Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 7, 1996 nn nn AANEW
Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 7, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#33 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/7/96
PRAYER IN STATE LEGISLATURE LEADS TO WALKOUT
A prayer in the Colorado State legislature Monday lead to a walk out in
protest of remarks asking "for God's forgiveness for abortion, homosexuality
and 'multiculturalism'," according to the Rocky Mountain News. The
invokation was delivered by Rep. Mark Paschall, who frequently votes for
Christian-right causes. He began by quoting bible verses, and then said "We
have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle. We have
developed legal plunder into an art and called it social justice. We have
killed our unborn and called it expedient, compassionate choice."
Several legislators walked out, among them Rep. Marcy Morrison, who
described the prayer as "offensive." Another state representative charged
that Paschall had "deliberately offended" Jewish legislators with his prayer.
But Paschall countered, saying "This was a prayer between me and my God.
If my God is not their God, then so be it."
Legislators shouldn't be complaining, though, since the morning
legislative prayer is a tradition. It is often delivered by local clergy.
Rep. Morrison said "We give a letter to all ministers reminding them before
they give prayers in the House chamber that this is an ecumenical group."
She said that Paschall's invokation "flies in the face of tradition."
Last month, the first Muslim prayer in the history of the Colorado House
Unfortunately, this current flap does not challenge the principle of
having prayers and other religious exercises in official government meetings
or proceedings. Legal attempts to end such practices have been unsuccessful;
prayer advocates often term such rituals a historical tradition, or even say
that the prayer has no religious purpose but instead creates an aura of
solemnity for the participants. First Amendment advocates, however, insist
that prayer of any kind -- including the ones delivered in the Colorado
legislature -- have no place in government, and constitute an affront to the
rights of Atheists and others.
IRANIAN FUNDAMENTALISTS ATTACK MOVIEGOERS
In Tehran, a gang of Islamic militants stormed a movie theater over the
weekend, beating patrons and destroying video games and furniture.
On Sunday, about one hundred members of the Hizbollah, or Party of God,
gathered outside of the Qods Cinema which was showing a comedy titled
"Present from India." About fifty of the fundamentalists, mostly young
males, then attacked the front of the theater, beating movie goers and the
business manager, and shouting "God is Great!" Among the victims was a
This attack follows a wave of similar incidents carried out by Islamic
hard-line groups who object to the influences of liberalized, western
culture. According to witnesses, the Hizbollah members were angry that the
movie included a happy wedding scene which happened to take place during the
8-year Iran-Iraq war; the fundamentalists deemed the movie "un-Islamic."
Government censors had already cut four minutes from the studio version of
"Present from India." After the attacks on Sunday, the theater management
decided to stop all showing of the film.
Iranian fundamentalists have been stepping up their campaign to "cleanse"
the country from sinful, un-Islamic or secular influences. Last week, Muslim
supporters attacked a mixed-sex group of cyclists after religious leaders
demanded that women not bicycle in public because it was "provocative and
indecent." And late last month, members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards
attacks a private party where guests were supporting the educational
achievements of two children in a family; according to reports from the
National Council of Resistance of Iran, 40 government agents undertook the
raid, and detained all of the guests for a full day without food or water.
There are other indications that Iranian fundamentalists are stepping up
their campaign to counter any possible liberalization in that country's
* On April 21, the head of Iran's Judicial Ministry, Mohammad Yazdi, said
that the fatwa or religious death edict against novelist Salman Rushdie "will
be carried out some day," adding that "The Rushdie problem will only be
resolved through implementing the fatwa. We (Iran) cannot solve this problem
through negotiations or with pressures by some Western countries."
* On April 19, the speaker of the Iranian parliament or Majlis, affirmed
his support for the death edict, declaring that "he regrets that Rushdie is
* Hizbollah members converged on the offices of the official government
news agency, IRNA, and warned employees inside over bullhorns against any
"disregard for the revolution's values and supporting of liberals."
CHURCHES PROTEST RESCINDING OF ANTI-GAY RESOLUTION
It was standing room only last night, as over 300 people packed the Wayne
County, Georgia courtroom to protest a move by officials to rescind a
2-year-old homophobic resolution which threatened local participation in the
Olympic torch marathon.
Commissioners vote 3-2 to overturn the measure, despite heavy pressure
from local churches and religious groups. Most of the spectators carried
orange signs urging officials to "Keep the Pro-Family Resolution." A pastor
from the local Baptist Church criticized an anti-resolution speaker, saying
"I'm upset that one person can come and dictate to our Wayne County
commissioners what is right and what is wrong for Wayne County." The Rev.
Jack lee added, "We feel like the stand for the truth and family values is
more important than a flame coming through our town for just a day."
Opponents of the resolution worried that the anti-gay statement might
jeopardize the community's participation in the Olympic flame torch run. A
similar homophobic resolution in Cobb County, a suburb of Atlanta, apparently
prompted Olympic officials to remove that area from the list of counties to
be visited by the torch.
There's all manner of squawking from religious-right types about the
Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act which, insist advocates, will allow
parents to raise their kids sans the "interference" of government agencies.
What the Act will REALLY do, though, is simply give the green light to
religious brainwashing, whipping, beating and other forms of "bible-based
discipline," and keep victimized kids ignorant of things like sex, evolution,
and the heliocentric nature of the solar system.
But laws which create new "rights" -- in this case for retro, religious
parents -- turn out to be a double-edged sword. Take the Michigan couple who
is now on trial, charged with the crimes actually carried out by their
16-year-old son. The couple face fines and liabilities of over $27,000
because of their kid's crime spree, including burglary and drug dealing.
They insist that they "couldn't control their son."
Maybe the "Parental Rights" crowd should take a second look at their
ill-considered proposal. True, they get to ram all sorts of senseless
religious propaganda down their offspring's throats; but they may also end up
paying for the bills when rebellious teens find a way to get even.
Almost makes me wish this law would pass!
Hey, together again! With people flocking to see the "Holy Coat"
ostensibly worn by Jesus Christ, or perhaps images of the Virgin Mary
appearing in everything from tortillas to oil slicks, we'll, there's no end
to the possibilities for religious kitsch. So, your humble correspondent was
not the least bit shocked upon learning that in Hungary, bones from lovers
dead for nearly 9 centuries have been re-united in a ceremony of "deep
religious and national significance," according to Reuter news service.
The arm bone from Queen Gisela, who died back in 1038, was brough to
Hungary last Friday from a tomb in Germany where it had spent the past 900
years. During an open-air mass, the relic was joined with the hand of King
Istvan, Gisela's late ex. The hand has been used to lead religious
processions in Budapest every August 20, which marks the founding of the
Kingdom of Hungary.
Who came up with the hand-bone-connected-to-the-arm-bone th'ang? Back in
January, Archbishop Jozsef Szendi wrote to Bishop Franx Xaver Eder, who has
custody of the dead king's hand. The Archbishop thought it would be right
and proper -- and probably good PR -- to have the hand next to a relic from
the queen. King Istvan also does double-duty in the church pantheon as Saint
This sort of thing didn't go on under the old Communist regime, of course,
which was too busy orchestrating its own gaudy parades, marches and
mass-events. But the mass-mass attracted clergy from throughout the area, as
well as Otto Hapsburg, son of the last king, Karoly, who got the boot in
There's more than just religious kitsch and sentimentality going on here,
of course. There are political factions throughout eastern Europe that very
much wish to restore the old monarchal systems, albeit with "constitutional
restrictions." In the former Soviet Union, there is even a growing Czarist
movement to bring back the old Romanov dynasty. Churches in that part of the
world have often nuzzled-up to autocrats.
But there is also renewed emphasis within the Catholic Church to maintain
strong ecclesiastical influence in public life. Bishops from throughout
Central and Eastern Europe have just completed a series of meetings in Warsaw
in preparation for an upcoming gathering in Rome. A Polish prelate declared
that "The church wants to be present in public life and wants to influence
Well, we were afraid of that. And in the case of Hungary, it seems that
the church will gladly reach out to anyone, including the dead, who happens
to offer a hand.
One Man's Opinion...
SURPRISED BY MARGE SCHOTT? YOU'LL JUST LOVE MARTIN LUTHER !
Marge Schott, the brusque loudmouth owner of the Cincinnat Reds, has done
it again. Recall her 1993 remark that referred to some of her black
players as her "million-dollar niggers." Then there was statement that she
felt "cheated" after the Reds opening day game was called off, when umpire
John McSherry collapsed and died at home plate following a heart attack.
Now, Schott has offended civil rights groups for her statement that Adolph
Hitler "was good in the beginning but he went too far."
"When he came in, he was good," Schott said of the Nazi leader during an
interview with ESPN. "They (the Nazis) built tremendous highways and got
all the factories going. He went nuts, he went berserk. I think his own
generals tried to kill him, didn't they? Everybody knows he was good at the
beginning but he just went too far."
Some fans may find Schotts admiration for the nazi public-works spirit a
bit misplaced, especially after the Grand Dame of the Diamond undercut any
efforts to build a new stadium. And they definitely question her sense of
history. Hitler's blueprint for the conquest of Europe and "special
treatment" of Jews, gypsies, political dissidents and other inferior types
was thoroughly explained in the 1924 edition of "Mein Kampf." No, Marge, go
back to school and learn a few things about recent history. "Everybody" does
not now, and did not back then, think that Hitler was "good at the
There's all sorts of outrage against Schott, including calls for her to
get the boot from the Baseball Owner's Boy's Club, where she resides as a
token member. Maybe the best comment on this sordid affair came from
Cincinnati radio talk-show jock Rob Ervin, who told USA TODAY that "If Marge
didn't own a team, she would just be an eccentric old lady who lives at the
end of the street and shoots a shotgun full of sugar at the neighbor's cat
and won't give the kids their ball back when it goes into her yard."
But talking about Marge Schott and the well-deserved public lashing she's
getting brings up a far more influential fellow named Martin Luther.
The Lutheran Church in America selectively disavows portions of their
founder's writings which it conveniently finds offensive; Garrison Keillor
even jokes about the Lutheran presence in Lake Woebegone -- a staid, somewhat
dour and reserved congregation. But Martin Luther enjoys far, far more
influence throughout the world than Marge Schott ever will. If we're going
to give Marge a well-deserved fine, dressing down, or even the heave-ho from
the front office, out of fairness we should ask similar treatment for the
public image of Martin Luther.
There's Peter F. Wiener's title description of Luther as "Hitler's
Spiritual Ancestor." Luther was a neurotic, sexually-repressed,
psychologically mangled fanatic who raved against Jews, bodilly functions,
"filth and obscenity, and called the human faculty of Reason "the devil's
"By nature and manner of being she (Reason) is a noxious whore; she is a
prostitute, the Devil's appointed whore; whore eaten by scab and leprosy who
ought to be trodden under foot and destroyed, she and her wisdom...Throw dung
in her face to make her ugly. She is and she ought to be drowned in
Luther didn't have kind words for Jews, either, which is perhaps why his
Lutheran doctrines resonated for centuries in the Germanic "Kultur" and its
climate of authoritarianism.
"The Jews are malignant snakes and imps," wrote Luther.
"Whoever would like to cherish such adders and puny devils -- who are the
worst enemies of Christ and us all all -- to befriend them and to do them
honour simply in order to be cheated, plundered, robbed, disgraced, and
forced to howl and curse and suffer every kind of evil, to him I would
commend the Jews. And if this is not enough, let him tell the Jews to use
his mouth as a privy, or else crawl into the Jew's hind parts, and there
worship the holy thing, so as afterwards to be able to boast of having been
merciful, and of having helped the Devil and his progeny to blaspheme our
Luther often spoke of the "damned Jews," exhorting his followers "Never
ought a Christian to eat or drink with a Jew." And the Chosen People weren't
worth saving, at least for this life anyway.
"If I had to baptise a Jew, I would take him to the bridge of the Elbe,
hang a stone around his neck and push him over with the words 'I baptise thee
in the name of Abraham'."
There's lots more of this from the pages of "Martin Luther: Hitler's
Spiritual Ancestor." (1985, Gustav Broukal Press). No doubt were Luther
alive today, possibly as a PR man for Marge Schott, we'd all find what he had
to say thoroughly distasteful, ignorant, sick and disgusting.
In Germany, of course, Luther's teachings underpinned the National
Socialist ideology, and fueled the incipient anti-semitism which Hitler and
his fellow thugs merely capitalized on. Germans were hearings rants against
Jews from their pulpits long before the Fuhrer stepped out onto the steps of
the Reich Chancellery building. And scholars like Dr. Oscar Levy, or Prof.
J.B Bury ("History of Freedom of Thought") note that Luther's "Reformation"
marked a setback for the progressive cultural changes which came out of the
Renaissance. Indeed, Levy insists that the "Protestant Reformation" was
really "a malediction upon art, poetry, beauty, knowledge, as well as upon
greatness of heart, mind, will and deed."
Modern day Lutherans, of course, at least the ones in the United States,
like to disavow the disgusting and wretched rantings of their Founder. Like
many contemporary religionists, they are selective in what they choose from
"the good book," or history, or their own tradition. We've even got warm and
fuzzy religious liberal types "re-writing" the New and Old Testament,
excising offending passages, removing "sexist" or "homophobic" references.
In my book, they are as guilty of selective historical revisionism as are
the anti-holocaust writers who say that the nazi's murdered only a few
hundred thousand Jews.
Some people are defending Marge Schott, insisting that she is quoted out
of context, or that she just has a proclivity for putting her foot in her
mouth. Cincinnati fans certainly have just cause to feel a bit embarrassed
and shocked. Marge might be a closet racist who can't resist openning the
door once in a while; or maybe she's just a bumbling, old lady like the
cranky hag living at the end of the block, who cannot seem to keep her brain
focused and her yap closed.
Maybe. But I wouldn't name a religion after her.
From The LISTMASTER...
Did this column anger you? Well, this isn't some "good news only" type of
service. The above quotes WERE taken from the both the Weimar and Erlangen
edition of Luther's works. Peter Wiener's book, "Martin Luther: Hitler's
Spiritual Ancestor" is just one of many, thought-provoking offerings from
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Finally, a typographical note: news accounts often refer to both
"Hezbollah" and "Hizbollah." Different spelling, same fanatics.
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