A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
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#205 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 11/25/96 (Nightowl Edition)
In This Issue...
* Cardinal Blasts Music
* Religious Center Concedes In Park Dispute
* City Must Stop "Neighborly" Service For Churches
* TheistWatch: Parting Dornan-isms
* AACHAT UPDATE
* About This List...
INQUISITION HEAD WARNS OF ''DIABOLICAL'' ROCK MUSIC
Rock 'n roll, as well as heavy metal music contains "subliminal" evil
influences and is repleat with "diabolical and satanic messages" according to
a leading official of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger
made the remarks yesterday at a mass in Rome commemorating the feast of St.
Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Ratzinger is Prefect of the Congregation
for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern-day version of the Office of the
Holy Inquisition; the London Times describes the Cardinal as "the highest
moral authority in the Vatican after the Pope, at whose side he has been for
almost all of the latter's 18-year reign. His stern admonishment and even
excommunication of dissident theologians has earned him a fearsome
Ratzinger's remarks may elicit consternation in more moderate church
ranks, especially in light of efforts by Pope John Paul II to project a more
up-beat image on the world stage. Earlier this month, for instance, the
pontiff declared that the Church accepted the scientific validity of
evolution, although the Vatican's statement on the subject adroitly managed
to omit any reference to Charles Darwin. But Cardinal Ratzinger's
pronouncement on the evils of contemporary pop music underscore the
reactionary, even frightening stand the church maintains on other issues
including the role of women, gay rights, abortion and censorship.
The Cardinal warned that heavy metal music was particularly offensive, and
branded rock n' roll an "instrument of the Devil" which young people should
avoid listening to "for fear of endangering their souls (London Times)." He
singled out musical groups, including Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin, the
Beatles, the Eagles and, of course, the Rolling Stones. He also called on
members of heavy metal bands to "purify themselves."
Although Ratzinger evinced a surprising repertoire of music, The Times
notes that Vatican officials have listed as "worst offenders" Alice Cooper,
Black Sabbath, and the group AC/DC. The Times noted that church leaders
claim that the latter initials "referred not to alternating current or even
bisexuality, but to the satanic phrase "Antichrist, Death to Christ."
Ratzinger is considered one of the most authoritarian and ferocious
ultra-hardliners within the Vatican establishment. He maintains links to the
semi-secretive Opus Dei organization, and has used his Inquisitorial office
-- the successor to the Sacred Officium -- to police even other Cardinals, as
well as the ranks of potentially-dissident Bishops, Archbishops and other
church functionaries. Ratzinger heads a block of "fundamentalist" prelates,
and has ties with other anti-reformists including Cardinal Joseph Glemp
(Poland), Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (Paris) and Cardinal John O'Connor
SHERMAN WINS IN COMMUNITY PLAYGROUND SPAT
Chicago Atheist activist Rob Sherman has racked up another win on behalf
of state-church separation, this time over a dispute with the regional Jewish
Federation. A Community Center affiliated with the religious group says that
it will remove fences and play equipment on land which should be utilized as
a public park. Last Monday, Sherman was arrested for trespassing when he
walked onto a playground claimed by the Northwest Jewish Community Center; he
had earlier pointed out that the land was part of a re zoning agreement
between the Center and the village of Buffalo Grove, and was to be maintained
as a public playground. The Center, however, had posted warning signs
reserving the use of the park area during certain hours.
Following his arrest, Mr. Sherman attended a meeting of the Village Board,
and asked public officials to review their decision which permitted the
Jewish Community Center to post the signs and monopolize use of the park.
The Buffalo Grove Park District and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan
Chicago now admit that some 800 square feet of the center playground is
encroaching on public land.
Sherman says that his own research indicates that 1,200 square feet of
another JCC playground also is public property.
Although the Federation told the local Daily Herald newspaper that it was
unaware of the conflict, Sherman thinks otherwise. "Once again, they fail
action until Rob Sherman went to the newspapers, " he said. "If they remove
themselves from public land then the encroachment issue is resolved."
JUDGES RULES THAT CITY MUST STOP ''Neighborly' HELP FOR CHURCHES
"It all began last winter when twenty storms brought a record amount of
snowfall to southeastern New England," recalls Regional American Atheists
Director Gil Lawrence. In the town of Barrington, Rhode Island, city crews
and snow plows were busy removing the white stuff from public streets, and
the parking lots of churches in the vicinity. And Lawrence adds that "When
the snow removal director was questioned about the situation he replied in
the Providence Journal Bulletin, "We were just being neighborly."
Six town residents, through the American Civil Liberties Union, asked that
the town of Barrington cease and desist from using government employees,
funds and equipment for the "neighborly" task of keeping church parking lots
empty of snow and, presumably, more able to accommodate the whims of their
"Last winter," says Lawrence, "the town council held an emergency meeting
to discuss what to do. You guessed it! They voted unanimously to continue
It was also learned that in addition to free snow removal, area churches
were receiving another taxpayer-funded service, that of free trash pickup.
The residents took the city to court, and on Friday, a New Hampshire federal
judge put an end to the half-century old "neighborly" practice of subsidizing
services for churches. In the eight-page decision, the court ruled that "the
town clearly is providing a benefit to religious entities, and thus is
promoting religion over nonreligion..." Lawrence notes that Barrington has
ten churches, a synagogue, and a monastery, and adds that "Rhode Island is
not unique in its 'neighborly' enterprise...There are possibly hundreds of
cities and towns across the country violating the constitution for its
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Even though Pope John Paul II has finally caved in to reality and admitted
the overwhelming evidence on behalf of evolution, the Church reserves the
intellectual fiat of insisting that in some point along the evolutionary
road, "god" supposedly upgraded the intellect and consciousness of a
pre-human life form by retrofitting a "soul." This isn't exactly a literal
interpretation of Genesis and the story of Adam, his rib and Eve which
appeals to more fundamentalist-type Protestants. But New York's Cardinal
John O'Connor -- ever the beacon of thoughtful enlightenment and tolerance --
has now gotten into the act with his observations about anthropology.
Yesterday he told his fan club at St. Patrick's Cathedral that Adam and Eve
may have been something other than human beings when Jehovah "breathed life
into them." According to CNN, the Cardinal mused that it was a "scientific
question" whether the First Couple of the Bible were created "in some other
How's this for scientific method?
Credulity seems to be one of those human traits which acknowledges no
boundaries of ethnicity, nation, age, sex or just about anything else. On
Sunday's "60 Minutes' program, there was a thoughtful piece concerning the
controversy over "Afrocentrism," the belief that (simply put) much of the
intellectual and cultural greatness of ancient Greece actually was
transmitted from a black or mostly-black African civilization in Egypt as
part of a "stolen legacy."
Regardless of your opinion on this topic, this observer has to give kudos
and knocks to some of those interviewed. Dr. Mary Lefkowitz ("Not Out Of
Africa") provided some insightful remarks about the need for recognizing
facts and not attempting to twist the truth for political, religious,
cultural or other agendas; and Dr. Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University,
an "Afrocentrist," had his provocative claims, and the intellectual integrity
to point out that Louis Farrakhan's story that Napoleon's troops shot the
nose off the Sphinx (because of its "Negroid" features) was just so much
But at least one school program in St. Louis which supposedly incorporates
an "Afrocentrist" agenda has come under attack from scholars both pro and
con. One credulous teacher informed "60 Minutes" that ancient Egyptians
could well have mastered flight, and knew how to levitate. That fantasy
isn't all that different from those bug-eyed new age types who muse that the
land of the Pharaohs was really an outpost for benevolent aliens, or
populated by a race of advanced beings with paranormal powers.
Such rubbish does a disservice to schools, students, blacks and, of
course, the Ancient inhabitants of Egypt. The Egyptian civilization was
adept at a variety of engineering feats, most of that expertise being used
for the construction of monuments and burial places for a ruling elite. No
shopping malls here, folks, and not even the "polis" of Athens.
In monitoring the national and world press, it is truly surprising to see
the number of news papers and magazines which are sorry to see Rep. Bob
Dornan (R-Ca.) being put out to political pasture following his upset-defeat
by Ms. Linda Sanchez in the elections earlier this month. Recall that Dornan
has been one of the poster boys and stalwarts of the religious right in
America, blasting gays, blacks, Hispanics, women, his colleagues, fellow
Republicans and even the President of the United States. You'd think that a
fellow like that wouldn't have anyone who would sorry to see him thrown out
of Congress -- especially by a woman, a woman who is a political novice, and
a woman who defeated the nine-term Capitol Hill solon by 984 votes.
One reason for the nostalgia is that Bob won't be around to be kicked, or
provide some of the most outrageous, eccentric and in a perverse way, amusing
copy for news hounds and political watchers. Quoting Bob Dornan has become a
veritable cottage industry for the Washington Press corps. So, who are we to
resist the tide? Here are some more Dornanisms for your collection, as
reminisced in the Washington Post...
--"Men in the pro-choice movement are either women trapped in men's bodies
like Alan Alda or Phil Donahue, or younger guys who are like camp followers
looking for easy sex."
(Feb., 1990 at anti-abortion rally)
-- "I used to pine away that my birthday wasn't April 13. That was Thomas
Jefferson's birthday, and I loved Thomas Jefferson. I always wished I had a
'1' in front of my '3' -- until I discovered that April 3 was the day that
Christ was crucified."
(Washington Post, April, 1985)
--"How man people are going to emulate (her) now, trying to go to high
school like Sharon Stone with no underwear on because she uncrossed her legs
in front of five detectives."
("Showbiz Today" program on CNN, June, 1992 discussing "Basic Instinct"
--"Every lesbian spear-chucker in this country is hoping I get defeated."
(October, 1992 and October 1996)
"If (Madonna) were a young lady, 30 years old, of Jewish heritage and
hated Judaism as much as she is a young Italian American, former Catholic,
hates Catholicism and Christianity, she would be branded as an antisemitic
Semite and would be a pariah and would never be signed to a contract by
anybody at Time Warner."
(House floor, June, 1992)
"The bottom line is: The seat was UP! I had a doctor's note in my pocket
that the stewardess wouldn't even look at. This woman was like Annie in
(In April, 1992, Dornan was ejected from a United Airlines flight after
a confrontation with an attendant over the position of his seat.)
Forget anti-lock breaks, improved materials, even superior highway
engineering. The secretary of Britain's Christian Road Safety Association
has told the Electronic Telegraph that a reduction of road deaths in recent
years is an indication that prayers are being answered, and cites the group's
new book, "Road Safety Service and Hymns." The compilation of prayers and
songs includes "incantations about coping with road rage and obeying the
highway code," says the paper, and even boasts one hymn imploring god to take
time from running the rest of the universe, and instead "guide the wheels"
and "inspire us with the Christian's code to keep us safe upon the road."
But what about gruesome traffic accidents, or even other transportation
tragedies? Did god overlook ValuJet because the pilot wasn't singing some
"Keep thy oxygen in its place
So fire throughout the storage compartment does not race"
Truly, a book like "Road Safety Service and Hymns" (available for about
$7.50 through Effective Publishing) is an example of widespread credulity,
lack of critical reasoning, and our penchant for "magical" thinking. When
accidents seem to decline, we ascribe causes such as divine intervention; if
accidents suddenly increase, it is punishment, or a sign that we aren't
AND ANOTHER NOTE TO AACHAT PARTICIPANTS...
We absolutely refuse to blame the breakdown in our moderated, on-line
discussion group --aachat -- on a failure to pray. As you know, the American
Atheists discussion forum for members has been off-line for nearly a week,
much to the distress of the dozens of participants. The moderator, Ms.
Margie Wait, has had repeated problems in trying to connect to the internet
through her service provider following a software installation conflict. As
of this evening (Monday, 11/25), the aachat system is still down, and Margie
informs us that her provider has shipped her the wrong software -- again.
New, and hopefully more workable software, is in the overnight mail. Being
Atheists, we'll just wait in see. In the meantime, aachat members are asked
to NOT send more mail into the system until they begin receiving the backlog
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