Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 19, 1996 nn n AA
Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 19, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnn
#18 nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 4/19/96
MUSLIM ACTIVISM STILL A PROBLEM IN DENVER PUBLIC SCHOOLS
It began last February: officials at Montbello High School in Denver
called a mandatory, males-only assembly where students were forced to hear a
speech by Jamal X, a representative of the National of Islam, the group also
known as the Black Muslims.
NOI is headed the controversial Louis Farrakhan, an organizer of the
recent Million Man March held in Washington, D.C.
Jamal X had plenty to say during his lecture, mixing admonitions for
students to stay in school and avoid membership in gangs, with the peculiar
theological teachings of the Nation of Islam. Among his more suspicious
claims: white people in Europe "ate their dead and slept with animals," while
a thriving "black civilization" was busy constructing the pyramids of Egypt
and other wonders.
It was a mixed message; while students found Jamal's talk inspiring,
others questioned the propriety of having an all-males assembly. But the
issue went beyond just who was sitting in the audience: Margie Wait,
Colorado State Director for American Atheists, publically demanded an end to
"illegal assemblies in public schools which clearly violate separation of
state and church." School authorites, especially the unrepentant Montebello
principal, Ida Jones, should not be compelling ANY students to be a "captive
audience" forced to listen to religious proselytizing.
"The Nation of Islam," added Wait in a press release dated Feb. 18, "which
is a religion, has no more right to recruit followers in the public schools
during school time than the KKK."
But the controversy surrounding Black Muslim activities in Denver public
schools has not gone away. Fortunately, there are presently no more
mandatory, "men only" assemblies; but the Muslims are now seeking permits to
hold after-school rallies on school grounds. Yesterday, a federal judge
ruled that the Denver Public Schools violated the rights of Million Man March
organizers, including Nation of Islam members, when it refused to issue a
rally permit for George Washington High School. Judge Wiley Daniel said
"What happened was a prior restraint on free speech," and ordered the
district to rent the school to the rally organizers for next Monday, April
Local sources tell AANEWS that Denver Million Man March organizers are
disgruntled in their efforts to hold a related event, this one featuring
Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as the main speaker. Thus far, there
simply have not been enough people responding to appeals to join the Denver
event, and it may have to be moved to a smaller venue. Some Native American
and Hispanic groups have also withdrawn their support from a local march as
ANOTHER BOSNIA COVERUP?
While the U.S. Senate has announced plans to hold hearings which probe
covert arms sales to Bosnia, word of a related scandal possibly involving
American Intelligence agencies is breaking.
According to reports in the recent New York Review of Books, the Berlin
daily paper Tageszeitung and other sources, U.S. intelligence withheld
crucial information which could have averted Bosnian genocide directed
against "muslims" and other groups in the former Yugoslavia. That news comes
amidst reports that Iran has used the "Bosnian card" to entrench itself in
the regional conflict and promote its Islamic fundamentalist agenda.
Reports that the Iranian government has been funneling arms, including
Stinger missiles to the Muslims in Bosnia have been well-documented. Much of
the material aid, though, is administered by several hundred agents of the
Islamic Revolutionary Guards, and the Intelligence Ministry headed by Mullah
Fallahian. Observers note that this support to the Bosnian muslims is often
a way to "radicalize" that side in the civil war, and to further Islamic
The new scandal involves charges that U.S. Intelligence has failed to
share information with groups investigating human rights abuses including the
International Committee of the Red Cross. It now appears that the Central
Intelligence Agency, using U-2 photographs and other remote-sensing
information, had established a long list of concentration camps which were
used by Bosnian Serbs in their campaign of "ethnic cleansing" against their
former neighbors, including Muslims. An article in the current New York
Review of Books by Charles Lane and Thom Shanker makes the case that failure
to share information, including word about impending attacks, could have
contributed to the high death toll extracted by the Serbs. The genocide then
simply drove the Bosnian Muslims further into the orbit of the Tehran arms
Ironically, select Bosnian Muslims could well become targets for Iranian
agents should members of the Revolutionary Guards and other groups remain, or
become part of a brokered peace arrangement. Beginning in the early 1990's,
Fallahian's agents commenced a campaign of terror against dissident Iranians
living in Berlin and other European cities, who happened to be linked either
to the former regime of the deposed Shah, or the burgeoning
democratic-secular movement calling for the overthrow of the clerical
theocracy in Tehran. Intelligence Ministry death warrants are approved by
the Supreme National Security Council, chaired by President Rafsanjani and
Ali Khamenei, the "spiritual guide" to the government since the death of
Ayatollah Khomeni. The council's secretary, Parliamentary vice president
Hassan Rouhani, declared in a Tehran newspaper that the government "will not
hesitate to destroy the activities of counterrevolutionary groups abroad."
Targets are believed to include the National Council of Resistance of Iran
and human rights organizations working to institute secularism, democracy,
rights for women and other changes in that country.
How "radicalized" the Bosnian Muslims become remains to be seen. Many
people identified as "muslims" are, in fact, non-religious and secularists,
and have no use for religious fundamentalism. They have been a good target,
however, for Bosnian Serbs who embrace Orthodox Christianity. The religious
roots of the conflict go back decades, and with the possible exception of the
current Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, the Bosnian civil war ranks as one of the
bloodiest religious battles currently taking place.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Wednesday's edition of the Washington Times ("The Moonie Paper") reports
that Pat Buchanan won't be running as a third-party candidate for the
Presidency. Instead, the religious conservative promises to "begin a new
round of political advocacy designed to influence the GOP platform in advance
of the national convention." Even so, Buchanan called the Times story false
and an exaggeration.
He recently told followers in Missouri, "Bring the pitchforks, we're going
all the way to San Diego."
One impetus for Buchanan could be New York Governor George Pataki, who
earlier this week called for the Republicans to either soften or eliminate
the anti-abortion plank from the party platform.
"When they (voters) take another look at the Republican Party, I want them
to see an open, inclusive party and in the aftermath of some of the primary
rhetoric, the presidential primary, we have an obligation to speak out."
Even so, front runner Sen. Bob Dole says that he wants to retain the
anti-abortion plank, but says that opposition to abortion is not a "litmus
test." It is to Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition, however; they
continue to make it known to GOP honchos, including chairman Haley Barber,
that the "litmus test" stays, especially when it comes time to choose a Vice
Look for more breaks in the GOP facade, though, as convention time
approaches. Even "conservatives" like Pataki who preach lower taxes, fiscall
reform and the death penalty know that the party will go down in November if
it sticks to a "one issue", abortion-oriented campaign.
Ho, hum... the American Family Association and Rev. Donald Wildmon are at
it again. While civil liberties and various cyber groups battle in court to
overturn the infamous Communications Decency Act, AFA now insists that the
legislation isn't tough enough. Yesterday, they called for the Justice
Department to open a criminal investigation of CompuServe, charging that the
online service has violated anti-smut provisions of that law. The "Decency"
Act makes it a crime to transmit "indecent" material over computer lines in
such a way that children may view the material.
The law was written mostly by Sen. James Exon (D-Neb.), and incorporated
into the larger Telecommunications Bill enacted this past February. The AFA,
in a letter to Attorney General Janet Reno, said that CompuServe offers
"pornography and other sexually oriented materials...to its users, including
children. Specifically mentioned was an adult forum called Mac Glamour,
which offers color photos of naked women. This area warns users that they
are entering an adult section, as so many similar sites located on the world
Even with various parental controls which are offered by CompuServe,
though, American Family Association still isn't satisfied. They won't be
satiated until there is a final ban on all things "sinful" and "indecent."
Sounds like a job for the "Mutawah," the clerical police in Saudi Arabia
which do a similar job of rooting-out erotica, blasphemy and other alleged
We have a couple of updates on our story released earlier today about the
banning of gay student groups in Utah. For starters, gay and lesbian groups
are specifically targeted in the legislation, and received most of the
attention during yesterday's debate during the special session. Face it,
this is REALLY about homo's out there in playgrounds and schools just lurking
and waiting to "convert" Mormon youngsters to homosexuality -- right? But
other groups are also mentioned, including the Black Student Club, Students
Against Drunk Driving, the Utah Frisbee Club and something called the
Socialist Club. We now learn, though, that "approved" organizations in the
wisdom of Utah solons include the Cheerleading Club, Student Government, and
of course the Future Homemakers of America.
I can see it now...a close encounter with anarchy and social chaos. Thank
Jehovah that the legislature acted in the nick of time in order to stop those
mobs of Black, sober, socialist-oriented frisbee throwers from storming the
There's more irony to the story, of course. Just ten days before passing
the 'No Gays" legislation, representatives of several religious groups
including the Mormon Church participated in a "Religious Liberty" forum
sponsored by the State Department of Education.
It was called "a rare and important opportunity for leaders of education,
religion and business to come together to talk about the importance of
maintaining quality schools in the face of cultural and religious diversity."
The director of the state's "Three R's Project" (Rights, Responsibilities,
and Respect) said that there was interest in that program to "train public
school teachers and administrators in the religious liberty principles of the
Joining in the conference were leaders from the Catholic Diocese, Church
of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons), the Islamic Society, the
Episcopal Chuirch and the Calvary Baptist Church.
"Recent controversies in Utah about religion in the curriculum and student
clubs are a reminder of how questions of religion and values can deeply
divide communities...the time has come for a statewide program that helps
schools and communities to find common ground on religion and public schools
using First Amendment principles.:
All well and good, we say, and worthy of some support. But Atheists need
to point out that this is not simply a "religious liberty" question, or an
interpretation of "freedom of religion." It's also about freedom FROM
religion, and the right of Atheist children to not have to put up with
officially-sanctioned religious proselytizing.
Some separationist groups are making a fuss over how the Catholic
hierarchy seems skeptical about the new Catholic Alliance, "A Wholly Owned
Subsidiary of the Christian Coalition." While AANEWS applauds the efforts of
those who work on behalf of church-state separation and First Amendment
freedoms, we would suggest that attempts to "rehabilitate" Mother Church --
simply because it hesitates at letting a Protestant like Pat Robertson have
his share of the political pie -- are not necessarily wise.
Comes the Roman Catholic Cardinal of Los Angeles, one Roger Mahony, who
has warned HIS flock to keep the Catholic Alliance at a distance.
"I see in it a great deal of danger because it sounds as if it is
Catholic, and a lot of people I know are confused and think somehow the
church position supports it," said Mahoney in the Los Angeles Times.
Sorry, Roger, but the Catholic Coalition is as much of a boot-licker and
toady of the Vatican line as you are. We learn from the recent Church &
State that in March, two alliance officers traveled to Rome to join in on the
fun at the Pontifical Council for the Family. Director Maureern Roselli and
a Catholic Alliance board member named Pat Fagan even got to kiss the "Holy
Father's" ring. Big deal.
While rank-and-file Catholics, who have been resisting some of their own
church's dogmatic posturings for years (but just can't seem to kick the habit
and quit) may have some qualms with the Alliance, many don't. And Mahoney is
just griping over political turf. After all, earlier this week he afixed his
name to a letter sent to President Clinton protesting the decision to veto
the "partial birth abortion ban." The ban is a pet scheme of both the
Christian Coalition and the Catholic Alliance. As TW sees it, Mahony and
Robertson are just wrestling for the loyalty of sheep in different flocks.
So, we caution our fellow separationists. This turf war is no big deal.
Whether it's the Vatican or some "Catholic" appendage of Pat Robertson, it's
the same threat to civil liberties.
AANEWS is distributed by American Atheists, a nationwide movement founded by
Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the total, absolute
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