Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 16, 1996 Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 10:59:45 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 16, 1996
Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 10:59:45 -0700
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#94 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/16/96
* "Insane" Diego Bracing for Anti-Abortion Violence
* Abortion Rights Win in South Africa
* TheistWatch: Geek-Talk on the Shroud, Lottery Fever as God
* About This List...
SAN DIEGO BRACING FOR ANTI-ABORTION VIOLENCE
Doctors and abortion providers in the San Diego area are being advised by
police to shut down clinics and even leave town during next month's
Republican national convention. That's because in addition to thousands of
party bigwigs and delegates, a small army of anti-abortion protesters led by
Operation Rescue plan on making what one minister called "a dramatic
statment" to stop any effort to dilute the GOP's support for the Human Life
Already planned are demonstrations involving thousands of participants who
will attempt to block clinic entrances, demonstrate at the homes of abortion
doctors, distribute home addresses and phone numbers of providers, and work
to insure that the Republicans don't water down their anti-abortion platform
Meanwhile, law enforcement agencies such as the San Diego Police
Department, have been huddling with dozens of abortion providers throughout
the area. Today's Chicago Tribune quoted a Sheriff's Office spokesman who
said: "We're not embarrassed to tell doctors, if they ask us, that they
should suspend operations for a while to prevent any problems." Other
suggestions include installing security systems, using bulletproof glass,
staffing clinics with armed security guards and even wearing bulletproof
Rev. Flip Benham of Operation Rescue said: "We praise the Lord for what
the police are saying to the abortion mills about closing down. We hope they
will take a permanent vacation."
But Mary Ellen Hamilton of Planned Parenthood told Britain's Electronic
Telegraph that their clinics in San Diego would remain open. "We absolutely
will not be bullied into closing."
From "Sidwalk Counselling" To Murder
One concern which abortion providers have involves the escalation of
violent tactics being used by anti-choice groups. While some organizations
such as Operation Rescue say they make demonstrators sign an anti-violence
pledge, tactics to shut down clinics have become increasingly invasive and,
insist critics, ultimately contribute to a growing wave of terrorism.
Demonstrators outside of clinics engage in what they call "sidewalk
counselling," which usually is nothing more than verbal harassment of those
entering the building. Often, abortion rights advocates meet that head-on,
forming protective corridors around clinics, and providing escorts for women
seeking abortion procedures. But it is the loosely-knit anti-abortion
"underground" that has become cause for so much concern. Past clinic
violence has often become deadly. Dr. Michael Gunn was murdered outside his
Pensacola, Florida clinic in 1993, and Paul Hill was convicted of killing Dr.
John Britton and a bodyguard in 1994. In 1995, John Salvi was convicted in
the murders of two workers at two separate clinics in Brookline, Mass.
Pro-choice groups insist that there is a "conspiracy" against abortion
facilities, and point to a rash of over 20 bombings and arsons throughout the
country. Despite the efforts of federal, state and local investigators,
though, there appears to be no coordinated national conspiracy; violent
anti-abortion protesters often act alone, as individuals, or in small
autonomous groups with names like "The Army of God." Tracking them often
proves to be difficult.
Critics also charge that the mainstream anti-abortion movement has become
increasingly volatile, and contributes to a climate which encourages
violence. The movement has also become more militant, perhaps in frustration
over its lack of success in having abortion outlawed despite promises from
officials, including President Reagan during his two terms of office. Others
feel betrayed by the Republican Party, which despite its control of both the
House and Senate, appears to have pushed the religious-right social agenda
into the background in favor of economic reforms. Anti-abortion activists
are also concerned that the GOP may water-down its platform plank on the
abortion issue, or abandon its endorsement of the Human Life Amendment which
would outlaw all abortion in the United States.
A Litmus Test in Republican Ranks
Presumed GOP nominee Senator Robert Dole enjoys only tentative support
from anti-abortion groups; many backed Senator Phil Gramm or Pat Buchanan
during the primaries, although Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed says
that the giant 1.7 million member group is clearly in the Dole corner. Even
so, attempts to steer clear of the abortion controversy during the August
12-15 convention seem futile. Recent developments:
* Dole continues to waffle on the "tolerance" issue despite coming to an
agreement with Reed and Rep. John Istook, Chair of the platform committee,
over the abortion question.
* Yesterday, Dole announced that he has selected Rep. Susan Molinari of
New York, a pro-choice Republican, to be the convention's keynote speaker.
This is a major victory for those GOP members and elected officials who want
to de-emphasize the party's anti-abortion image, or even change the platform.
* Pat Buchanan, who ran against Dole in the primaries and attracted over
3,000,000 votes, is still a "wild-card" factor. GOP planners are still
wrestling over whether to extend the feisti anti-abortion "culture war"
candidate an invitation to address the full convention. Dole handlers worry
about Buchanan, who is an effective public speaker; his 1992 speech to the
convention is blamed in driving many moderates out of the party ranks.
BISHOPS HIT ABORTION RIGHTS IN SOUTH AFRICA
The United States isn't the only country where abortion is provoking a
religious backlash. In South Africa, the cabinet of President Nelson Mandela
has given preliminary approval to a measure which guarantees abortion;
predictably, it has resulted in a "firestorm of protest" from religious
groups, including Roman Catholic bishops.
The legislation, which will probably be approved by the South African
Parliament, states that women seeking abortions need not notify husbands,
parents, boyfriends, or be required to obtain their consent. It also
provides that doctors and nurses philosophically opposed to abortion have the
right of refusal.
According to a report in Newsday, opponents of the new measure "reacted
with outrage." Catholic Bishops issued a statment "that, in effect, declared
the proposal a heresy." One anti-choice group said that the move "was worse
than apartheid itself."
The new legislation would sweep away South Africa's current restrictions
on abortion which ban the procedure except in extreme cases of rape, incest
and specific medical reasons. Women must obtain the consent of parents or
husbands to receive abortion; critics say that this has created a flourishing
abortion black-market resulting in injury and death.
The author of the new law, Dr. Sokhaya Nkomo, defended the measure saying
that he has seen many young women end up at his door step after botched
Ironically, abortion rights in South Africa do not yet enjoy the full
support of the public as they do in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Newsday noted that "the ANC (African National Congress) is acting against
the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of even its own supporters."
Polls suggest that over 70% of South Africans, both black and white, oppose
abortion on demand.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Afraid of the competition? Maybe all of the religious posturing over the
ills of gambling has less to do with "sin", and stems from the fact that
church leaders would prefer that people feed their money to collection plates
instead of casino tables and one-arm bandits. In England, the General Synod
of the Church of England is demanding an investigation into huge prizes
offered by the National Lottery. Speakers during a debate on the proposal
stopped short of calling for a boycott of the immensely popular game, but
they did make some interesting Freudian slips. Rev. David Rhodes compared
lottery enthusiasm to "an amazing religious revival," adding: "Week by week,
people queue up to worship. New places of worship have sprung up on almost
every street corner and none looks like being declared redundant. The
worshippers go with their collection in their hands and part with it freely
and expectantly. It is as though they have seen their God."
He's talking about outlets which sell lottery tickets, of course; but it
sure sounds like a description of a church. Well, in a contest over what
stands a better chance of making a gambler's life better -- religion or the
lottery -- the odds are still on the latter.
Our story on the Shroud of Turin resulted in some interesting reader
response, including a comment from Frank Zindler, a nationally-recognized
expert on creationism, and editor of American Atheist Magazine. Frank notes:
"Just had another thought about the supposed contamination of the shroud's
carbon isotopes by modern carbon 14 due to microbes grazing on the surface of
the linen fibers. The only modern carbon that would be found on the shroud
would be in the cell bodies of microbes that landed on the shroud during the
week or so before the dating was done. Sinmce the microbes are not
photosynthetic and cannot, therefore, fix atmopsheric CO2, their sources of
carbon are the substances they are feeding on. Once they land upon the
shroud and start to metabolize, they release their modern c-14 in the form of
CO2 and become reconstituted by the old carbon. So instead of the microbes
contaminating the shroud and making it look younger than reality, it's the
other way around: the fossill carbon of the shroud should make a living
bacteria look as though they've been dead for a thousand years!"
Frank later noted that "some heterotropic bacteria CAN fix small amounts
of atmospheric CO2," but the amount is miniscule. "Why didn't anybody at the
American Society of Microbiology meeting point out this flaw in the Texas
apologist' argument?," asks Mr. Zindler.
Not only do the world's religions offer differing teachings from competing
deities, but proselytizers within the same religion can't even agree. How's
THAT for divine revelation? If you need proof of this, look no further than,
say, the squabble in Saudi Arabia. Last week, that country's supreme Islamic
authority declared that the recent bombing attack on U.S. troops was "a
criminal act prohibited by Islam." But that's not what other Muslim fanatics
say; to groups with links to Iran's Hizbollah or "Party of God" movement, the
presence of Americans and other foreigners on Saudi soils is "profane" and
blasphemous, especially when they bring all of their western cultural baggage
with them (such as subversive ideas about freedom of expression and rights
Both sides in this controversy are using Islamic arguments to justify
their respective actions. Saudi clerics insist that "Islam and Muslims have
nothing to do with this criminal act," referring to the blast at a U.S.
military housing complex. But for the bearded militants trained in the
Beknaa Valley of Lebanon -- a stronghold of international Islamic gangsterism
-- all is justified in this jihad or holy war.
Bickering factions quoting from the Koran reminds us of those Christians
and Jews busy slugging it out and using biblic or torah verse to justify
whatever they want. This certainly says something about the plasticity and
maleability of religious doctrine; although most of the time, these "holy
writings" are interpreted in such a way as to violate personal rights and
freedom of conscience. You'd think that a god or gods could find a more
direct, fool-proof method of imparting his, her, its or their teachings to a
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