subject: AANEWS for January 17, 1997 A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S A A N E W S #232 1/17

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from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS subject: AANEWS for January 17, 1997 A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S ~~ A A N E W S ~~ #232 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1/17/97 e-mail: ATLANTA CLINIC BOMBING MAY LEAD TO "ARYAN'' ARMY, PHINEAS PRIESTS An AANEWS Special Report Investigators are still probing for clues in yesterday's bombing at a suburban Atlanta abortion clinic; two blasts, apparently timed to go off about an hour apart, wrecked the facility and injured six persons. The first explosion occurred at 9:30 a.m. and sent terrified office workers heading out of the building which housed the Atlanta Northside Family Planning Service. A second explosion one hour later accounted for the personal injuries, and is believe to have resulted from a bomb planted in a nearby dumpster. Although there were other professional offices in the building for doctors, attorneys and dentists, a spokesman for the Atlanta Police Department told reporters that "it appears that the clinic was the target." As of press time for this AANEWS dispatch, no group has apparently claimed responsibility. But the clinic bombing elicited a flurry of statements from political leaders and organizations representing all sides in the abortion controversy. The Christian Coalition and the National Right to Life Committee promptly issued press releases condemning the action. CC Director Ralph Reed described the violence as "a shameful and cowardly act. It is the antithesis of our efforts on behalf of unborn human life." There is circumstantial evidence, though, that suggests that the bombing MAY be tied to an overall, organized campaign directed against abortion clinic facilities and workers. The Atlanta bombing comes after a month of another wave of violence centered on abortion providers; and the New York Times noted that next week (Jan. 22) marks the 24th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which legalized abortion. During the previous month, a physician at a Louisiana abortion clinic was assaulted and stabbed, a Phoenix, Arizona clinic was the site of three failed arson attempts, and the Planned Parenthood office in Dallas, Texas was robbed at gunpoint. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, an abortion clinic was burned. That sequence of events prompted Ann Glazier of the Planned Parenthood Federation to suggest that the Atlanta bombing was just "one more piece of evidence in a trail of violence" culminating at the Roe v. Wade anniversary. A Chilling Reaction While anti-abortion groups generally condemned the use of violence in yesterday's probably clinic attack, other voices were heard from more militant wings of the anti-choice movement. The editor of Life Advocate magazine, Paul deParrie of Portland, Oregon mused: "I think it is wonderful any time an abortion clinic is closed for whatever reason...I think it is great when babies' lives are saved through whatever means..." News reports of the Atlanta incident also mention Paul Hill, the former minister who killed two people outside an abortion clinic in Pensacola, Florida; they also mention John Salvi who two years ago also murdered two clinic workers at abortion facilities in Massachusetts. Hill is currently serving two life terms in prison, and was the first person convicted of the Federal Freedom of Access to Clinics Entrances law. Salvi, a mentally disturbed man who spoke openly of conspiracies against the Catholic Church, was found dead in his prison cell at a maximum security facility on December 2, 1996. While the death was officially ruled a suicide, Salvi family lawyers suggested bizarre circumstances in their clients demise; one attorney told CNN news that "His (Salvi's) feet were tied. His hands were tied together. There was cotton stuffed in his mouth and a plastic bag over his head." But there is another event taking place in Columbus, Ohio with names and movements linked to the small, violent anti-abortion underground which lurks behind the images being conjured in the Atlanta clinic bombing. That involves the trial of a man named Peter K. Langan, 38, who identified himself in the netherworld of violent, racialist-religious politics as "Commander Pedro." A white supremacist with links to the so-called Christian Identity movement, Langan is on trial in federal court charged with counts of bank robbery in Columbus and Springdale, Ohio in 1994. He also faces charges of robbing 20 other banks in six states, which netted a total estimated at $250,000. According to investigators, proceeds from the stickup jobs were to finance an "Aryan" revolution. Logan has been linked to three other men, all of whom identified themselves as the Aryan Republican Army. The group may have been carrying out a plan first outlined in a book titled "The Secret Brotherhood," an account of a group known as The Order that pulled off an armored car robbery in California in 1984 and netted over $3.6 million. Part of the evidence in the trial is a two-hour video tape, "The Aryan Republican Army Presents: The Armed Struggle Underground." The Order was founded by Robert Matthews in 1983, and based its program for political action on a campaign of terror against what it called ZOG or "Zionist Occupation Government." Matthews had also embraced Christian Identity, a theological construct which preaches the superiority of the white race and the need for a theocratic regime that would purge society of non-aryans, and reconstruct the culture along Biblical lines. The Order drew recruits from more above-ground groups including Aryan Nations (Church of Jesus Christ-Christian), and found inspiration from the likes of Rev. Pete Peters, a Colorado-based racialist whose literature and shortwave radio broadcasts rave against homosexuals, mixed-race marriages and other alleged evils. Fallout From Waco, Ruby Ridge The confrontation between in Idaho between Federal agents and the Randy Weaver family at Ruby Ridge (which saw wife Vicki and son Samuel Weaver murdered) became an icon for extreme militia and racialist-Christian Identity groups who increasingly saw the need to either reject or supplement above-ground political activism with covert, underground military organization. That perception was exacerbated by the debacle at Waco. Following the Ruby Ridge incident, Rev. Peters and others representing Christian Identity sect members, neo-Nazis and elements of the Ku Klux Klan held a meeting in Estes Park, Colorado to continue plans for organizing an armed wing of the so-called "Patriot Movement." The report from this conference declared: "As was the case with our Founding Fathers, the establishment of a Christian civil body politic should be a primary goal for Christian men across the nation, for it is the chief means for carrying out the judgements of God. It has the authority to punish the evildoer as mandated in Romans 13... "The remnant is not yet fully a Christian civil body politic, but it is in the process of growing into it. We find stated in 2 Corinthians 10:6: 'We are ready to punish all disobedience, whenever your obedience is complete'." The Phineas Priesthood One group springing out of the Christian Identity nexus was based in Sandpoint, Idaho and has been linked to bank robberies in the Pacific Northwest, and setting off bombs at a newspaper office and at an abortion clinic. Three known members charged in the mayhem have been linked to the Phineas Priesthood, described by Associated Press writer Nicholas Geranios as "a shadowy white supremacist organization opposed to interracial marriage, abortion and homosexuality..." Two of the Priesthood members were linked to a Christian Identity sect known as America's Promise Ministries. The Phineas Priesthood is considered by some to represent the most extreme wing of the "patriot movement," fusing violent anti-abortion activism with elements of Christian Identity theology, white racialist nationalism, and a belief that they constitute the incorruptable "Biblical remnant" locked in a titanic struggle against the forces of evil. One Identity practitioner, Richard Kelley Hoskins, elaborated on the Phineas Priesthood in his obscure 1990 book "Vigilantes of Christendom": The Story of the Phineas Priesthood." It is a manifesto advocating murder against those sinners who "transgress" against Biblical "law." An Oregon human rights group, Coalition for Human Dignity, describes the "Vigilantes of Christiandom" book, saying: "For Hoskins, the 'Phineas Priest' -- the embodiment of Christian Identity belief and obedience to God -- is not one who prepares for impending race war, but one who commits racist, anti-Semitic or homophobic murder to stave off God's ongoing judgment of white people for failing to uphold the 'Law.' For Hoskins this includes such 'crimes' as interracial marriage and allowing homosexuals to live..." Paul Hill, Anti-Abortion ''Avenger'' There has been speculation that Paul Hill may have been a Phineas Priest, although that connection has never been thoroughly established. It is known, though, that there is a cross-pollination of religious ideology linking The Phineas Priesthood with the small but well organized violent anti-abortion underground. Hill, a former minister, drew upon the story of Phineas ("Phinehas" in some accounts) for ideological inspiration. In one of his tracts advocating direct action against abortion clinics, Hill declared: "Death opens her cavernous mouth before you. Thousands upon thousands of children are consumed by her every day. You have the ability to save some from being tossed into her gaping mouth. As hundreds are being rushed into eternity, other questions shrink in comparison to the weighty question, 'Should we defend born and unborn children with force?' "Take defensive action!" Hill goes on to defend the murder of abortion providers and other acts of violence by referring to the Biblical story of Phineas... "Phineas violently took the life of two immoral persons in order to turn God's wrath away from the people. Numbers 25 tells us that the Israelites were playing the harlot with Moabite women. God's wrath in the form of a plague, therefore, turned against the people. As a result of the sins committed, Moses and the judges were weeping before the tabernacle. As Moses and the leaders looked on, Zimri, the son of Salu, brazenly brought a Moabite woman named Cozbi by the weeping leaders. He led her past them and into a tent for immoral purposes. When a priest named Phinehas (sic) realized what was happening he was filled with zealous jealousy. He then followed them into a tent and checked the plague by driving a spear through them both." Like the Identity-linked Phineas Priesthood, Hill interprets Old Testament scripture to justify acts of vigilante murder as approved by God, and "righteous" in that they stem "god's wrath." Hill adds that "The remarkable thing about the violent zeal of Phinehas (sic) is that it arguably received as much or more emphatic approval from God than any other act in the Old Testament." Hill continues by asking: "Are there any heinous sins being committed today that could again fan the flames of God's righteous anger to the scorching point? Is there any need in today's world for men of the stamp of Phinheas?" A Spectrum Of Beliefs Not all of those active in the violent, anti-abortion underground are linked to the sorts of Christian Identity movements out of which the Phineas Priesthood has emerged; but critics have noted a cross-pollination of ideas and themes. John Salvi, for instance, mused about a conspiracy against the Vatican being carried out by Freemasons and the Ku Klux Klan. While they disagree on who the villains are, conspiracy theo-politics run rampant today on the religious right be in Pat Robertson's dire warnings against the "New World Order" (which draw upon classic sources of anti-semitic ideology), or the darker scenarios portrayed in extreme Catholic publications like "The Fatima Crusader." At least one segment of the anti-abortion underground grew out of the Christian fundamentalist and evangelical movements coalesced in groups like Randall Terry's Operation Rescue movement. The national O.R. group as late as 1994, while encouraging aggressive "sidewalk counselling" and harassment of abortion providers and clinic workers, stopped short of advocating organized violence. In April, 1994, more militant Rescue members helped to form the American Coalition of Life Activists; one founder of the new group declared that "No one would want to work with the ACLA who would condemn the use of force." Other groups which straddle the precarious fence separating "aggressive" tactics like harassment lawsuits or engaging in "rescue" operations include the Lambs of Christ and Missionaries to the Preborn. Even more extreme is Defenders of the Defenders of Life, a "group" of prominent anti-abortion leaders who signed various statements in support of Paul Hill. Researchers suggest that DDL filled the organization vacuum created by Rev. Hill and the demise of his group, Defensive Action. That organization was started by Hill in 1993 following the murder of Dr. David Gunn, a physician and abortionist who was shot by Michael Griffin. Hill was one of those supporting Griffin, circulating a statement promoting the Phineas doctrine of "justifiable homicide" in defense of the "pre-born." Escalating Violence? The Phineas Priesthood -- or certainly the "Biblical remnant" ideology as exemplified in the account of Phineas -- may constitute a bridge linking extreme, Identity racialists and militant anti-abortion activists who increasingly see the need for violence in avenging "god's law" and punishing transgressors. Indeed, the failure to overturn Roe v. Wade and enact legislation designed to ban abortion by relatively peaceful means may be pushing some anti-abortion believers over the edge." Frustrated and angry, Phineas becomes a symbol of righteous vengeance against sinners. The Atlanta clinic bombing may also serve as warning that we are about to enter another round of increased violence directed at abortion providers, clinics and workers. According to statistics, there were at least 15 bombings or arsons at clinics each year from 1993 to 1995; last year, that figure dropped to seven. In addition, a study by the Feminist Majority reports that a survey of 312 clinics across the nation showed 30% reporting acts of violence in 1996 down from 39% in 1995. Even so, those numbers must be balanced with the arson, robbery, assaults and attempted acts of violence that have occurred just in the past month. ** 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 more information about American Atheists, send mail to and include your name and postal mailing address. 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