Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 24, 1996 nn nn A

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Date: Wed, 24 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 24, 1996 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnnn #23 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 4/24/96 In this edition... -- "Porno Christ" is nailed...again -- Aum Guru; would YOU buy used bathwater from this man? -- "Decency" ban would boot naked Demi off the web. -- TheistWatch PHILIPPINE ''CHRIST'' IS REALLY PORNO ACTOR IN JAPANESE S&M FILMS Every year, Christians from across the world flock to the town of San Fernando in the Philippines for a round of "Holy Week" events which culminate in a gruesome ceremony depicting the alleged crucifixion of Jesus Christ. The more devout become religious celebrities if they volunteer to literally be crucified. Actors dressed up to resemble Roman Centurions actually drive spikes into the hands (and sometimes the feed) of the willing victims, who are then hoisted aloft for a few minutes while the flock of on-lookers wails and prays. Although the Philippines are nearly 80% Christian, with the bulk of this group belonging to the Catholic Church, ecclesiastical authorities are ambivalent about the San Fernando ritual. Officially, the church encourages masses, prayers and other religious events; but the San Fernando crucifixions have become the biggest box office draw for local churches and peddlers of religious kitsch. Now, a Japanese publication known as The Weekly Post has revealed an embarrassing piece of news; of the 13 men nailed in the recent Easter crucifixion, Shinichiro Kaneko, is "an actor in sadistic porno films" and participated "because he was filming an adult video." News agencies throughout the world mentioned Kaneko in their original stories about the San Fernando crucifixions, how he "wailed in agony" as the phoney "Roman Centurions" drove four-inch nails through his palms, and how he was hoisted into the air for voyeuristic public consumption. The Post adds: "Kaneko carried the cross to the top of the hill and the ceremony started around 12:30 p.m. He lied on the cross and his hands were nailed, he screamed because of the pain. The scene was televised in Japan since he was the first Japanese who participated in the event. According to his explanation, the reason for his participation was to heal the cancer his brother was suffering from through his own ordeal on the cross. "However, it was found to be a complete lie..." ************* AUM CULT LEADER ON TRIAL: ECHOED RELIGIOUS CONSPIRACY THEORIES Japan's version of the "Trial of the Century" has begun, with thousands of people lining up for seats in the prosecution of Aum "Supreme Truth" leader Shoko Asahara. The 41-year old cult leader is charged with orchestrating the Sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway in March, 1995, and a string of other crimes including kidnapping and murder. Yesterday, the self-proclaimed messiah sat silently through most of the proceedings; when the names of those injured and killed in the gas attack were read, Asahara seemed bored; he refused to answer questions about his mental competency. More information is being made public about the group known as Aum Shinrikyo, which embraced a blending of Buddhist, Christian, Hindu and new age mysticism. * Asahara, writing in the cult's publication Vajrayana Sacca, launched an attack on "international Jews" and "freemasons" who supposedly operated a "world shadow government." "On behalf of the earth's 3.5 billion people, (we) formally declare war...Japanese awake! The enemy's plot has long since torn our lives to shreds." The 95-page rant titled "Manual of Fear" quoted from such bogus sources as "Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion," and charged Jews with trying to weaken the gentile ethnic stock and turn non-jews into "cattle." * There are perculiar ideological links to far-right, Christian Identity groups in the United States, which use many of the same materials promoted by the Aum sect. Included are the names of two individuals listed in the "Manual of Fear", Masami Uno and Hirose Takashi; the former published a Japanese edition of "New American Review", the newsletter of the far-right, Washington-based group Liberty Lobby. Founded by veteran nationalist, anti-semite Willis Carto, Liberty Lobby promotes "revisionist" historical groups, and is considered a friendly mouthpiece for Identity-militia linked figures including James "Bo" Gritz. * Aum writings reflect a resurgent mystical, conspiracy-oriented, anti-internationalist bias; when the sect's "Minister of Science and Technology" was stabbed by a disgruntled ex-member, Aum propagandists blamed "Jewish Japanese" who belonged to a "black aristocracy." On the hit list were former Japanese prime minister Nakasone Yasuhiro and U.N. Envoys Akashi Yasushi and Ogata Sadako. A recent posting about the Aum cult by the Simon Wiesenthal Center quotes David Goodman, Professor at the University of Illinois: "The taint of internationalism is what links these individuals together as "Jews" in Aum's mind...If the Jews were plotting to exterminate three billion people in the next five years, and if "Jews" were actually internationalized Japanese, then a preemptive strike against a high concentration of these "Jews" in the heart of Tokyo's cosmopolitan business district makes a kind of perverse sense." * Asahara's own behavior followed closely the "cult model" of charismatic, dominating sect leaders. He sold his bathwater to his followers for high sums of money, so they could actually drink it and "be close to the Master." He surrounded himself with nubile, young women, and is known to have produced five children with his assorted mistresses. And according to one "kept woman," Akiko Komiya, the blind guru declared once "I am the best sex technician in my cult." There are confirmed reports that the leader sexually abused females in the group, including the young daughters of cult members. Asahara's sperm was, like his used bathwater, considered a holy substance, and was eagerly sought by followers. Accelerating the Doomsday Time Table Asahara predicted the end of the world for some period between 1997 and the year 2000. It is thought that the Sarin gas attacks in the Tokyo subway last year were designed to speed-up the apocalyptic schedule; the Aum Shinrikyo had even established its own "shadow government" to take over the planet following the expected global catastrophe which Asahara had prognosticated. 90% of the human race was expected to die, and the survivors would live under an "enlighted dictatorship" administered by the Aum sect. It didn't happen, of course, and following the initial Sarin attacks, Japanese authorities quickly raided dozens of cult-compounds throughout the country, seizing tons of chemicals and carting away documents and other incriminating evidence. Former Aum followers are now "going public" and providing more information about the workings of the cult, but at least 600 cult members remain active, and now work at jobs raising money for the legal defense of their guru. Another 100 still live in the cult's remaining compound. The significance of the Aum's apocalyptic, mystical and racist philosophy is not lost on observers who are following the growing trend of "millennialist" fervor. Certain themes of Aum propaganda sound remarkably similar to other apocalyptic, doomsday-type movements which incorporate religious mysticism and Manichean conspiracy theories into their ideologies. Science fiction writer James Oberg predicts that between now and the year 2,000, society may see what he describes as a "synergystic climb toward panic," as apocalyptic religious and theo-political scenarios become even more in vogue. ********** "DECENCY'' AGENT: DILDOS ARE OK, BUT DEMI MOORE A NO-NO When religious groups like the Christian Coalition and the American Family Association began beating the drums on behalf of the "Communications Decency Act," odds are that they had little idea of some of the problems which would arise. The act was passed and signed into law by President Clinton as part of a larger Telecommunications Reform bill, and has already been challenged in court by a coalition of civil liberties and cyber-rights organizations. And last week, the absurdity of the new legislation became quite clear when a Federal "decency" agent who investigates computer-based crimes began to delineate what is and is not permitted in cyberspace. Agent Howard Schmidt admitted that most of the "explicit images" children might find in cyberspace would be caught by the "blocking" software now on the market. But some might slip by -- or, worthwhile material may inevitably be censored. Schmidt then turned to specifics, and declared that he would not prosecute an on-line image showing how to put a condom on an erect penis or dildo. But the catchy cover of Vanity Fair Magazine which depicted a very naked and very pregnant Demi Moore WAS obscene under the new act. Said Schmidt: the "More Demi Moore" cover was "for fun, not education" and might be offensive in some communities. We just have to ask: what does Agent Schmidt think a condom is for, anyway? ******************** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Divorce is bad enough these days with outrageous attorney fees and nasy legal battles over things like child custody. But in England, a Jewish couple -- Rachel and Moses David -- just made things a whole lot more complex. Seems that Mrs. David, a sales rep for high-tech medical gear, has gotten an official order from the British Rabbinate against her husband; until hubby Moses (a computer programmer) grants her a religious divorce, no good Jew may speak to him or even come within 18-feet of him. Unfortunately, this antiquated religious law seems to be attracting support from certain women's groups. Associated Press notes that some organizations are "increasingly pressuring religious authorities to do more to help women like Mrs. David." A New York Rabbi noted "It's having a powerful effect. It's depriving him of his social freedom, and he's sensitive to that." *************** This news is a bit overdue, but it nevertheless deserves mention. Up in Illinois, Atheist activist Rob Sherman is proceeding in his efforts to stop the plans of the Elgin City Council to aware the local YMCA and YWCA thousands of dollars in government grants. Sherman insists that "Part of the Y's mission statement is to aid in the development of Christian values," which he says is something which should not be done with tax dollars. At stake is close to $1,500,000 in Community Development Block Grants, which would be used to repair the YMCA-YWCA facilities. Sherman notes that the Constitution of the State of Illinois prohibits government from assisting religious organizations of any kind. *** On Monday, the Christian Coalition held a press conference offering a $25,000 reward to anyone "who can provide information that would expose a link or a pattern of racial motivation in the church arsons." The reference is to a string of nearly two dozen fires which have occured since January, 1995 involving black churches. The Coalition is also demanding official Senate hearings to look into the matter, and wants Attorney General Janet Reno to "take bold steps to restore public confidence in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms." "We will not rest until those responsible for these senseless acts of racial terrorism are arrested and punished," declared CC head-honcho Ralph Reed. It all sounds pretty positive and sincere, doesn't it? Violence is violence even when directed against people and institutions we disagree with. But it appears to this observer anyway that the righteous wrath of the Coalition is, well, a bit late and bit selective and self-serving. I don't recall seeing the Christian Coalition's allies in government being on the front lines of the civil rights struggle; I keep thinking of arch-segregationist types like Jesse Helms, who thinks that a month-old fetus in the womb should have more rights than a black person riding a bus or applying for a job. And the whole "warm and fuzzy" outreach to American blacks by the Coalition and other mostly-white religious outfits like Promise Keepers is a bit suspicious. Could it have anything to do with a turf war? After all, the fastest growing religious group in the U.S., especially among blacks, happens to be Islam; Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan is attracting a good share of the black religious market segment. What better time start to start a Christianized-publicity drive? Besides, a lot of blacks happen to believe that the social and political agenda of the Christian Coalition really isn't designed to help blacks, poor people, women and other groups. It's still mostly a good, white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant, guy kinda' thing. And one wonders if Ralph Reed would care to say anything about the religious terrorism and violence directed at abortion clinics and individuals who provide those services. ************* AANEWS and TW have warned readers about two pieces of legislation now making their way through Congress. The Religious Equality Amendment would sneak prayer and religious ritual back into public schools; school boards could prohibit even the teaching of evolution -- after all, it's a "religious freedom" issue, right? And the mis-named Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act is, well, just another excuse for spanking the devil out of rebellious kids, enforcing "bible discipline" in home, and keeping agencies on the hunt for child-abuse at a safe distance. Next time you hear anything about these legislative peccadillos, remember the case of Loyd and Chrintina Hays, and their deceased 7-year old son, Tony. The parents are members of a religious outfit called Church of the First Born which practices so-called "faith healing." Loyd has just been found guilty in an Albany, Oregon court of criminally negligent homicide; he decided to pray over son Tony, who was suffering from a treatable form of leukenmia, rather than seek real medical help. USA TODAY noted that "His mother, Christina, was acquitted because jurors believer her husband ruled the home." The Hays case typifies the growing number of court cases involving parents who withhold medical treatment from children for religious reasons. Pass a "Religious Equality Amendment," many observers warn, and this practice will be "protected" by law. Faith healing is already a comeback in fringe Christian and New Age sects. Even the Pope knows better than this; he breaks a leg bone, he at least calls the doctor! ******************* Well, it's never too late. Earlier, this AANEWS correspondent chuckled over the wrenching angst suffered by Methodists and other mainline religious types who debate issues which Atheists long ago resolved, or found fit to ignore. Case in point: the United Methodist Church, the nation's third largest religious denomination with 8.5 million believers. At its annual conference in Denver, Colorado, some 3,000 reform issues were being debated including a proposal to stop condemning homosexuality as "incompatible with Christian teaching," and even allow the ordination of gay priests. We should point out, of course, that just because a priest happens to be gay doesn't mean that the mumbo-jumbo he's muttering up at the altar makes any more sense than it would coming from a heterosexual, married priest. Is that really social progress? We think not. But the Methodists have caught up with the times in at least one area. On Monday, they officially denounced the actions of a Methodist "lay preacher" who back in 1864 led a massacre of over 150 Native Americans at Sand Creek, Colorado. We're told that about 1,000 delegates at the annual conference passed the resolution "with little dissent." (Hey, who are THOSE folks?) An Oklahoma pastor who introduced the motion that "I think offering the hand of reconcilliation will go a long way." It's all the fad, major religious groups trying to santize disgusting and embarrassing parts of their history by passing syrupy-sounding resolutions and putting out a "hand of reconcilliation" to a bunch of dead victims. Last June, the Southern Baptists finally apologized for their support of slaveocracy. In 1994, the Evangelical Lutheran Church issued a declaration rejecting the anti-semitic rantings of their founder, Martin Luther. Catholics just got around to apologizing for the persecution of Galileo, who insisted that we go around the sun. Great. Now that apologies have been made, we can assume that all said and done from here on will be just, sensible and proper. Right? ************* It's pretty obvious what the Christian Coalition and the U.S. Catholic Conference are up to when it comes to abortion. Last night, AANEWS mentioned the hearings which began earlier this week to "scrutinize" the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade which gave women some semblance of control over their own bodies. Leading this circus is our old pal Rep. Charles Canady, one of the movers-and-shakers behind such exemplars of legislative wisdom as the Religious Equality Amendment, which in so many words simply tells the First Amendment to the Constitution to, well, "take a hike." One Representative not playing along with the Canady hearings is Pat Schroeder, who issued the following statement about her anti-abortion foes. "Their master plan...culminates in the November election when after months of a public education campaign funded by the Christian Coalition and the U.S. Catholic Conference...anti-choice republicans will use this issue to elect enough members of the House and Senate to overturn the high court ruling." Schroeder noted that the hearings were a stunt to "undermine the public's consistent and over-whelming support for Roe vs. Wade." ********************** We should begin a new tradition; we should have an annual prize for those who do the most to undermine state-church separation, and perhaps dub it the "Wall Buster Award" in an obvious reference to Thomas Jefferson. My candidate for this year's award, so far, goes to Colorado governor Roy Romer. American Atheists State Director Margie Wait writes that Romer "wants every newborn in Colorado to be visited in the home by volunteers from the churches to instruct and guide new mothers in child care techniques." The scheme is called "Bright Beginnings"; churches provide the support network, and no doubt sooner or later will be getting tax money for the administration of this program. Wait is skeptical, and says "Does a religious person know more about newborn care than a non-religious person? Wouldn't it be more logical to enlist the help of the medical community, say nursing assistants, than to call upon the religious community?" But the guv' cites "deteriorating culture, rife with crime, violence and aimless youth" as the reason why snoopy church members should make the rounds to visit newborns. He also wants to add features to the "Bright Beginnings' program later on, including a "mentor" for each family. Wait adds: "Romer is definitely taking the old adage about giving the pries a child until they are six or seven, and he'll have them for life. The whole idea of this program smacks of the court sentencing a drunken driver to Alcoholics Anonymous or other religious-based rehab programs." ********* On-Line Resources from AMERICAN ATHEISTS... * Members of AMERICAN ATHEISTS can participate in aachat, our newsgroup focusing on Atheism, state-church separation, AA activities and related issues. Send mail to: aachat@atheists.org. Please include your name and mailing address. * To learn more information about AMERICAN ATHEISTS, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. * Coming soon, the AMERICAN ATHEISTS site on the world wide web! ******************** 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 additional background on this list, send e-mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org , and put "info aanews" in the body of the message. Edited and written by Conrad Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.

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