Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 10, 1996 (Evening
Date: Mon, 10 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 10, 1996 (Evening Dispatch)
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
# 60 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/10/96 (Evening Dispatch)
In This Edition...
* Antichrist Fears, Religious Fervor
* More American Gothic: Freemen and Girls Ready To Marry!
* Islamic Numbers Game
* More First Amendment Battles in Utah
* TheistWatch -- Get Ready For Cyber-Protest or Cyber Celebration!
* From The Editor...
* About This List...
ANTI-CHRIST HYSTERIA LINKED TO POLITICS, CORRUPTION
Last week's wave of hysteria over the alleged appearance of the
"Antichrist" is still reverberating through society in the Latin American
nation of Columbia. On Thursday, speculation and anxiety throughout the
country peaked following the appearance of leaflets warning that on June 6,
1996 -- the sixth day of the sixth month of the ninety-sixth year -- the
Antichrist would lay claim to all unbaptized children, and perform other
diabolical deeds. Roman Catholic Church authorities discounted the rumors,
which they say were spread by unidentified Protestant groups. Nevertheless,
churches were packed, and Columbian television was broadcasting re-runs of
perennial horror movie classics like "Rosemary's Baby" and "The Omen" series.
"A Mia Farrow Re-Run -- Worse Than The Antichrist!", we mused in our
dispatch of the same day.
But social anxieties and dislocation continues, even though June 6, 1996
is history. Catholic Church officials continue to blame the Antichrist
hysteria on Columbia's political crisis, and now charge that President
Ernesto Samper's administration is financed by drug lords. The Vatican has
been using anti-drug sentiment in Columbia to position its own political and
social fortunes. Carlos Mario Alzate of the Columbian Catholic Episcopate
Conference charged that "It's because of the lack of leadership and means to
solve the political crisis that people turn to this type of fantasy as a sort
of lifesaver." In a dispatch from Reuter news service, Alzate added that
"It's all due to people's ignorance and the fact that the church itself
hasn't managed to evangelize people as much as it would like."
Other statements from the Catholic Bishops continued to blame "alarmist
preaching" by Protestants and "absurd speculation."
But the Church fanned the flames of satanic paranoia, though, when the
Archbishop of Barranquilla, Columbia -- Felix Mardia Torres Parra -- branded
President Samper a "virtual devil...because of his alleged ties to drug
lords." (Reuter). Parra added that Samper was the "hub" around which
corruption and "venality" in Columbia swirls.
A Theo-Political Agenda?
In Columbia, Church officials are working hard at positioning themselves
in the event of a massive political realignment which some suggest is
inevitable. Charges of widespread corruption -- and the possibility that
drug interests even financed Samper's 1994 election campaign -- are
"coalescing the opposition" in the Columbian Congress according to the N.Y.
Times, and could lead to the President's ouster. Still, a committee
investigating charges against Samper is recommending that they be dropped for
lack of evidence.
Another factor is the fate of Juan Carlos Gaviria, a hostage held by a
shadowy group known as "Dignity for Columbia." He is the brother of former
Columbian President Cesar Gaviria, who now serves as secretary-general of the
Organization of American States. The "Dignity" guerillas say they will
execute Gaviria is Samper is not impeached by the Columbian Congress.
Speculation about who is behind the "Dignity for Columbia" movement is also
rampant, and everyone from left-wing drug traffickers to rightist
paramilitary groups have been suspected.
Church vigils for Gaviria took place throughout last week, and overlapped
the mass-baptisms being conducted in the event of a cameo appearance by
FREEMEN CITE MORE BIBLE LAW IN RADIO INTERVIEW AS
STANDOFF WITH FEDS CONTINUES
The 12-week standoff between Montana Freemen and the FBI continues. It's
great news for the local merchants, who are reaping a small financial
windfall from the 100 FBI agents and dozens of news correspondence encamped
outside of the Freemen ranch. Inside the 960-acre property, the group is
reported to have large stocks of food, fueld and other supplies.
Colorado State Senator Charles Duke, one of the many outsiders who have
tried to negotiate with the Freemen, says that "The majority are in for the
long haul. Make no mistake about that."
The Freemen continue to communicate with the outside world, though, using
everything from written messages they post at the gate of their ranch to
computers and cell phones. They have also been giving interviews, including
one on the American Freedom Network, which broadcasts via shortwave radio,
satellite and even some AM stations.
AANEWS correspondent Halald Illig obtained a transcript of a May 23
interview, which has interesting quotes revealing some of the religious
motivation behind the Freemen.
The Freemen philosophy is based on a set of theological teachings known as
Christian Identity, which unites a number of racialist, theocratic groups
throughout the country. Rodney Skurdal, 43, is considered one of the "inner
circle" of the Freemen group. He defended the practice of filing "liens"
against public officials and enemies, telling AFN:
"The nation's in debt to me right now. I'm one of the largest bankers in
the nation right now, based on law, and I can take it right back into
biblical law, because even though we talk about gold and silver -- God also
said we throw the gold and silver into the streets, right? So what's left?
That's credit. It's all civilly correct and constitutionally correct."
"Basically anything you cite out of the Constitution, you can take it back
to the Bible. It's not something that we just thought of. It's already been
established by the word of Almighty God."
Skurdal also commented on why negotiations, which have now involved over
50 outside individuals including militia/patriot movement guru James "Bo"
Gritz, have failed:
"First off, you've got to realize that the FBI is not a government
agency...They have to have a delegation of authority, and they have to be
registered to do business here in Montana, which they're not under 30-13, 215
and 216, just like the United States is not registered to do business here in
Montana. I got (sic) a certificate of nonexistence from the secretary of
state, stating that the United States is not registered to do business here."
Skurdal and Freemen leaders Dale Jacobi and Russell Landers are said to
conduct late-night indoctrination session for the group usually at the house
of Richard Clark. Dubbed "The Schoolhouse," the Clark residence is
considered the main locus of activity. Although Mr. Clark is considered a
"hard-liner" on Christian Identity and Sovereignty issues, he has received
more than $1 million in federal loans.
Mr. Landers appears in Freemen videos, often dressed in a uniform complete
with a black hat and tight jeans. He faces securities fraud charges, and
according to the lates USA TODAY "spent time in as Colorado mental
institution last August."
Associates note that Mr. Skurdal, who is also in charge of security at the
Freemen compound, was once assigned to a Marine guard protecting President
Richard Nixon at the Western White House in San Clemente, California. After
his discharge, he suffered a skull fracture while working on an oil right and
according to the New York Times "underwent a personality change." Since
then, Mr. Skurdal has been described as "nervous and aggressive."
"Girls Ready For Marriage At Puberty"
Freemen and Identity teachings concerning sexuality have not been lost on
some observers of the current standoff. Last week, Gloria Ward, along with
her two children and her common-law husband, left the compound and were
promptly hustled away by FBI agents. Ms. Ward is linked to a fring group of
excommunicated Mormons who believe that "Girls are ready for marriage at
puberty," according to the New York Times. While residing in Michigan, she
"pushed" her 14-year old daughter in a marriage with John Perry Chaney, then
age 38, and a founder of the Freemen sect. The daughter promptly became
pregnant, and was placed by state welfare workers in a foster home. When her
original husband obtained a custody order for the other children, Ms. Ward
promptly headed for the Montana compound with both kids.
Freemen founder John Chaney is currently in Utah awaiting trial on
conspiracy and rape charges. He "married off" his 13-year old daughter to
a 48-year old Freemen follower named Donald Beaver, who was later charged
with rape and is now wanted.
With their bizarre concotion of racialist Christian Identity theology,
fraudulent check-writing schemes and sexual peccadillos, the Freemen may go
down in history as a classic case of pre-millennialist American Gothic.
MAGAZINE FLAP OVER MOHAMMED: WAS PROPHET A DOUBLE-CROSSER?
When it comes to the current Israeli-Paletinian question passions on both
sides of the issue can get pretty heated. That's exactly what appears to
have happened with a column appearing in today's edition of U.S. News and
World Report where columnist Morton Zuckerman questions the character of PLO
Chairman Yasser Arafat. Asked Zuckerman: "Does (Arafat) believe his own
rhetoiric when he echoes the doctrine of the prophet Mohammed of making
treaties with enemies while he is weak, violating them when he is strong?"
That statement has triggered a demand from the Council on American-Islamic
Relations for an immediate apology. It appears that Mohammed did not make
any such statement, and the duplicitous advice is now being compared to other
phoney quotes, including those which lambast Jews in the infamous "Protocols
of the Learned Elders of Zion."
There is an interesting twist, however, to this story. An editorial in
today's Rocky Mountain News (Colorado) states that Zuckerman's statements
"insult not only PLO militants, CAIR alleged, but also 5 million to 6 million
American Muslims of all political persuasions."
A Million Here, A Million There -- Numbers Don't Add Up
On June 1, AANEWS reported that First Lady Hillary Clinton had been
schmoozing with leaders of the American Muslim community the week before in a
little-publicized prayer breakfast held in Los Angeles. She told the 300
representatives that the event "served notice that Muslims in this country
can no longer be ignored." Another AANEWS dispatch that same day quoted
Mrs. Clinton as saying that "Islam is the fastest-growing religion in
We also asked why Mrs. Clinton was cavorting with religious leaders who
represented about 500,000 American Muslims, especially when some 25 million
Americans were Atheists, or professed no religious belief. "What about us?,"
we wondered. That half-million figure now seems to have gotten inflated up
around "5 million or 6 million" in the version coming from the Council of
American Islamic Relations. It still has a ways to go, though, in reaching
the 40 million figure conjured by Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan as
the number of "American Muslims" he claimed to represent in meetings with
various world dictators.
UTAH ATHEISTS TAKE ON ''ENDLESS CRUSADING'' BY OFFICIALS
Chris Allen, Utah Director for American Atheists and its parent
organization, Society of Separationists, is again taking on his state's
religious establishment. Here's his latest "letter to the editor" concerning
religion in Utah public schools...
The campaign by Utah public school officials to sneak religious
indoctrination in the back door continues. In May West Jordan High School
officials flatly broke state and federal law by conducting LDS seminary
classes in the school, reasoning they could get away with it for two days.
Then the Richfield High School graduation ceremony was held in the LDS
tabernacle. Weeks earlier LDS Church leaders had declared their tabernacles
to be churches, and thus led the St. George City Council to deny a liquor
license to a restaurant 700 yards away, but that didn't stop school
administrators in Richfield.
In Salt Lake the scheme by West High School officials to intrude prayer
into graduation ceremonies by singing it continued when the school choir
again sang "Friends." That song has now become an anthem for Mormon
domination of schools in Utah.
Each of these incidents is a new precedent for weakening the separation of
state and church. Each is an exercise in intolerance, and the public is
right to be concerned. Two years ago the majority of Utahns signaled their
desire for state/church separation in schools when they rejected the
so-called Nonsectarian Study of Religion amendment to the state constitution,
but our school leaders couldn't care less.
As conservative as our federal courts have become, they still appreciate
the social value of state/church separation, especially in our schools. Just
this month a federal judge in Mississippi struck down student-led school
prayer as unconstitutional. In Utah, too many of our school officials just
don't get it, and are eager to lead us into another divisive legal
confrontation. Their endless crusading at our expense is a serious
indictment of the current top leadership in our schools.
Society of Separationists
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Get ready for a day of either virtual celebration or protest, depending on
how a federal court decides the constitutionality of the infamous
Communications Decency Act. Do we want religious purity-patrols and
government decency cops in cyberspace? If you've been surfing the web, you
might have noticed the thousands of sites which now display a question mark
with the words: "Will online free speech survive?" This is all part of a
campaign to await rulings deciding the fate of the Act, the bastard child of
a religious right agenda in Congress and the political ambitions of Bill
Clinton who signed the bill into law. For details, go to
http:/www.vtw.org/speech/ Organizers promise that reaction to the decision
-- which is expected any day -- will be fast.
The Vatican is worried about security and mass protests during Pope John
Paul II's visit to Germany scheduled for June 21-23. While the travellin'
pontiff is expected to draw huge crowds for the usual round of outdoor masses
and parades, hundreds of thousands of protesters are also expected to offer
their own greeting in disagreement with Church teachings about contraception
and other issues. Der Spiegel magazine reports that Cardinal Georg
Sterezinsky and Archbishop Johannes Degendardt are busy holding meetings with
state security officials.
Last year, nearly 1.5 million German Roman Catholics signed a petition
calling for ordination of women, and end to celibacy for priests and use of
From the Editor,,,
We have been delighted with the response from those of you volunteering
your efforts as unofficial AANEWS correspondents. And we have also received
another flood of SUBSCRIBE messages from those joining our list -- consider
this to be a word of welcome! Reaction to AANEWS has been both positive and
encouraging; and we're only at issue #60.
Those of you who are members of American Atheists will be happy to know
that the American Atheist Newsletter is about to be "re-born," thanks in part
to the efforts of our new Editor, Frank Zindler. Since the disappearance of
the Murray O'Hairs, Mr. Zindler has taken over editorial responsibilities for
the American Atheist Magazine as well, along with American Atheist Press. It
has taken considerable effort to jump-start the organization, but we are well
on our way; we hope to get the current issue of the Newsletter into your
mailbox as soon as we can!
Members are also invited to participate in our on-line moderated
discussion group, aachat. This list is operated by our Internet
Representative, Margie Wait, and deals with topics such as Atheism,
state-church separation, religion, civil liberties and related issues. To
participate, send e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org, and include your name and
Finally, due to the sheer glut of material we have, there will probably be
a special "Night Owl" edition of AANEWS later this evening. Our apologies
for clogging your e-mail boxes and hard-drives. And with this being the
"Evening Dispatch,'' well, we simply couldn't think of a more appropriate
label than "Night Owl." And whooo's responsible for that term, we cannot
Again, thanks for patience, and a hearty WELCOME! to those of you who are
new to the AANEWS family!
-- The Editor
About This List...
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Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank