Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 17, 1996 nn nn AAN

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Date: Fri, 17 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 17, 1996 from: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 goal." ************** 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 church organization." Open (Hypocritical) Revolt 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 punishable offense. 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 Associated Press. 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. Bingo! ******** 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 of style! ***** 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, voluntary" prayer. ** 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" of parents. ********** 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 AA, just send e-mail to: Be sure to include your name and address. Additional information on this list may be obtained by sending e-mail to:; put "info aanews" in the message body. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and the aanews. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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