Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 3, 1996 nn nn AANE

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Date: Wed, 3 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 3, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 Jesse Katz. 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 Atheist center. * 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 Muslim community..." * 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 awareness." * "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 city. * "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 Stuttgard, Germany. 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 schools. ************************ 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 models. 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 American Atheists, send e-mail to:, and include your name and postal address. 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 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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