Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 15, 1996 (Evening Edition) Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:01

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Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 15, 1996 (Evening Edition) Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:01:31 -0700 From: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #93 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/15/96 (Evening Edition) In This Edition... *"Casting Out Demons" Leads to Bust In L.A. * Charles, Di Divorce ~ Is He Defender Of The Faith? * Polio, a Lesson to be Remembered * Religious Balkanization in Philippines * TheistWatch: PC Singing * A Welcome to New Subscribers * About This List... EXORCISM-MURDER SHOULD FOCUS ATTENTION ON EXPLOITATION OF IMMIGRANTS BY RELIGIOUS GROUPS Three Los Angeles men were arrested last week on suspicion of murder after a woman died of injuries apparently suffered during an exorcism. The people involved were Koreans, and members of an immigrant church in the Glendale section which has grown from two families to over 600 parishioners. The incident raises issues pertaining to church doctrines and practices, as well as a missionary outreach which stretches as far as the former Soviet Union. It appears that three members of the Glendale Calvary Presbyterian Church , including a deacon and a missionary with the group, rented a condo for an exorcism rite to be performed on Kyung Jae Chung, 53. The ritual involved "ansu prayer," or the laying-on of hands, and possibly something known as "anchal prayer," described by the Los Angeles Times as "a kind of religious body massage." But an autopsy on the victim revealed that Chung was killed by "multiple blunt force trauma" according to the county coroner's office. A committee of church members has voted to retain attorneys and spend up to $40,000 to defend the exorcists. But at least one congregation member told The Times that the church's pastor, Andrew B. Kim, was "improperly guiding" the men and was "dodging the responsibility" by not admitting the role of the church in the whole affair. The church is heavilly involved not only in missionary work (especially in the former Soviet block, a rich bonanza and target for religious proselytizing), but in social programs in Los Angeles. But does all of this conceal a darker side to church activities? Some of the prayer rituals apparently produce violent reactions of religious ferver, especially involving activities designed to "expel demons." The President of the Association of Southern California Korean Churches said that many missionaries work covertly in places like China, and as a result may feel pressure to create "miracles" in order to gain converts. It also appears that exorcism and other rituals are combined with native religious practices, possibly even "moxibustion" -- an ancient practice of burning herbs on the skin. ************ CHARLES, DI FLAP LEADS TO CONTROVERSY OVER ''FAITH'' ROLE British taxpayers paid for the wedding. Now they'll pay for the divorce, too, as Prince Charles and Princess Diana part company after an "amicable" settlement of $26, 350,000. The 15-year old "fairy tale romance", subsequent revelations about infidelity and affairs, and the divorce involving the royals also now have officials in both the government and the Church of England fretting over some tough questions. No sooner had the details of the divorce agreement been made public than word of a suspected rift between the Prime Minister, John Majors and Prince Charles broke out over the Prince's future role as head of the Church of England. One question involved a statement Charles allegedly made to BBC journalist Martin Bashir that he wished to be "Defender of Faiths" rather than Defender of the Faith, the official title.The Prime Minister reportedly was upset at that prospect. Mr. Major's office at 10 Downing Street promptly released a statement declaring: "As far as we are concerned there is no difference between the Prime Minister and the Prince of Wales" over the issue. Major added that "Prince Charles is Defender of the Faith because he becomes head of the Church of England and he is a practising member of the Church of England." But the privileged status of the Anglican cult, and the role of the Prince of Wales, raises the issue of the blasphemy laws designed to specifically protect Christianity -- and the Church of England -- from attack, while ostensibly leaving all other religious groups vulnerable. That has been a sensitive issue for the country's minority religions, including Muslims. Many religious groups would like to be included under the blasphemy laws, which civil libertarians see as a threat to freedom of expression. During the so-called Rushdie incident, for instance, Muslim leaders wanted to utilize the blasphemy statutes to censor the publication of Salman Rushdie's controversial book "The Satanic Verses." Many groups supported the Islamists in their efforts, including Catholics and Jews. Muslims and Hindus in Britain are warming up to Charles' statement; a principal from the Muslim College told The Daily Telegraph that "Other faiths all owe allegiance to the Crown and, in return, Chalres wants to give them dignity and a sense of protection." That "sense of protection," and having a government official as "Protector of Faiths" could undermine the legal standing of secularists and others to criticize religious superstition. Other problems may follow Charles now that he is divorced. As head of the Church of England, he is an admitted cuckhold who had an affair with Camilla Parker Bowles in 1986, after Diana said that the marriage had become "a bit crowded." There has also been controversy over whether Charles can legally become King if has been divorced. ****************** POLIO CURE IS MESSAGE TO ''POWER OF PRAYER'', MYSTICISM Most people probably didn't even notice it. It was just a blip on the screen at Cable news, and the major networks did not include it in their main evening broadcasts. It was just a short wireservice article in the big papers. But it deserves serious mention: last Friday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced that polio cases around the world fell to an all-time low of only 6,197 -- an 82% drop from 1989. In 150 countries, there is no polio. So what's the big deal? Just forty years ago, polio was considered the "scourge" of entire generations, a crippling disease which often hit children, and which parents feared. It was as statistically devastating as cancer, and affected more people than AIDS. Polio was a viral disease of the central nervous system; it became imbedded in the public imagination through images of children on crutches wearing braces, or patients in iron lung machines. A huge medical research program and breakthroughs by scientists like Jonas Salk finally developed an effective vaccine. During the 1950's, millions of youngsters were able to avoid the crippling disease thanks to a convenient oral regimen; and today, polio is just about history. Nobody today seriously suggests that prayer, masses, or quack new age style cures are necessary -- or effective -- in combatting the polio virus. It is the diseases which medical science has NOT yet conquered which provide a fertile field for the faith healers and bogus "alternative medicine" quacks. Nobody in their right mind tells us to "pray" in order to heal broken bones, or use "holstic methods" in dealing with, say, eye cataracts. "The Power of Prayer" in medical healing has become a hot topic again, testament to our culture's abysmal ignorance of science and critical thinking. Inevitably, prayer and bogus "healing" regiments such as "Therapeutic Touch" are employed in situations where conventional medicine still remains problematic. Diseases like cancer which do not enjoy the high cure or prevention rates that, say, polio does, provide a framework for all sorts of unverified, even supernatural claims. It is, at best, difficult to quantify what alleged "role" something like prayer might play in the healing process. Besides, if there is a god(s) around to answer the prayers, why does it permit people to suffer from such diseases in the first place? Understandably, people are frustrated that AIDS, cancers, heart diseases and other medical misfortune still has not been successfully addressed by science. All of these are enormously complex scientific challenges. The fact that polio -- once the scourge of generations of children -- is nearly eradicated should demonstrate that our best prospect for improving the quality of life rests in science, not mysticism and religion. ********* RELIGIOUS BALKANIZATION DIVIDES PHILIPPINES Religious animosity continues to threaten peace in the Philippines, even after a controversial settlement has been announced between the government and Muslim Rebels. Christians now say that Philippine President Fidel Ramos sold-out to Islamic guerillas as part of a peace deal ending a 24- year long civil war. In one area last week, Ramos was greeted with near riots as some 10,000 Philippine Christians -- most of them Roman Catholic -- stormed an army base and tore down fences to protest the peace agreement. The new pact calls for 14 provinces and nine cities on the islands of Palawan and Mindanao to be governed by a new "Peace and Development Council," with a plebiscite later to determine the bounds of an autonomous Muslim zone. According to the Christian Science Monitor, Christian religious groups are angry that they were not consulted on the terms of the settlement. The religious roots of the conflict go back over 500 years to when the Spaniards first colonized the Philippines and made it a bastion for Roman Catholicism. In 1972, another round of warfare erupted when the Moro National Liberation Front directed by Nur Misuari began a secessionist war, financed in part by Libya's Muammar Qaddafi. Since then, two other factions have joined the fracas, both of which are considered militant religious fundamentalists. But while Misuari must deal with opposition from the Islamists, Ramos is urging the Catholics to support the peace deal, and abandon what he calls their "garrison mentality." ********** THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS AANEWS has learned more in its efforts to document the wholesale rush of American religious groups toward the politically-correct, trendy and even brainless in efforts to keep congregations together. Some church groups, including the prestigious National Council of Churches, have been "re-writing" the infallible, revealed word of god to make the verses more palpable to a generation of baby boomers, yuppies and spiritually-starved generation-x types. Sexist, racist, jingoistic language is being rooted out (where possible), and my guess is that if they had their druthers, a lot of "church fathers" would just as soon toss the whole Old Testament into the circular file, but... Anyway, this process of making religion "warm and fuzzy" continues with re-writing of hymnal language. Check this out... * The old revival standby "Faith of Our Fathers" is now "Faith of Our Martyrs" * The "right hand of God" has been changed to the "mighty" or "strong" hand, so as not to offend left-handed individuals. * A refrain, "Good Christian men, rejoice" now reads: "Good Christian friends, rejoice." In an Associated Press release, we're told that this major re-write and spruce-up is being led by the United Church of Christ, and appears in its newly revised New Century Hymnal. The language has been revised so as not to offend anyone, "military language also is less common, and poetry by South Africans and American Indians is increasingly present." Well, that may sell well with the P-C crowd, but it ignores the wretched history of Christianity. American Indians should recall that their culture was effectively taken over, destroyed and colonized by the ancestors of these modern-day, warm 'n fuzzy hymn-singing Jesusists; and blacks in South Africa will hopefully continue to distance themselves from religion, especially the kind that rationalized slavery. **************** Gay men and women are rapidly becoming "the new witches" on the hit-list of the religious right. Concerned Women for America, the anti-abortion, pro-censorship group head by Beverly LaHaye, is now applying pressure to the National Education Association to end its support for a Lesbian and Gay History Month in public schools. There's also the Presbyterian Church, which just agonized over whether non-celibate homosexuals will be able to join the priesthood. (It's OK for gays to become priests, say the Presbyterians, but they can't engage in sex.) Finally, there's the disgraceful prevarication of the Clinton Administration. Recall that last week Congress passed the "Defense of Marriage Act'' which says that marriage is an institution involving one man and one woman. Administration flak-catchers said that this was simply "playing politics" and added that the Act was discriminatory, but Clinton say's that he'll sign anyway. Hey, is that definition right? Wasn't it Ambrose Bierce who said that marriage was an agreement between four people -- a husband, a wife, and two slaves? ****** A Note To New Subscribers... In the past several days, over 150 new subscriptions have poured in to AANEWS. Many of these were apparently from America On-Line (AOL) members. During the same period, we received a long list of subscribe-approve messages from one address. While we certainly welcome new subscribers to the AANEWS family, we are also aware that "false subscription" is one of the hazards of cyberspace. If you are receiving AANEWS and did not subscribe, you are, alas, the victim of a "hostile" subscription. Let us know. Also, please remember that AANEWS does not knowingly accept second-party subscribes; any subscribe message MUST come directly from the person who wishes to read AANEWS. *********** 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 more 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. 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