. Writer Lulia Lieblich tells readers that "Like many of their more conservative peers, they (liberal evangelicals) believe the Bible is the inspired word of God -- albeit recorded by imperfect scribes -- and they are committed to promoting what they see as biblically based values, from equal rights for minorities to environmental stewardship." And more: Carole Shields, president of People for the American Way, is "one of a growing numbers of highly visible evangelical Christians who are social progressives." We certainly can applaud much of the work PAW does, but it seems to this writer, anyway, that such diversity in religious ranks must surely be telling us something about the utility of belief. What kind of "god" is it that crafts so convoluted and twisted and vague a doctrine that its meaning is unclear? We're amused how both sides on so many issues can invoke the authority of "their god" and the bible in defense of ideology. Besides, is religion REALLY a sensible basis for deciding what right and proper for human beings? *** Groups like Christian Coalition and Family Research Council are pleased with at least some of the things Bill Clinton is doing -- such as his decision to have Janet Reno & Friends pursue the infamous Communications Decency Act, which was recently struck down by judicial review panels in both New York and Philadelphia. These days, sacking the Bill of Rights is OK, if you can justify it by appealing to such canards as "national security" or "protecting children." While most Netizens don't buy such twisted logic, of course, we now have a new, unexpected ally -- the giant Christian publishing firm of Zondervan, Inc. Founded in 1931 as a major publisher of bibles and books by fundamentalist-conservative authors (they include Dan "Mr. Potato-E" Quayle" and Iran-Contra crook Ollie North), the company has announced that it is at odds with the White House, and the rest of the religious right when it comes to freedom on the internet. Michael Hoffman, Zondervan's Webmaster, told the Boston Globe that "he believes self-control, not government control, is the way to clean up" cyberspace. He even quoted from the biblical book of Proverbs, warning that "reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." In fact, the Zondervan web site praised the blocking of the Decency Act as "a victory for free speech and as an affirmation for the call to responsibility in free speech." Hoffman notes that while you can see the green free speech ribbon on the Zondervan (http://www.Zondervan.com)web site, you won't find the emblem over at Family Research Council, the censor-crat religious group headed by Gary Bauer. FRC is at http://www.frc.org -- the ribbon isn't. ** In Britain, officials of the Church of England are worried about heavy matters such as Princess Di, the debauchery of the House of Windsor -- and what to do with old church buildings. The church's Board of Mission has suggested that old church buildings should be turned over to heathen religious groups (naturally, with the Christian flavor receiving first call), including Muslims, Sikhs or Hindus, rather than face the wrecking ball. Sheep in the flock are griping about that idea, however, so much so that the Bishop of Leicester said it was "painful to people of other faiths to hear Christians saying they would prefer to tear down old churches rather than give them to other religions." ** We are truly a culture besotted with religiousity, superstition and belief in pseudoscience. Surveys indicate that most Americans, of course, believe in a god or "higher power"; but a whopping 85% also believe in 'miracles' According to a report in the Oakland Press, 59% of those surveyed who feel that religion is extremely important claim that they have experienced "something miraculous," compared to 19% of those who don't value religion. 90% of women believe in miracles, as do 78% of men. ** And About Our Special Offer... Until September 30, we're offering AANEWS readers a special discount for individual or family membership in American Atheists. We can't give you frequent flyer miles, or a skybox at the Super Bowl, but you CAN join for just 50% of our regular rate! Individual memberships have been reduced from $50 to $25; couples can join for 1/2 off the $75 annual rate, for just $37.50. If you would like to receive information about American Atheists, just send e-mail to "info@atheists.org", and include your name and postal address. If you would like to join, just write us at: American Atheists, PO Box 140195, Austin, Texas, 78714. Since we're not psychic, and don't have divine revelation, you have to tell us that you are an aanews reader in order to qualify for the discount. New members receive the American Atheist Newsletter, American Atheist Magazine, catalogues and other benefits of membership. ** About This List... AANEWS is a free service from 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. 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