Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 13, 1996 nn nn AA

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Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 13, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #63 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/13/96 In This Edition... * Baptists Not Goofy and Gay Over Disney * Church Arson: Clinton Wants Government Aid * Churches Protected Pedophiles in Britain, Ireland * Freement: Surrender Negotiations, More Christian Identity Links * TheistWatch: Vatican & Iran To Team Up For Cleanliness? * About This List... SOUTHERN BAPTISTS BLAST DISNEY FOR GAY BENEFITS Equal rights for gay men and women is once again the target of religious bigotry. Yesterday, the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention voted to censure the Walt Disney Co, in part because the giant theme-park and entertainment conglomerate has a policy of extending health insurance benefits to same-sex partners of employees. The Baptist censure comes amidst a growing national debate on same-sex or "gay marriage," an issue which has prompted legislation in Congress and criticism from President Clinton. Meeting in New Orleans, the 14,000 Baptist delegates and officials approved the anti-Disney resolution, but stopped short of launching an economic boycott. Observers suggest that this action is a "wait and see" strategy in hopes that the Walt Disney Co. will alter its benefits policy. But the gay-marriage issue quickly began to spill over to other complaints. One Baptist minister told the New York Times that delegates were also upset with the distribution of the movie "Priest," by Miramax, a Disney Co. subsidiary. The film plot dealt in part with a Roman Catholic priest struggling with his latent homosexual tendencies. Catholic and other religious groups throughout the country called for a banning of the movie. According to the New York Times, other Baptists expressed sentiments like "The Disney Co. is not the same Disney that it was years ago when we were growing up. We find there is a philosophical shift at the highest levels of the company, which is not friendly to families and people of faith." Delegates mentioned Disney productions such as the hit-movie "The Lion King," which some insisted promoted "nature worship." Some religious sects claimed that the sound-track of the film contained "subliminal" messages instructing children to remove clothing, although no evidence was ever produced. Baptists officials declared that homosexual behavior is clearly condemned in the bible, and charged that "In recent years, the Disney Co. has given the appearance that the promotion of homosexuality is more important than its historic commitment to traditional family values." The SBC also condemned what it said were special gay-themed events at Disney parks. The trend, though, of offering insurance benefits to same-sex couples seems to be growing; Disney is one of more than 40 entertainment firms that now offers such coverage. A representative for the group Hollywood Supports, which promotes the gay insurance coverage policy, declared that the Baptist resolution signals "a sad day for organized religion." There is no timetable or deadline listed in the Southern Baptist resolution, and Disney Co. representatives said that while they would be willing to talk with church officials, there were no plans to rescind the insurance coverage policy. **************** CHURCH ARSON SPREE CONTINUES AS PRESIDENT CLINTON CALLS FOR GOVERNMENT LOAN GUARANTEES TO RELIGION An Oklahoma church with a mixed-race congregation went up in flames early this morning; authorities are already labeling it arson, making it the fourth such fire in the last ten days. According to CNN and other news sources, officials insist that it's too early to know if it is related to any of the more than 30 fires in the South involving churches, which have prompted a massive federal investigation. This morning, CNN reported that the Clinton administration was calling for the establishment of a special, $10,000,000 guaranteed-loan fund to rebuild churches, mosques, temples and other religious venues destroyed as the result of "hate crimes" or "religious vandalism." The network also said that administration officials were not worried about such a program violating the First Amendment (Establishment Clause), since it would be including in a program aimed at racially-motivated criminal behavior. Even with a task force of over 200 federal agents on the arson cases, though, there is still no pattern of widespread conspiracy. And religious leaders continue to object that government investigators are apparently investigating a number of possible explanations, in some cases questioning church members and ministers. Throughout the week, leaders of various religious organizations have denounced the suspected arsons. One United Church of Christ leader declared "When you burn a church, you are burning a house of god and the support center and nerve center of our community." A UCC statement also said that "An outcry by all people of faith is needed now, lest people as well as buildings become targets of these ugly and violent attacks." On Tuesday, the Christian Coalition again tried to capitalize on the media coverage of the arsons, sending out press releases noting that its member churches would "offer the pastors of burned out churches alternative sites to hold worship services." The group also reiterated its $25,000 reward for any information leading to convictions in the church burnings. So far, the arson probe has produced a "mentally troubled" 13-year old white girl, and three men who were later released for lack of evidence. About the only hard evidence being used for prosecution involves a case filed late last week by the Southern Poverty Law Center against the Christian Knights of the Ku Klux Klan. Two Christian Knights are being held in connection with arsons at a black church. **************** CATHOLIC OFFICIALS ADMIT CHURCH COVERED-UP CHILD ABUSE, PEDOPHILE BEHAVIOR The British cabinet meets today to approve what news sources say is a "sweeping campaign against paedophiles (sic)", after revelatios about institutional abuse of youngsters in children's homes. This comes after revelations that a report on at least one sex-abuse scandal was suppressed. And Roman Catholic leaders in both Britain and Ireland released statements admitted that the church has turned a blind eye in the past to the activities of absuve, pedophile priests. The Bishop of Portsmouth, in an apology published in Catholic Herald, said: "I want it to be very clearly understood that I will always act to protect children...In the past, the Church has not always done this and this failure to act was wrong." In Ireland, Dr. William Walsh, Bishop of Killaloe said that the church has been "sinful" and, according to Electronic Telegraph, must "set aside a period of repentance each year to reflect on the suffering it has caused." Walsh made his remarks to the National Conference of Priests of Ireland, and added that "as a Church we need to apologist, to ask for forgiveness. We need right now to be a repentant Church." In both Britain and Ireland, the Church image has been tarnished with growing numbers of revelations about pedophile activity, and cover-ups by priests, nuns and ecclesiastical officials. Cases being cited in news reports involved Fr. Brendan Smyth, jailed in 1994 for molestation, and Bishop Casey who resigned in 1992 when it was disclosed that he had fathered a child with an American divorcee. And this past year, numerous victims of child abuse came forward with shocking accounts of beatings while at an orphanage run by the Sisters of Mercy. ************ FREEMEN STANDOFF READY TO END? As AANEWS is ready for dispatch, there is growing evidence that the 81-day old standoff between the FBI and the Freemen group could be ready to end. At least one large truck has moved onto the Freemen compound, reportedly to transport documents which may be used in any subsequent legal proceedings involving the separatist group. On the scene are representatives of the CAUSE Foundation, a legal assistance group associated with white nationalist movements, which was also involved in events at Waco. AANEWS has also uncovered significant connections involving CAUSE founder Kirk Lyons and Christian Identity groups, including the racist Aryan Nations movement based in Idaho. Lyon's organization started off in 1989 as the Patriots Defense Foundation, and is dubbed "The ACLU for Patriots" on the nationalist "Stormfront" web site. Lyons is 37-years old, and a graduate of the University of Houston. According to the "Stormfront" site, "Lyons and CAUSE Foundation have gained a reputation for uncompromising dedication and toughness, from the Ft. Smith, Arkansas, sedition trials to the Randy Weaver case at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, on to the Branch Davidian affair in Waco, Texas." Lyons is married to the sister of David Tate, currently serving two life terms for shooting a Missouri state trooperin connection with the activities of a group known as The Order. Tate had worked for Rev. Richard Butler, one of the leading promoters of Christian Identity theo-politics. According to "Armed and Dangerous", a book by James Coates dealing with Identity, racial-nationalist and apocalyptic movements in contemporary America, "Tate had signed on as one of Butler's Aryan 'soldiers," rising quickly through the ranks until he was chief of security and in charge of training members in hand-to-hand combat." While driving through Missouri in 1985, Tate was pulled over by a state trooper after being indicted on racketeering charges; those charges were connected to the activities of The Order, which had been involved in a serious of violent robberies in order to raise funds for various Identity-linked, nationalist groups. According to reports, Tate opened fire with a machine gun and escaped, but was later captured after leading police on a six-day hunt. Tate was also linked with CSA, an Identity group known as Covenant, the Sword and the Arm of the Lord. CAUSE Foundation is based in Black Mountain, N.C.; the abbreviation stands for Canada, Australia, United States, South Africa and Europe. An Associated Press story says that "Members describe CAUSE as an international civil rights legal foundation that defends of the rights of the unpopular, the powerless and the politically incorrect." In the latest developments: * The upside-down American flag at the Freemen compound has been taken down; a Confederate banner has taken its place. * Representatives connected with both sides of the standoff are now hinting that they are working out final details on a possible surrender plan, including the transport of at least of the Freemen to a jail in Billings, Montana. * CNN reports (as of 3:00 p.m. Eastern) that there will probably be a surrender today, and that two 15-person transport vans have been brought onto an area near the Freemen compound. *************** (Our thanks to AANEWS correspondent Margie Wait for tracking these developments.) ******* THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS AANEWS is tracking another story which hasn't got much mention in the national media; there are reports that Iran and the Vatican are discussing "possible cooperation in radio broadcasting in an attempt to combat...immorality." This report originally came from Tehran radio about two weeks ago. Seems that the head of the Iranian state-run "Voice and Vision," a Mr. Ali Larijani, has been meeting with the head of Vatican Radio, Pasquale Borgomeo. Iran is expressing "complete willingness to cooperate with the Vatican in technical fields and in radio and television programming." ************************ Out Internet Representative, Margie Wait, does a good deal of background investigation into the stories which eventually are covered by AANEWS. We thought that her recent remarks on the aachat newsgroup about the spat of church arsons would be of interest to readers: "It just so happens that in today's Rocky Mountain News there was an article about the displeasure that some ministers have expressed to Attorney General Janet Reno because their internal organizations are being investigated. "The ministers feel that it is turning into an interrogation, rather than an investigation. One minister expressed, 'It creates a cloud of suspicion over those persons and pastors in that congregation until this is resolved.' They have been supposedly subjected to lie detector tests and other types of questioning. "Apparently, churches are untouchable! Whether it's a fire investigation or another criminal matter, the church and all of its parts should be left alone. What they are saying is, 'We want these criminal acts investigated, but you can't touch me or my flock, because we have special immunity from the government. We should not have to open our records or our internal matters to your investigators.' "It's the old double standard; they want separation of church and state when it involves 'government interference' in THEIR business, but the churches want to have the right to interfere and infiltrate in the government's business and, basically, tear down the Wall of Separation. Go figure!" ****************** We also have a report, gratis Ms. Wait and aachat, that a "rabid Christian talk show host," Hank Irwin, who broadcasts from Birmingham, Alabama, is saying that some of the fires are copycat acts inspired by the Devil. Ms. Wait observes: "When all else fails, 'The Devil made 'em do it!' " ****** 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:; be sure to include your name and mailing address in the message body. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to:, and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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