Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 15, 1996 (Evening Edition) Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:01
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 15, 1996 (Evening Edition)
Date: Mon, 15 Jul 1996 14:01:31 -0700
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
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
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
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
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."
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
* 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
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
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
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