Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 19, 1996 nn n AA

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

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Fri, 19 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 19, 1996 from: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 22. 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 well. ******************* 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 fundamentalist interests. 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 pipeline. 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 Presidential candidate. 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 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 wide web. 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 ills! ******* 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 Capitol! ******************** 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 First Amendment." 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 separation of government and religion. For more information on American Atheists, send e-mail to: Please include your name, address and zip code. Additional background on this list may be obtained by mailing to:, and putting "info aanews" in the message body. You may forward, quote or reproduce this dispatch, provided that credit is given to American Atheists and aanews. Edited and written by Conrad Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank