Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 29, 1996 nn nn A
Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 29, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#26 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 4/29/96
In This Edition...
* TheistWatch Short Shots (Laugh and Learn!)
* Erratum (A fancy term for "goofbox")
* AA Media Appearance scheduled this evening...
* On-Line Resources from American Atheists
Today's "Washington For Jesus" rally may be turning out to be a bit of
a dud. Earlier this week, AANEWS told you that organizers expected that "an
estimated 250,000 Christians from around the USA" would turn out for the
religious shindig. The round of speeches, music and other events is being
dubbed a "Christian Woodstock," but the similarity seems to end there. Early
news reports say that only about 10,000 are turning out for the event.
Former "Black Sabbath" heavy metal rock performer and rally host Jeff
Fenholt said "These teens will tackle major issues such as AIDS, racism, drug
addiction, abortion and homosexuality."
"Tackling the issues", though, is mostly listening to feel-good music, and
lectures from religious fundies like Jerry Falwell of the now-defunct Moral
Majority. Tomorrow, a "mock trial of society's problems" will be held.
Wonder who get's to speak out for the "other side" -- maybe a true Devil's
Advocate is needed.
With the annual Haj now over, Muslim legislators in the middle east are
off on another round of enforcing the Koran. Yesterday, the Iranian
parliament banned smoking in public places, although the Speaker of that
not-so-august body warned that the new law could lead to fights in tea
houses. (What ARE those guys smoking?) In Mecca, Islamic clerics called for
tough measures to deal with Israel, Western media, and groups seeking
equality for women. Sheik Abdul-Rahman insisted that "What is right will
always be right, what is infidelity will always be infidelity."
A growing area of interest for politicized Christian activists is the
"persecution" which their co-believers suffer in other countries throughout
the world which happen to have a different, "established" religion.
Watergate insider Charles Colson (who "found Jesus" while doing time for his
role in the Nixon cover-up) recently lamented the status of Christians in
places like Egypt, Pakistan, Iran and elsewhere. It sounds, though, like a
good argument to NOT have an official religion, something which Colson and
his religious-right pals should pay attention to.
For instance, in Saudi Arabia, the State offers up to $8,000 for
information about un-approved religious services, then turns loose the
notorious "Mutawah" or clerical cops. Pakistan outlaws Christian
proselytizing through a blasphemy law that prohibits speaking out against the
Prophet Muhammed; that offense is punishable by death. In Sudan, a favorite
of Nation of Islam tough-guy Louis Farrakhan, it is against the law to
convert to Christianity, and doing so can lead one to be sold into slavery.
There are reports that Christian men are being crucified, and there have
been widespread rape-fests of women and young girls, who are then sold into
slavery or concubinage.
All of this is detestable, of course, but many U.S. religious groups must
share part of the blame. Many of the offending countries are located in the
"10-40 Window," a term coined by American evangelicals to describe the
geographical location of nations which have few, if any Christians. Hundreds
of millions of dollars annually is spent in "evangelizing" these societies.
Everyone should be free to join or reject any religious belief, we say;
but Christians haven't exactly been paragons of virtue when it comes to
toleration of "other" religions, or people who profess no religion at all.
Prior to the American Revolution, the colonies each had an "established",
official, tax-supported church which one had to join in order to vote, own
property, or exercise other rights. One of the first tasks of the Revolution
was to "dis-establish" these official cults; and, of course, religious
leaders warned of the dire consequences of such an event.
The REAL test of human rights -- here, the middle east, and throughout the
world -- is whether belief and un-belief are accorded the same status.
And will that ever happen? Could such tolerance somehow come out of the
current clash between militant Christian and Islamic religious beliefs?
Probably not. Recently in Colorado Springs, a meeting ofrepresentatives
from about 75 Christian groups met at the "Missionaries To Muslims"
conference. One speaker, Patrick Sookhedo of the Institute for the Study of
Islam and Christianity, denounced what he termed the "crusade mentality
whereby we see Muslims as enemies." Even so, according to Christianity Today,
"Nobody at the conferences suggested Christians and Muslims ignore their
differences and embrace in a cozy, universalistic hug..."
The conference noted that Islam is now the majority cult in more than
fifty countries. Indeed, some political analysts now warn that with the
disintegration of Communism, the confrontation between the rise of secular
states and Islamic fundamentalism may become the new "flash point" of
In the meantime, groups like the National Association of Evangelicals are
urging President Clinton to intervene on their behalf, and use foreign policy
to end what they term "reigns of terror initiated by authorities who feel
threatened by Christian faith and worship." Ironically, the list of
suggestions to Clinton reads like a checklist for civil liberties that are to
be exercised elsewhere, but not always in the United States. One group is
planning the use of satellite television broadcasts to beam evangelical
messages into countries in Africa and the middle east; direct satellite
broadcasts, though, have met with stiff opposition from many Third World
nations which fear that their "cultural institutions" will be underminded.
(Ah, were these evangelicals as enthusiastic about opposing the restrictive
"Communications Decency Act" in their own country!).
But perhaps the most telling statistic from the conference was raised by
one veteran of evangelical efforts in Muslim countries. He cited evidence
that up to 90% of Muslims who convert to Christianity ultimately return to
AND FOR LATE NIGHT VIEWERS...
Can't sleep? Bored with Letterman? Can't stand another showing of
"Saturday Night Fever" on your VCR?
There's hope yet. Tonight, American Atheists Media Representative Ron
Barrier will be appearing on CNBC-TV between 11 p.m. and 12 midnight. He'll
be discussing today's "Christian Woodstock" with representatives of that
religious group. Check it out if you get CNBC on your cable system and
didn't have decaf at dinner time.
Today's ealier AANEWS dispatch was incorrectly identified as #24. Our
apologies; it should have read "#25".
On-Line Resources from AMERICAN ATHEISTS...
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