Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 26, 1996 nn nn AAN

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Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 26, 1996 Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #47 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/26/96 In This Edition... * RAHOWA, Church Of The Creator, Other Fantasies... * TM & Natural Law Party: Levitating At A Ballot Box Near You! * Florida Prayer Controversy Approaches Signing/Veto Deadline * TheistWatch: Praying In The Jury Box & Don't Pass The Diploma! * A Word of Welcome ~~ A Request For Your Help. * Finally: Where's The Beef? A Pearl Of Wisdom CHURCH ORDERED TO PAY BLACK FAMILY FOR ATTACK But Veredict Raises Serious Legal, Social Questions A jury in North Carolina has ruled that a racial separatist group known as Church of the Creator is liable for attacks on a black man in May, 1991 carried out by its 29-year old "Reverend." The ruling stems from an incident where Harold Mansfield, a black seaman, was attacked and shot in Jacksonville, Florida by Rev. George Loeb, who had been taunting the victim with racial epithets. Loeb was convicted of the crime in July, 1992 -- but not before the head and founder of the Church, Ben Klassen, sold off some of the assets for $100,000, about 1/4 of the market value. Klassen, the "Pontifex Maximus" of the Church, had expressed concerns that the Church may be held liable for Loeb's actions. The case involves important legal and social questions, and raises concerns about the growing influence of white, nationalist religious groups such as Church of the Creator, and allied philosophies such as Christian Identity, espoused by many militia organizations and the Freemen compound dwellers in Montana. The Church of the Creator property was sold to William Pierce, author of the controversial novel "The Turner Diaries" which describes an apocalyptic racial war, and according to some was a blueprint for the Oklahoma City bombing. Pierce heads a group known as National Alliance, and presides over another religious movement called the Cosmotheist Church. Background Church of the Creator was founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a Ukrainian immigrant. In the 1950's, he was an electrical engineer in California and inventor. He moved to Florida in 1958, and sold real estate. In 1965, he was elected to the state legislature and became involved in various conservative political movements. By the early 1970's, though, Klassen was rejecting mainstream conservatism, and in his writings later described it as a "smokescreen for Jews." He steadilly embraced more bizarre teachings from Ku Klux Klan and neo-nazi organizations, and then published his own philosophical work which he called Nature's Eternal Religion. Parting company with the growing conservative fundamentalists of the time, he founded the Church of the Creator which he declared "completely rejects the Judeo-democratic-Marxist values of today." Another book followed, called The White Man's Bible. It stated that "Today's Black Plague is spelled niggers...we regard them as subhuman or humanoid... and "We...declare everlasting war on the Jews, a war to the finish, until we have expelled them from all the lands inhabited by the white race." In May, 1982, Klassen relocated the Church of the Creator to a compound in Mulberry, North Carolina, and started publication of a quarterly magazine known as Racial Loyalty. By now, COTC was part of a nexus of white racialist religious groups which included practioners of Christian Identity, a theology which taught that Jews, blacks and other "mud peoples" had descended from a union between Eve and the devil in the Garden of Eden; most of these groups believed that an impending, apocalyptic race war foretold in prophetic biblical literature, including the Books of Daniel and Revelation. Unlike Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, though, Christian Identity did not believe in the efficacy of the electoral political process,and embraced a Tribulationist interpretation of history. The "kingdom of God" could only be fulfilled after a series of apocalyptic events, including RAHOWA ("Racial Holy War") and the establishment of a "White bastion" since Whites were the "true" Lost Tribes of the bible. Between 1985 and 1987, Church of the Creator ground out a steady stream of racialist, apocalyptic literature, including "Building Whiter and Brighter World." In that book, Klassen stated: "RAHOWA! In this one word we sum up the total goal and program of not only the Church of the Creator, but of the total White Race and it is this: We take up the challenge. We gird for total war against the Jews and the rest of the goddamn mud races of the world politically, militantly, financially, morally and religiously. In fact, we regard it as the heart of our religious creed, and as the most sacred credo of all. We regard it as a holy war to the finish, a racial holy war. RAHOWA! By the early 1990, Church of the Creator was recruiting youthful and violent gangs of neo-nazi Skinheads throughout the nation. Skinhead groups traveled to the COTC compound in North Carolina for religious proselytizing, weapons training and other indoctrination. Numerous incidents of Skinhead racial violence involved groups and individuals linked to the Church of the Creator, such as Fourth Reich Skins and the American Front. The Loeb incident, however, prompted Klassen to unload the COTC compound to another racialist, William Pierson, whose book "The Turner Diaries" has become an underground best seller. Pierson already had a 346-acre compound of his own known as the Cosmotheist Church in West Virginia, which like the COTC fused apocalyptic doomsday visions of the future with elements of Christianity, paganism and even Norse mythology. But after buying the COTC property, in March of 1993 Pierce then placed the old COTC compound on the market. It was sold the following year to a buyer not linked to any of the previous groups or organizations. Enter SPLC The family of Harold Mansfield, the black sailor shot in the confrontation with Rev. George Loeb, was represented in court by the Southern Poverty Laws Center, an organization which tracks racialist political and religious movements throughout the country and is an advocate in cases involving racial discrimination. The Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama, has been instrumental in shutting down several racialist groups including Klan movements whose members have been found liable in attacks against minorities. In the Manfield case, SPLC attorney Richard Cohen declared: "We're trying to make sure that the organizers and leaders of hate groups which take violent actions play the price." Last week's ruling orders Pierce to turn over to the Mansfield family $85,000 in profit he made from the sale of the Church of the Creator compound in 1994. One issue involved in the Mansfield case concerns the role which organizations are believed to play when members, acting on the teachings and doctrines of the group, engage in acts of violence. Critics of SPLC say that the group uses cases as a fundraising project. Church attorney Steve Kropelnicki told the New York Times that success in theses lawsuits "seems to generate, in fund-raising alone, many times the amount of the court judgments," and creates "an incentive for the center to 'harass' groups that are outside the mainstream." There is also the issue of growing popularity of bizarre racialist-religious ideas, especially those promulgated by groups such as Church of the Creator and Christian Identity. Estimates of the "hard core" of such movements go up to 30,000 or more with a much larger, diffuse support base of sympathizers. Indeed, the COTC cry of RAHOWA! is echoes by skinheads appearing on TV talk shows, sites throughout the internet, magazines, books and other literature, electronic bulletin boards and even in a cultural underground of racialist-skinhead record and tape labels. ****************** (A note from AANEWS: The so-called "Skinhead" movement -- younger people dressing in a distinctive style often with shaved heads, tattoos, leather jackets, chains boots and other accoutrements -- is by no means a monolithic entity. There are literally dozens of different Skinhead groups, including Skins Against Racism and the alternative, somewhat progressive "Straightedge" movement. Skins represent the gamut of views on the political spectrum, and the subculture is itself divided into tendencies, groups and sects. "Alternative Music," produced by artists who "haven't sold out" to major companies, is often a unifying factor, as is a venue of select clubs and gathering spots. In August, 1993, "Pontifex Maximus" Ben Klassen committed suicide by taking four bottles of sleeping tablets. This followed a number of somewhat unsuccessful attempts to turn over the leadership of the Church of the Creator to underlings, including a butcher who served time in prison for a major meat scandal, and some rather marginal followers whose displayed an attrocious lack of basic grammar and spelling in the Church magazine, Racial Loyalty. One appeared in March, 1993 on the Sally Jesse Raphael show along with assorted Church Skinheads and Christian Identity activists. Following that, the new Pontifex Maximus was stopped for drunk driving and got into a violent scuffle with police. It is doubtful that last week's ruling will put an end to the Church of the Creator infrastructure. Meanwhile, both Christian Identity and Pierce's National Alliance/Cosmotheist movement are thriving.) ******************** TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION GROUP ON BALLOT With the November '96 elections just a few months away, third-party groups are scrambling to make it onto the ballot throughout the individual states and possessions such as Guam and Puerto Rico. Groups such as the Libertarians, the Patriot Party, Ross Perot's Reform movement and the Christian-Reconstructionist US Taxpayer's Party will be represented in many states. And in at least 18 states, voters will also be able to choose something calling itself the Natural Law Party. . It isn't exactly what philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) had in mind when he ennunciated his social contract theories in works like "Leviathan" and "Human Nature", seen as perhaps the major exposition of Natural Law doctrine. The Natural Law Party is affiliated with the Transcendental Meditation movement of "His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi," who in the 1950's began publicizing a zen-like program emphasizing meditation and altered states of consciousness. Blending classic Vedic sacred literature from India with pop-psychology and some scientific terminology, TM promises followers a "grand unity of all material diversity of creation, of all sciences, of all religions." TM practioners engage in a daily meditation ritual where the body supposedly becomes relaxed and "the mind transcends all mental activity to experience the simplest form of awareness, transcendental consciousness, where consciousness is open to itself." Scientists and medical experts have debated the value of meditation techniques; the range of claims about meditation, though, is so broad that it is sometimes difficult to distinguish for the media and public the more prosaic reports (that, for instance, meditation lowers blood pressure) to more bizarre claims, including reports that "advanced" TM'ers can fly through the air and levitate at will. Some cynics point out that the "secret" word or mantra which some meditation enthusiasts repeat in their ritual actually has the same effect as repetative use of any other term; they also suggest that more prosaic activities such as petting a dog can result in minor physiological changes. Even so, the Natural Law Party promises Big Things. The group insists that social problems such as crime, community disintegration, drug abuse and family breakdown is caused by a "deeper level", namely, "the psychological and physiological devastation wrought by constant, traumatic stress" which results in "serious physiological malfunction." Party literature says that "This out-of-balance biochemistry has been linked with anxiety, fear, anger, impulsive violent behavior and substance abuse. Moreover, the combined stress of all the individuals in society builds up and creates a dangerous, criminal atmosphere in the whole community." The group proposes mass-meditation as a tool in combatting social dysfunction as al alternative to "unproven" programs including "basketball, DARE, police, and prisons." Many of the "studies" cited by TM and Natural Law Party supporters which purport to support the claims of Transcendental Meditation turn out to have been done by "Universities" set up by the Maharishi. And critics also charge that "meditation" is a term which covers a range of reflective activities, including contemplative rituals in Christianity. TM enthusiasts have recently engaged in "mass meditation" projects to "focus" their "mental energies" on distressed areas, including Washington, D.C., in an attempt to lower crime or effect other changes. This may be seen as a new age counterpart to the growing popularity of Christian social events, including March for Jesus, where participants often gather and demonstrate in towns and cities, promoting a religious solution to community problems. *************** FLORIDA GOVERNOR IN SCHOOL PRAYER BATTLE Christian Coalition Says Bill Is "A Step In The Right Direction" A school prayer bill headed for the governor's desk in Florida that would permit "student led" religious incantations is generating political heat, especially with the May 31 deadline for enactment or veto fast approaching. Governor Lawton Chiles is under considerable pressure to sign the bill, which cleared the Florida State Education Committee and was then passed by the Legislature on the last day of session. Thousands of letters and faxes are being generated by religious groups throughout the state, including the powerful Christian Coalition which last week declared that the proposal was "a step in the right direction for religious freedom." The bill is actually part of a larger measure which would require students to earn a 2.0 grade average or better in order to graduate, and mandate certain courses including math. The St. Peterburg Times noted last week that "The standards are important reforms in a state often noted for its educational embarrassments." The school prayer provision would permit local school board to adopt resolution which allow public school students to "lead" or "initiate" prayer at graduation ceremonies, althletic events and other "non-mandatory" activities. The Times observed that "current law allows school to set aside up to two minutes at the beginning of the day for silent prayer or meditation," a practice which critics charge is clearly a violation of First Amendment state-church separation. The legislation has attracted considerable attention and lobbying efforts; there is also confusion, since the school prayer provision is linked to the educational reforms which many insist are badly needed. In fact, State Senator Don Sullivan, the Chairman of the Education Committee, had originally expressed his opposition to school prayer in April; he is now urging Governor Lawton Chiles to not veto the proposal, insisting that the educational reforms are "too important to throw away." That sentiment has also been echoed by the State Education Commssioner, Frank Brogan who told the Times "Higher student standards, a key element in this bill, are critical for the state of Florida and cannot wait another year." In a letter to Chiles, Brogan also stated that "By emphasizing the importance of invocations and benedictions at school functions, our classrooms just might become more disciplined as our students learn to become more tolerant of each other." But state-church separation activist Chris Allen disagrees. An official with Society of Separationists, the parent organization of American Atheists, Allen observed: "School prayer doesn't teach tolerance, it teaches just the opposite. By presuming to impose one brand of worship on everyone, public prayer excludes and denigrates students with different religious beliefs or no religious belief. It's a classic lesson in intolerance endorsed by the government." Allen also observed, "The fact that this is attached to a badly needed education reform bill shows the lack of commitment of these politicians to good public education." ************** A Related Note For AANEWS Readers... American Atheists Media Coordinator Ron Barrier will be appearing on NewsTalk TV this Tuesday, May 28 between 10:10 am and 11:15 am (EST) with host Lisa Evers, to discuss the Florida prayer bill. Check your local cable listings for the channel in your area. ******* THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Yesterday's dispatch mentioned Paris Archbishop Lusitger as another practioner of "selective indignation." But this malady is by no means a monopoly of Roman Catholic clerics; indeed, it is often practiced by those in authority, or those who demand special treatment for their peculiar creed or philosophy. Take the case of a student who recently chose to wear a multicolored garment on her graduation gown during ceremonies at the local high school. In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Garrica Johnson was barred from walking across the stage to pick up her diploma, and was even more surprised when she and two other college bound classmates were informed that they were being denied their diplomas and transcripts. The LA Times reported Friday that "To graduate and get their diplomas, Johnson; Sydney Watts, who also wore a Kente cloth; and Danaj Battese Trudell, who wore an eagle feather in her mortarboard, would have to attend a five-week summer school...Thus far, all three women have said they will not." Ah, there's always a big BUT in stories such as this, however. According to officials from the local American Civil Liberties Union, "some students wore...visible Christian crosses and that was considered appropriate." School officials say they won't give diplomas to the three women because "the school district felt previous graduation services(!) were a bit on the rowdy side...We wanted to bring back some level of dignity." We're anxious to learn whether this "graduation service" had prayer as part of the official itinerary; and we note that any students not given diplomas because they wore religious symbols would have immediately resulted in a national outcry from religious groups that they were having their civil libereties and "religious rights' violated. So, if some students can wear crosses, others should be permitted to wear crescents, star-of-David medallions, satanic emblems, and yeah, even Kente cloths -- or no emblems whatsoever. This is what happens when constipated officialdom -- especially those anal retentives who inhabit parts of the educational establishment -- begin churning out rules, regulations, guidelines, mantras and pronunciamentos whose better fate involves a quick trip to the circular file. ********** Imagine if Clinton were an Atheist! According to press reports, U.S. District Judge George Howard "heaped compliments" on jurors who are deliberating charges in the Whitewater trial against the President's former business pals, because they held regular prayer sessions. The judge declared: "I'd like to commend you (jurors) as it is my understanding that...you pray and ask God the Almighty for assistance." During the panegyric, one juror reportedly "wiped tears away" as the judge rambled on. Is this right? Is the process of jury deliberation an appropriate venue for religious ritual? And is it proper for a judge -- who supposedly is sworn to uphold the Constitution, and its Articles and Amendment, one of which enjoins the government from "establishment of religion" -- to praise such an official practice? We say no. Three people's lives are really at stake in this trial -- businessman James McDougas, his ex-wife Susan, and Arkansas Governor Jim Tucker. All are accused of serious charges of fraud, and the matter could spill over to involve their former partners, President Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. If anything, the jury deliberation room is the place for cool, objective examination of evidence -- not religious ritual. And what if an Atheist, or group of Atheists happened to be on trial? Would it be proper for a judge to praise and encourage a jury which engaged in prayer? How sure would YOU be, as an Atheist, if YOUR fate were in the hands of a "god fearin' " judge and jury? The jury may have a prayer, of course -- but you wouldn't. ************ As Atheists, we should always be concerned with the related issue of defending civil liberties. After all, non-believers have had more than their share of persecution and harassment from The Powers That Be, both governmental and ecclesiastical. Our history is filled with plenty of examples about the fate of men and women who chose to speak out in their doubts concerning religious orthdoxoy, and what happened to them. Hardly a day passes when SOMEONE isn't trying to justify the censorship of banning of SOMETHING based on SOME dubious grounds, a proposal which is often prefixed with the oozing claim "I'm not in favor of censorship, BUT..." So, gentle readers, beware yet another White House proposal which would limit free speech in cyberspace. No sooner had the tenuous rationales behind the infamous Communications Decency Act (now Law) been demolished in a couple of recent court challenges, than Bill Clinton's White House is again coming up with a scheme to sneak Big Brother into our Macs and PC's. The new plan calls for the government to have digital "keys" to everyone's computer, in exchange for the guarantee of greater privacy and security in doing business online. Specifically, Bill & Co. want to develop an encryption system that would let all of us transact our business online by using unbreakable codes. According to Associated Press, though, "In return...the government wants possession of the encryption 'keys' that are necessary to decipher the code. Otherwise it fears that terrorists and other criminals might use such codes without fear of getting caught." Naturally, these "keys" would be available to "appropriate" agencies, with a warrant, blah, blah, blah. The tone of the proposal is pretty nightmarish; in effect, Americans are being maneuvered into a "give and take" relationship with the state. We get "security" in buying a trinket or two online, but we "give" the government something which it may well have no right to in the first place. And as with so many laws, the scope of such legislation quickly grows; government could read ANYTHING it wanted to involving cyber-communications. That may sit well with some religious types who think that Big Brother does indeed need to sneak into our lives and bedrooms in order to enforce morals, combat sin and perverse behavior, and otherwise engage in the Orwellian task of "protecting us from ourselves." It also sits well with the Clinton administration, which is under pressure from religious conservatives, is doing all it can to come off as an all American "tough guy" when it comes to fighting crime and depravity. And it might not even work. There are already some great programs out there which are for now anyway virtually unbreakable; and terrorists, organized crime types and others will surely secure their communications in some other fashion. But get this: the scheme, as proposed by the White House, is world wide; it proposes international agreements whereby foreign government do the same coding procedure, including keys, for their citizens. That's enough to make us want to go back to handwriting letters. ************ There's a group called Marketplace Ministries which now has branches in 29 states, and has established special relationships with some 143 businesses to send ministers into the workplace to "counsel" employees. The Texas-based ministry encourages firms to utilize its staff of "company chaplains," and to pledge 10% of corporate profits to charity. That 10% often goes to religious charities, of course, and can cover the "costs" of having a "company chaplain" roam the fields, halls and assembly lines of the work place. We're told that the chaplains are "another pair of ears on the front line," at least to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Conversations with chaplains take place during break time and are supposedly "confidential." Although the idea is supposedly "to be there for workers," one wonders why workers -- if they wanted counselling or contact with ministers, rabbis, priests or mullahs -- just can't go to the local church, temple of synogogue on their own time. Besides, my guess is that the average working man or woman -- who has been losing ground economically for the past ten years in terms of real wages -- would rather have that 10% of profits themselves in the form of a decent raise! Instead, brother, can you spare a cheap prayer? ********* A WORD OF WELCOME...AND A CALL FOR ASSISTANCE... Perhaps it is due to the efforts of our Internet Representative, Margie Wait, or simple "word of mouth." Those wonderful 'SUBSCRIBE" messages have been pouring into aanews at an unprecedented rate during the past 48 hours or so; we're not at our goal yet of having 10,000 subscribers before the end of the year, but we are getting there. So, a word of WELCOME! to those of you who have just logged on. And we though that everyone would be on vacation for the weekend, or at least stuck in a traffic jam! AANEWS is the result of considerable efforts by staff members of American Atheists, both at our headquarters and in the field. We rely on members and supporters, including wire services, news sources and publications and other sources for our material. Feel free to share with us any important news in your local area which you think we might be interested in. Tell us what's going on in your vicinity, by hitting either your reply function, or e-mailing us at aanews@atheists.org. Those of you who have a fax machine can help out too by sending up clips and other materials; and if you're an AA member, you can join our FaxNet. So let us know if you can help in making aanews even more informative and enjoyable to read! *************** AND FINALLY... Kudos to O. Pearl, "Oyster" whoever and wherever you might be. Yes, our headline about the sacred cows of India which read "Hindu Nationalists Keep A Steak In India" was intentional. Anyone got a beef with that? ******** 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 American Atheists, send mail to: info@atheists.org, and include your name and "snail mail" address in the message body. To get information about this list, send mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org, and put "info aanews" in the message body. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. Edited and written by Conrad Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.

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