Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 30, 1996 nn nn
Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 30, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#142 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/30/96
In This Issue,
* "Moral High Ground" or Waste of Tax $$ For Prayer Appeal?
* Pope Boosts Mary
* Atheist Is Proud To Be "Unsaved"
* TheistWatch: Salvationists in Diapers Down-Under
* About This List...
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI CAN'T KICK 'PRAYER-IN-SCHOOL' ADDICTION
Taxpayers Fund Suit For Another Appeal To Supreme Court
Some people just can't say "no". And neither can state officials in
Mississippi. Yesterday, that state's attorney general asked the U.S. Supreme
Court to hear a case involving a 1994 Mississippi law which called for
"student-led" and "student-initiated" prayer in public schools. The
legislation was declared unconstitutional in September of that year by U.S.
District Judge Henry T. Wingate; and earlier this year, the U.S 5th Circuit
Court in New Orleans rejected an appeal.
That isn't stopping attorney general Mike Moore in pushing the case,
though; he told news media yesterday: "We feel like the school prayer law is
important enough we're willing to defend it all the way to the Supreme Court.
We think we have the moral high ground." Moore also invoked the usual
shibboleth's about school prayer, adding "We're at a time of moral decline in
our society," and cited "the problem of drugs in the school, the serious
discipline problems, gangs."
"We think we need more prayer."
The Mississippi law was passed in response to the suspension of a high
school principal in November, 1993, who permitted religious students to read
prayers and bible verses over the intercom system. That practice was
challenged by Lisa Herdahl, a mother of six, who wanted her children to
receive religious training at home and church, not in school. Ruling in her
favor in June, U.S. District Judge Neal Biggers declared: "The Bill of Rights
was created to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority," and
said that prayer over the school intercom was "part of a concerted effort" to
program students "into the belief and moral code of fundamentalist
Herdahl and her children, ages 5 to 15, were harassed by religious
zealots, who branded the family "Atheists" and "devil worshippers." Church
activists organized a "God and County" rally to support the Pontotoc County,
Mississippi school district, which attracted 3,000 in front of the local
courthouse including Gov. Kirk Fordice and Sen. Trent Lott, who subsequently
became Senate Majority Leader.
The executive director of American Civil Liberties Union noted on Thursday
that "The law is clearly unconstitutional and to try and get the Supreme
Court to hear this case is once again having the state interfere with the
religious rights of its citizens, especially our school children."
But attorney general Moore insisted that "Most Mississippians support
POPE UPHOLDS MARIAN CULT, ATTEMPTS TO SILENCE CRITICS
Is "Vatican Goddess" A Millenialist Ploy For Church Unity ?
In an highly unusual move yesterday, Pope John Paul II issued what The
London Times described as "an emphatic reassertion that Jesus had no brothers
or sisters and that his mother, Mary, was a virgin before and after the birth
Although the declaration is based on mere fragments of texts from the New
Testament, it was a clear signal from the Vatican that the pope alone wields
doctrinal authority and that the "cult of the Virgin" -- a powerful weapon in
the Church's propaganda arsenal -- will remain a high priority in Church
While rational people find belief in virgin birth or Mary's bodily
ascension into heaven a highly problematic assertion, it is a core doctrinal
dispute between Catholicism and most Protestants and has serious implications
for ecumenism and Christian unity. It is also closely tied to a resurgent
wave of "Marianism," the focused worship of Mary, which seems to be building
in popularity as the world approaches the year 2000. Cultural historians
and observers note that the reported cases of "Mary sightings" (along with
other religious and paranormal claims) is increasing dramatically. The
alleged sightings of Mary at Medjugore in former Yugoslavia are attracting
more attention from religious believers throughout the world as well.
The question of Mary's virginity also has implications for biblical texts
which clearly point to the claim that Jesus had "brothers" and "sisters." New
Testaments books such as Matthew and Mark clearly make such references, and
even identify Jesus''s brother as James or Joseph. And there are verses such
as in Mark:6: "Is this not the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary
and his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters
here too? Where does he get all this from?"
Supporting the cult of Mary necessarily entails -- for Catholics, anyway
-- a belief that she was a virgin and ascended bodily into heaven; both
beliefs are considered official "Mysters" of the religion. Unless Mary
somehow managed to deliver Jesus's brothers and sisters and remain a virgin,
the "extended family" doctrine would suggest, then, that Mary was anything
The notion of Mary's virginity was not formally adopted within the Church
until 431ce and the Council of Ephesus. Earlier, in 325 ce, the Council of
Nicea ruled in favor of Jesus as being both the son of a god, and a man; the
phrase "born of the Virgin" was cobbled into a prayer which has subsequently
become the Nicene Creed.
While the pope is a Mary cultist who elevates Jesus's mom and an "example
for all women," and tromps to Mary-related shrines, chapels and other
tourists spots throughout the world, Protestants still have problems
concerning Marianism. In response to the Pope's latest declaration, a Church
of England spokesman told The Times that "The vast majority of New Testament
scholars, including some Roman Catholics, now take the description of Jesus's
brothers and sisters in Mark, Chapter 6, as referring to his real brothers
and sisters and see no need to speculate about their being half-brothers,
half-sisters or cousins."
Protestants have also been uncomfortable with much of the Roman Catholic
emphasis on secondary-level objects of worship, including saints and Mary.
Reformers like Martin Luther, John Calvin and John Wesley considered Mary to
be a virgin, though, and dismissed the notion that Jesus Christ had brothers
In 1845, Mary was upgraded again in Catholic doctrine, when Pope Pius IX
declared that Mary was not only a pepertual virgin, but was also born without
sin and remained sin-free during her earthly tenure. In 1950, Pius XII ruled
that Mary did not die, but bodily flew off to heaven.
A Christianized, Millennialist Earth Goddess?
Today, the "cult of Mary" is thriving, and she is being touted as a
"Co-Redeemer" of sinful, debauched humanity, along with her son Jesus.
Marianists in the Catholic Church have not been successful of gaining
official recognition of this view from Vatican officials, but it is a belief
that is appealing to a a considerable audience, especially with the growing
apocalyptic fever associated with the impending millennium. In 1964, Pope
Paul VI released yet another "version" of Mary, proclaiming her as "The
Mother of the Church" at the Second Vatican Council.
John Paul II believes that he literally owes his life to the Virgin, and
cites the assassination attempt made against him in 1981, which happened to
fall on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima. A bullet removed from his body was
donated to the Mary shrine in Fatima, Portugal. During the cold war, Fatima
was a prophetic focus for Christians who believed that Mary had given letters
to young girls which were to be delivered to the pope which supposedly
predicted apocalyptic events. The contents were never fully revealed, nor
were these letters ever submitted to scientists and handwriting experts to
learn more about Mary's postal proclivities.
Some suggest that the growing fascination with Mary is a search for a
modern-day "earth goddess" and reflects millennialist angst and uncertainty.
ATHEIST OFFICIAL DECLARES HE'S GLAD TO BE ''UNSAVED''
(Editor's Note: AANEWS recently reported a debate within certain Christian
groups as to whether or not non-Christians could be "saved" from the eternal
fires of hell. If not, why did god delay in sending Jesus down to earth to
spread the word about requirements for salvation? What about all those
millions of people born prior to Jesus who didn't "hear the good news"? So
much for details. Ron Barrier, National Media Coordinator, has his own
thoughts on this wretched subject, which he has sent to the New York Times.
Here is Ron's take on the matter from the viewpoint of an "unsaved"
EDITOR, The New York Times:
The August 28 letters of Messrs. Boyd, Schell, and Smith, in response to
your Aug. 22 front page article "Christians Split: Can Nonbelievers Be
Saved," not only reflects the conflict of opinion within the various
Christians sects on messianic necessity, but completely disregards the
opinions of the "unsaved."
The freethough view of such unacceptable condescension is that Atheists,
agnostics and other unbelievers (as opposed to nonbelievers) have no need to
be "saved." We simply are not lost. We know exactly where we are and why we
The letter writers illustrate a reliance upon a biblical deity (to the
exclusion of competing religious texts) whose emotional turmoil ranges from
"wrath" to "grace...to big to be contained." It is amazing how much they know
about something that is no more than industrial-strength mythology.
Since Atheists do not accept supernatural claims to be demonstratably or
even remotely valid, we reject any implications that somehow we need to be
saved from that which resides solely within the vivid and colorful
imaginations of religious advocates.
Christianity would best be served by keeping its own house clean and
leaving the rest of us out of it. We are tired of being used as pawns in its
salvation scheme. We are not sheep. We do not wish to be a part of the
flock ON PURPOSE. Our lives and families are whole, complete and happy
without being burdened by the guilt, fear, dependency and anxiety endemic to
"faith." Surprisingly, we are far more adjusted to reality and mortality than
Ronald J. Barrier, National Media Coordinator,
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
First off, we propose that Atheists everywhere adopt a new "Barrierism,"
one of those great phrases or slogans concoted by Mr. Ron Barrier. Indeed,
Christianity is an "industrial-strength mythology." (Would that make a
percusionist in a Christian music band an example of "salvationist in a
No off-the-shelf psychoanalysis is necessary for this next story.
We know, of course, that Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals like
to immerse themselves in tubs of water to show that they have been "born
again." But diapers?
According to our friends with the Atheist Foundation of Australia,
earlier this year four grown men were arrested for handing out religious
pamphlets outside of the Sydney Royal Easter Show. The men were dressed in
diapers, and were born-again members of a group called "the Children of God."
(We don't know if this is the same "Children of God" once headed by "Moses
David," a man known for his ability to mix bible verse with salacious
suggestions to willing followers).
The diaper-wearers ranged in age from 25 to 35; they could not wear the
diapers during the court appearance, since the safety pins which tenuously
secured these garments were considered dangerous inside the lock-up.
Why are Christian groups and other "family values" junkies ranting against
AANEWS has previously pointed out that the complaint that "people of
faith" are somehow being denied the right to pray is just so much bunk; Let
your fingers do the walking! we say. Pick up a yellow pages directory, look
under the heading of "churches" and you'll find an abundance (especially if
you live in a major metropolitan area) of listings which reflect places where
believers may go to pray, chant, gyrate, sing, genuflect, kneel, prostrate
themselves, and do whatever else is required to appease the deity of their
choice -- on their own time, and at their own expense.
Same goes for the internet. Religionists want to turn loose everyone from
the FBI to Tipper Gore and Donna Rice to "clean up" cyberspace...but guess
what? There are plenty of sites dealing with religion, especially all the
various flavors of Christianity.
The Oakland Press recently set out to discover the extent of religious
presence on the net, and found some interesting statistics. Using just the
Lycos search engine -- by no means the most powerful -- the paper found that
"god" was mentioned on 56,000 internet sites, far ahead of the "devil"
(12,600), and other terms like "hell" (34,600) and "angels (17,700). "Jesus"
has 29,900 web listings, far more than second-rate saviors like "Moses"
(8,900), "Muhammad" (8,800), "Buddha" (5,000), and "Confucius" (1,400).
There are also 71,000 references to "Christians" and "Christianity", and
"Catholicism" has far more sites (28,600) than "Protestantism" (6,300).
And there are more than 30,000 internet references to the "Bible",
ten-time more than those which mention the " Koran "(3,300). "Prayer" is
found at 16,500 sites, and the term "religion" generates a list of over
42,000 web sites.
Incidentally, according to the Press, "atheists" generates only 1,600
sites, and "agnostics" produces 1,100.
Don't let that stop you from checking out OUR web site, though, at
About This List...
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