Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 30, 1996 nn nn AAN
Date: Thu, 30 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 30, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#50 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/30/96
In This Edition...
* Creationism Bill Is Extinct In Ohio
* Israeli Elections: Big Win For Religious Parties
* Indian Gathering: More "Teflon" Medicine Men?
* TheistWatch: The Year Zero, Naked Ladies & Nervous Muslim Guys...
And What Happened To Jim Bakker?
* To Readers...
* About This List
CREATIONISM BILL DEFEATED IN OHIO
The Ohio House of Representatives Education Committee earlier this week
narrowly defeated a bill supported by religious fundamentalists that would
have required teachers to present "scientific evidence" against evolution in
public school classrooms.
The resolution, HB692, declared that:
"WHENEVER a theory of the origin of humans or other living things that
might commonly be referred to as "evolution" is included in the instructional
program provided by any school district or educational service center, both
scientific evidence and related arguments supporting or consistent with the
theory and scientific evidence and related arguments problematic for,
inconsistent with, or not supporting the theory shall be included."
The measure was introduced by Rep. Ron Hood (R-Canfield) and enjoyed
vigorous support from the Christian Coalition and other anti-evolution
movements. The alternative weekly Columbus Guardian noted that the Education
Committee chair, Rep. Michael Fox (R-Hamilton) "demonstrated some fancy
footwork -- dancing around charges that the bill is a thinly disguised
attempt to force public schools to teach Creationism, a bible-based account
of humanity's origins."
The vote on the bill in Committee was 12 to 8, with three abstaining.
According to Frank Zindler, State Director of Society of Separationists
and American Atheists, sources in the legislatures told him "that if passed
by the committee, it (HB692) was sure to pass the full House."
The defeat of the creationist bill, though, was actually a sweet victory
for Zindler, who had described the late-evening battle at the Statehouse as
"a dark and scary night." Zindler was one of the few testifying against
HB692 (see related story), although Rep. Hood and the Christian Coalition
brought in nearly four-dozen witnesses to speak on behalf of the proposal.
Testimony on the issue went on into the early hours of Wednesday morning.
Scott L. Hooper, assistant professor of biology at Ohio University,
testified that there are no credible theories which undermine evolution
except for religious accounts. "No matter how you slice it or dice it, the
bill is about teachingt Creationism." When a Committee members asked Dr.
Hooper to explain why both creationism and evolution couldn't be taught
simultaneously, Hooper responded: "Are you also willing to have the same
discussion where you bring in someone who believes the Earth is flat?"
ISRAELI ELECTION ~~ SLIGHT LEAD FOR NETANYAHU
As this dispatch of AANEWS goes out, Likud Party challenger Benjamin
Netanyahu enjoys a slight 15,000 vote lead over Prime Minister Shimon Peres,
with about 99% of the vote counted. Early exit polls revealed that Peres had
a 3-5% margin in the closely watched contest, which is seen as a referendum
on both the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, and internal domestic policy
within Israel. As the votes poured in, though, Netanyahu closed the gap and
gradually built up a slim advantage. The outcome could hinge on about
150,000 absentee votes, many cast by Israeli soldiers on military bases.
Poll watchers suggest that could prove to be advantageous for Netanyahu.
Among the voting trends:
* 95% of Ultra Orthodox Jews cast their votes for Likud, while 90% of
Israeli Arabs threw their support behind Peres.
* In what USA TODAY called a "metaphor for Israel's divisions," voters in
the religious capitol of Jerusalem voted "overwhelmingly" for Netanyahu,
while the "secular pulse" of Tel Aviv went for Peres.
Religious Parties Emerge As Winners: Active In Campaig
The big winners, though, may be the Israeli religious parties, most of
which are considered fundamentalists and hard-liners about negotiations with
Palestinians or the establishment of a Palestinian state. Reports suggest
that their possible role in a coalition government could end up giving them
more control over everyday life. Religious parties may have increased their
presence in the Knesset or Israeli parliament from 16 to 24 seats. According
"The results insured that ultra-Orthodox Jews would expand their control
over marriage, burials, Sabbath observances and other religious and social
matters, and would demand a bigger share of spending on schools, housing and
other services in religious neighborhoods."
Another interesting development: Orthodox Rabbis refused to publicly
endorse Netanyahu, in part to due to his public admission on television that
he had engaged in an extra-marital affair. Even so, Orthodox voters
supported Netanyahu, but did not carry this over to voting for the rest of
the Likud slate. They threw their votes for Knesset members behind the
religious parties, and both Labor and Likud lost seats in the parliament.
Among the religious groups enjoying new support was the National Religious
Party, which is considered hawkish on national questions. The National
leader, Zevulun Hammer has stated that in exchange for NRP support, he would
like to again take over the Education Ministry and begin revising the
liberal reforms implemented by the Peres government. The Nationalists
support new settlements in both the West Bank and Gaza regions.
The Shas Party is composed mostly of Orthodox Sephardic Jews representing
Israelis of North African and Middle East origin. Shas may have picked up
another four Knesset seats, and this group's demands may emphasize the
further balkanization of Israeli society, and a challenge to the Ashkenazic
Orthodox establishment comprised of European Jews. Party leader Aryeh Deri
may demand the post of Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Like other religious parties, United Torah Judaism will want more
government funding for religious schools and other social institutions in
exchange for its Knesset support. United Torah represents Orthodox
Ashkenazics, and endorsed the Netanyahu candidacy. According to CNN, "like
other religious parties, it will block any challenge to the authority of the
Orthodox rabbinate or legislation that it believes conflicts with Jewish
The entire campaign resonated with religious themes, from the question of
Biblically-guaranteed "homelands" to Netanyahu's sexual dalliances and the
role of religion in society. The Shas, for instance, distributed 150,000
"election kits" which according to The Times of London "contained amulets and
memorial candles which were supposed to bring a blessing on those who voted
for the party and protect them from terrorist attacks and other disasters."
All "election kits" were blessed by Yitzhak Kaduri, a Kaballist rabbi; the
Kaballah is perhaps the most mystical of all Jewish sacred books and is based
on "gematria", a form of numerology which assigns numerical value to letters
and sounds found in religious texts.
NATIVE AMERICAN MEN'S GATHERING ~~ TRIBAL RITUAL, OR NEW AGE CON?
A three-day "Native American Men's Gathering" which begins Friday in
Colorado is attracting interest and controversy that it is simply an event
for "Teflon medicine people" and other new age phonies.
According to the Denver Post, organizers of White Bison, Inc., a
non-profit Colorado Springs group, hope that more than 2,000 men will turn
out for the event which is dedicated to "Indian sobriety, healing, wellness
and education." The gathering will take place at Badger Flats, about 70
miles from Colorado Springs.
Already, critics are charging that the event is just another example of a
"multimillion-dollar business to exploit Indian culture." The spokesman for
White Bison is Richard Simonelli, an Italian from New York City. Clyde
Bellecourt of the American Indian Movement told the Post that "There are a
lot of questions about who is putting it (the gathering) together...probably
someone blinked their eyes and had a vision to do that." He criticized what
he called "Teflon medicine people" who venture into Indian lands such as the
Black Hills, "encounter a thunderstorm, get frightened and come running down
to announce a vision."
"Then these plastic medicine men and women, Indian and non-Indian, will go
to New Hampshire or Colorado and next thing you know they have crystals
around their necks, turkey feathers in their hair, and are calling themselves
Crazy Horse or Little White Fawn and are conducting ceremonies..."
Tim Giago, publisher of Indian Country Together, a South Dakota based
independent Indian newspaper, said that while the intentions behind the
gathering may be good, the event "sounds like an imitation of the Million Man
March." But much of the current pop-culture interest in ersatz "Indian
spirituality" came out of the new age movement, which distorted or idealized
various Native American religions, and even went so far as to mix in Eastern
occult metaphors and ideas such as "pyramid power." Many Indians find this
both horrifying and at times even amusing, and speak disparagingly of the
"Wannabee" tribe of "phony white-Indians." They point to new age
"channellers" who claim to be voicepieces for ancient Indian spirits, the
sale of plastic, fake Native American amulets and talismans, and the faddish
interest in "power vortexes" and "sacred places" like Sedona, Arizona, which
are embellished by tales of everything from re-incarnation to UFO landings.
Whether the White Bison event could deteriorate into such a spectacle
remains to be seen; the non-profit was founded in 1989, and is one of many
groups fighting alcoholism and other problems within the Indian community.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Is there ANYBODY out there who isn't going public with accounts about
their disfunctional childhood, or giving up the sordid tales about how they
were molested as a kid? Former televangelist Jim Bakker is the latest to hop
on the bandwagon, with a new upcoming book aptly titled "I Was Wrong."
According to reports, the books offers a glimpse behind the rise and fall of
Bakker's giant PTL or "Praise The Lord" religious empire which had everything
from a worldwide TV satellite/cable show to a glitzy amusement park based on
Christian kitsch. Jim and his made-up wife Tammy Faye were one of the more
grotesque manifestations of 70's-era pop religion, but it all came tumbling
down when Jim -- in a "moment of need" -- had a sexual encounter with Jessica
Baker later went to jail on charges that his outlandish lifestyle -- which
included gold plated bathroom fixtures and a terrifying array of bad
polyester clothes -- had bilked his followers out of some $158 million.
Tammy Faye didn't stand by her man while he was in the slammer, and ended up
marrying a former church executive. Jim got out in 1994, supposedly a much
changed and humbled man, who apparently now wants to confess all -- and
possibly even more! As for Jessica, she went to model for Playboy Magazine,
make the rounds of late-night talk shows, do some bit parts on TV and host
the short-lived "Jessica Hahn's Love Connection."
Add the following to a list of religious fundamentalist fears dating back
to supermarket bar-codes, the mark of the beast, satanic cults roaming the
countryside and funny chemical in drinking water.
A newsgroup dealing with millennialism and the cultural, social and
religious aspects of the approach of the year 2,000 had some interesting
musingss about calendric dating. Seems that somebody made a Year Zero
Proposal which would "standardize" calendars at the year zero (0), or replace
"Anno Domini", Year of Our Lord, with something a bit more secular -- such as
c.e., or "current era." Wrote one observer: "Proposing to change the
convention of Anno Domini would merely cause unneeded backlash from
pre-modern fundamentalist movements. Giving them a false issue to rally
around merely strengthens their hand."
But worse yet was a statement which we haven't yet been able to verify,
but whether true or false will surely put Ted Turner in front position for
the title of "AntiChrist." Says one correspondent: "I heard that Ted Turner
had suggested some form of this year zero proposal a year ago..." Did he?
Any suggestion of tampering with the hallowed "AD" designation of years will
surely be construed as "proof" that biblical prophesy is being fulfilled,
that Tribulation is at hand, and that Ted Turner -- and wife Jane -- will be
moving from Malibu to Washington.
According to the latest issue of Reason Magazine, government officials in
Monterrey, Mexico turned down a request by Mormons to erect a giant Temple
--- the largest in Mexico. Seems that local Roman Catholics worried that
their kids might be "contaminated" by the Mormon religious beliefs. So along
with poverty, gangs, drugs and guns, throw in some LDS.
We're also told that the Supreme Court in Pakistan has ruled that male
doctors can't do autopsies on corpses of females. "The dead body is laid on
a table in a naked condition where male members of the medical staff have
And one more interesting item from Reason. A survey shows that Christian
teens are more likely to watch the action on MTV than their non-Christian
counterparts. Wonder how they react to videos like "Crazy" by Aerosmith; it
must be more interesting that the latest Amy Grant release!
Coming In Our Afternoon Dispatch:
* An interview (and more!) with creationist critic Frank Zindler
* Update On Public School Prayer at Gradution Ceremonies...
To Readers: Part Two of today's AANEWS dispatch, including the interview with
Frank Zindler, will be sent out later this afternoon...
About This List...
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 information about
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank