Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 10, 1996 nn nn AAN
Date: Fri, 10 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 10, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#35 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/10/96
In This Edition...
* Legislator: Bible Says YES! To Slavery
* Gay Marriage Battle Continues
* Bright Receives Templeton Bucks, Schmoozes With Pope
* TheistWatch: Would You Believe ~~ Lorena Bobbit!
* Plug In And Help Out!
LEGISLATOR QUOTES BIBLICAL PASSAGES, SAYS SLAVERY ''BENEFICIAL''
A candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives who is also a state
senator in Alabama declared yesterday that slavery "Southern style" was
beneficial for blacks, and was justified in the bible.
The controversial statements were in a prepared speech to have been
delivered by State Senator Charles Davidson, a first term Republican who is
currently one of six candidates vying for the party nomination in Alabama's
4th District. His remarks were to have been delivered in a Senate debate
over his proposal to fly the Confederate battle flag atop the state Capitol
building; but the measure was quickly tabled on Tuesday before he could
deliver the talk. Davidson passed out printed copies of the speech instead.
According to reports, Davidson quoted passages from Leviticus which read:
"You may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are
around you." Other quotes included First Timothy, which exhorts servants
(slaves) to "regard their own masters as worthy of all honors."
Davidson also wrote that modern-day opponents of slaveocracy "are obviously
bitter and hateful against God and his word, because they reject what God
says and embrace what mere humans say concerning slavery." He also accused
abolitionists of embracing "humanistic thinking...while southerners and most
northerners embraced what God said in the Bible."
The speech also stated that the institution of slavery has existed
throughout history, and that "abuse, rape, broken homes and murder are 100
times more common in the housing projects (today) than they ever were on the
slave planations in the Old South."
Reaction to Davidson was quick, even from somewhat embarrassed
Republicans. State GOP National Committeewoman Martha Foy said "It's
shocking to me." Meanwhile, the head of the Legislative Black Caucus, Rep.
Laura Hall, declared "It's sad to think we have anyone who has that type of
thinking in 1996. That may have been appropriate in the 1930's or the
1940's, but not in 1996."
A Rallying Point for Religious Bigotry?
Davidson's remarks and proposal to fly the Confederate flag highlight an
issue which has again surfaced, particularly as Southern states modernize and
traditional political boundaries blur. Organizations like the Southern
League and Heritage Preservation Society are promoting what critics charge is
a "whitewashed" version of civil-war and Reconstruction history which
minimizes the inhumanity of slavery, and creates a false, nostalgic view of
regional genteelness. "Dixie Net" and other on-line sites, for instance
offer Confederate flags and logos, bumper stickers with slogans such as
"Southern Nationalism, Always in Style," and books or pamphlets dealing with
Civil War battles and personalities.
During the recent round of GOP Presidential primaries, candidate Pat
Buchanan got into hot water with his stand on the Confederate flag issue,
when he defended flying the battle standard as a "symbol of defiance."
During campaign sweeps through Southern states, Buchanan mixed his
economic-nationalist and anti-abortion message with a strong "states rights"
Buchanan also serves as an advisor to Southern Patrisan magazine, and
according to editor Oran P. Smith, is "a big fan. Partisan dispenses what it
terms a "Scalawag Award, a term which describes "Southerners who sucked up to
the enemy for profit." The first award was to a Republican state legislator
who voted to haul down the Confederate flag from the capitol in Virginia,
calling it a "divisive symbol of ... slavery."
Among the claims made by Southern League representatives is that "War is
being waged against the Southern identity and its traditional symbols."
"On a spiritual level, we take our stand squarely within the tradition of
Christianity," declares the organization's "New Dixie Manifesto," adding "we
oppose the government's campaign against our Christian traditions."
While many "New Dixie" style advocates insist that they are not racists,
and that their concerns deal with heritage and history rather than ethnicity,
critics suggest that this is simply a fancy cover for traditional racism and
LATEST RELIGIOUS PHOBIA: ''GAY MARRIAGE''
If it's not abortion, porno-on-line, blasphemy or evolution in schools,
it's something else.
The latest bette noir for the religious right seems to be gay marriage, a
form of recognition that gay men and women say is necessary to make them
first-class citizens along with the 90% of the American population who happen
to be heterosexual. Gay rights advocates notes that since they cannot
legally marry in most states, they do not qualify for the economic breaks and
other privileges which others enjoy, such as insurance benefits,
health-coverage, even a perk from the tax system.
Religious conservatives ranging from the Christian Coalition and Eagle
Forum to the Focus on the Family have waged an intense battle against
homosexuals, based in part on biblical admonitions against the practice.
Even more moderate religious faiths have gone through excruciating internal
fights over whether or not gays should ordained as priests/priestesses,
receive communion, or be recognized as anything other than "sinners."
So-called "Family values" groups see sex education and AIDS awareness
instruction in the schools as an "open door" for "homosexual recruitment."
These culture-war battles are often waged at the community level before
School Boards and other bodies, but increasingly the fight is now being taken
to the federal level.
On Wednesday, U.S. Representative Bob Barr introduced a "Defense of
Marriage Act" which defined marriage as "a legal union between one man and
one woman." The proposal stipulates that states would be free to ignore a
same-sex marriage which was carried out in another state.
Barr's proposal drew immediate support from Rev. Lou Sheldon and his
Traditional Values Coalition, who helped draft the legislation. He said that
the bill was a response to a court challenge in Hawaitt that would force
recognition of gay marriages. That case involved a state Supreme Court
ruling issued in May, 1993 that declared unconstitutional a denial of
marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Noting that the state must prove a
"compelling government interest" in discriminating against gay marriages, the
Court remanded the case to a lower jurisdiction, where another trial is
scheduled for August.
Rev. Sheldon also warned "This is the beginning of a cultural meltdown if
you have homosexual marriage sanctioned by the court."
The Hawaii case has prompted battles in nearly three-dozen state
legislatures; bans on gay marriage have been enacted in eight states, but
anti-gay legislation was either defeated or withdrawn in 17 others.
Barr's proposal would have strange consequences if enacted. Couples in
states which recognize gay marriages, for instances, would be able to file a
joint-state tax return, but would still presumably be required to file
separate forms with the Internal Revenue Service. A relocation to another
state with different laws could also affect a gay couple's payment on
In other developments:
* In Canada, the House of Commons voted on Thursday to add the words
"sexual orientation" to a list of characteristics which may not be used to
discriminate in hiring or promoting. The action now goes to the Senate. The
House vote was 153-76. A religious conservative group known as "REAL Women"
warned that the legislation "will alter Canadian society fundamentally."
* In Utah, the Legislature recently voted to specifically ban gay student
clubs in that state's public schools. Now, gay rights and civil liberties
groups plan to protest the Olympic torch relay when it passes through the
state. One demonstration is planned for today, when the torch marathon takes
the Olympic standard by East High School, and another demonstration is slated
on Saturday in the "This Is The Place" State Park.
TEMPLETON PRIZE CEREMONY LINKS VATICAN, AMERICAN EVANGELICALS
Last night, evangelist and religious political activist Bill Bright
received the prestigious Templeton Award during a ceremony at the Roman
Catholic Basilica of Santa Maria in Trastevere, Rome. He joins other
recipients, including Mother Teresa, Billy Graham and Britain's Chief Rabbi,
Lord Jakovits, who have been awarded the coveted and lucratize prize which
was established by wealthy financier Sir John Templeton in 1927. The prize
carries the world's largest award, and is more valuable in monetary terms
than even the Nobel prizes.
In a previous AANEWS, we detailed Bright's activities as founder of the
Campus Crusade for Christ, a religious activist movement focusing its
programs mostly on the nation's college campuses.
According to Reuter news service, Bright will be using the $1.1 million in
prize money for promoting fasting and prayer, which he described as the best
way for religious believers "to truly humble themselves to see God's face."
In addition to the activities of Campus Crusade, though, Bright has other
ties to a theopolitical agenda linking the mostly Protestant
fundamentalist-evangelical right to the Roman Catholic Church.
* Bright recently participated in a joint petition to the Republican Party
urging it continue its support of the "Human Life Amendment," which would
* This evening in Rome, Bright meets with Pope John Paul II. Yesterday,
Bright told a press conference that "One of the greatest things I like about
Pope John Paul is his adamant position against abortion which I share." He
also emphasized the need for ecumenical dialogue, saying "progress in
spiritual matters is more important than in any other matter.
(The Republican Platform Committee, and the Party leadership, remain under
siege from both Catholic ecclesiastical elements and the rest of the
religious right. The Vatican's Conference of Bishops in the United States
has condemned President Clinton for his veto last month of the "Partial Birth
Abortion Ban," which had been an objective of the Christian Coalition.
Meanwhile, religious right groups including Family Research Council,
Christian Coalition, Focus on the Family and even the Pat Buchanan campaign,
have stepped up their own efforts to make sure that there is no compromise
within the GOP of its strident plank opposing abortion and calling for
passage of the Human Life Amendment.)
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
We really are NOT making this story up.
Our ceaseless quest for artifacts of religious superstition both ancient
and contemporary lead us down some pretty strange paths. A good example is
the renewed interest in the alleged "prophecies" of Nostradamus, which we
mentioned in our recent aanews dispatch dealing with the "Mysteries of the
Millennium" program on CBS. Being an avid collector of religious and new age
kitsch, though, your humble correspondent just could not resist the lure of a
cheap booklet at the supermarket check-out rack, titled "Nostradamus The Man
Who Saw Tomorrow." There was a surely idealized portrait of the 16th century
sage peering out amidst competing offerings about "getting rid of cellulite,"
improving sexual performance, or losing astounding amounts of weight on
various diet regimens. "Nostradamus" promised some exciting reading,
including the prospect of "A brave new golden age" and "Earthquakes & Terror
Why not start building my library of millennium-hysteria collectables now,
and for only the unusual price of $2.29?
The brief contents were pretty much a re-hash of the traditional
Nostradamus-New Age groupie fare, and the truly unusual material was in the
back, nestled in with numerous ads for 1-900 number "psychic" hotline.
And I assure you, gentle reader, I'm telling the truth.
There is a Lorena Bobbitt Astrology Network 900-line. You remember her,
right? Her estranged hubby, John Wayne Bobbit certainly does, and Lorena's
reaction against sexual and emotional abuse quickly propelled her, and John
-- and his, well, "attachments" -- into the public limelight.
John seems to have had a somewhat tarnished career since that fateful
night when Lorena took things into her own hands, but this "Astrology
Network" should suggest to any sober observer that fame of any kind has its
downside. The Lorena Bobbitt Astrology Network ad assures us that "Your call
helps support Lorena Bobbit's Foundation for Abused Women and Children!"
I wonder how much "Abused Women and Children" really get from the $3.99
per minute fee. But other ad copy is even better!
"The future is in your hands! Let's us help you TAKE CONTROL of your
Regular readers know that TW is constantly grousing over the
postmodernist tendency of "warm and fuzzy" religionists to re-write portions
of their own holy book, the bible, to render it more palpable for popular
consumption. Oh, there are the "Sophia" faddists who insist that God is
REALLY a woman; and the "liberation theology" folks tried to dress Jesus up
in the robes of some biblical era revolutionary. Today, the bible is being
"re-written" by some church groups, where offensive or embarrassing language
is conveniently excised and replaced by more "politically correct"
That's re-writing history, of course, and it is dishonest and evasive.
Our story about Alabama State Senator Davidson, then, deserves a few more
words. The "good book" really DOES overflow with quotes supporting slavery,
at least the kind mentioned in the Old Testament and endorsed by a cranky,
vengeful sky-god named Jehovah. Back in 1986, an article appeared in the May
issue of AMERICAN ATHEIST MAGAZINE authored by Merrill Holste, and titled
"Slavery and the Bible." Read it an weep, but for those who want a
digest-version, try on some of these quotes:
Heb. 13:17 states: "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit
Titus 2:9, 3:1 orders: "Servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and
to please them well in all things; not answering again.
And there's Col. 3:20, which should warm the hearts of everyone from Dan
Quayle to John Dobson: "Children, obey your parents in all things...Servants,
obey in all things your masters (owners) according to the flesh."
Curiously, Davidson chose passages from Timothy, which has some outrageous
statements about the responsibility of women to keep silent, obey husbands,
and basically shut-the-hell-up and cook dinner. But Holste saved the best
for last when he wrote:
"The whole Bible was written by slave owners, and for slave owners. There
is no hint of criticism of slavery anywhere in that book. Jesus made no
objection to mistreatment of slaves. He indicated that selling of debtors
into slavery would be continued his forthcoming kingdom of heaven as well as
masters having the right to beat their slaves and put them to torture."
Hey, another area of "revisionism" is anthropology and ancient history.
Take Shirley MacLaine, peddler extraordinaire of mystical nonsense, and the
rest of her new age pals who insist that ancient civilizations like the
Aztecs and the Incas were REALLY outposts for UFO's from distant worlds.
Then consider the new flap over the fate of the frozen mummy which is to go
on display in Washington, gratis the National Geographic Society.
Some Peruvian scholars are worried about the mummy's condition; so the
exhibit will include a special air-conditioned viewing area, along with
freezing cases to maintain the integrity of the body while it is being
shipped. But that's not all... the body happens to be that of a 13 year old
girl who was sacrificed over 500 years ago to appease a god. The practice
was fairly common; children were often taken to mountaintops during a time of
crisis for the purpose of sacrifice.
Now, you'd think that all of these folks who insist that the Incas were
really some "advanced civilization" flying all over the galaxy and building
wonderful temples and what some insist are "runways" or beacons for alien
craft, would have something to say about this. After all, an "advanced
civilization" would, presumably, have moved beyond the barbaric practice of
murdering kids to appease the gods. In truth, the Inca civilization was
autocratic, centralized, warlike and brutal -- which is not to say that the
Catholic invaders from Europe were much better. But I still wonder if
Shirley will bother to come to this museum openning...
More on the Aum Shinrikyo Cult in Japan, the group linked to the sarin gas
attacks in the Tokyo subway which killed 18 people and injured thousands
more. Apparently, Aum members were divided into a strict hierarchy of 13
levels, with specially colored uniforms denoting rank. For those at the
bottom of this mystical feed-chain, life was pretty bad, cruel and spartan.
It's been revealed that children of cult members could bathe only once a
week, and often endured beatings and even solitary confinement for minor
infractions. Those who turned out to be disciplinary problems had their
eyebrows died green and were subject to electro- shock and other torture.
All of which raises a question for those supporting the "Parental Rights
and Responsibilities Act," which if passed would permit parents to raise kids
according to their own "religious teachings." We have wondered whether such
legislation would in effect legalize murder for Christian Science believers
who chose to withold appropriate medical care from ill children. But
presumably this act would go much, much further; would it protect an
Aum-like cult which abused kids for religious purposes? Even if it didn't,
it would certainly make it more difficult for children's rights advocates to
intervene in clear cases of religion-inspired abuse, especially if practices
like "Bible-based discipline" were at question.
Cranky, religious conservatives are very much on a "dare to discipline"
kick, talking about whipping, spanking and other corporal punishments with an
amost erotic glee. So, if none of that brings the little s.o.b.'s into line,
what's a bit of shock treatment?
I may have a history as a bit of a "peacenik," but sometimes I really do
empathize with troops in the armed services. It's ridiculous that men and
women can join -- and in the case of guys, anyway, possibly be drafted --
into Uncle Sam's Army, but they can't buy cigarettes or order a cold brew in
most states because of the drinking age laws. Age restrictions, of course,
are a holdover from the days of Prohibition and other religious-political
experiments which ended up creating more problems than they solved, but of
course the prohibitionist spirit lives on today. Across the whole of the
political spectrum, there is somebody who wants to ban something from being
used or enjoyed by everyone.
So, women have finally clawed their way into the military ranks, and in
many cases have demonstrated that they can shoot, crawl, fist fight, sail,
fly and kill with the best of men. And both men and women are supposedly
better trained and conditioned than ever before in our nation's military
So, if we're going to send this force of fighting men and women out into
the world, what exactly are they fighting for? Freedom? Civil Liberties?
The Bill of Rights? If they are, we have a strange way of expressing our
gratitude. We earlier told you about Rep. Christopher Smith and Rep. Roscoe
Bartlett, who along with Christian Coalition poster-boy Rep. Robert Dornan
have introduced legislation called the "Military Honor and Decency Act,"
which seeks to remove from military stores any magazine, video or DC which
"depicts or describes nudity in a lascivious way."
TW tips its hat to Daniel Katz, a legislative counsel for the American
Civil Liberties Union, who responded to this piece of moralistic
grandstanding by noting "This legislation sends an extremely disturbing
message to soldiers who are risking their lives to uphold the Constitution."
Even the military brass thinks that the Smith-Bartlett-Dornan idea, well,
sucks. The Pentagon has released a statement saying that the legislation
will bog them down in lawsuits and squabbles, and the issue is simply better
Wanna' be a Lois Lane? Or a Johnny Deadline?
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