Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 16:59:59 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 24, 1996 nn nn
Date: Sat, 24 Aug 1996 16:59:59 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 24, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
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
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
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
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
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.
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