Date: Sun, 16 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 16, 1996 (Evening

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Date: Sun, 16 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 16, 1996 (Evening Edition) Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn # 67 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/16/96 (Evening Edition) In This Edition... * "Warn and Fuzzy" Bibles For Mental Child Abuse * Mullahs Target Iranian Resistance Movement * Vatican, Iran: Acting-Up at Habitat II * TheistWatch: More on Arsons, Son-of-CDA & "Hymen Repair" * A Blatant Promotion For AACHAT! * About This List... WHICH GOD IS IT? ''CHRISTIAN REVISIONISM'' RE-WRITES BIBLE TO TARGET JUVENILE AUDIENCES... "Historical Revisionism" is alive and well, especially when it comes to publishing religious books includng the bible. The term "Revisionism" is today associated with small interest groups who try to re-write history on behalf of their own agenda; some "revisionists" insist that millions of Jews didn't die in World War II, or that Japan's role in that war was as a "liberator of Asian people" from the bonds of colonialism. Often, revisionism requires Herculean twisting of the historical record, emphasizing facts that support your case and, well, sweeping the rest under the rug -- or into the dustbin of history. So it's not surprising that the best-selling book in world history, the Bible, is once again undergoing some "Christian Revisionism" of its own. Publishers are scurrying to cash-in on the juvenile market, where young and impressionable minds are now seen as requiring a "kinder, gentler" bible and deity. According to Associated Press, "In children's Bibles today, not only are the harsher elements of biblical accounts often omitted, but the image of a personal God has evolved to the point where in some books 'God is lonely if people don't love him'..." Bibles aimed at inculcating children have been around in large numbers since the development of mass print technology. Luther composed his own special bible for kids, and today publishers are targetting the same market. AP notes that one of the hottest sales trends is "Bible stories for toddlers and babbies." But all of the rape, incest, slavery, violence, sexual perversion and other horrors of "the good book" are a bit of an obstacle, especially for religious groups constipated about such topics appearing in the popular media. This is forcing religious writers and publishing houses to "revise" the "True Word of God" like so-much product line, and even change the way in which their deity is portrayed. For many centuries, "god" was portrayed as what one expert on juvenile biblical literature termed "a violently wrathful being, his 'righteous anger' an indisputable fact." By the 18th century and into the early 1900's, that imagery changed; "god" was still powerful and omnipotent, but was "often portrayed to children as just, faithful, pure and holy." Now, children's bibles and related literature is getting even warmer and fuzzier; brutal and embarrassing parts of the book are conveniently left out. AP notes that "Graphic accounts of rape or even just telling the story of Jepthah slaying his own daughter can be harmful to children who are unable to read the text critically, without serving an over-riding theological purpose." But if "Christian Revisionists" are so worried about kids not be able "to read the text critically," then why even present the literature to them? Why not wait until they can read the entire text, blood-and-guts included? ********************** IRANIAN INTELLIGENCE TARGETS RESISTANCE GROUP An dissident group of Iranian progressives operating in Paris is the latest target of attacks engineered by Tehran's intelligence service, according to international news dispatches. The Times of London reports that a bomb plot directed at the National Council of Resistance was foiled when customs officials searched cargo from an Iranian ship in Antwerp, and found a cache of explosives. The operation was being directed from Germany; AANEWS has previously reported that the Iranian Embassy in that nation serves as a cover for agents of the Interior Ministry and Intelligence Service directed by Minister Falllahian. Known as VEVAK, the agency specializes in hunting down dissidents and others who oppose the clerical regime in Iran. Eleven dissidents have been murdered this year alone; some, such as Reza Mazlouman were former government ministers under the despotic Shah. But the National Council of Resistance (http://www.iran-e-azad.org) was founded in 1981 to oppose both the tyranny of the mullahs and any other autocratic government. Its constitution calls for the establishment of a pluralistic democracy with state-church separation, secularism, full rights for women and ethnic minorities, a free market economy and non-aggression with neighbors. Even Islamists within the ranks of the NCR (such as the People's Mojahedin Organization) insist that that their ideology is founded on "democracy, popular will, tolerance and moderation." Word of the bomb plot against the National Council follows a new wave of religious orthodoxy in Iran, including attacks by religious zealots on movie theatres, private parties, women riding bikes in public and other manifestations of irreligious behavior. Cleric Calls For "Purge" In Iranian Society On Friday, Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati used his prayer sermon broadcast on Iranian state radio to call for a purge of "impious elements" from universities. Jannati has emerged as one of the most powerful, hard-line fundamentalists since the death of Ayatollah Khomeni. He warned that "As long as impious elements are at universities as administrators or professors, any call to Islamicize universities has no exact meaning." Jannati added that "The first step should be to appoint pious people to administration and teaching posts." According to Reuter news service, Jannati's call for religious reform in academic institutions is part of a wider program orchestrated by the country's top cleric, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who "said universities were not Islamic enough and called for them to be Islamicized." Jannati noted the corrupting influences of education in his sermon, saying "I do not think anybody denies the fact that usually those who enter (universities) with beliefs and morals...have lost many of these...Islamic morals when they leave." Reuters added that "The drive has caused concern among some university members who have privately expressed fears over a repeat of the 'Cultural Revolution' purges...when teachers lost jobs and students were expelled for alleged lack of Islamic commitment." ****************** VATICAN SLAMS BIRTH CONTROL AT HABITAT CONFERENCE While international delegates wrestled with complicated questions about urban planning and resources at the Habitat II conference in Istanbul last week, the Vatican representatives were raising a furor over references in the meeting documents to abortion, birth control and sexuality. On Wednesday, Vatican official Joaquin Navarro-Valls criticized U.S. delegates who had placed discussion of subjects like birth control, women's rights and sexuality on the agenda. According to a report from Reuter news agency, "Navarro-Valls said the U.S. had increased to four from two the number of references to reproductive and sexual health in the document in a way that implied, among other things, that children could have state-paid abortions without parental consent." The Vatican charged such a move would "create many difficulties for many delegates." Yet, the Church also called for massive government-welfare projects to build housing for the world's peoples. Yesterday,. western representatives to Habitat II accused both the Vatican and Iran of trying to "hijack" the gathering. According to The Times of London, "The two theocracies stood united in trying to block references in the final declaration to the right of women to have access to birth control and abortion." *********** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Earlier today AANEWS sent out a special dispatch dealing with the church "arsons" being reported throughout the country. Here's an update: * In at least one community, Boligee, Alabama, there is less-than-unanimous sentiment about a church arson in a community which is 85% black. The Times of London (as usual) is reporting news that doesn't turn up in the American press, including a quote from a local citizen who heads a "bi-racial citizens' pressure group." She told The Timews that the burnings of at least two churches may have been a "huge smokescreen" to divert attention of federal investigators looking into local corruption within the county government. * Who commits arson? According to a report in The Bakerfield Californian, there is "a disturbing trend in American society: the increasing prominence of juveniles in cases involving intentionally set fires." Seems that in 1994, more than 50% of all busted arsonists were under the 18, up from a 40% figure back in 1980. And more than one-third of the current batch of juvenile arsonists are under 15. The paper adds that this makes it difficult to find and track arsonists, since they probably don't have criminal records. "Juveniles start fires for kicks, out of curiosity or for purposes of intimidation. This is especially true of gang-related arson..." According to the arson experts, adults torch buildings for personal gain or profit, or to cover other crimes. ************** Thousands of women throughout the Islamic world are being driven to an expensive, sometimes dangerous medical operation, according to today's Sunday Times of London. Known as "hymen repair", the operation is designed to give women the appearance (to their new husbands, anyway) of being pristeen virgins -- all because "Strict Islamic law dictates harsh punishment, such as stoning or flogging, for a woman and man who have sex without being married." Included in the countries enforcing this antedeluvian regulation are many conservative Arab regimes, particularly the Gulf States. "Beyond the risk of being murdered, women who have lost their virginity outside marriage risk becoming outcasts from society if they are discovered," says The Times. Men sometimes murder their new brides if they are found to be "used" or "unclean", a practice dubiously referred to as an "honour killing." Men convicted of the offense are often pardoned "on the grounds that they have been driven temporarily insande by discovering their wives are not virgins." Jurists reportedly often sympathize with such men. The operation has been banned in Egypt, where the relatively secular government is locked in a violent struggle with Islamic fundamentalists intent on establishing a religious theocracy similar to than in Iran. The Times noted that some women end up having sex with the doctor before the hymen repair is performed. ********************* How great is the chasm separating rationality from the delusions of religious belief? Well, consider the plight of secular Israeli's who face the loss of civil liberties to the new religious coalition which seized power in that country's recent elections. There is the prospect of a middle-east "culture war" not altogether that different from what's taking place in these United States. In Israel, for instance, the fundamentalist Shas party is seeking curfews for adolescents; according to one report, a Shas teacher at one Jerusalem class warned students "that their entire lives were being filmed by a divine television camera, and that their sins would be replayed when they were brought to judgment after death." (N.Y. Times) *********** In Friday's dispatch we warned readers about the "Son-of-CDA", a vampire-like piece of legislation devised to resurrect the censorious and authoritarian spirit of the Communications Decency Act. Assuming that the Act meets its final demise at the Supreme Court, religious bluenoses, political busy-bodies and the assorted decency droids of the Justice Department are ready with a new-and-improved version. According to the NETIZEN column at the HotWired web site (http://www.hotwired.com), preparations for the next censorship effort are already underway. The Clinton White House echoed its refrain that CDA -- or something like it -- is still necessary, since "our Constitution allows us to help parents by enforcing this act." A cog at the Justice Department said that the anti-CDA lawsuit was just "routine work" -- and we thought it was a fight on behalf of the Bill of Rights! -- and that a brief in defense of a CDA appeal to the Supreme Court will be churned out in time for the next session. So, factoring in the way things move in Washington, the Supreme Court could make an eventual ruling at the close of that term which ends in July, 1997, "just in time for Congress to try again." ***************** It's sometime amazing how natural events are fitted into a mental framework which supports mysticism, religion and superstition. According to some, this "magical thinking" underpins the human penchant for seeing divine intervention and paranormal mischief at work in the world. Today, those infected with "Millennium Fever" see earthquakes, storms, tornadoes, famines, even airliner crashes as testament to the onset of "Last Days" and "End Times." In South Africa, though, it's a bit more prosaic. Lightening and witchcraft are still big concerns. In the town of Westerburg, S.A., a meeting of over 100 scholars, politicians and possibly even witches, has concluded, amidst concern of the growing witch craze sweeping that nation. According to Associated Press, "hundreds of alleged witches have been burned or stoned to death in this barren corner of South Africa in recent years." Ironically, the witchcraze may be a symptom of the collision between institutional christianity and traditional religions. Body parts from cemeteries and morgues are often stolen, since many believe that fingers, clumps of human fat and even penises can be made into potent magical charms. There are even reports that some families refuse to bury the dead, believing that the corpse is really a "zombie" that can be brought back to life by using the proper spells and rituals. In one province, there have been over 30 killings a year since 1985 that are thought to be connected with either the practice or fear of witchcraft. The provincial cabinet minister for the area, Seth Nthai, suggests that "better science education" is needed to combat local superstition, particularly on the subject of lightning. Local magical lore says that a witch can use lightning to strike an opponent dead, or turn a rival into a walking zombie. Sounds like too many horror movies to us, folks! *********** We described the Freemen -- those Montana crazies who fused racist ideology with biblical apocalyptic verse and a second-rate ability for scamming -- as a good example of pre-millennium American Gothic. Hardly a day passes when something amusing about this rag-tag army of Doomsday Ju-Ju Warriors doesn't wash up on our beach! Let's see -- we already told you about Rodney Skurdal's head injury and Christian Identity theology which plazes white folks at the top of the food chain. But there's another Freeman character, Dana Dudley (also known as Dana Landers) who until recently was giving "seminars" on Identity, "common law" finances and other artifacts of the group's bizarre subculture. Ms. Dudley has been considered one of the more influential Freemen, but like her compatriots her wild notions and wandering verse try even the patience of possible supporters. Militia Guru James "Bo" Gritz (himself no stranger to the bizarre) says that Ms. Dudley claims her dad was once a great physicist, but was murdered in Europe because he knew "the truth" about flying saucers. I wouldn't take THAT to the bank, or any of the Freemen currency! ******************** Looking for Lively Discussion? Tired of all the ranting on alt.atheism? If you're a member of American Atheists, why not join our moderated discussion group, aachat? This cyber forum discusses topics such as Atheism, state-church separation, pseudo-science, religion, AA activities and related subjects. For more information, contact our Moderator, Margie Wait, at: aachat@atheists.org. ************* 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 information about American Atheists, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org, and 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 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.

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