Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 25, 1996 A M
Date: Wed, 25 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 25, 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
#166 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 9/25/96
In This Issue...
* Church Exploits Kids For Government $$$
* TheistWatch: Brits "Less Concerned" About Religion Than U.S.
* Atheist Viewpoint Television -- Coming To A Screen Near You?
* About This List...
CHURCH MOBILIZES KIDS TO SUPPORT ''SCHOOL CHOICE DAY''
Students in Pittsburg, Pa. Roman Catholics schools were enlisted yesterday
to demonstrate on behalf of "school choice" and a diocese campaign to
"develop awareness in the community" in time for the November 5 election. It
was just another in a long string of marches, ads, letter-writing drives and
other pressure tactics which church authorities throughout Pennsylvania have
been using on behalf of voucher schemes and other forms of parochaid. AANEWS
is still monitoring reports of "School Choice Day" to see what extent
parishes and archdiocese throughout the country were used to build support
for government aid to religious schools.
According to the Pennsylvania Tribune-Review, children in kindergarten
through eight-grade level were to be used in demonstrations organized by
authorities at SS. Simon & Jude School in Pittsburg.
Vouchers are a temporarilly a "dead issue" in the state, and the Assembly
has no related legislation in its bill hopper. The Tribune-Review noted,
though that "Catholic and other private schools are gathering behind
candidates who support the idea," and quoted the assistant superintendent of
Pittsburg Catholic Schools, Ronald Bowes, who said "We believe it is right
and we believe it is just."
Students at another regional Catholic School, St. Thomas Moore in Bethel
Park, were scheduled to spend school time drawing pictures and writing essays
"which will be included in a booklet and mailed to local legislators." At at
St. John the Baptist, students "are writing special prayers, putting up
banners and discussing the concept (of Parochaid) in social studies classes."
Pennsylvania is one of a handful of bellwether states which have emerged
in the forefront of the school voucher effort. Earlier this year, Catholic
leaders in Pittsburg and Philadelphia conducted unprecedented campaigns to
enact voucher legislation proposed by Gov. Tom Ridge. The pilot project
would have involved over $50 million in state funds awarded as vouchers to
parents wishing to have their children attend private and religious schools.
As in other states, research indicated that the vast bulk of that money
would be used for tuition credits to religious institutions, a fact that
disturbed First Amendment activists who see vouchers as government aid to
churches. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia participated in a multi-million
dollar television advertising campaign, and distributed pre-printed cards to
parishioners for them to mail to target members of the State Assembly.
Leiglsators, though, defeated Ridge's voucher proposal.
Critics note that voucher schemes divert badly needed funds from public
schools that are already financially strapped. And the constitutionality of
vouchers has yet to be resolved. In Ohio, a voucher scheme has been approved
which includes both non-sectarian and religious private schools. In
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, a local voucher program does not include religious
schools. And in New York, Mayor Rudolf Giuliani is working with Roman
Catholic Cardinal John O'Connor to use private funds (in lieu of public
monies) to "hand over" students from the public school system to the
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
People in the United Kingdom are considerably less worried about religious
matters than their American counterparts, according to yet another survey
conducted by the Gallup organization. Just 17% of Brits say that religious
belief is "very important," compared to 57% in the U.S. The poll also
indicate that born-again and evangelical Christians are four times as
prevalent in America as in the U.K., and that just 12% of persons in Great
Britain attend weekly religious services compared to 40% in the U.S.
The figures are remarkable for a number of reasons. Polling critics say
that according to exhaustive rollow-up research, people who respond to
surveys that measure church-going often lie, telling pollsters that they
attend services when they do not. The 40% figure which is reported by the
Gallup organization has been criticized on other statistical grounds as well;
in many communities, there is simply not the church capacity to accomodate
all of the "worshippers" who insist they attend services.
People who do attend church may be more disposed in answering
reader-response surveys as well. A poll conducted earlier this month in the
Oakland (California) Press reported that "A total of 100% of Oakland Press
readers responding to last week's We Believe question said they attend a
weekly religion service..."
In the U.K., the latest poll shows that nearly half of the population
(46%) "say they never set foot in a place of worship, except perhaps
occasionally to attend a wedding or funeral." Only 11% of Americans surveyed
make this response according to Gallup. An in Britain only one in ten persons
thinks that religion influence in society is increasing, compared to 38% of
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights (there's a difference?)
usually busies itself with those defending church-state separation, or
perhaps criticizing the Vatican and its religious foolishness from an Atheist
or secular point of view. But now, the League has a new problem: a major
Protestant denomination, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, has published a
book which claims that the pope is an agent of Satan. That intriguing charge
in made in a new Adventist publication "God's Answers to Your Questions."
According to Associated Press, it "likens the papacy to the beast in the
book of Revelation, an ally of Satan in the world's final days."
William Donahue, President of the League, insists that "For this to come
from the Seventh-day Adventists and not from a splinter group makes this
offense paritcuarly egregious." He added that the book "raises the ante and
makes it all the more serious."
Protestants can't agree over the veracity of the claims, though. A
professor from Union Theological Seminary told that media that the Adventist
book was "outrageous and inflammatory and untrue biblically in any sense."
But George Reid of the Adventist's Biblical Research Institute said that the
book simply reflects the well-known views of Protestant Reformation leaders
including Martin Luther and John Calvin. During the Reformation period,
Protestant churches began breaking away from the Vatican; many dissident
theologians believed that the Catholic Church had invented practices and
doctrines not found in the bible. Dr. Sibley Towner, professor of biblical
interpretation at Union Theological, told Associated Press that "In the
Reformation, Protestants threw the word Antichrist around a lot. But that
has not been done in mainline Protestant circles for centuries."
The book is produced by the Adventist Review and Herald Publishing
Association. "God's Answers to Your Questions" tells readers that "Those who
acknowledge the supremacy of the beast by yielding obedience to the law of
God as changed and enforced by the papacy...worship the beast... Such will
take the side of Satan in his rebellion aganst God's authority."
The Seventh day Adventist movement grew out of the apocalyptic vision of
William Miller, who predicted the end of the world during the 1840's. The
so-called "Millerites" attracted a surprisingly large and enthusiastic
following, and many cult members disposed of all worldly goods and ventured
to mountaintops or temples to await the Second Coming. Even after three
failed predictions, Miller retained a considerable number of followers. The
unsuccessful prophecies of Miller became known as The Great Disappointment;
rather than collapsing, though, the Millerite or "Second Advent" movement was
re-galvanized, mostly due to the efforts of new followers like Ellen G.
Harmon. After marrying an Adventist minister named James White, she became
(under the name of Ellen White) a prolific and dynamic proselytizer of
apocalyptic religious Christianity. In October, 1860, the Seventh day
Adventise Church was formally founded, and today boasts 9 million followers.
The anti-papist sentiment in "God's Answers Your Questions" comes during a
time when the Catholic Church is making unprecedented moves on behalf of
unity of major Christian denominations (inevitably under the leadership of
the pope.) In Britain, the Anglican church is already in a merger-mode with
the Vatican, and even such traditionalist Protestant groups like the Southern
Baptists have entered into a "dialogue" with the Catholic leadership. Rome
is having less success, though, with Orthodox Church bodies based in Moscow
There is also a gradual political fusion uniting some Roman Catholics with
rightwing Protestants, including the Christian Coalition. The CC's
"subsidiary", the Catholic Alliance, has enjoyed partial success in
attracting support from Catholic leaders.
That "merger mode" we referred to in the article above is evident in the
opinions of an Anglican Vicar who is about to be consecrated as a Bishop;
late last week, the Rev. John Broadhurst called upon Church of England
authorities to end their centuries-own feud with Rome, and give the Pope
primacy over the Archbishop of Canterbury and the House of Windsor.
Broadhurst heads a traditionalist group within the Anglican church called
Forward in Faith, and opposes the more liberal reforms in his church
including the ordination of women into the priesthood.
"Father Broadhurst has growing influence in a Church where large numbers
remain disillusioned over what they see as a steady progress toward
liberalism," noted The London Times. Today, Broadhurst is scheduled to be
consecrated as Bishop of Fulham, a move which many church watchers see as
official sanction within the Anglican hierarchy for his views.
Calls for unity between Protestant denominations and the Catholic
establishment seems to be resulting in another throw-back phenomenon, namely,
phobia about a long-standing Vatican bugaboo -- Freemasonry. There have been
dozens of official papal declarations (or "Bulls") condemning the fraternal
order, in part due to its role as a non-sectarian brotherhood and its defense
of state-church separation, especially in the United States. Early in its
history, Freemasonry was an active political force on behalf of political
Republicanism; it was rightfully portrayed as a sworn enemy of autocratic
political and religious establishments. In the United States, many of the
Founding Fathers held membership in the Masonic Order.
While Masonry has aged over the decades to become part of the
institutional landscape, it still excites suspicion and resentment within
Vatican ranks. There are periodic outbreaks of anti-masonic sentiment in
clerical ranks, or fears of a masonic conspiracy. In England, anti-masonry
seems to be coinciding with growing religious angst over the alleged
declining morals and status of the culture and calls for Anglican unity with
Rome. A new plan by Britain's official Police Constabulary would compel all
officers to declare whether they are Freemasons; those who reveal membership
"would have the details entered on a force register of interests," acording
to the London Times, which adds that "The declaration will be voluntary but
if an officer stays silent and later faces allegations involving Freemasonry,
his silence would count against him."
The growing snoopiness and concern over Masonic membership has the
organization's leadership, and civil libertarian groups concerned. Last
Saturday, the secretary of the United Grand Lodge of England told the media
that he did not think Freemasons should be singled out, and that membership
was part of private life. "Even politice officers were entitled to a private
life," noted The Times.
Among requirements for membership in most branches of Freemasonry is
belief in some kind of god.
If you happen to be in Los Angeles this weekend and can't catch the lates
tour at Universal Studios, well, consider spending $19 and dropping in at the
annual Los Angeles Mayor's Prayer Breakfast. More than 1,000 clergy and
politicians are expected to show up and, according to the Los Angeles times,
"pray for the city's future." You'll even get to hear Rev. Lloyd John
Ogilvie who made a career of organizing the LaLaLand prayer feed before
taking on a job as official chaplain to the United States Senate.
It may not be the buttoned-down affair you expect, though. The emcee for
the Prayer Breakfast is none other than Pat Boone, who, we understand, is
coming out with a heavy-metal rendition of some of his old classics.
CALLING ALL ATHEIST ACTIVISTS...AND COUCH POTATOS!
There's more to watch on television than re-runs of American Bandstand,
ranting evangelists, and sappy, boring "family friendly" programming. How
about The Atheist Viewpoint, the new cable show produced by American
Atheists? This weekly 30-minute offering is hosted by Ellen Johnson and Ron
Barrier, and features some of the liveliest -- and irreverent -- content on
television! AVTV is now on over 40 cable systems throughout the country, and
We need sponsors for the Atheist Viewpoint; if your cable system has a
public access channel and accepts "imported' programming, AVTV may be what
YOU need to improve your viewing habits! Let us know if you are interested
in becoming a sponsor in your area. Send e-mail to: email@example.com.
About This List...
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