Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 3, 1996 nn nn AANE
Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 3, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#85 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/3/96
In This Edition...
* Murray O'Hair Disappearance Still Fuels Questions, Speculation
* Private Religious Schools ~ Taxpayers Will Fund More Than Christianity!
* TheistWatch: Modern Day Ju-Ju Warrior
* About This List...
''WHERE, OH WHERE, IS MADALYN MURRAY O'HAIR?"
A Los Angeles Times Story Keeps the Question Alive
It has been nearly nine months since Madalyn Murray O'Hair, dubbed by some
"the most hated woman in America," disappeared from the Austin offices of
American Atheists along with her son, John Garth Murray, and granddaughter
Robin Murray O'Hair. No one affiliated with the organization seems to know
what exactly happened: and in the subsequent months, there has been a flurry
of newspaper articles and televisions reports dealing with the fate of the
three individuals who operated the American Atheists movement.
Today's Los Angeles Times keeks the question of the O'Hair's fate in the
public consciousness, with a National Perspectives/Update story by writer
Unfortunately, there isn't much new in the current Times piece. The
information seems recycled from earlier stories, and deals with the usual
speculation about what might have happened to the Murray O'Hair family.
* Madalyn Murray O'Hair was seriously ill, about to die, and didn't want
religionists claiming that she made a last-minute "deathbed conversion" to
"dedicate herself to Christ." If she has indeed died, this doesn't explain
why Jon Murray and Robin Murray O'Hair disappeared, especially after
informing an employee, Spike Tyson, that they would return shortly to conduct
business. Ellen Johnson, now President of American Atheists, and Conrad
Goeringer (Your Humb'l and Beleaguered Correspondent) both talked to the
O'Hairs, including Madalyn O'Hair following their initial departure from the
* Former employee David Travis suggests that the O'Hairs covertly funneled
assets into overseas accounts, "including a New Zealand fund with nearly
$1,000,000." This is a variation of the "take the money and spli" scenario.
There was nothing covert about at least one foreign bank account, though, a
trust fund which was listed as the property of an overt atheist corporation.
Why place it overseas? Many companies do this when the market can earn them
higher rates of return. If there is any truth to hidden bank accounts
bulging with ill-gained dollars, we haven't seen anything concrete. If
anything, records suggest that for years the O'Hairs transfused the
organization with their own money gained from speaking fees and other
royalties, and often did not draw full paychecks. According to Ellen Johnson
and Spike Tyson, the bank accounts of the organization were left untouched,
and Jon Murray even sent employees final checks.
* "Foul Play" is still considered a possibility by some. There was no
evidence of a struggle in either the AA offices or at the O'Hair's house;
there were indications, though, that they left in a hurry, on unspecified
business, and apparently expected to return shortly. Mr. Tyson told AANEWS
that he had heard that they kept an overnight-type bag packed for quick
business trips such as conferences and media appearances. No such bags were
found, which could suggest that the O'Hairs expected to gone only for a few
days. Clothes and other personal items were left behind.
What is perhaps most remarkable about the O'Hair case is that with all of
the attention, the news media -- which supposedly can penetrate the most
sacrosanct places of Michael Jackson's estate, or the mystical environs of
the White House roof -- can't locate the missing trio. It is also
interesting that theories seeking to explain the disappearance (such as the
"take the money and split scenario) are based on hunches, speculation, and
precious little verifiable evidence. So far, the fate of the woman who
helped boot bible reading and prayer recitation out of the public schools,
and the rest of her family, remains a mystery.
Of course there ARE those alien abductors...
SOME ''RELIGIOUS SCHOOLS'' MAY IRK CHRISTIAN VOUCHER SUPPORTERS
Mention the term "school vouchers," and you often ignite a heated debate
over whether government should give tax credits and other forms of financial
assistance to parents who want to send their children to private, often
religious schools. Vouchers are just one way in which religious
organizations like the Christian Coalition hope to continue a growing trend
in the U.S. -- parents sending children to private, church-based schools, as
an alternative to what they say are abuses and excess in the public
educational system. Religious parents often complain about sex education,
AIDS awarness, the lack of religious-based value instruction, even the
teaching of subjects like evolution, or physical exams for the students. And
the largest private school system in the country, the parochial educational
schools operated by the Catholic Church, has made no secret of wanting to
find some way to obtain government funding.
While many supporters of vouchers and private, religious schools
automatically assume that these facilities would be based on a christian
philosophy, though, AANEWS has been tracking another trend. Religious
schools could end up reflecting the "belief marketplace" in America, and be
based on everything from amorphous new age philosophies to strict Islamic
doctrines. Indeed, "parochaid" and other schemes to benefit Catholic or
Protestant-based schools could open public coffers to any religious group
which wanted to immerse children in not only a home-based religious
lifestyle, but an educational one as well.
* In Columbus, Ohio, the local Islamic community is starting its own
private school, and has just purchased a former public library building for
$470,000. Initial enrollment is expected to be about 60 students. According
to the Columbus Dispatch, the school "will offer classes in Arabic and
Islamic studies, including history, morals, behavior and customs of the
* There are increasing numbers of reports of efforts within urban, black
communities to establish quasi-religious private schools which would include
questionable Afrocentric texts in the curriculum. Black Christian ministers
and even members of the Nation of Islam are active in some of these
community-school movement; religious proselytizing could well become a
problem in such schools, especially if it masquerades as "cultural
* "White Flight" -- the movement of white families dissatisfied with
low-quality inner city schools -- could be fueled by voucher schemes.
Critics point out that this can only further aggravate the situation in
urban schools. Several big city mayors are attempting to address this
problem; in Chicago, for instance, Mayor Daley successfully petitioned the
state legislature to give control of the city schools to a professional board
appointed by him. That may help, especially as Daley attempts to improve
teacher training and morale; but in Boston, the Mayor, who currently
control's the city school system, is fighting off an attempt to put it back
in the hands of an elected school board. Whatever the outcome, urban mayors
are paying more attention to the need for quality education in the inner
* "New Age" Schools could benefit from government aid schemes. A recent
article in Church & State Magazine reported: "Critics charge that the 'New
Age' Waldorf Movement and other religious groups are trying to use tax-funder
charter schools to advance religion." There are over 100 Waldorf schools
throughout the United states and Canada, with another 115 being formed.
While the promoters insist that the movement is non-sectarian, critics point
out that these schools are based on an occult-new age style religion known as
"Anthroposophy." Invented by Rudolph Steiner (1861-1925), it teachers that
humans have existed on the planet since creation, and evolved through various
phases which will supposedly end with people having clairvoyant, mystical
powers. Steiner was associated with the German Theosophical Society, a
crank-movement started by the mystical con-artist Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.
Steiner left the Theosophical movement after a disagreement, presumably on
the status of Jesus Christ. In 1922, he founded the Christian Community
which still exists, along with his Anthroposophical Society. Three years
earlier, Steiner founded the first Waldorf school, named after a series of
lectures he delivered to workers in the Waldorf-Astoria cigarette factory in
While various Christian groups remains enthused about voucher programs,
so-called "charter schools" and other schemes to support private religious
schools, they may well become annoyed as more non-traditional religions head
for the public trough and start their own schools. There is also unresolved
questions about what sorts of "instruction" students in these private
institutions will be receiving. As noted in earlier reports, many texts used
in private Christian schools come from institutions such as Bob Jones
University or the Pensacola Christian College Press of Florida and contain
inaccurate and distrubing claims. One text, for instance, maintains: "If the
conclusions (of the scientific community) contradict the Word of God, the
conclusions are wrong no matter how many scientific facts may appear to back
them." Albert Menendez of Americans for Religious Liberty recently observed
that certain private religious school texts treat even other religions in a
"reprehensible" manner, adding: "Jews are blamed for the crucifixion of
Jesus. Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus are ridiculed. And Catholic-bashing is
an acceptable and seemingly indispensable method of instructions." A recent
article in the Detroit Metrotimes added: "Eliminate provisions separating
church and state in regards to education, cautions Menendez, 'and all
Americans would be compelled to subsidize such instructions',"
Finally, there is also the issue of rights for children and young adults.
To what extent should "parental rights" be balanced with the need for
children to receive the most comprehensive education possible? Aren't
children being educationally "short-changed" when given biased and often
inaccurate teachings about race, evolution, religion, history, sex and other
areas? And how free are children to investigate information, if the real
purpose of the school environment is to indoctrinate them in religious
ideology? Such questions still need to be answered before government -- and
taxpayers -- give a green light to public funding of private, religious
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
By my reckoning, David would never have been permitted to teach in a
Catholic school. Yeah, David, the guy in Michaelangelo's renowned sculpture.
Earlier this month, an art and religion teacher at Central Catholic High
School in Toledo, Ohio got the boot from his day job, when it was learned
that he moonlighted as a nude model for art classes. Of course, that may say
something about cruddy wages paid by the Church (an organization that claims
to be on the side of po' folks and the socially oppressed); but according to
the president of the school, Rev. Michael Billian, the 43-year old instructor
was being asked to resign for faily to comply with a "morals clause" in his
contract. Maybe he should have worn Speedos.
Our New York City correspondent keeps sending us reams of faxes about Mr.
Heriberto Seda, the man charged with being the infamous Zodiac killer.
Earlier we told you about how Mr. Seda was a regular church-goer and
bible-toter, who roamed his neighborhood pestering hookers, pimps and other
nocturnal life with apocalyptic bible verse and ominous warnings. It seems
that Seda's apartment was littered with guns, bomb-making supplies, military
According to the New York Post, "The Zodiac suspect told cops he ended his
reign of terror when he 'found God' and that he needed to read his King James
Bible before he could cleanse himself and confess..." He also insisted: "I
speak with God," and that "Everyone is born a sinner."
Mr. Seda also claims to be "a good Catholic." The Post says that cops
interrogating Seda urged the Zodiac suspect to "show God you have repented"
and "cleanse his soul" of the shootings. Seda then proceeded to "detail
horrific attacks on innocent New Yorkers."
As we reported earlier, though, Seda also apparently blended religious verse
and God-belief into his role as a mystical, apocalyptic angel of death
stalking the streets of the Big Apple. Columnist Andrea Peyser wrote that
Seda "was a loser who fancied himself as doing God's work" -- selecting
victims who were either handicapped or drunk, a detail that never made it
into the media during the Zodiac rampage. He had a passion for martial arts,
weaponry, and military trappings; his King James Bible sat alongside stacks
of paramilitary magazines. Heriberto Seda was a modern-day ju-ju warrior,
out of the pages of a cyberpunk novel, or off the screen of a film like Taxi
Driver. According to the New York Times, "Almost universally, those who came
into closest contact with him (Seda) said his strongest characteristic was
his religious zeal."
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
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E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank