Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 26, 1996 nn nn AA

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Date: Wed, 26 Jun 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for June 26, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn # 75 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 6/26/96 In This Edition... * Saudia Arabia Bombing Raises Concern Over Religious Militants * "Seancegate" ~ Much Ado About Nothing? More on Jean Houston... * TheistWatch: Mr. Bob Meets the Cardinal; Booze & Church in Mexico * About This List... SAUDI BLAST RAISES CONCERN OVER U.S. ROLE, ISLAMIC MILITANTS Yesterday's blast at an air base in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia is once again highlighting the issue of United State involvement in the region, and the role being played by Islamic religious fundamentalists. The explosion, believed to have been set off by a 5,000 lb. truck bomb parked outside a building housing American Air Force personnel, has resulted thus far in 19 deaths and hundreds of injuries. No group has claimed responsibility, but it is highly likely that the bombing was carried out by one of several Islamic fundamentalist organizations operating in the area. This attack could trace back to a November, 1995 car bomb which exploded at a military training center in the Saudi capital of Riyadh. Five Americans and two Saudis were killed in that blast, and four Saudi religious fundamentalists confessed to the act. They were beheaded on June 1; religious groups had threatened retaliation against American military centers in the area if the men, all in their early 20's, were executed. While Saudi Arabia has become an important military ally for the U.S. in the region, there is growing opposition within the country to the reigning House of Saud. Several factors are fueling the Islamic revival: * There is still resentment over the ad hoc military coalition established by the U.S. and Britain which launched Operation Desert Storm. While most Arab states did not support Saddham Hussein's invasion of neighborhing Kuwait, the role of significant European and especially American military forces worried some that the west had "divided" the area. There was "cultural fallout" from Desert Storm as well. Saudi religious hardliners feared the impact of foreign troops on native soil, especially blacks and females. The clerical police, or "Mutawahs," had run-ins with American troops; there was at least one un-confirmed report that a female U.S. soldier "manhandled" one of the Mutawah's, and the story quickly became hot gossip throughout the country. In another incident, Saudi military commanders balked at being given an intelligence briefing by a female U.S. officer. Today, the U.S. maintains an enormous military and intelligence presence in Saudi Arabia, running training operations for Saudi troops and using Saudi bases to enforce the "no fly" zone over Iraq. The Air Force's 4404th Air Wing, 79th Fighter Squadron and 33rd Fighter Wing all use the Dhahran facility. About 2,900 American personnel life in the area. In addition, the United States has constructed an enormous military storage depot in Saudi Arabia, stocked with over $2 billion in ammunition, fuel and spare parts for tanks and planes. * After the "oil boom" of the 70's and 80's, the glut of petroleum on the world market has resulted in significant losses within the Saudi economy. Following a peak level of $116 billion in oil revenues in 1981, the desert kingdom took in only about $33 billion last year. This trend may continue due to the discovery and development of oil fields elsewhere, and the mixed-blessing of huge, new deposits in Saudi Arabia itself. Despite dire predictions made twenty-five years ago, the world is still awash in oil supplies. Falling revenues have had a negative impact on the Saudi economy, and unemployment is now over 25%; in addition, the country is over $55 billion in debt. This is creating the sorts of economic and social dislocations which religious fundamentalism thrives on. * Global cultural forces, including free trade and telecommunications, are already challenging the insular Saudi society. There are some 40,000 Americans in the country and nearly six million other foreigners. King Fahd, reports USA TODAY, was thought by many Saudi's to be "polluting Islam's birthplace by welcoming infidels from the West." Following the mini-invasion of foreigners from Operation Desert Storm, Saudi government spending on religious studies was stepped up, and the Mutawah was turned loose and began tearing down privately-owned satellite dishes and confiscating "immoral" foreign videos and CD's. * King Fahd, 75, is believed closed to retirement and will likely turn over the reins of power to his half-brother, Prince Abdullah, 74. Abdullah is considered a "traditionalist," although is not linked to any fundamentalist groups. The fundamentalists are believed to be getting training, material resources and money from several different sources, including Iran. Other assistance might be coming from the Islamic government of Gen. Omar Ahmed al-Bashir in neighboring Sudan, where a civil war is pitting the Moslem northern part of the country against Christians and animists in the South. The United Nations has accused Gen. al Bashir's regime of engaging in modern day slave trading. The Dhahran bombing may also take on added dimension with any shift in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. Already, Secretary of State Warren Christopher has tried to extract guarantees from the new government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the peace talks will go forward. Failure in those negotiations could well feed Islamic fundamentalist movements throughout the whole region, and cause more troubles for both the U.S. and its allies. *************** WILL ''SEANCEGATE'' STICK TO THE TEFLON WHITE HOUSE? The flap over First Lady Hillary Clinton's relationship with a new-age style writer and friend is still being played out in the media, with new revelations being made about the alleged "spiritual advisor" in the case, Jean Houston. According to revelations in Bob Woodward's new book "The Choice," Mrs. Clinton has maintained a close relationship with Jean Houston for several years, and even invited the popular self-help author to stay in the White House for conversation. Woodward says that in one meeting, Mrs. Clinton was prompted by Houston to engage in imaginary "conversations" with Eleanor Roosevelt and Mahatma Gandhi. That news prompted speculation that there was more going on at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. than just "creative visualization," and some critics quickly compared the case to Nancy Reagan's association with astrologer Joan Quigley during her husband's administration. In new developments, the White House continues to downplay the whole incident, although Jean Houston has captivated the interest of American newsmedia. Last evening's "Dateline" and most of the network news programs focused on the question: "Who is Jean Houston?" And it was revealed that an error appeares to exist in a widely distributed resume used by Houston to promote her programs through her "Mystery School" which emphasize self-help and inner development. The New York Times revealed that Mrs. Houston did not complete all work in her dissertation titled "Tragedy in an Age of Skepticism." She did not receive the Ph.D. award from Columbia University and nearby Union Theological Seminary, although Houston did earn a doctoral certificate in humanistic psychology in 1973 from Union Institute in Cincinnati. In addition, aanews has learned that Jean Houston is mentioned in the first edition of the New Age Encyclopedia (Detroit, 1990) edited by J. Gordon Melton. In addition to the usual biographical details which have been revealed in the press, the entry on Houston notes that while in college at Barnard, "she suffered a head injury in a stage accident and was blinded. The injury also affected her reasoning abilities and her grades plummeted as a result. Four months later, at a time when she says she was yelling at God, Houston received a visitation. The visitor was Houston herself, some 20 years in the future..." The New Age Encyclopedia also goes into more detail about Houston's research with husband Robert Masters into psychedelic drugs, and her belief that "the human brain still possesses neurological structures and chemical substances from ancient evolutionary history." It also states that "Houston has been accused of being a guru but denies the charge, insisting that she does not tell workshop participants what to do with their lives." But there is another mention of Houston in the Encyclopedia which suggests that her beliefs concerning pseudoscience and mysticism may be a bit deeper than previously hinted. It appears in a discussion of Ken Carey, a former postal employee, who in 1978 became a "channeller" in what was dubbed "The Starseed Transmissions." These "messages", said Carey, came first from a being named Raphael, but two-thirds of the way through the "Starseed" message, a new voice supposedly emerged which declared: "I am Christ. I am coming this day through the atmopshere of your consciousness...I am the bridegroom, spoken of old. I came to you first through the man named Jesus..." Pg. 86 of the New Age Encyclopedia noted that this "Starseed Transmission" was received warmly in new age circles, adding": "Jean Houston, a major figure in the human potential movement, considers it one of the finest examples of channeled knowledge she has ever seen." To what extent Houston believed or now believes these "transmissions" to be statements from dead or disembodied beings -- as opposed to manifestations of the human imagination -- is not clear. It does, though, fix Houston more in the orbit of a body of new age teachings which embrace channelling and other dubious paranormal claims. The "Starseed Transmissions" seem to echo much of what Houston currently promotes through her Mystery School program. For instance, the Encyclopedia notes that according to Cary's writings, "humankind is poised on the brink of a momentous transformation..." Mrs. Clinton rejected suggestions that Jean Houston was a "spiritual adviser" and called the conversations with Eleanor Roosevelt "intellectual exercises." The White House released a written statement, in which the first lady was "firm in her denial that there were any psychic or religious overtones to the sessions." Clinton also reaffirmed her "deeply held Methodist faith and traditions upon which I have relied since childhood." Yesterday, aanews speculated that "Seancegate" could become fodder for religious groups intent on accusing the President or Mrs. Clinton of dabbling in new age mysticism and even Satanism. Letters and sampled responses appearing in the current USA TODAY reflected a variety of opinions, including the statement of one religious man who said that Mrs. Clinton should spend less time conversing with spirits and more time talking to god. ************************** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS New York's Cardinal John O'Connor might as well hit the campaign stump for Bob Dole. Yesterday, the antedeluvian church leader praised Dole's opposition to abortion and held an hour-long private meeting with the presumed GOP presidential contender at his lavish Manhattan residence. "I think that Senator Dole has a wonderful pro-life record," said O'Connor who has also spoken out against rights for gays and advocated censorship of books or other materials which "offend" religious believers. O'Connor also said that he didn't object to Dole's "tolerance" statements about accomodating differing viewpoints over issues inside Republican ranks, and then somewhat disingenuously added that "It's not for me to determine what political platforms should be." Yeah, right. That's why you're spending an hour with a Washington Insider and candidate for President, right Your Eminence? ********************* In the region of southern Mexico known as San Juan Chamula, followers of the local Catholic church have been battling with a growing community of Protestant evangelicals -- literally, battling. It appears that a strange coalition of "caciques" or local bosses has joined with nearby Catholic leaders to promote the various superstitions -- constant religious festivals and requirements that people in San Chamula purchase candles, liquor and quasi-magical brews for use in these rituals, often made and sold by the "caciques" bullies. Nearly 30,000 evangelicals, and some Catholics who object to the strange hybrid of Indian religion, Catholicism and local magical customs, have been driven from the San Juan Chamula area since 1974. Catholics in the local schools have united to drive out youngster's of evangelicals, and the case has been described by the Christian Science Monitor as "one of the worst examples of human rights violation(s) in Mexico." There is now a "reconciliation commission" which according to one local politicians is trying to create "a new culture of respect for diversity and universality." Things have gotten so bad that some evangelical group actually took the San Juan Chamula case all the way to the human rights commission of the Organization of American States. The Mexican government, though, rejected any OAS involvement as "intervention." Meanwhile, there are charges that local "traditionalist" Catholics are shooting up the houses of neighbors who convert to other religions, or those who do not consume the special "liquor" involved in local religious rituals which are run by the Catholic church and the notorious "caciques." ************** 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 about American Atheists, send e-mail to:, and include your name and postal address in the message body. You may post, forward or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and aanews. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to: 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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