Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 29, 1996 nn nn A

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Date: Mon, 29 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 29, 1996 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS 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 post-millennium politics. 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 Islam. *************** 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. *** ERRATUM... Today's ealier AANEWS dispatch was incorrectly identified as #24. Our apologies; it should have read "#25". On-Line Resources from AMERICAN ATHEISTS... For more information about American Atheists, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org. Be sure to include your name, address and zip code. American Atheist members are invited to participate in aachat, our moderated discussion group about Atheism, church-state separation, AA activities and related topics. For information, send e-mail to: aachat@atheists.org, and include your name and mailing address. You may forward, re-print or quote from these dispatches, provided that credit is given to American Atheists and aanews. Coming soon ~~ the American Atheists site on the world wide web. Watch this space for further information! ******* AANEWS is a service of 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 information about this list, send e-mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org; be sure to put "info aanews" in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.

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