Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 30, 1996 nn nn

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Date: Fri, 30 Aug 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 30, 1996 Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #142 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/30/96 http://www.atheists.org 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 Christianity." 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 school prayer." ** 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 of Jesus." 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 teachings. 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 but virginal. 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 or sisters. 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" Atheist.) ** 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 are here. 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 religionists realize. Respectfully, (signed) Ronald J. Barrier, National Media Coordinator, AMERICAN ATHEISTS ** 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 drum"?) ** 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 the Internet? 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 http://www.atheists.org. ** 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. For information about American Atheists, send mail to info@atheists.org, and include your name and postal address. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to aanews and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe info, send mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please!) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * 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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