#1 84/6/96 Sender: owner-aanews Precedence: bulk AANEWS is distributed by American Atheist

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#1 ****************************************************************************** *84/6/96 Sender: owner-aanews Precedence: bulk Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, Cgastbook@aol.com AANEWS is distributed by 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 on AA, send e-mail to info@atheists.org. ******** It's the Easter weekend, and throughout the world religionists are celebrating a variety of holidays. Some developments: ....The threat of suicide bombings from the fundamentalist Hamas movement has apparently scared off "pilgrims" venturing to the "holy land." A procession in Jerusalem which supposedly retraced the path of Jesus Christ to his alleged crucifiction, attracted only about 5,000 devotees, half of the usual number. Within the past two months, 62 persons have been killed in four separate suicide attacks by Islamic fanatics. Two of the attacks took place in Jerusalem. ....In the United States, the news media seems to be giving greater coverage to Easter than in previous years. A cursory sampling of press reports suggests widespread parading on public streets in the form of Easter processions; this religious kitsch street-theater often involves somebody lugging a cross dressed in robes with fake-blood. Religious groups have been promoting these events, and members of congregations are also dressing up as Roman soldiers. We have a front-page newspaper photo of one ersatz savior being "whipped" by a "gladiator" sporting blue-blocker shades, which tends to erode the historical authenticity of these sado-masochist displays in the streets. ....We also have reports of religious groups such as "Younglife" staging mock crucifictions on church grounds, with young boys in loincloths playing the savior-thief roles. These "living crucifictions" (albeit without the spikes) are a continuation of yet another religious stunt which has grown in popularity, namely, "living nativities" at the Christmas season. Other staged events include spicing up the dreary Good Friday services with "Way of the Cross" re-enactments in churches and other venues. ....In the Philippines, a dozen locals and a Japanese man were literally nailed to crosses and hoisted into the air for public catharsis. Shinichiro Kaneko, 30, wailed in obvious pain as phoney "centurions" drove 4-inch nals through his palms. He wore a head crown made out of barbed-wire, and was then raised for two minutes while the crowd prayed and cried out. Even so, Kaneko and the other believers were cheating; only one participant allowed nails to be driven through his feet as well; and most had their wait supported by ropes. This annual ritual, held in the town of San Pedro Cutud, attracts thousands of supplicants and a swarm of international media. Participants consider the event a sacrifice to aid in the protection of the community from volcanic eruptions of nearby Mount Pinatubo, and massive mud flows. ....In what the media has called a part of the rites of spring, ABC television will be airing the highly fictitious movie "The Ten Commandments", which does double-duty as a "Passover/Easter fixture" on the network since 1973. Meanwhile, Ted Turner -- perhaps still guilty for allegedly calling christianity a "religion for losers" -- is having his TNN air a gala production of "Moses." Too bad that equal time isn't given to Robert Ingersoll on this one, folks. Critics have generally panned this production, however, with Matt Roush of USA TODAYsaying that even with Ben Kingley as Moses, 'he can't survive bad wigs and an uninspired production..." Even with poor costuming and Judeo-Christian revisionist history, though, the Passover-Easter season isn't without its disappointments for the faithful... 'JESUS CASKET' PROBABLY A FAKE Consider this as Indiana Jones wandering onto the same set as Yul Brenner. Two weeks ago, the secular and religious media lit up with reports that archeologists had discovered the actual coffins of the Gang of Three, J.C., his mom and Joe the Carpenter. The boxes were actually unearthed in 1980 from a building site near Jerusalem, but were "rediscovered" by a crew working on a TV special. Although they had no remains in them, there were early reports that the names Jesus, Mary and Joseph were actually on the limestone coffins. Soon, the TV company was admitting "There is no proof that these belong to the Holy Family..." The Israeli Antiquities Authoreity pointed out that the names were common in the first century and "it would be a statistical abnormality if you didn't find them in conjunction at some point." ********************* CHRISTIAN COALITION BLASTS LA TIMES This past week, the Christian Coalition took the Los Angeles Times to task for its decision to apparently not carry an installment of the "B.C." comic strip which was scheduled to run yesterday. In a press release, the Coalition insisted that the strip had "a religious message appropriate for the holiday...four blank panels that are gradually shaded from light gray to black. The panels symbolize the darkening of the skies after Christ's crucifiction." Ralph Reed, the Director of the CC, accused The Times of "enforcing a cruel double standard regarding the treatment of religion and people of faith", since the paper had earlier run a cartoon portraying Senator Bob Dole as a crucified Christ and "religious conservatives as his murderers." ****** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS by Conrad Goeringer Somewhere out there in the religious bazaar, there is a sect which will stamp "god's approval" on anything. Consider the "religious debate" over same sex marriages. Gay marriage has attracted howling opposition from much of the religious right (and a good deal of consternation from the mainline sects as well), but now at least a group of Reform Jews says that the practice is OK. The 1,750 members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis have gone on record as formally opposing government bans of gay marriages. Other Jewish groups do not favor this position, though; but like movies, restaurants, or clothing sales -- just shop around and you'll find what's right for both you AND god! *** While this service was down last month, Congress passed controversial legislation outlawing late-term abortions. The resolution, pushed enthusiastically by Christian Coalition and its allies, sailed through the House of Representatives by a 286-129 vote. Dubbed euphemistically "partial birth" abortions in the Coalition's Contract With the American Family, the procedure was rarely used; but critics warn that it was simply the first in a series of steps which are designed to gradually overturn Roe v. Wade, the U.S. Supreme Court case that legalized abortion rights for women. Meanwhile, House Republicans made clear their intention to use the abortion issue against Bill Clinton in the upcoming November Presidential campaign. ************** One reason why American Atheists works overtime on behalf of absolute state-church separation is due to the lessons of both history and current events. Religious sects rarely get along, especially when they are squabbling to become the "official" state religion -- as in the colonial days of America, when each state had an official, established church. Examples of religious in-fighting a repleat throughout history, of course. Just last week, troops in the Kashmir, India battled their way into a mosque which had been taken over by a religious-nationalist separatist group. 21 of the fanatics were killed, and the compound was set ablaze. Moslem fundamentalists have been waging a guerilla war for the last six years to separate Jummu-Kashmir from the rest of India, which is predominantly Hindu. Incidents of violence between the two groups of "people of faith" is common, and over 12,000 persons have died just in the recent round of bloodletting. ************ Just how enlightened are we as a society? Despite education about "hot button" issues like AIDS, a surprising number of people still hold to antedeluvian, bigoted beliefs. Two weeks ago, a survey released by the Kaiser Family Foundation showed that many Americans think that schools need to teach pre-teens about AIDS, and that television stations should accept ads for condoms. But 12% of those surveyed claimed that AIDS was a "punishment from God" for homosexual behavior; 18% thought there was "some truth" to the claim that the virus was manufactured in a secret germ-warfare laboratory. ##################### AANEWS is dispatched approximately five times a week. Material may be re-distributed or quoted, provided that appropriate credit to American Atheists and AANEWS is given. 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