Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 9:55:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 1, 1996 A M E R

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Date: Thu, 3 Oct 1996 9:55:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 1, 1996 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn # 170 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 10/1/96 (Nightowl Edition) http://www.atheists.org e-mail: aanews@atheists.org ** 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 Union." 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 regime. 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 held." ** 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. Government. 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 avtv@atheists.org. ** 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 matter. ** 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 total, absolute separation of government and religion. For information on American Atheists, send mail to info@atheists.org and include your name and postal address. Or, check out our cool new site on the web at http://www.atheists.org. 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 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 (cg@atheists.org). Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait, irep@atheists.org.

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