Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 17, 1996 nn nn AAN
Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 17, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#41 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/17/96
In This Edition...
* Freemen Negotiator Loves Dogs, Not Gays Or Abortion.
* "Bo" Gritz (More)
* Mass Excommunication Lurks in Lincoln!
* Indian Election Puts Hindu Nationalists In Power
* TheistWatch: Prayer, Orgasms, The Shroud Of Turin -- Bingo!
FREEMAN STANDOFF FOCUSES ATTENTION ON COLO. LEGISLATOR
As the confrontation between the Montana Freeman group and the FBI goes
into its 54th day, a new negotiator is on the scene trying to end the
standoff. Colorado State Senator Charles Duke, flanked by two federal
agents, held a fact-to-face meeting with Freemen yesterday, and plan to
continue talks this afternoon.
About 20 members of the Freemen group are holded up on a ranch they call
"Justus Township." The group embraces a religious doctrine known as
Christian Identity, which teaches a blending of white supremacist and
biblical fundamentalist views.
Last week, attempts by James "Bo" Gritz to mediate the standoff failed.
Gritz has links to the militia and Christian Identity movements, and was the
negotiator who helped end the 1992 confrontation between government agents
and separatist Randy Weaver during the infamous "Ruby Ridge" shootout.
Senator Dukes is another political figure approved by the Freemen group as
someone they would be willing to talk to. In Colorado, he enjoys the
reputation as a bit of a right-wing iconoclast. He has served two years in
the state Senate after a six year term in the House, and is now campaigning
for a position in the United States Senate.
Duke, 54, denies that he is "some kind of wacko." He has a professional
background as an electrical engineer, and is a member of the high IQ club,
Mensa. His politics sometimes jumps across the political spectrum. The
Rocky Mountain News reports that Duke is "a bleeding heart when it comes to
animals rights," but "despises" gays and abortion. He also voted against
building a Holocaust memorial "because he didn't believe the Nazi's had
killed homosexuals," a theory advanced in a fundamentalist book called "The
Pink Triangle." Duke is also a supporter of the militia movement, but he
insists that he does not know any of the Freemen personally,and does not
consider himself to represent "either side" in the confrontation.
"I think some of the methods are not the best they (Freemen) could have
chosen, and they'll have to answer for that, but nothing they have done in my
opinion merits their injury or taking their own life," Duke said yesterday.
Meanwhile, in Washington, Attorney General Janet Reno -- anxious to not
repeat the government debacle of Waco and Ruby Ridge -- told a news
conference that she hoped the confrontation with the Freemen would be
resolved peacefully, and said she was "satisfied that we are pursuing that
GRITZ ~~ PLAYING BOTH SIDES, AND MEDIA?
The role played by "Patriot Movement" Guru James Gritz has come in
question, following the leak of secret documents which the ex-Green Beret
supposedly wrote to the FBI. While Gritz was presenting one face as a
negotiator to the mass media, he was apparently telling government agents
that "A coordinated nonviolent strike against all four areas on a moonless
night might well result in capture of all 21 occupants (in the Freemen
compound) without bodily injury to either side."
Gritz recommended the use of "Night vision, tasers (stun devices),
flashbangs and chemical sprays in the hands of well-trained teams." Such a
raid would "re-establish the FBI as a law enforcement arm that is interested
in peaceful solutions..."
According to the Denver Post, Gritz's report suggested that a "gang of
four" were responsible for "keeping the rest" of the Freemen "in line." He
also called the Freemen "a potpourri circus of over-the-hill outlaws, people
with no past or future, victims of run-amok government, a pair of New York
City scam artists, and three young girls." Among the "gang of four" named by
Gritz were Dale Jacobi and Rodney Skurdal. AANEWS has detailed Jacob's role
as a Christian Identity preacher who advocates the so-called "Two Seed"
theory. This religious doctrine states that the devil and Eve had sexual
intercourse producing a "seed line" of jews, blacks and "mud people," while
the white race came from a separate "Adamic" line.
Meanwhile, word this afternoon is that Colorado State Senator Charles Duke
is "optimistic" about an impending end to the standoff. Duke insists that
while he "admires" Bo Gritz, the Vietnam war hero was "buffaloed" by the
convoluted doctrines of the Freemen.
DEADLINE COMES, PASSES ON MASS-EXCOMMUNICATION
May 15 came and went in Lincoln, Nebraska, but for thousands of diocesan
Roman Catholics, their church membership may been been revoked. Last
Wednesday was the deadline for Catholics under the leadership of Bishop
Fabian Bruskewitz to terminate their memberships, if any, in a dozen taboo
groups ranging from Masonic Lodges to Planned Parenthood and Call to Action.
Bruskewitz announced the ban in March in the local Catholic newspaper; it
applies to all of the 80,000 followers the Lincoln diocese claims to have.
AANEWS noted in its April 15 edition that "while Bruskewitz insists that he
intended for this to be only a local issue, it has set off debate throughout
the church over some long-standing prohibitions, as well as the nature of
The Wednesday deadline seems to have prompted more grumblings in the Roman
Catholic flock. Members of Call to Action, a group which advocates
ordination of married men and women into the church priesthood, said they
would not give in to the Bishop's demand. One told the New York Times that
the excommunication was "an effort to invoke spiritual capital punishment."
Others insisted that they would openly defy the ban; one couple announced
that they would continue to receive communion and had no intention of
altering their behavior to obey the Bishop.
But back in April, AANEWS questioned the wisdom, and intellectual
consistency of such actions. We wrote that these brushfires within Roman
Catholic ranks may not stem from "rational questioning of dogma, but due to a
'warm and fuzzy' movement for 'democracy' and 'laity involvement' that is all
the rage. Everyone from women to gays wants 'in' on the action; the pomp and
glamour of the church has basically been in the hands of select males for
centuries, and now the sheep want a greater role in participating in the
superstitious antics of the church."
Since unquestioning deference to ecclesiastical authority is integral to
Catholic religious superstition, AANEWS encouraged straying sheep within the
ranks to "Love it, obey it, or leave it...!"
Among the organizations on the Buskewitz hit-list are Freemasons, Planned
Parenhood, Catholics for a Free Choice, Hemlock Society, DeMolay (Masonic
boys), Eastern Star, and Rainbow Girls. The Vatican has issued over
two-dozen declarations or "Papal Bulls" against Masonry, and opposes
voluntary suicide, as well as the ordination of married men, or any women
into the ecclesiastical ranks.
Bruskewitz declared earlier this week that his threat of excommunication
was for the purpose of "unmasking some people who previously had a very
questionable relationship with the Catholic Church."
Those who fall under Bruskewitz's diktat can either defy the order
(secretly or openly), leave the church, or return to good standing by
confessing their transgressions and then doing penance.
HINDU NATIONALISTS TAKE POWER IN INDIA
Atal Bihari Vajpayee was sworn in as India's first Hindu nationalist prime
minister yesterday during a ceremony in New Delhi at the presidential palace.
He replaces Narashimha Rao, whose Congress Party ruled the country in all
but four years since the nation won independence from Great Britain in 1947.
Vajpayee's BHP, or Bharatiya Janata Party, was the single biggest vote
getter in the recent national elections, but now the new prime minister faces
the daunting task of putting together a workable coalition in the 545-seat
Parliament, where BHP has only about one-third of the seats.
Foreign and domestic observers are worried that BHP could over-turn the
limited progressive reforms of the Rao government, and possibly establish a
Hindu theocratic regime and bring down another round of religious conflict.
Muslims have already expressed their fears about the BHP, particularly its
agenda for "one nation, one people, one culture," as stated in its 1996
Election Manifesto. Other points in the Manifesto include:
* "Faith in cultural nationalism which is the core of Hindutva.
* Construction of the enormous Ram Temple, a Hindu monument which "moves
millions of people in our land."
* Enactment of laws which debar any public office holder who happens to
have more than two children.
The BHP has also vowed to protect the special status of the Hindu religion
by stopping "foreign funding of religious and missionary organizations" and
ending what it terms "fraudulent conversions," which would become a
Critics note that the BHP's theocratic nationalism, though, is artfully
concealed with a good deal of political rhetoric. While the Hindu party
"welcomes foreign investment", the Election Manifesto notes that "it will be
allowed only in those areas which require high technology and high finance
input." Some fear that India's access to global communications media could
suffer, especially if foreign programming or "outside corrupting influences"
are censored. And while the Party promises "radical changes" and
"co-sharing" of power for women, it limits women to filling only a third of
positions in any elected body.
BHP also vows to beef-up the military and pursue development of atomic
weapons, a clear signal to neighboring Muslim countries like Pakistan.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS ...
How DID this tid-bit of news slip by? Earlier this month, a Milwaukee
judge dismissed charges brought by a 73-year old woman against St. Florian
Catholic Church. Mary Verdev claimed that she suffered injuries when a
300-pound board toppled from a stage during a church bingo tournament back in
1990. As a result, said Mary, she became sexually turned-on to women and
even experienced spontaneous orgasms, "sometimes in clusters" according to
But James Green, a church attorney was unimpressed. "It is unexplained in
modern medicine how a bump on the head can alter sexual orientation or cause
recurring orgasms," he said. The court agreed, especially after Verdev
repeatedly refused to undergo a psychological exam.
More roadblocks on the Information Superhighway. There's plenty of
grumbling in Singapore, where government censors have constructed a veritable
maze of rules and regulations concerning on-line materials, mostly to
protect people from hate literature, pornography, and anything which could
possibly incite violence. All political parties now have to get a license if
they want to set up a web site, and erotic material is prohibited. The State
wants its version of the net to link schools, libraries and businesses.
Seems that Singapore passed its own version of the Communications Decency
Act back in 1994; it covers areas well beyond the internet, though. As in
Muslim countries, ownership of a direct satellite broadcast dish is
prohibited. One out of every three homes in Singapore has a computer, and
there are some 100,000 people on the limited-internet. Government plans call
for everyone to be on-line by the year 2,000.
But that enthusiasm appears contradictory to many critics, especially
given the numerous restrictions on content and programming. Some even
suggest that the government is trying to censor political opinions;
Singapore's tough anti-graffiti laws, for instance, were written to deter
writing of un-authorized political slogans in public.
One student at the Technological University said that the maze of rules
was "like putting up a giant sunshade to make sure everybody's protected from
ultraviolet, rather than relying on people to wear hats."
Have we told you that the Roman Catholic Church is making its own plans
for the upcoming Millennium Follies? In Turin, Italy, Roman Catholic
Cardinal Giovanni Saldarini has announced that the phoney, discredited Shroud
of Turin will be dragged out of the closet for public consumption in 1998 and
again in 2000. The 14-foot long cloth has a "negative image" of what some
believers insist is the body of Jesus Christ following the alleged
crucifiction. But extensive tests carried out on pieces of the Shroud say
that it is only several hundred years old, from a period when the manufacture
of religious fakes was very much in vogue.
Which goes to demonstrate that credulity and feckless belief are never out
A Superior Court judge in Washington, D.C. has quashed a proposal which
would have placed a school prayer initiative on the local ballot in November.
Judge Georffrey Alprin said that the move was "patently unconstituional."
The proposal came after 16,000 people signed petitions to have the prayer
initiative included; it would have allowed so-called "student initiated,
Where are all of those yapping, right to life types when it comes to
salvaging a real, live family? Not on the Connecticut Supreme Court. That
body has ruled that a hospital violated the constitutional rights of a
Jehovah's Witness mom when it compelled her to get a blood transfusion after
she experienced medical complications during childbirth. Apparently,
hospital officials were unaware that Nelly Vega, a JH, had signed papers
refusing any blood transfusion, which is against her church's religious
doctrine. Doctors argued that this was necessary -- or her child would grow
up without a mother.
This may indeed represent a case where individual, religious preference
collides with social norms about family structure. But under the proposed
"Religious Equality Amendment", children born to JH couples could be denied
life-saving medical care as well, all in deference to the "religious beliefs"
AANEWS is a free service of American Atheists, a nationwide movement
founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank