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

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Date: Thu, 13 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 13, 1996 ~~ Evening Dispatch Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #64 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/13/96 ~~ Evening Dispatch In This Edition... * Slouching Toward Theocracy: The Religious Agenda in Congress * Gore on Cyber-Rights: "Do As I Say, Not As I Do" * TheistWatch: Whipped Cream on Buxom Women & More "Family Values" * Late Breaking News ~ Freemen Standoff to End Tonight? * About This List... RELIGIOUS AGENDA CONTINUES TO MOVE THROUGH CONGRESS It has been over a year since the Christian Coalition announced its "Contract With the American Family", a manifesto of its legislative goals. Much of that agenda -- as well as other religious right goals -- have either been achieved, or continue to move through the legislative process. It includes: * Religious Equality Amendment. Two versions of this amendment to the U.S Constitution have been introduced; to varying degrees, they would both permit "voluntary" prayer in public schools, and the teaching of religion in a wide range of academic subjects. Critics note that the Amendment would not only promote religious prayer, but could be used to introduce pseudo-science "Creationism" as an "alternative" to evolution, and shut down programs dealing with sex education, AIDS awareness and other controversial topics. * Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act. Federal and state acts dealing with "Parental Rights" say that the education, upbringing and crafting of moral beliefs in children in primarilly the responsibility of parents. While critics acknowledge the "common sense" of that statement, they fear that the Act would end up shutting down any programs or activities in schools which parents could find "objectionable" or against religious beliefs. One congressional opponent of the Act said that it would be "a full-employment act for lawyers," and unleash a new wave of litigation, particularly against public school districts over everything from sex education to the content of school library books. Critics also worry that it could blunt investigations of child abuse, especially "bible-based discipline" and beating of children. * Defense of Marriage Act. Introduced by Rep. Bob Barr (R-Ga.), the bill officially defines marriage as "a union between one man and one woman," and is seen as a religious/conservative response to same sex marriage. It would allow states to ignore laws passed in other states which recognize homosexual unions. Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted 20-10 to pass the bill to the full House. See this evening's TheistWatch for a run-down on the two-timers and other scoundrels who promote this legislation! * Communications Decency Act. Many critics see this Act as the epitome of President Clinton's "sell out" to the current fad over traditional, family values. The Act attempted to define and prohibit the transmission of any "obscene" material over computer networks like the internet or world wide web which might be seen by children. Yesterday, a Federal panel in Philadelphia overturned the Act and issued an injunction against its enforcement, but the government is, of course, expected to appeal at taxpayer expense. ********* GORE STATEMENT ON CYBER-RIGHTS SHOWED ADMIN HYPOCRISY Thousands of sites on the world wide web are celebrating yesterday's victory in federal court which overturned (for now) the infamous Communications Decency Act. But a dispatch released Tuesday by the American Civil Liberties Union contains a number of quotes by Vice President Albert Gore, which suggest that Al is a kind of "do as I say, not as I do" guy. Last Friday, (6/7) he told graduates at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that society should not resort to "unwarranted censorship" in trying to protect kids from objectionable material. According to ACLU, while Gore supported government efforts to assist parents in protecting children from bad material, he added: "But let me also state my clear and unequivocal view that a fear of chaos cannot justify unwarranted censorship of free speech, whether that speech occurs in newspapers, on the broadcast airwaves -- or over the Internet. "Our best reaction to the speech we loathe is to speak out, to reject, to respond, even with emotion and fervor, but to censor -- no. That has not been our way for 200 years, and it must not become our way now." Unfortunately, Al doesn't practice what he preaches -- and neither does his boss, Bill Clinton, who signed the Communications Decency Act into law. And neither does a Justice Department flunkie, Deputy Attorney General Jamie Gorelick. According to the ACLU dispatch, Gorelick advocates"strict givernment control of the Net, citing 'e-mail flames' and 'faceless' chat rooms as threats to family values. Gorelick called for 'the equivalent of the Manhattan Project to address the 'threat' of the Internet." *********************** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS A federal appeals court has ruled that churches in Albuquerque, N.M. must be allowed to show a movie about the life of Jesus, and pass out bibles at city senior centers. That decision came after the Church on the Rock sued the city because the church had been banned from showing the film "Jesus." Justices said that the City "failed to show a compelling interest that justifies its policy prohibiting sectarian instruction and religious worship." TheistWatch is trying to determine whether attendance at these events was coerced by nursing home officials or employees. ************* In 1989, when writer Salman Rushdie's novel "The Satanic Verses" hit bookstores, it was soon condemned as blasphemous by the late Ayatollah Khomeni, who promptly put a multi-million dollar price on the author's life. Muslim thugs poured into the streets of Tehran -- and elsewhere -- demanding that the book be censored. In Britain and America, this ignited a firestorm of debate over the civil liberties issues involved: a surprising number of Christian, Jewish, Muslim and other religious leaders condemned the book as an offense to religious sensibilities, and in many cases demanded legislation against publishing or promoting any views that "insulted" or mocked the religious superstitions of believers. In Britain, the notorious Blasphemy Law prohibitis utterances which slur the "person" of Jesus Christ or the official Church of England. With the Rushdie case, everyone from Jews to Hindus and Muslims "wanted in" on the laws special protection. Now, a group known as the "Muslim Parliament" led by Mohammad Ghayaussudin has issued an ultimatum to the British government to demand new laws on religious discrimination. Demands include Islamic instruction in British schools, inclusion of Muslims under the Blasphemy Laws and support for Iran's continued "fatwa" or death sentence against Salman Rushdie. Ghayaussudin declared that "We are sick and tired of being told that we should be accepted into society when we integrate and abandon our Islamic culture, identity and religion." As for censorship of ideas critical of religion and his other demands, Ghayasuddin said "We are prepared to break the law to bring justice to our community and to go to jail if necessary." ************** We recently asked readers to send in reports of graduation activities in their area which, in clear violation of the First Amendment, included "student led" prayer, singing of religious songs and other rituals which are clearly of a religious nature. Among the replies was a one about religious activities in the U.S. Air Force. They include the Oath of Office ("So Help Me God") which is considered optional, and the use of Lee Greenwood's "Proud to be an American" played at the conclusion of the USAF Thunderbirds demonstration. The song includes the words "God Bless the U.S.A..) At the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, the recent graduation ceremony included an invocation/prayer by Chaplain Lt. Col. John Montecalvo. It strikes us that as a taxpayer supported institution, the Academy should at least obey the U.S. Supreme Court decisions on such an invasive, unconstitutional practice. *********** Religion often opposes scientific inquiry and technological progress; and once such progress is a fact of everyday life, religionists often "thank god" for such miracles. Consider the growing opposition of religious movements right and left to cutting-edge areas such as biotechnology. Everyone from Mr. Jeremy Rifkind and his anti-science religious sidekicks to the Vatican/Right-to-life types who defend "rights" for fetuses and clumps of genetic material believes that such technology "threaten's god's creation" or is "unnatural." So here's a TW prediction: expect for breakthroughs in the biotechnology field to run into a wall of religious opposition. Last week, Associated Press noted that Genzyme Corporation finally has government permission to regrow joint cartilage; and FDA biotechnology chief Philip Noguchi is predicting that "Tissue engineering will be here in five years, I'm sure." This raises the possibility of actually growing entire glands and organs -- good news for those ravaged by cancer and other maladies. But notice how even such scientific-medical breakthroughs are soon coopted by the religious mindset. Last week, a four year old girl became the first in Britain to undergo a new hospital procedure which uses a small, umbrella-shaped device to repair the damage of congenital heart disease. Instead of tedious open-heart surgery, the new method uses a device inserted through a small thigh incision and threaded into the heart. The patient is home the next day. Ironically, this breakthrough device is referred to as "angels wings." *************** A Pentacostal congregation in Canada has gotten the boot from fellow religionists due to its excessive enthusiasm and, well, 'er, grunts. The "Toronto Blessing" church has been asked to leave the Association of Vineyard churches for placing what Religion News Service terms "extra-biblical" meaning on animal sounds made during its festive prayer services. "Six nights a week, worshippers laugh, weep, groan, fall to the ground and utter sounds described as animal like," says RNS. Pentacostals consider such ecstatic behaviors as "signs" of God's presence -- similar to what one sees during a voodoo ceremony or other religious rites involves "possession" by spirits of the worshipper. But the "Blessing" folks go a bit too far for their Canadian comrades. An official with the parent church group said that "We cannot at any time endorse, encourage, offer theological justification or biblical proof-texting for any exotic practices that are extra-biblical." ********************** Whoa there, Jimmie dude! That's a strange notion of freedom that you and your's have! We're talking about Jim Henry, President of the Southern Baptist Convention who led the charge to criticize the Walt Disney Co. for its policy of extending health benefits to employees in gay or straight domestic living arrangements. Imagine our surprise when we found out that just last week, Jim was working with other groups such as the National Association of Evangelicals, in pressuring the White House to do something about "overseas persecution" of Christians. Much of this "persecution" involves the same type of government-enforced religious belief (mostly in Moslem or Hindu countries) which our own home-grown Christian ayatollahs would like to implement here, on their own behalf. The latest rage for fundamentalists and evangelicals is "praying through the 10-30 window", a reference to the geographical slice of earth which happens to include heathen, unchurched and generally non-Christian countries. Missionary efforts in those societies is often discouraged by the resident government and the prevailing religious orthodoxy. Even in Russia, a slew of candidates is offering to appease the Russian Orthodox Church there by promising to place limits on "foreign missionaries." It seems that for Jim Henry, "freedom" is a constrained, selectively-interpreted notion. There's no freedom for gays who live in "sin," but when it comes to promoting Jesus belief, it's time to get Clinton, the U.S. Government and --who knows? -- maybe the U.S. Army working on the 10-30 problem. *************** One of our Pennsylvania correspondents informs us of a Philadelphia-area minister who at age 37 began fooling around with a 15-year old girl who was ostensibly under his professional care as a counselor. Rev. S. Aiken is charged with three counts of currupting a minor and one count of indecent assault. The alleged victim told jurors that she began having counseling sessions with the good minister after her parents heard one of his sermons. But those hour-long sessions ostensibly included the Rev' telling his patient that she was possessed by evil demons. Well, we know where that sort of mumbo-jumbo usually ends up. "He started making comments about my body," said the young woman. "He wasn't much of a pastor anymore." ****************** Sifting through newspapers, reports, faxes and other material, AANEWS has developed a somewhat jaundiced eye about the "church arson" conspiracy which has entranced President Clinton and America's religious establishment. I mean, if the churches REALLY wanted to help out blacks, they could start by putting their enormous property-holdings on the tax rolls to fund a nationwide scholarship-aid program for youth. But nooooooo -- better to "rebuild" those creeky churches. And least you believe that this isn't a religious issue, well, consider a Reuter report from Dallas Texas. The latest group to cash-in on this spectacle is none other than the Nation of Islam, which on Tuesday "moved in" to the Texas town of Greenville and promptly told reporters that they would "patrol the town to stave off further attacks." AANEWS takes the position that bombing churches is clearly wrong; and so is using this volatile issue for religious purposes. ***************** Skeptical of all the yap about "family values"? So are we, which is why we are just delighted by this little piece from the latest issue of The Nation: "Family Values Awards to legislators pushing hardest for the Defense of Marriage Act: Bob Dole (dumped wife #1, who nursed him through his war wounds); Enid Greene (divorced from her campaign-finance-finagling spouse); Newt Ginrich (asked for a divorce when wife #1 was in the hospital with cancer); Bob Barr (married three times, caught licking whipped cream from the chests of two buxom women); Wes Cooley (allegedly concealed wedding date so new wife could keep collecting benefits as a veteran's widow); Bob Dornam (wife brought four divorce actions, citing domestic violence). Source: Washington Feminist Faxnet." ****** LATE BREAKING NEWS... FREEMEN STANDOFF TO END? As the evening dispatch of AANEWS goes out at approximately 8:20 p.m. Eastern Time, there is word that the 81-day standoff between FBI agents and the Freemen group may be coming to an end. Two vehicles, possibly for transporting members of the separatist group, are now at the compound; attorneys for the CAUSE Foundation profiled in today's earlier dispatch have purportedly struck a deal, and arranged for the surrender of the Freemen. We'll have an update for readers tomorrow concerning any new developments. ** About This List... AANEWS is a free service from 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 American Atheists, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org. Be sure to include your name and mailing address. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and AANEWS. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, just send e-mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org, 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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