Date: Fri, 14 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 14, 1996 nn nn AA

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Fri, 14 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 14, 1996 Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn # 65 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/14/96 In This Edition... * Can Religionists Bring Down Mickey? Analysts Say No... * Atheists Priase N.Y. Court Decision on Alcoholic's Anonymous * C.C. & Pals Get Ready -- Son-Of-CDA? * TheistWatch: More Baptist Antics * About This List... --------------------------------------------------------- News, Commentary and Analysis for Atheists & First Amendment Supporters... --------------------------------------------------------- RELIGIOUS BOYCOTT OF DISNEY OVER GAYS DOOMED TO FAILURE? A possible boycott of the Walt Disney Co. by the Southern Baptist Convention and other religious groups may have some Old Testaments themes, like David vs. Goliath. But there's a twist in how the story might end. In this case, the giant Goliath -- Disney -- wins big. That's what financial analysts are predicting, less than a day following a censure of Disney by delegates attending the annual Baptist meeting in New Orleans. The 13,000 delegates at the Convention, representing some 16 million Baptists, lambasted Walt Disney Co. for extending health insurance benefits to employees in same-sex relationships. Other objections included Disney's Mirimax subsidiary which has released films dealing with adult topics, including the controversial movie "Priest" that involved a homosexual cleric. The group also criticized gay "theme days" held at Disney parks at which homosexuals gather, usually in late June. The SBC statement charged that "In recent years the Disney Company has given the appearance that the promotion of homosexuality is more important than its historic commitment to traditional family values." While the Convention did not announce specific plans for a boycott, entertainment industry analysts are already saying that Disney is well-insulated from the effects of any protest. That feeling was confirmed on Wall Street, where Disney stock was virtually unchanged. Jill Krutick, a financial analyst for Smith Barney, told Associated Press that boycott efforts against Disney in the past have produced few results. "They're very far-flung and it's very hard to avoid Walt Disney. They're an important part of our cultural fabric." The Southern Baptist Convention would not be the first group to tangle with Disney over a religious morals issue, though. The American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss. has been urging Christians to boycott the entertainment giant for years in protest of the gay-benefits policy and "other anti-family policies and activities." The boycott has had little if any effect on Disney revenues. AFA, led by Rev. Donald Wildmon, has had more success taking on other causes: last fall it complained that Calvin Klein was promoting "child pornography" in its use of adolescent models to promote its clothing line. The group failed, though, to have federal officials indict CompuServe for permitting adult material on its computer network. About 40 entertainment companies have already extended benefits to sam-sex partners of employees. A spokesperson for Hollywood Supports, a group that lobbies for workplace rights of gay men and women, said that its board includes representatives of every major Hollywood studio, including Michael Eisner the Chairman of Disney. And while the issue has stirred-up considerable media interest, Disney is low-keying the affair. A statement released late yesterday said: "We find it curious that a group that claims to espouse family values would vote to boycott the world's largest producer of wholesome family entertainment." ******** AMERICAN ATHEISTS PRAISES N.Y. COURT RULING ON AA (Editor's note: On Wednesday, AANEWS reported that a New York prison inmate won a major civil liberties, First Amendment case. David Griffin who is presently incarcerated at Shawangunk State Prison, objected as an Atheist/agnostic to the requirement that he attend Alcoholic's Anonymous meetings as a condition for parole. He rightly maintained that AA was essentially a religious activity, and that government had no right to force him, or any other inmate, to participate. The N.Y. Supreme Court agreed in a 5-2 decision. Ron Barrier, National Media Coordinator released the following statement on this case.) *** The New York Supreme Court's ruling that Alcoholics Anonymous is a religious program is a significant step toward establishing true religious freedom in America. This fact is completely ignored by the Pataki administration and Attorney General Dennis Vacco. In fact, Mr. Vacco's reported comments that the ruling "defies common sense" reflects his lack of same and illustrates his personal bias toward those 10% of Americans who have no need to rely on mythological deities for any solution to any problems. He also fails to realize that the state, through its paid corrections officers, has no right attempting to force a person to participate in religiously laced rehabilitative programs as a condition of incarceration. While corrections officials rightly have the authority to set "certain requirements" for prisoners, religious conformance simply is not one of them, nor should it be. Justice Black, in the "Torcaso" ruling, was explicit when he stated that no legislation, federal or state, can force a citizen to profess a belief-system. Another erroneous statement was the Time's definition of an Atheist. An Atheist is not a person who denies the existence of God since that statement presupposes that such a being actually exists (usually the Christian variety). An Atheist is a person whoi places no legitimate credence in such hypotheses. Unless there is evidence to support such an existence, one can only conclude that this claim is no more than the product of fictions and fables from mankind's primitive origins. There are many secular recover groups which have chapters in many states and have demonstrated significant success in the rehabilitative process without religion being a major ingredient. Rather than trying to intimidate inmates (at taxpayer expense) into accepting bizarre and/or repugnant notions of "necessary" supernatural manipulations, Mr. Vacco would serve the state far better and cheaper by seeking contacts with secular sobriety groups (who have a significantly lower recidivism rate than does A.A.) as an alternative for those very few Atheists who are in prison. Kudos to inmate Mr. Griffin for defending his Atheism! -- Ronald J. Barrier National Media Coordinator, American Atheists. ************* RELIGIOUS PRUDES, "DECENCY COPS'' READY FOR SON-OF-CDA? The notorious Communications Decency Act may be down, but it's not out. Earlier this week, a federal panel ruled that the Act, designed to eliminate obscentity in cyberspace, was unconstitutional. Judges declared that "As the most participatory form of mass speech yet developed, the Internet deserves the highest protection from government intrusion." Civil libertarians and cyber-rights activists greeting the decision with celebration. On the net and world wide web, there was near-universal acclaim for the ruling. But Dr. Robert Richard of Penn State University warned: "It's a victory for free speech and a free press, but it's only the beginning." He told the Christian Science Monitor that "I think we're going to see other challenges as time goes on." Already, there are indications that religious groups and governmentalists are gearing-up for another assault on cyber-rights, raising the spectre of a "Son-Of-CDA" being introduced shortly in Congress. The government has already announced that it will most likely appeal the CDA ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court; experts predict that the high court will probably affirm the lower ruling, that the Decency Act violates the First Amendment. Yesterday, a spokesman for the Christian Coalition said that the group was not surprised by the overturning of the CDA, adding: "But we're confident something will come about in the long run. The issue is that children need to be protected. There are laws in every state concerning the distribution of obscene books and magazines to children. This is no different." One candidate for "Son-of-CDA" was introduced into Congress yesterday by freshman Representative Zoe Lofgren (D-California) titled "Internet Freedom and Child Protection Act." At the HotWired site (http://www.hotwired.com), Brock Meeks and Declan McCullagh blasted the Lofgren proposal, saying it "merely tries to streamline the CDA, while adding a few twisted government mandates into the mix." The Lofgren bill would provide jail time and fines for those who send "any comment, request, suggestion, proposal, image, or other communication which is obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, or indecent with intent to annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass another person." It also requires all Internet service providers (ISP's) to provide blocking software, and empowers the Federal Communications Commission to establish "minimum standards for screening software." Hardly any new communications technology -- from the printing press to radio, and now computer networks -- does not attract the interest of government and religion, concerned that it might undermine and threaten prevailing ideologies. Robert Corn-Revere of the Washington-based Media Institute noted that "Almost without exception when the courts are dealing with a new technology, they initially deny First Amendment protection, or at least restrict it dramatically." Indeed, there may be a whole family of "Sons-of-CDA" in the near future, once again clogging courts, generating votes, mobilizing the faithful and threatening civil liberties. Mr. Corn-Revere adds that "Legislators will approach this issue (a new CDA) with the zeal of the Energizer bunny." ************** THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS While they're taking on the Evil Empire of Donald Duck & others, the Southern Baptist Convention has also hatched a plan to aggresively proselytize Jews. Yesterday, the Convention gathering in New Orleans approved a resolution calling for efforts to convert Jews to Christianity, even though it might strain relations with Jewish groups. The denomination wants to "direct our energies and resources toward the proclamation of the Gospel to the Jews. That isn't sitting well with the targets of such benevolent, paternalistic efforts, though. The Anti-Defamation League said in a statement: "Especially after the Holocaust, Christians have no right to talk about a mission to the Jews. They should talk about a mission to the Christians, because it was in Christian Europe that the Holocaust occurred." ********** Throughout much of the middle east and Africa, the infamous practice of female genital circumcision (mutilation) is still practiced in accord with tribal, ethnic and religious customs. The lack of even basic rights for women -- and the fact that they are considered chattel and "vessels" for men -- means that young girls are often married off by their families, and subjected to removal of the clitoris lest they attempt to satisfy urges with men other than their appointed husband. The practice is one of the dark-and-dirty secrets of that part of the world, a fact often lost on both Afrocentrists intent on glorifying and distorting the historical record, and on certain religious apologists who glorify the patriachal system of Islam. But it also something attracting concerns in the Enlightenment-influenced West, specifically from civil liberties/human rights organizations and even the U.N. Now, the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals has ruled in favor of Fauziya Kasinga, a 19-year old woman from Togo who seeks U.S. sanctuary after fleeing her homseland because of the threat of female genital mutilation. The ruling sets a progressive precedent affecting the 179 immigration judges throughout the country; they must now consider such barbarism as a consideration for asylum. Incredibly, the Immigration and Naturalization Service originally declared that opposition to the practice, and even the threat of becoming a victim of female genital mutilation, was not "persecution." Ms. Kasinga had told authorities that while her father had been a wealthy businessman in Togo and was able to resist tribal pressures to have his daughter undergo the painful procedure, he died four years ago. An aunt quickly arranged her marriage (at age 15) as the fourth wife of a middle-age man, and a clitorectomy. Ms. Kasinga wisely fled, eventually reaching the U.S. where she has relatives. ****************** Islamic fundamentalists in Turkey are demanding that government immediately ban a film which hints that a 17th-century Ottoman Sultan was bisexual. The movie, "Istanbul Under My Wings," is reportedly breaking box-office records in its tale about a Turkish scientist named Hazerfan Ahmet Celebi who build a pair of flying wings using the drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Central in the plot is the Sultan Murad IV, who in the movie is depicted as a young man patting the heads of other men, and appearing to talk "intimately" with them. News reports say that "The producers contend they never meant to suggest that Murad was bisexual. In numerous scenes, he is shown in bed with women from his harem." Even so, the outcry from fundamentalists is thought to reflect the growing tension in Turkish society over the issue of secularism. The Islamic Welfare Party wants the film pulled, and insists that religious leaders should exercise more control over the state-run movie industry. ****************** 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 more information on 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, send e-mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org, and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank