Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 9:55:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 1, 1996 A M E R
Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 9:55:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 1, 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
# 170 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 10/1/96 (Nightowl Edition)
** A Note To Readers ** Due to a failure in the listserve, this edition of
AANEWS was not transmitted to everyone on the list and in a timely fashion.
We are re-sending this dispatch (#170) on October 3, 1996 at 9:55 a.m.
Eastern. We apologize for any duplication. **
In This Issue...
* Taliban Continues Sweep Of Afghanistan
* Did The Vatican Do It? Dark Skies? Where Are The Murray-O'Hairs, Anyway?
* TheistWatch: Atheist Leads "De-Baptism" Movement
* About This List...
FUNDAMENTALIST VICTORY IN AFGHANISTAN THREAT TO REGIONAL STABILITY
Russia "Reacting With Dismay And Dread" To Taliban
As Islamic militants consolidated their victory in Afghanistan yesterday,
there was growing uneasiness in Moscow amid signs of possible civil and the
loss of a key Republic bordering Russia. Over the weekend, the Muslim
fundamentalist Taliban movement swept through the Afghan capital of Kabul,
hanging the last pro-Moscow leader, Muhammad Najibullah, and driving out an
Islamic government which was, by western standards, harsh and theocratic in
its own right. Taliban mullahs then announced sweeping changes in their
efforts to create a "totally Islamic state." Women have been banned from the
workplace and ordered to wear full head veils, girls schools have been shut
down, draconian punishment for various crimes instituted, and all men have
been ordered to grow full beards within the next six weeks.
In Moscow last night, Russian officials reacted with "dismay and dread" to
the swift Taliban victory according to The London Times. Former Soviet
leader Mikhail Gorbachev described the killing of Najuibullah as a "lynching
and a kind of savagery." And news correspondent Artyom Borovik who spent
years covering the civil war and Soviet invasion of Afghanistan during the
1980's lamented "We made a big mistake and now a belt of Muslim
fundamentalist states is being created in the underbelly of the former Soviet
Yesterday, Taliban armies swept north in pursuit of thousands of
government troops and captured the provincial capital of Charikar. That
positions the Islamic army for a strike against General Rashid Dostum, an
Uzbek warlord. Meanwhile, the military chief of the ousted Kabul regime,
Ahmed Shah Masood is now cornered in the Panshir Valley, along with the
former President Burhanuddin Rabbani and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, the former
Prime Minister. It was Hekmatyar that led his own Islamic fundamentalist
crackdown in the half-dozen provinces controlled by the Kabul government in
hopes of undercutting the Taliban.
While Dostrum has an army estimated at 20,000 troops, they may be no match
for the artillery and tank divisions the Taliban militias have acquired, in
thanks due to help from neighboring Pakistan. All sides, though, have been
receiving huge quantities of munitions and arms in the past decade from a
slew of interventionists -- Iran, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, India, Russia,
and the United States. Today's London Times adds that the Afghan civil war
against the former Soviet rump-state was "the largest covert operation in the
history of the CIA" and was "mounted in support of Islamic fundamentalists in
Afghanistan to oust the Soviet Union, which invaded in 1979."
The Times also suggests that "America may also secretly support Taleban
(sic)...because it can impose stability on a strategically important region
and is vehemently anti-communist."
A Strategy Which Is Backfiring?
The so-called "Muslim card" was a scenario envisioned by western
geopolitical, intelligence and military strategists as far back as the
1970's. Even them, Islam represented the fastest growing ethnic minorities
within the former Soviet Union, a potential de-stabilizing force for bringing
down the Moscow regime. Indeed, the Afghan civil war pitted a broad
coalition ("Hezbollah") of religious-ethnic groups against the Soviet-backed
regime in Kabul.
The aftermath, though, has turned out to be as problematic as the Soviet
invasion was. Numerous Islamic groups such as Taliban inherited substantial
inventories of weapons, including air-to-ground Stinger missiles which had
brought down dozens of Russian attack helicopters. Intelligence reports now
confirm that Stingers have ended up in Tehran, and possibly in the inventory
of Islamic terrorist groups working under the direction of the Iranian
Taliban successes have, according to The Times, possibly disrupted "the
balance of forces of Afghanistan," an alarming fact which "could reignite
the war in Tajikistan" where Russian divisions are already massed. The
Russian Foreign Ministry termed the present situation in Afghanistan "fraught
with danger for international peace and the stability of the region." And
Russian journalist Pavel Felgenhauer is warning that if Muslim armies cross
the border from the newly-declared Islamic republic, "Tajikistan cannot be
NBC PROFILES ''CASE OF MISSING ATHEIST''; REPORT FILED WITH POLICE ?
Last evening, the NBC Nighly News featured a brief profile of "the case of
the missing Atheist," which focused on the disappearance of American Atheists
founder Madalyn Murray O'Hair and her family -- son Jon Garth Murray and her
adopted daughter, Robin Murray O'Hair. While the segment presented nothing
new in terms of clear indications of why the O'Hair family is missing, or
where they might be, there was speculation from a long-time member of the
organization, Arnold Via. Mr. Via mused that the Murray O'Hairs could be
victims of foul play at the hands of the Vatican, or perhaps the U.S.
Today, the Director at American Atheist offices in Austin, Texas -- Spike
Tyson -- told aanews that there was nothing to indicate foul play. "We
didn't find anything unusual here, no overturned furniture, no blood, no
signs of violence, no bodies."
Tyson also revealed that he has been contacted by officers of the Austin
Police Department, who told him that William Murray, another son of Mrs.
O'Hair, has now apparently filed a missing person report on the family.
Murray has told reporters that he has not talked to his mother in nearly
twenty years, and today is an evangelist who heads a political action
committee which lobbies for school prayer and other causes. As a youth,
William Murray was a co-plaintiff in the famous U.S. Supreme Court suit
MURRAY v. CURLETT which was instrumental in ending prayer and bible
recitation in public schools. That case, decided in 1963, led to the
founding of American Atheists, and quickly resulted in Madalyn Murray (later
Madalyn Murray O'Hair) being labeled "the most hated woman in America" for
her defense of Atheist rights and state-church separation.
Mr. Tyson said that he had no idea of why William Murray waited until this
time to file a missing person report: he did note, though, that September 28
was the one-year anniversary of the last time that anyone connected with the
American Atheist leadership apparently had contact with the family members
via telephone. "After that, we just lost touch. They said they were heading
back to the ghq, and we haven't heard from them since." Tyson informed us
that he is scheduled to be interviewed by police on Thursday.
As for the whereabouts of the family, and an explanation for the
disappearance, Tyson said he was not aware of any new substantive information
in the case.
"Dark Skies," anyone?
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
How many research programs would you like to see receive a gift of $13
million? Perhaps the Heart Association? An AIDS research initiative? What
about the American Cancer Society?
Sorry -- no such luck. Instead, a group known as the Waverly Hope
Foundation will be spending the money to build a 155-foot high stainless
steel statue of Jesus Christ near Louisville, Kentucky. We're told that this
gleaming erection will be part of a "spiritual complex" which is expected to
attract up to one million visitors each year. According to USA TODAY, the
Louisville Jesus will "reveal no gender or race," a fact which its designer
says "represents in inclusivity." The idea for the monument came from a
local businessman, who was supposedly inspired while on vacation in Rio de
Janiero, which has a 120-foot high Jesus displayed on a nearby mountain top.
One may think back to an essay penned by the late Atheist philosopher, Ayn
Rand, who dissected the megalomania of such undertakings in her essay "The
Monument Builders." And one may also think of "mega-architecture" which is
intended to dwarf the individual in the super-human scales of those monuments
which glorify political and religious gods of any kind. Or would Oral
Robert's vision of a 900-foot high Jesus be more appropriate?
Well, it is THEIR money. As long as no taxpayer bucks are used, and as
long as the Erection sits on private land, Atheists have no quarrel --
except, perhaps, to say that that Luisville may end up as the capital of
religious kitsch on a vast and grand scale, and that those millions of
dollars could have been more productively spent elsewhere.
OK, we admit it -- right now, it is the race between the tortoise and the
hare, and the hare is way, way ahead. We keep asking readers to sponsor the
Atheist Viewpoint television show on their local cable system; produced as
the official American Atheists video outreach, this program is now airing on
some 40 cable systems across the country, and features the witty and
insightful - inciteful commentary of Ellen Johnson and Ron Barrier. It's not
yet as snazzy as CNN, but we're getting there.
If you need inspiration in hosting The Atheist Viewpoint, though, consider
the following. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has now substantially
increased the outreach of his "700 Club" program; yesterday, the smiling
televangelist's mug was being sent out on the signal of New York based
superchannel WWOR. According to the Religious News Service, that means that
Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network can now "reach a potential
audience of 92% of U.S. television houiseholds."
If your local cable system has a public access channel and accepts
outside, "imported" program, perhaps YOU could sponsor the Atheist Viewpoint
in your area. For information, send mail to email@example.com.
One country which has made substantial progress in breaking free of the
strictures of religious authoritarianism has been Spain. The London Times
noted a new development last week: "Spanish women are giving birth to fewer
children today than women anywhere else in the world, an extraordinary record
for a country once a bastion of Roman Catholic family values."
Why the change? One factor was the breakup in the old Church-supported
dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, (which awarded fecund women with
"mother prizes" in the tradition of Nazi Germany and Stalinist Russia) making
Spain "a decidedly less patriarchal place, with women enjoying an
independence that matches that of any other country in the western world."
Women are staying in schools longer, forming professional careers, and
working outside of the home. Although abortion is still limited, "the Pill
and condoms are freely available."
In Birmingham, Alabama, the city's Water Works and Sewer Board is under
attack following complaints from private citizens of financial impropriety --
such as possible reduced rates, or even free service for religious
organizations. A State auditor will be conducting an investigation into the
Remember Pope John Paul II's much-touted carnival road show in France two
weeks ago? We informed readers that "de-Baptism" is now the rage in that
Enlightenment cradle, with private citizens demanding to be removed from the
official rolls of the Roman Catholic Church. That move is linked to growing
concerns about the need to preserve state-church separation in France against
the increased meddling of the Vatican in private and social affairs.
Leading the charge for "de-Baptism" is a 24 year old, openly identified
Atheist named Nathalie Thebault. Ms. Thebault isn't hiding behind labels
like "humanist' or "freethinker," and she recently told reporters that she
was "anti-God and anti-religion." She also led 3,000 young French protesters
down the Place Thiers in Tours during the Pope's visit.
Another organizer of the "de-Baptism" movement is Eric Siomneau; he notes
that so far, 870 "fallen away Catholics'' in Tours have signed up and
presented "de-Baptism" forms to local ecclesiastical authorities. And
Paulette Simommet has turned "de-Baptism" into a family affair by doing it
with her husband and daughter, in protest of what "the church imposes on
women" -- proscriptions against abortion and birth control, as a start.
We recently received news about a man who carried a pistol and a can of
gasoline into the Portland, Oregon Church of Scientology, known as the
Portland Celebrity Centre. He surrendered after shooting four church
members, including a pregnant woman, and starting a fire.
Jairus Godeka, 38, was later charged with attempted aggravated murder,
arson, kidnapping, assault and burglary. "Investigators said they had no
idea what prompting the shooting," reported the Los Angeles Times, but
Scientology officials -- obviously following the lead of their religious
bretheren in other "faiths" -- "denounced it as a hate crime." Godeka had
previous run-ins with the Portland Scientology center, and was on probation
for making threats against the church.
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
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank