Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 4, 1996 A M E

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Date: Wed, 4 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 4, 1996 Reply-To:, A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #147 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 9/4/96 In This Issue... * Religious Right Pushes Votes For "Guides" * Church "In Denial" Over Clerical Child Abuse * Gordon Stein, Freethough Author, Dead At 55 * TheistWatch: Church Hero Was Smut Freak * About This List... RELIGIOUS AGENDA READIED FOR CONGRESSIONAL ACTION The next several days should be busy ones in Washington D.C. for groups like the Christian Coalition. According to reports, a number of key legislative items are scheduled for action; passage for most of the bills is problematic, with the possible exception of a move to overturn a Presidential veto. So why the rush? One reason is that a floor vote on key "family values" legislation can be used in the 55 million or so "voters guides" scheduled for distribution by the Christian Coalition in time for the November elections. Combined with "scorecards" and other campaign materials, these voting records could prove to be crucial in a number of important congressional races. Among the items scheduled for action: * The "Religious Freedom Amendment," introduced as the so-called "Hyde version" of the Religious Equality Amendment. REA was the centerpiece of the Christian Coalition's "Contract With the American Family" and would amend the U.S. Constitution to permit prayer, bible reading and other religious exercise in public schools. Conservative religious groups were split on the precise wording of this proposal, and at one time there were two separate renditions, each backed by different organizations. The "Hyde version" is considered to be the most workable compromise, and enjoys the support of the Christian Coalition. While it is unlikely to pass, CC strategists and supporters in Congress admit that the reason behind a push for a floor vote is to incoporate the voting record into the "guides". * An over-turn of President Clinton's veto of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. In April, Clinton announced that he would not sign this piece of legislation, the first of its kind to prohibit a specific abortion technique since the famous Roe. v. Wade case. The law is directed against a procedure known as D&X, which involves the removal of fetal tissue with forceps. This type of abortion is rarely used, and involves late-term fetuses which frequently constitute a risk to the mother. Religious groups successfully re-defined the debate over abortion, though, by ingeniously labeling the procedure a "Partial Birth Abortion." Critics see it as a "first step" in restriction abortion. Mr. Clinton's veto was based on the fact that the new legislation did not provide for exceptions, including situations where the life of the mother was at risk. Even so, religious groups throughout the country -- including the National Conference of Catholic Bishops -- took the President to task. For the second time in its history, the Catholic Conference sent an official letter of position to the President, denouncing the veto decision. Unlike the Religious Freedom Amendment, an overturn of the Clinton veto is quite possible. The White House may have to settled for a last-minute amended version which bans the D&X procedure, except in cases where the life of the mother is threatened. Look for the Coalition and its allies to "link" this and other "morals-based" legislation. *** REPORT SAYS CHURCH IS ''IN DENIAL'' OVER PAEDOPHILIA With grim revelations about a massive child sex abuse-murder case in Belgium making headlines throughout the world, the Roman Catholic Church is now being rocked by a new report issued yesterday which states that clerics and faithful must abolish their "culture of disbelief" concerning paedophilia and other outrages. The report was issued by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales, but has reverberated through churches and other ecclesiastical institutions around the world. In part, it charges that many church officials deny or are not aware of the "profound and frightening" effects, and extent of child abuse. The document was unveiled following two years of consultation and investigation by a panel of priests, bishops, doctors and psychologists; it notes that "when a publicly professed minister of the Church is involved in scandalous activity, the shock is most profound." The report couldn't come at a worst time for the Church. In Brtain, Catholics are still recovering from two high profile cases of child abuse, including one which resulted in the conviction of a priest. In America, there have been growing charges and embarrassing revelations that ecclesiastical officials "paid off" victims of abuse with covert out-of-court settlements, covered-up for paedophile priests, and engaged in a policy of "denial" when confronted with allegations of child molestation. The panel which authored the study was chaired by Right Rev. Terence Brain, the Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham. According to a report in The Times of London, Brain told of visiting one family which had suffered abuse at the hands of a priest. "I got absolutely carved up and spat out in pieces by the mother," confessed the prelate. "I didn't go back for three months. I couldn't find the courage." Other panelists admitted that the Church has erected a "culture of silence" about child molestation within the priesthood; according to The Times, "The report is a significant development in a Church that has been accused of sweeping the issue of child sex abuse under the carpet." ** GORDON STEIN, EDITOR AND HUMANIST AUTHOR, DEAD AT 55 AANEWS regrets to inform readers of the death of Dr. Gordon Stein, a major figure in the freethought movement and author of numerous books relating to the paranormal and rationalist history. Dr. Stein died of complications from cancer on August 27, at Buffalo General Hospital. He was a senior editor of Free Inquiry magazine, and director of two libraries located at the Center for Inquiry. His books included the "Encyclopedia of Hoaxes," "Encyclopedia of the Paranormal" and the "Anthology of Atheism and Rationalism." Gordon Stein was a popular lecturer and debater, and served as editor of the American Rationalist. He was also the author of more than 600 published book reviews and some 200 articles, many dealing with freethought history. Of particular interest to Dr. Stein was the quack practice of "Spiritualism." According to a memorial, he wrote and lectured extensively on that topic, and composed a biography of the medium D.D. Home titled "The Sorcerer of Kings," published in 1993. While Gordon Stein was often critical of American Atheists and its leadership, he was nevertheless an important figure in the movement for Reason, secularism and non-belief for nearly two decades. His works constitute an important element in the bibliography of Atheism and skepticism. We extend our sincere condolences to Dr. Stein's family, friends and associates. *** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Yesterday's AANEWS reported the outrageous comments of Gordon B. Hinckley, President of the Mormon Church, who called for a new war against Atheism. We find Hinckley's remarks offensive, bigoted, and factually incorrect -- to such an extend that it's almost absurd! For instance, Hinckley (joining the chorus of religious who seek to abolish state-church separation in America) lamented the problems of modern culture, saying that the world is barreling down the road to hell in an existential handbasket, simply because we don't love god. By Hinckley's thinking, god-believers are just marvelous, wholesome folk, while Atheists and other doubters are pus-ridden demons, lackeys of Beelzebub. But what about Roman Regman? Mr. Regmen, a theology student affiliated with an Old Roman Catholic seminary, was busted on Saturday on charges of possessing explosive devices and weapons while being scanned at Tampa International Airport. Officials are reportedly curious about the would-be priest's ties to militia groups; even more puzzling is Regman's statement that "The things I had were not real," and his contention that his firearms were "used weapons." We want to remind President and Chief Prophet Hinckley of another fact; Atheists, while constituting about 10% of the population, make up only about 1% of inmates in the nation's prisons or jails. Now, maybe that's because Atheist crooks are, somehow, smarter and don't get nabbed. Or maybe Atheists aren't such bad people after all. ** There is growing tension in France over the upcoming visit, scheduled for next week, of Pope John Paul II. Yesterday, police had to defuse a bomb which had been planted in a church where the Pope is scheduled to celebrate mass. A slogan was scralwed on a nearby wall which read: "Pope-Pope-BOOM!" While not exactly an eloquent statement of anti-clerical cogitation, the incident highlights the problems which John Paul and Vatican leaders have in France. Hundreds of French Catholics have now sent priests and bishops statements insisting that they be "debaptised" to express their anger with Church teachings about AIDS, abortion, clerical marriage and other issues. There is also a state-church separation aspect to the discontent as well. John Paul's visit is part of a series of government orchestrated celebrations over the 1,500th anniversary of the baptism of the Frankish monarch, Clovis. Critics say that the secular French government has no business organizing and funding what is essentially a religious spectacle. *** AUM "Supreme Truth" cult guru Shoko Asahara and two of his henchmen have been ordered to pay victims of last year's Sarin gas attack $7.5 million in damages. You may recall that the AUM group which blended Christian, Buddhist, Hindu and New Age religious babble into an apocalyptic ideology, believed that world would end around 1997 -- and needed a little push off the historical bungee-jump platform. The cult, under Asahara's direction, orchestrated a series of nerve gas attacks including one in the Tokyo subway system which left 11 people dead and injured over 5,000 others. It's unlikely that victims will see any of the money, since Aum has been declared bankrupt. At one time, the group had assets of nearly $1 billion including office buildings, fortified compounds, jet planes, temples and chemical laboratories. Asaha and other top cult members still face criminal charges. ** The late King Alfonso XIII of Spain, a hero in the pantheon of Catholic autocrats who was dirven into exile by Republican victories, was a friend of the clergy, a member of Europe's sclerotic royal dynasties -- and a smut freak. Alfonso (1886-1941) resisted the libertarian changes which swept much of Europe in the early twentieth century, preferring to ally his regime with clerical fascism and the dictatorship of the hated Miguel Primo deRivera. Following his departure, education in Spain was promptly secularized, and the despised Jesuit Order dissolved. In addition, nearly $500,000,000 in church property was "confiscated." But this devout, Roman Catholic hero of clerical authoritarianism was also a smut fan according to a report in yesterday's editions of the Spanish magazine "Cambio 16" and The London Times. Alfonso's leading aid "was entrusted with approaching producers of erotic films on behalf of the King," writes The Times, noting the the dictator, de Rivera, steered the corrupt monarch to one Ramon Banos, a pornographic film producer. Banos reportedly produced a number of erotic classics for the King, including "The Minister," "The Ladies' Doctor," and -- of course -- one named "The Priest's Blessing." This last gem, says The Times, "tells of a priest who assures gullible girls that praying in the nude will earn them the greatest spiritual merit. Undressed, rapt in prayer, they are then all 'blessed' by the pastor." ** Add this to our "How Not To Combat Religious Fundamentalism" file. Recall that, in reporting the upcoming Muslim creedmesiter schmooze called "Rally For Revival" scheduled for London, we said that Britain should resist any calls to ban or censor the meeting of Islamic fundamentalists. Censorship hasn't worked in the middle east (where Islamist militants continue to make social gains), and it won't work in Britain, or anywhere else. Or in Algeria. Reuter news service reports that Algerian political parties have drafted a new law which bans Islamist parties. Back in 1992, Algerian authorities cancelled a general election that most observers predicted would be won by the Islamic Salvation Front, a group which seeks to convert that nation into a Muslim theocracy on the lines of Iran. That didn't work: the Front was banned, while two token Islamic parties were permitted to exist. It also ignited four years of fierce fighting and terrorism, a civil war which has claimed the lives of more than 50,000 people. Now, the government of President Liamine Zeroual is taking more steps to guarantee that the ISF won't come to power -- but in the process of doing so, is helping to achieve the very goals of the Islamic Salvation Front. While the Front remains taboo, the new agree stipulates that Islam will be the official state religion of Algeria. *** 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:, or check out our cool new web site at You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to and put "info aanews" in the message body, minus the quotation marks. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait,


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