Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 21, 1996 A M
Date: Sat, 21 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 21, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#163 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 9/21/96
In This Issue...
* Beverly Hills -- No 90210 For Religious Menorah Display
* Regents Turn Down Another Voucher Scheme In New York
* The Devil In Kenya ~ Church And State Exploit "Satanic Panic"?
* TheistWatch: Gay Suspense, Alien Invasions On The Tube
* Welcome Back Margie!
* Our Great Membership Offer! Gotti Didn't Join, Look What Happened To
* About This List...
MENORAH DISPLAY MAY BE NEXT TO GO IN CALIFORNIA
Despite the political power of religious groups like the Christian
Coalition, there is progress being made on at least some fronts in the battle
to preserve the First Amendment's "Wall of Separation." Religious displays
on public lands have suffered a number of setbacks in recent weeks, and now a
27-foot-tall Jewish menorah in Beverly Hills, California may join the list.
In July, a federal appeals court ruled that the city violated the
Constitution by permitting a Jewish group, the Chabad of California, to
display a 5,500 pound Hanukkah menorah in the publicly-owned Beverly Gardens
Park. That has prompted the local City Council to order the City Attorney to
draft an ordinance which would ban the overnight display of "private art or
other exhibits" in public parks.
Other religious landmarks and displays in the state have come under
official scrutiny. In late August, the U.S. Court of Appeals ruled that the
City of San Francisco had no business maintaining the famous 62-year-old Mt.
Davidson cross, a steel and concrete structure which hovers over 100 feet
above the tallest mountain in the area. But local religious groups are now
pressuring the City to "sell" them the land upon which the cross is built in
order to circumvent the intent of the court ruling.
A similar decision in Oregon ruled that a cross in Eugene, Oregon on
government land also violated state-church separation.
STATE REGENTS TURN DOWN CATHOLIC VOUCHER SCHEME
But NYC Will Still Try To Hand Kids Over To Church Schools
The Regents of the State of New York yesterday voted 8 to 5 to reject a
voucher program which would have subsidized costs for parents choosing to
send their children to Roman Catholic religious schools. According to the
New York Times, the proposal was "offered unexpectedly" by one Regent;
following the vote, the state's Roman Catholic bishops, speaking through the
Catholic Conference termed the decision "tragic and misguided."
The voucher plan would have authorized reimbursements worth up to $2,500
per student to parents sending their children to parochial schools.
Initially, the children would have had to already qualify for other programs
including free lunches; in addition, they would have to attend public schools
that are "on probation because their students score poorly on test,"
according to the Times. That fact would tend to support the allegations made
by voucher critics, who insist that the programs simply divert funds from
cash-strapped public schools in favor of religious institutions.
The Regents vote might not have killed the measure entirely, though.
Regents Chancellor Carl Hayden said that "It was our sense that it would be
very premature for us to vote on something of this magnitude without proper
analysis and debate."
The Board member who popped the proposal, R. Carlos Carballada, offered a
similar voucher scheme in 1991 which the Regents rejected.
Observers say that this Regents proposal is simply to "test the waters" on
vouchers aimed specifically at religious schools. A new program is underway
in Cleveland, Ohio, which would allow voucher money to be spent for tuition
at any private school, even those in the parochial system; studies indicate
that the biggest beneficiary of the voucher scheme in that state would be the
enormous Catholic school system.
"Hand Over The Kids! Or Else!"
Meanwhile, New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani continues in his efforts to
transfer 1,000 failing students from the city's public school system into
parochial schools. Initial concerns about the constitutionality of the
venture were sidetracked several days ago when it was quickly and
conveniently announced that "private donations" would pay for the tuition
costs. But critics note that the "donations" could be used for helping
public schools; and other suggest that this latest developments does not
alter the growing incestuous relationship between the Giuliani administration
and the powerful Church establishment in New York headed by Cardinal John
O'Connor. O'Connor has even agreed to "donate" empty parochial school
classrooms for use by the city, but in exchange for a "modest fee."
An AANEWS Special Investigation...
''DEVIL WORSHIP'' HYSTERIA SWEEPING KENYA
Is 'Satanic Panic' Being Used For Catholic Agenda?
In Kenya, a government-Catholic run commission has stated that a growing
wave of devil-worship is sweeping the country, and that satanists are engage
in drinking of blood, raping children, and human sacrifice. The panel was
chaired by Roman Catholic Archbishop Nicodemus Kirima, and included an
Anglican bishop and theologian. Church officials insisted that the finding
were "very true and very serious," and said that cult members were often
"rich, educated and powerful people."
On Thursday, the government of President Daniel Moi released its own
statement, noting: "According to the testimonies, satanic cult include the
following in their rituals: human sacrifice, drinking of human blood, eating
of human flesh, black Mass, wine, nudity of the participants in the ritual,
incantation in unintelligible language, sexual abuse and rape, especially of
children and minors, black magic, narcotic drugs, presence of snakes." It
also warned of "abetting or getting involved in devil worship which is in its
formative stages in our country."
The charges appear to have many similarities to the unsubstantiated claims
of "Satan's Underground" made in the United States during the late 1970's and
80's. Here, allegations of such activities -- including the dubious claim
that upwards of 50,000 victims were sacrificed annually in cult activity --
met with growing skepticism. The domestic "Satanic panic" soon transmogrified
into fears of UFO alien abductions and bizarre genetic experimentation.
In Kenya, Thursday's report was greeted with skepticism and even ridicule,
especially from human rights organizations. Britain's Electronic Telegraph
noted that some "fear the report may be used by the government to act against
dissidents." Yesterday, the Kenya Human Rights Commission rejected the
government statement as "diverting the attention of Kenyans from more urgent
problems such as constitutional and economic reform," according to Reuters
news agency. Commission representative Njuguna Mutahi told media that "The
constitution guarantees freedom of worship -- anyone has a right to worship
anything. We are not governed by some kind of religiosity."
The commission was formed by President Moi in October, 1994. That fact,
and the leadership of the nation's Catholic prelate, may suggest some of the
motivation behind the dubious report.
Democracy to Dictatorship
Kenya won independence from Great Britain in 1963, and since then has had
only two Presidents. The first was Jomo Kenyatta of the African National
Union, who ruled until his death in 1978. Since then, the nation has been
governed by Daniel arap Moi, who in 1982 officially converted the country
into a one-party state following an attempted coup led by the country's Air
Force. After that, there were repeated calls for legalization of effective
opposition groups, and waves of government reaction. Moi allowed an election
to be held in December, 1992, and outdistanced three opponents with 37% of
the vote. Critics charge that Moi operates a "de jure party state."
The country includes more than 40 ethnic groups, and race-violence has
resulted in the death of over 1,500 people and the displacment of more than
300,000, mostly women and children. The Human Rights Report notes that "Moi
has blamed the violence on opposition parties, government critics, human
rights activists, the church and the media," but "There is strong evidence
that the violence was instigated and manipulated by the government."
Kenya has an explosive rate of population growth, even by Third World
standards. From 28 million people in 1994, Kenya should reach 35 million by
the turn of the century -- an annual rate of 3%, and a net population growth
of about 25% in a five year period. Unemployment is staggering, with only
about 15% of people employed. That trend is being exacerbated by an influx
of population from the countryside, mostly into the capital, Nairobi.
A Religious Dimension?
The only organizations aside from ruling or token political parties
listed by the United States Agency for International Development as "Other
Political or Pressure Groups" are certain labor unions and the Roman Catholic
Church. This is surprising -- while Roman Catholicism is the nation's
leading religious belief (28%), Protestant organizations including Anglicans
account for 26% of the population with "indigenous beliefs" at 18% and Islam
at 6%. As elsewhere in the Third World, the Catholic Church in Kenya finds
itself in a "turf war" for religious allegiance with aggressive Protestant
denominations, which the Vatican sometimes labels as "sects." They include
the Methodist Church, which is working with evangelicals to proselytize the
region as part of its "Vision 2000" campaign.
The Seventh Day Adventist group (which has emerged as a major irritant to
the Church in traditional "Catholic" nations, especially in Latin America)
has conducted an extensive outreach in Kenya since 1985. That church
operates dozens of rural clinics, and has even received matching grant
funding from the World Bank for hospital and health clinic construction.
Government violence directed at "the church" does not appear to involve
the nation's Roman Catholic establishment. The Islamic Party of Kenya (IPK)
has suffered the loss of one of its leading activists, Mohammed Wekesa, who
'disappeared" in 1994 following his release from police custody. Womens
groups such as the Kenyan League of Women Voters and the Federation of Womens
Lawyers, are also known targets of government surveillance and abuse; indeed,
female genital mutilation and other gender problems are rampant throughout
the nation. Human Rights group estimate that the percentage of Kenyan females
subjected to this gruesome ritual could be as high as 50%.
Another Protestant incursion in Kenya involves the World Radio Missionary
Fellowship, an international gospel radio network founded in 1931.
Headquartered in Miami, Florida, the Fellowship operates short and medium
wave transmitters throughout the world under the call letters HCJB
("Heralding Christ Jesus' Blessings"). While most of the WRMF efforts have
been directed at Latin American nations, the organization has begun to expand
its outreach elsewhere. HCJB often enjoys a "quasi-official" status with the
governments of host-countries, and its Technical Services Division has even
installed radio equipment for governmental agencies in countries such as
In 1987, HCJB installed its own hydroelectic power station in Tenwek,
Another interesting group which has worked in Kenya is "Sharing of
Ministries Abroad" (SOMA), which has ties to the Church of England. This
ministry is active in "leadership training" throughout South America, and in
Africa (Kenya and Tanzania.) Author and sociologist Sarah Diamond discusses
the SOMA outreach in her took "Spiritual Warfare," and connections between
the National Coordinator of SOMA, Rev. Brian Cox, and Iran-Contra operative
While Muslims constitute only about 6% of the Kenyan religious profile,
Islamic organizations and ethnic groups with a high Muslim representation
appear to attract considerable government attention and repression. Ethnic
Somalis, who are overwhelmingly Islamic, are required to carry two special
identification cards; Kenya's domestic security police also frequently
"sweep" Muslim towns, ostensibly in pursuit of "illegal aliens."
No State Religion -- Yet...
While Kenya's constitution does not call for an official state religion,
"new churches" are presently required to "register" with the government.
Meanwhile, Archbishop Kirima appears to working with President Moi to
distract attention from the nation's growing social and economic problems. A
high percentage of Anglican parishioners and clergy in the Protestant camp
may also be considered allies of Kirima in light of recent calls for
Catholic-Anglican unity. And Moi, for his part, will reach out for a helping
hand wherever it appears to come from.
It is quite possible in light of growing attention from Human Rights
organizations that Moi and his internal police agency, the "General Service
Unit" will use "satanic cults" as an explanation when butchered bodies are
found, or when people turn up "missing." Moi has a long-established record
of blaming other groups for violence in Kenya, including ethnic minorities.
Interestingly, much of the Protestant outreach in the country has involved
those very tribal groups including the Pokomos. And the assertion that "devil
worshippers" are "educated" may also be a warning to dissident students and
In terms of political benefit, it may well be that President Moi and the
Church have a friend in "Satan."
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
On the pop culture front, check out CBS Sunday Morning tomorrow for a
special feature about creationist threats in the public school system. The
program will feature Dr. Eugenie C. Scott of the National Center for Science
Education, and include a segment with citizens and students in Jefferson
County, Colorado. That community was site of the most recent brouhaha
pitting scientists and reasoned educators against those who insist that
earth, life, indeed the entire universe was a glorified play-dough project
for The Almighty, that dinosaurs and human beings co-existed, that the world
is only about 6,000 years old, that the Grand Canyon... well, you get the
picture. A student there objected to the presentation of the Nova film
"Miracle of Life," which briefly discussed evolution and was termed "one of
the best learning resources available in the country" by an enlightened
school board member.
Our favorite quote in the whole Jefferson County commotion originated with
a 15-year old student who objected to evolution, and wrote school authorities
that the Bible should not be discarded in public schools "for scientific
works that have to be revised and corrected every few years...If science is
pervaded with theories like this (evolution) and that is all there is to it,
then science is obviously nothing more than an attempt to discredit religion
and should not be taught in public schools."
Talk about the need for science education!!
Boob-tube afficianados managed to survive the Wednesday night season
premier of "Ellen", amidst reports that the shows producers may bring the
female character "out of the closet" to admit that she is "different" from a
lot of other people -- and isn't talking about being left handed. "All Eyes
Are On 'Ellen'," reports Associated Press, of nervous advertisers who are
monitoring the Disney sitcom. Ad time peddler Paul Schulman told AP that if
Ellen (played by Ellen DeGeneres) get's a girlfriend and 'the two of them are
going to the zoo together, it's not a problem. If they're in bed together,
it's a problem."
If the bed scenario, or anything else which even hints of lesbianism comes
true, expect an outroar from the Southern Baptist Convention, which is
already taking on Disney for extending insurance benefits to partners of its
gay employees. You'll also probably hear from Rev. Lou Sheldon of the
Traditional Values Coalition and other Kultur Kops as well. And Rev. Donald
Wildmon of the American Family Association told Associated Press yesterday
that he's already laying the groundwork for a Disney-ABC boycott, if Ellen is
anything but straight.
Gee, we wonder if Rev. Don did the same when fellow evangelist Jimmy
Swaggart got caught with a hooker?
But if it's not those damn homos, well, it's pesky over-sexed aliens. One
reader has contacted us with news that one of the Big Three networks is
planning a new series on the "Chariots of the God's" pseudo-history of Eric
von Daniken. Haven't we got enough of this mystical, new age fare on
television already, with "Sightings" and other "unsolved mystery"-style
programs? Can you imagine a regular, one-hour prime time program featuring
the likes of Carl Sagan or James Randi which exposes this cultural tidal wave
of pseudo-science and outright distortion? Just who would advertise on that
show, anyway? Encyclopedia Britannica? I mean, at least at programs like
The Outer Limits didn't claim to be anything else but entertainment!
And if you're stuck at home this evening after not getting an invite to
the local Macarena party, you might mush out on the premier of the NBC series
"Dark Skies." Back in June, AANEWS cited this program as further evidence of
growing pre-millennialist angst; the action starts in 1961 when "two
idealistic college grauates" journey to Washington, D.C. to become part of
John Kennedy's New Frontier, only to discover that Aliens -- not a
military-industrial complex -- have been running the world all along.
Another conspiracy theory bites the dust, but... The 60's era Bobsey Twins
end up stumbling over Project Majestic, "the government's ultrasecret program
to fight a covert invasion of the planet by a mysterious extraterrestrial
What's remarkable is how the aliens screw up; they're busy manipulating
everything from the Kennedy assasination to the Watergate break-in, which all
goes to prove that Lee Harvey Oswald and G. Gordon Liddy really ARE innocent.
"Dark Skies" is another hitchhiker on the current wave of what some social
scientists label "subversion mythology." Look at the sinister, menacing
overtones of "The X-Files" and "Independence Day" blended into with the
outrageous second-rate effects of "Alien Autopsy." In times of social stress
and dislocation, people often turns to conspiracy theories to make some sense
of the world. Those outer space invasion flicks of the fifties ("The Day The
Earth Stood Still," "Earth Versus The Flying Saucers") were thinly-veiled
metaphors of alien, communist subversion. And with the Godless Reds now
gone, well, isn't it only appropriate that the new enemy turns out to be us,
or what we THINK to be us?
Pass the popcorn!
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