Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 6, 1996 nn nn AANE

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Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 6, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #57 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/6/96 In This Edition... * Believers, Born-Agains, Fundy-Types: What The Numbers Say * Israel: "Reform" Jews Next On The List? * Instability In Turkey May Be Muslim Coup Opportunity * Church Arson Probe: Discrimination FOR Religious Buildings? * Catholic Alliance: Authorities Worry About Control * TheistWatch: A Mia Farrow Re-Run ~~ Worse Than The Antichrist! * About This List... SURVEY SUGGESTS MIXED PICTURE OF FUNDAMENTALISM IN U.S. Despite the image of a growing religious- right movement in the United States, some recent surveys indicate that the percentage of individuals who consider themselves to be biblical fundamentalists or conservative evangelicals has remained constant over the past two decades. What HAS changed, though, is how those people have now become organized into the ranks of various theo-political groups such as the Christian Coalition. A recent Gallup Poll taken last month asked respondents about their beliefs concerning the literal truth of the bible and the role in their lives played by religious faith in the god-man Jesus. Three statements were used to guage the percentage of those who "follow the tenets of Protestant fundamentalism or conservative evangelicalism." * You have been born again or had a born-again experience -- that is, a turning point in your life when you committed youself to Jesus Christ. 42% answered in the affirmative in 1995, up from 38% in 1976. * You have tried to encourage someone to believe in Jesus Christ, or to accept him as his or her father. 51% affirmative, up from 47% in 1976 * You believe the Bible is the actual word of God and is to be taken literally, word for word. 31% affirmative, down from a 1976 figure of 38% Gallup then analyzed these responses, and found that only 19% of those questioned responded affirmatively to all three statement, an slight increase from the 18% figure in 1976. Questions about biblical literalism have divided American Protestants since the early 1920's, a period marked by the so-called "Monkey Trial" involving biology teacher John Scopes. A study on the Gallup findings noted that "It is probably safe to say that up until about the middle of the 19th century, just about all U.S. Protestants were evangelicals. At the time the term generally was used to describe someone who accepted the teachings of both the New and Old Testament, urged others to do so, and considered the Bible to be the literal, inerrant Word of God." The Scopes trial -- with its emphasis on geology and evolutionary theory -- marked a turning point for fundamentalism, though, a process which was quickly accelerated by other findings in physical sciences. Growing ranks of Protestants "began to regard (the bible) as divinely inspired, but not always to be taken literally word for word." Up until the late 1960's-early 1970's, many fundamentalists shunned the political arena and considered it part of a "sinful realm." Salvation rested in withdrawing from the world. That began to change, however, as certain strains of conservative ideology began fusing with religious movements. Initially, they were not always successful: sociologist Sarah Diamond, for instance, recently observed in an interview with Z Magazine (June, 1996) that early groups such as Christian Citizen attracted only marginal support. And oddly enough, the first involvement of many evangelicals was in supporting Jimmy Carter, a fellow-Baptist. The Gallup Poll findings, though, do undermine a common perception -- that the culture is somehow becoming more "fundamentalist." As a percentage of the population, biblical literalism and born-again sentimentality has remained constant. ****************** ISRAELI RELIGIOUS GROUPS BATTLE OVER FUNDS, POWER The election of Likud party favorite Benjamin Netanyahu last week has resulted in worry from secular Israelis , and more in-fighting among the country's assorted religious groups. Fundamentalists have announced the goal of making the entire nation "Kosher", even if it takes shutting down fast-food restaurants, nightclubs, liquor stores, and the national airline. And the hard-liners are now even turning on their fellow "liberal" Jews. On Tuesday, members of Reform and Conservative Jewish movements began to express their worries about the new 23 seat block in the Knesset held by religious-right parties. . The Traditional-Conservative Movement, fearing that funding might be cut off by more fundamentalist Jewish elements, took to the nation's airwaves; spokesman Rabbi Anat Ramon said "They (the fundamentalists) should not touch any of the funds that were funneled to us," adding that the more right-wing believers should not ignore "court decisions that gave us all sorts of rights that allow us to participate in religious councils." Aryeh Deri of the fundamentalist Shas Party replied: "Who are the Reform Jews, anyway? In the religious councils, no more Reform Jews will enter. The Supreme Court allowed them to enter according to law, so we'll change the law." There were other ominous developments as well. In Jerusalem, a district carried heavilly by Netanhayu and fundamentalist parties, Deputy Mayor Shmuel Meir, a member of the National Religious Party, called for the destruction of 2,000 Arab-owned homes and the building of 50,000 homes for Jews. That move has been opposed by the more secular Jerusalem mayor, Ehud Momert. And Netanyahu's deputies announced yesterday that any peace talks with the Palestinians will not include a provision for the establishment of an independent political state. ****************** TURKISH COALITION CRUMBLING: ISLAMIC REVOLUTION IMMANENT? News and political sources report that the government of Turkish Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz could fall within the next 48-hours, thus raising the spectre of opposition Islamists seizing control of the country for the first time in over seven decades. According to The Times of London, that possibility has both financial and political officials deeply concerned; an Islamic government in Turkey could change that country's status in NATO, a play into the hands of Muslim movements throughout the region. At issue is the credibility of Tansu Ciller, the former Prime Minister who allied with Yilmaz and brought her True Path Party into the coalition government. In 1973, she was elected the first woman leader of the country, but stepped down in March amidst charges of operating a multi-million dollar slush fund. Those accusations were originally made by the fundamentalist Welfare Party, headed by Necmettin Erbakan. He came in first in elections last December, but was out-maneuvered by other groups which cobbled together the ill-fated Motherland-True Path coalition. Ciller contests the charges, but when Yilmaz threatened to send her case to the judiciary, Ciller moved for a no-confidence vote. That measure could be decided sometime tomorrow. The military, as usual, is a possible wild card in the equation of Turkish politics. Erbakan would not continue the country's involvement with U.S. foreign policy, or NATO strategy, and instead could move Turkey toward a working alliance with fundamentalist Iran. ************************* CHURCH ARSON SPREE EXCUSE FOR SPECIAL RELIGIOUS TREATMENT? A bill recently introduced in Congress would give the federal government more power in prosecuting arson at "houses of worship," and raises question as to whether religious groups are receiving special consideration above businesses and private individuals. The House measure was authored by Rep. Henry Hyde, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee and promoter of other proposed religious laws, including the Religious Equality Amendment. Hyde told Reuter news service that "This legislation will give federal authorities the tools necessary to prosecute and bring to justice people who burn, desecrate or otherwide damage religious property." He added that "There is no crime that should be more vigilantly investigated and the perpetrators more vigorously prosecuted than this." The so-called Church Arson Prevention Act would extend federal jurisdiction to any fires involving churches, synagogues and mosques where there is damage of $5,000 or more. Hyde's bill is seen as a response to the string of fires involving mostly black churches in a seven state region throughout the South. Over two-dozen cases are involved, although authorities are not certain who is involved, or if all the arsons are related. Assistant U.S. Attorney General Deval Patrick, though, called the blazes an "epidemic of terror." Two weeks ago, the Christian Coalition called for an immediate federal investigation, and offered its own $25,000 reward to anyone who could "provide information that would expose a link or a pattern of racial motivation in the church arsons." While condemning any violence or arson against churches, First Amendment state-church separationists are skeptical that Hyde's proposal is not necessary, and possibly a political stunt. American Atheists President Ellen Johnson asked: "What makes a church worth more federal protection than any other building in this country? Why is it more valuable than a private home?" "When the Ku Klux Klan burns crosses on people's front laws, does Henry Hyde rush out and demand special legislation?" Johnson added that Hyde "is the man who for years has vigorously been opposed to abortion rights. That's ironic, since abortion clinics have been fire-bombed, but he has ignored calls for tough action against those anti-choice terrorists.". "I think that Hyde is more concerned about the "house of worship" rather than the people inside!", Johnson mused. ********************* VATICAN BOSSES STILL SPLIT OVER ''CATHOLIC ALLIANCE'' The Catholic Alliance, a "wholly owned subsidiary of the Christian Coalition," is experiencing a boom in membership, and some criticism from leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. According to Christianity Today, the Alliance now claims 200,000 members; but parts of its theopolitical agenda don't agree with the goals of Vatican groups such as the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the independence of the group even has some "church fathers" worried. The fact that the Alliance is not under the direct control of the Bishops has prompted three top officials, including Archbishop J. Francis Stafford of Denver, to caution parishioners about joining. "We must say as strongly as possible," declared a recent statement, that "the Catholic Alliance of the Christian Coalition does not represent the Catholic Church." Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony doesn't even like the name. He recently told the Los Angeles Times that "it sounds as if it is Catholic, and a lot of people I know are confused and think somehow the church position supports it." Observers note that the Vatican and the Coalition/Alliance share a number of common goals, especially on "pro-family" issues like abortion, euthanasia and censorship. Officials of the Christian Coalition and the Catholic Alliance even met with Pope John Paul II recently; that confab included Protestant televangelist Pat Robertson and Catholic Alliance president Maureen Roselli. But according to a memo on "political responsibility" from the Washington, D.C., Archdiocese, "The Catholic Alliance leadership has never asked for nor received from any bishop permission to use the term Catholic." And there are differences, especially on social issues such as welfare and immigration. Whereas Coalition conservatives generally support tough laws concerning immigration, other religious groups -- including the Vatican -- take a more liberal stance. Even with differences, though, the Alliance and mother church still have a lot in common, something not lost on Bishop James McHugh of New Jersey. He told Christianity Today that "In the face of secularism of our political lanscape and the trivialization of religion by some of the our most prominent political leaders, Christians should strive to find many more areas of agreement in developing political strategies." ************** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Today is The DAY, June 6, 1996 -- the sixth month, the sixth day, the ninety-sixth year. 666, Mark of the Beast and all that. Excited? Worried? If not, check out what's happening in Bogota, Columbia. Seems that fundamentalist Protestant groups flooded the area last week declaring that today, the Antichrist will lay claim to all unbaptized children; as a result, people have been flocking to churches, including the popular Catholic worshipping spots, and national television has been covering the mass-hysteria event, complete with clips from old horror movies like "The Omen" and even "Rosemary's Baby." One woman told The New York Times: "They showed the Antichrist on television...I'm afraid the Antichrist will mark my children or take them away." The rumor is so preposterous that even the Catholic Church doesn't want to join in the horrid spectacle, and has been doing what it can to defuse panic and fears. Church authorities have been locked in a virtual "turf war" with various Protestant fundamentalist and evangelical sects for membership, and quickly blame the heretics for this latest round of millennial angst. The director of the Church's department of doctrine told The Times that those responsible for the Antichrist panic belong to a sect that predicts the ultimate showdown between good and evil as prophesized in the Book of Revelation. Even so, the churches are reportedly packed, even during those periods of the day when masses and other public ceremonies are not being conducted. Ironically, the Antichrist may prove to be the best friend organized religion in Columbia ever had! ************* 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 more information about American Atheists, just send e-mail to: and put your name and mailing address in the message box. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and aanews. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send e-mail to:, and put "info aanews" in the message body (minus quotation marks). Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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