Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 7, 1996 nn nn AANEW

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Date: Tue, 7 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 7, 1996 from: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 was delivered. 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 pregnant woman. 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. Hardliners Restless There are other indications that Iranian fundamentalists are stepping up their campaign to counter any possible liberalization in that country's "Islamic Revolution." * 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 still alive." * 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. **************** THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS 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 Istvan. 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 1918. 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 public life." 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 beginning." 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." Maybe so. 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 greatest whore." "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 baptism..." 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 deal Lord." 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 American Atheist Press. If you would like to receive a catalogue, send e-mail to: , and put your name and mailing address in the message body. The growth of the Internet does not mean that everyone with an e-mail address is free to receive outside news. Recently, a few dispatches have been "bounced" to us by the nefarious Mailer Daemon; your respective companies, businesses or educational/research institutions are not allowing mail to flow freely. We suggest that those in this dilemma look into getting a personal ISP account for use at home. That way, you won't miss a single AANEWS dispatch! Finally, a typographical note: news accounts often refer to both "Hezbollah" and "Hizbollah." Different spelling, same fanatics. ******************** OTHER ON-LINE RESOURCES FROM AMERICAN ATHEISTS... *To receive membership information, send e-mail to:, and include your name and mailing address in the message body. *Members of American Atheists may participate in our moderated discussion group, aachat. For more information, send e-mail to:, along with your name and mailing address. *You may forward, copy or quote from AANEWS provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and the AANEWS. **** AANEWS is a free 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 more information about this list, send e-mail to: Put "info aanews" in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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