Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 18:17:03 -0500 Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 28 1996 (

Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Sat, 28 Dec 1996 18:17:03 -0500 Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 28 1996 (Nightowl Edition) Reply-To: from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS subject: AANEWS for December 28, 1996 (Nightowl Edition) A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnnn #224 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 12/28/96 e-mail: In This Issue: * Alabama AG Wants Ten Commandments Posted * AFS's Buckner To Debate "Alcuin" On Apologetics List * TheistWatch: Faking Circumcision, A Stolen Saint NEW STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL BOASTS HE'S "STRONG CHRISTIAN" Alabama, a state which boasts everything from poverty and illiteracy to "get tough" chain gangs and a strong fundamentalist religious presence, now has something new to be dubiously proud of. The new nominee for State Attorney General, Bill Pryor, wants to display copies of the Ten Commandments in every courtroom, and has declared that he is "a strong Christian and very proud of it." Pryor has been hand-picked by Alabama Governor Fob James, himself a fundamentalist and booster for everything from school prayer to efforts to involve churches in social services at taxpayer expense. He will serve out the remainder of the term for the present Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, who won election to the U.S. Senate last November. The 34-year old Pryor has served as deputy attorney general for two years; he is perhaps best known in national media for being Alabama's "point man" in defense of controversial Circuit Court Judge Roy Moore of Etowah County. Moore has insisted on opening court proceedings with a prayer invocation conducted by local clergy, and displays a copy of the Ten Commandments in his chamber. A recent court decision ruled that the latter was clearly unconstitutional, although Moore has vowed to fight the ruling. Commandment supporters organized vigorous rallies outside of the Etowah County Courthouse recently which "got out of hand" when individual speakers told the crowd of "hating" groups like the American Civil Liberties Union. Future AG Pryor says that in addition to being "a strong Christian," he defends Ten Commandment postings in government buildings. Mr. Pryor is no stranger to Alabama's rough political turf. Two years ago he helped local Republicans block the counting of unwitnessed absentee votes, and helped to overturn an agreement that would have handpicked more black judges for the state appeals court. He also boosted a redistricting scheme for the State Board of Education which reduced the percentage of black voters in the districts of the two State Board members. ** ATLANTA'S ED BUCKNER MAKING NO APOLOGIES ON APOLOGETICS Those of you who follow the endless debates concerning "god" will be interested in this announcement from Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethought Society: Beginning soon (probably in early January, 1997, "Alcuin" a Christian apologist and Ed Buckner, Vice President of the Atlanta Freethought Society, will engage in an on-line exchange on the question of whether ethics is rational apart from God. The primary exchange will take place via an apologetics site (one can subscribe by sending an e-mail message reading "subscribe apologetics-list", without the quote marks, to "" again, without the quotes. Cross postings to freethought or atheist lists are possible but not yet set up. This grows out of a debate AFS had with the Center for Biblical Literacy in May, 1995 on the question of whether God (or "god") is necessary for morality. John David Leckie, a friend of Ed's, sent the AFS openng statement, written by Ed, to Alcuin. Alcuin critiqued it, Ed replied to that, and Alcuin is now n the process of composing and postng a two-part statement to open our on-line exchange. Those wishing to post the contents of this debate elsewhere, or learn more about this interesting exchange, should contact Mr. Buckner through: ** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Mitch Kahle, Hawaii correspondent for AANEWS, has passed on some info about a hard working fellow islander who's also an atheist! Seems that Hawaii County ended up giving in to the demands of Michael Last, a waste treatment plant operator, that he be permitted to work on Chistmas day and receive no holiday overtime pay. Mr. Last describes himself as "a devout atheist, so help me god!" who also fervently supports the separation of church and state. Since moving to Hawaii in 1992, he has a made a series of protsts over the prayers that open each meeting of the County Council. Ironically, Mr. Last's principled defense of state-church separation in the form of his demand to work on the Christian "holy day" may result in some labor grievances from the United Public Workers, specifically about the issue of over time. Our advice: Mike, kudos for standing up for the First Amendment, but the over time is your gain, their loss! * Our dispatch earlier today (#223) noted that militant fundamentalist movements have become the main opponent of emergent secular societies, regardless of their political orientation. One specific example would be Algeria, where the government is locked in a fierce battle with Islamic fundamentalists Unfortunately, the fundies appear to have won the recent elections in that country which were then voided by the government; as a result, Muslim terrorists are now in a pitched battle for control of Algerian society. Religion-based revolutions often go far deeper in terms of restructuring society than their (sometimes corrupt) secular counterparts, a fact that has suggested to some that one is a trifle better off living under a secular dictatorship than under a clerical one. We'll leave that for the chat rooms and lists, but let us agree that religionists often seek the total overhaul of society when they pick up the gun, or begin to win at the ballot box. In Algeria, a bomb exploded last week at a high school where many girls have openly refused to wear the traditional Muslim head garb. The explosion kiled one student and seriously wounded another at the school located about 18 miles west of Algiers. Throughout the suburbs around the capital, tracts have been circulated by the Armed Islamic Group reminding women about their "permanent obligation" to wear head and face veils, and warning men not to smoke cigarettes. Fundamentalists are also purportedly angry about holiday dinner parties. As with Islamic clerical revolutions elsewhere, the AIG (to quote David Bowie) "has plans for everyone," with religious strictures covering just about every form of personal conduct and social interaction. Like their counterparts in Tehran and Kabul, the Armed Islamic Group wants to tell people how they should dress, whether they may indulge in "impure" behavior, and how they must interact. Sound familiar? ** From church pulpits to "unsolved mystery" type programs, we hear a constant barrage of how religious statues supposedly have the "power" to do all manner of wonderful thingings from curing ills to defying the laws of science and actually end up bleeding. Of course it inevitably turns out to be a combination of wishful thinking or outright hoaxing -- especially those phoney "bleeding" or "crying" statues, or the Hindu statues in India which allegedly "give milk." So you would think that a statue of a much venerated patron saint in the hills of northern Colombia could at least protect itself from a thief who apparently took off with it for purposes and places unknown. As a result, church goers in the town of San Cayetano, named after a saint said to provide food, announced that they would starve themselves if necessary until the statue is returned. No word yet on the fate of San Cayetano. ** The culture war against abortion rights rages on. Last week, a federal appeals court struck down a Utah law which banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy except in three limited circumstances. The 10th District Court of Appeals ruled that Utah legislators disregarded U.S Supreme Court rulings when they defined the viability of fetus as occuring at 20 weeks. "In our view, the state's determination to define viability in a manner specifically and repeatedly condemned by the (Supreme) Court evinces an intent to prevent a woman from exercising her right to choose an abortion after 20 weeks," wrote the appelate court. ** Well, no sooner had we sent out AANEWS dispach #223 than we promptly heard from Jason Steiner, who didn't mince words in criticizing a part of our discourse on the "alpha male backlash." We suggested that this backlash, realized in a variety of behaviors and groups like Promise Keepers, was simply an affirmation of old stereotypes, including the tendency of guys who "can no longer justify beer-swigging 'I'm the head of the household' behavior by saying that they are the sole breadwinner." Jason wrote: "Hey! Stop it! Not only does this perpetrate the stereotype of beer as the drink of choice for backward neanderthls, but it's not even appropriate, since the fundamentalist Muslims and Christians who most ofen hold this attitude are usually teetotalers. Atheist, beer-swigger and proud of it. Lay off. Jason." OK, you're right. And perhaps some of those rigid fundamentalists should indeed tip a few now and then, and certainly quit tryng to legislate their teetotaler lifestyle onto everyone else. ** We have also received some follow-up information in response to our piece on female circumcision from AA Internet Representative Margie Wait. She forwarded a copy of an aricle from the December 19, 1996 Christian Science Monitor titled "How A Woman's Fakery Helps Save Thousands," by corrspondent David Hecht. The piece is by-lined from Bissau, Guinea-Bissau, and tells the story of a female gynecologist, Aja Tounkara Diallo Fatimata who "has been able to save thousands of women from one of Africa's most controversial and deeply held traditions; circumcision of young women." Dr. Tounkara, who underwent this gruesome procedure when she was eight years old, has been teaching doctors and midwives how to "fake" the entire circumcision ritual. "Tounkara says it is not alwys men who demand the procedure" notes the Monitor. ** There are reports from Foggy Bottom that among the names being batted around as possible Republican Presidential nominees in 2000 is that of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia -- no friend of First Amendment state-church separation. John McGinnis, law professor at Yeshiva University, recently wrote in National Review: "No one else of prominence in America's public life makes the case for conservatism better than Scalia." Worse yet is McGinnis' timetable. Scalia would resign from the high court in time to run in the New Hampshire primaries, and after winning the election in November, could end up appointing his own replacement. What is this, another Friday The 13th sequel? ** HELP US REACH 10,000 READERS AANEWS is aiming for a readership of 10,00 by the end of the year -- and you can help! Just forward a copy of this dispatch to a friend or colleague who might be interested; or, post aanews to your home page, discussion group or local bulletin board. The subscription is absolutely free. Sorry, we can't send you a complimentary pocket fisherman, or the ginsu knife, but we WILL make sure that you've got plenty of interesting and stimulating reading in your mail box! ** 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 subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to and put "info aanews"(minus the quotation marks, please) in the message body. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to aanews and American Atheists. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER ( Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait,


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank