Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 10, 1996 A M E
Date: Thu, 10 Oct 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 10, 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
#174 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 10/10/96
In This Issue...
* Taxpayers Paid $5.1 Million For "Chapel," "Religious Instruction" Facility
* Houston: No Public Drug Program In Religious Schools
* Afghan Update: "Start Praying -- Or Else!"
NEW CHAPEL OPENS, BUT MILITARY BASE WILL CLOSE NEXT YEAR
Talk about wasteful government spending...
Taxpayers have shelled out $5.1 million to build a chapel a the Naval
Training Center in San Diego, California, even though that facility will be
closing next year. According to reports, including a story in the San Diego
Union-Tribune, the 33,000 square foot church was four months from completion
when the base was put on a government list of military installations being
closed for budget purposes. Even so, a Navy spokesman told the paper that
"They're going to have to pay for it anyway, so why not complete the
Equally puzzling is news that "The facility was used for the last recruit
graduation, but not for religious services -- the base's World War II-era
chapel still works fine for that." The new multi-million dollar church is
reported used "occasionally for meetings, charity events and other function."
But if the older chapel "still works" for religious purposes, why spend
money on a new structure?
An AANEWS investigation revealed, though, that the original appropriation
for the "chapel and religious instruction facility" was only $4.1. That
figure was included in a funding bill approved in August, 1994, part of a $94
million appropriation for military facilities in San Diego County; it was
part of a compromise measure between appropriation committees in the House
Further State-Church Violations?
Military chaplains and religious facilities on military bases have been
defended as constitutionally appropriate with the argument that personnel are
often denied access to such facilities as part of their combat mission.
While that argument may have a basis in the case of troops in distant
countries or remote areas, there seems to be little rationale for building
any chapel -- especially, a new $5.1 million structure -- in San Diego. An
AANEWS reader informed us that the Yllow Pages directory is filled with
listings under the heading of "Churches," and that he did not "realize the
number and diversity of San Diego's churches...there are christian churches
of almost every conceivable major denomination, Moslem mosques, Jewish
temples, New Age (Holistic and Metaphysics), Buddhist Temples, Hare Krishna
Temples, etc..." Mr. Daniel Nakaji added that "There are definitely more
churches in the outlying suburbs of La Mesa and Lemon Grove ..." and that he
"stopped counting churches individually at 300 when I got to
'Churches-Catholic, Byzantine' so there are eight more pages left...I would
say there are at least 1,500 churches in San Diego, not counting those little
'shopping center' churches that I've seen."
With the base closure, San Diego faces a dilemma similar to other
communities throughout the nation -- what becomes of the land and buildings
on abandoned military installations? Local officials were reportedy studying
possible uses for the Naval Training Center as far back as June, 1993, and
City Councilman Ronald Roberts suggested converting the base into a public
park. Others suggested converting it an airport to relieve the congestion at
nearby Lindbergh Field.
If the city does purchase the Training Center, there is then a question
surrounding the fate of the new chapel. A slew of recent court cases has
sent a warning to local government officials in California and Oregon that
religious monuments of any kind cannot be maintained on public land.
OFFICIALS SAY ANTI-DRUG PROGRAM CAN'T OPERATE IN PUBLIC SCHOOLS
In Harris County, Texas, public officials have warned deputies that they
may not operate several drug and gang prevention courses in private religious
schools since it violates the Constitutions of both the United States and the
State of Texas. That decision was made by the county attorney's office after
a local Constable asked permission for his deputies to include the church
schools in some of the popular nationwide educational programs, including
DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance and Training) and GREAT (Gang Resistance
Education and Training). According to the Houston Chronicle, one of the
schools proposed for inclusion in the program was the Northland Christian
It is not yet known whether the County Commissioners will follow the
ruling from the attorney's office.
The Chronicle noted that the State Constitution is more rigorous in its
concept of state-church separation. The 10-page opinion from the County
Attorney observed that this fact stemmed from the Texas history, when
citizens resisted the official religion of Catholicism while they were part
of Mexico. Following independence, notes the Chronicle, "they ensured that
their constitution would protect them from such requirements in the future."
The Harris County opinion distinguished between the use of public aid for
individual students, rather than the school itself. The DARE program
requires that public law enforcement officers be considered as faculty
members, and that the contents of the course be part of other programs
administered by the school. "The risk of 'religious entanglement' is high,"
noted the Houston paper.
TALIBAN STALLS, RE-TAKES LOST GROUND NEAR PANSHIR VALLEY
Taliban troops and armored units attacked the town of Jebul Siraj early
this morning, winning back some of the territory lost earlier to a surprise
offensive by former government troops. Yesterday, fierce fighting took place
at the mouth of the strategic Panshir Valley, a redoubt for ex-military chief
Ahmed Shad Massood. An estimated 200 Taliban militia were killed, and the
Islamic army fell back to a position near Charikar, some 40 miles north of
the capital of Kabul.
Observers say that yesterday's developments mean "a new phase of war"
(London Times) for the Taliban, which has surprised both allies and foes with
its string of "stunning" successes on the battlefield.
* Apparently cooperating with Gen. Massood's troops are forces under the
command of General Abdul Rashid Dostrum, the Uzbek warlord who controls
several provinces in the north of Afghanistan. Media reports say that the
extent of this alliance is not yet clear; and Dostrum's Islamic army may be
able to negotiate and eventually even enter into some kind of coalition
government with the Taliban. Interestingly, Dostrum is described as a
"whiskey-drinking ethnic Uzbec who rose to military prominence during the
Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980's..."
* International relief workers and news observers report that Taliban
officials are "surprised" by growing international hostility to its sha'ria,
or imposition of brutal Islamic law in the areas it governs. Men and women
have been issued strict guidelines on dress, music and television have been
banned, and Taliban militia -- often led by neighborhood clerics -- continue
sweeping areas of Kabul in search of weapons and contraband material.
There seems to be little willingness on the part of Taliban officials to
relax any of their draconian rules, or give in to international opporbrium.
The new education minister of the Taliban theocracy, Said Ghaisuddin
delivered a sermon in a Kabul mosque, and declared "We don't care what the
West wants us to do...We will carry out the will of god!"
* International reverberations from the Taliban conquest continue to be
felt. As noted in other AANEWS dispatches this week, Russia is worried about
the Islamic threat to its borders, particularly the former republics of
Uzbeikistan and Tajikistan which Moscow considers part of its "strategic
It is generally agreed that Taliban is an instrument of the neighboring
Pakistani regime. There are now reports that China has covertly sold
equipment to Pakistan which could be used in the production of nuclear
weapons; and it is no secret that since the 1970's, the Pakistan government
has been attempting to develop the so-called "Islamic bomb," in part for
leverage in its on-going disputes with regional rivals like India.
The technology transfer was initially reported in the conservative
Washington Times, a newspaper linked to Rev. Moon and the cultish Unification
Church. The Times claims that its information is based on a "top secret" CIA
memorandum dated September 14 warning of possible "dual use" equipment which
could be employed for either peaceful or military purposes. Among the items
are "ring magnets" which were shipped to the Khan Research Laboratories in
Kahuta, Pakistan, for use in a program to produced enriched weapons-grade
* In areas like the Afghan capital of Kabul, the Taliban mullahs continue
to issue religious decrees governing every aspect of social and personal
life. The latest regulations we have learned of is an edict ordering men to
now wear a turban or skull cap head covering. That does not quite rival an
earlier decree, however, which warned citizens that they may not have caged
birds of any kind, ostensibly because the birds might sing.
* The United States government now seems to have doubts about the Taliban
regime which, according to some, met with approval earlier from Washington
strategists and may have even received covert American support. CNN notes
that "The U.S. is hamstrung by conflicting goals where support for human
rights often, in the short term, conflicts with strategic aims." Washington
has dispatch a diplomatic team to Kabul which could arrive later today. While
the State Department has joined with the United Nations in 'questioning'
human rights violations by the Taliban, the clerical regime continues to be
intransigent. Mullah Amir Khan Mutaqi, speaking for the six-man Taliban
council in Kabul, says "There is no possibility of change in Islamic
principles, which have not changed in the past 1,400 years...These principles
are eternal, and they will remain eternal."
* There are some limited indications that resistance to Taliban within the
occupied areas -- especially Kabul -- may be ready to ignite. A
correspondent for The London Times quotes an international aid worker who
says that women "are very angry" with the flood of restrictive Taliban
regulations. The Times adds that "The mullahs who now run most of Afghanistan
are unaccustomed to Kabul's comparatively liberal traditions and appear
surprised at public resistance to a system that is normal in the
* Iran, which backed other Mujahadeen forces during the decade-long civil
war, continues to distance itself from the Taliban. Tehran radio has been
broadcasting remarks critical of the Kabul mullahs, including an address by
Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, who delivers regular sermons at Tehran University.
He is secretary of the notorious Council of Guardians, the most reactionary
of the clerical organizations in Iran, which has substantial influence within
the Revolutionary Guards and helps to direct the activities of VEVAK, the
Iranian Intelligence Service. Jannati accuses the Taliban of giving Islam a
bad name by imposing "fossilized" policies (Reuter News Service), and even
criticized the Kabul regime's new policy of restricting education for women.
"What could be worse than committing violence, narrow-mindednesss and
limiting women's rights (thereby) defaming Islam," Jannati remarked in his
But Tehran's condemnation of Taliban cannot be taken as a signal for
better relations with the West, or even its Arab neighbors. Jannati has
helped to orchestrate Tehran's efforts to drive a wedge between the United
States and Saudi Arabia by sending its agents to the annual Haj in Mecca. In
addition, he is a defender of the group "Supporters of Hebollah," the Iranian
organization that mobilizes grassroot supports for the clerical regime in
Tehran. The "Supporters'' have attacked women cyclists in public parks for
wearing "un-Islamic" dress, and even rioted in movie theaters when mixed-sex
scenes are shown in films, or when females sing on stage. Janniti is a
reactionary, authoritarian religionist in his own right.
What's going on?
Taliban and Iran both have different stratgegic interests, and they have
considerable doctrinal disagreements as well. While both preach
authoritarian Muslim superstition, Iran's clerical establishment is Shi'ite
-- the Taliban reflects a different strain of Muslim belief, more akin to the
Sunni influence found in Saudi Arabia. The two differ over various doctrinal
points of Koranic dogma, and the question of succession to Mohammed. Iran
also supported the ousted government of President Burhanuddin Rabbani, and is
suspicious of Pakisanti (and possibly even suspected U.S.) backing for the
For the time being, Taliban seems to be remarkably inner-directed in terms
of its willingness to "export" its clerical revolution elsewhere. The
Taliban doctrines would not be fully tolerated in neighboring Pakistan, and
the Taliban council has already announced its intention to create a
"nationalist" religious agenda. Tehran is more aggressive in proselytizing
in foreign countries, and has even extended its own outreach to places like
Bosnia. The Iranian clerics may also consider the mostly illiterate and
un-educated mullahs of the Taliban too difficult to control, and too
unreliable as a potential ally.
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