Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 16, 1996 Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 10:59:45 -0700 nn nn AA

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Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 16, 1996 Date: Tue, 16 Jul 1996 10:59:45 -0700 From: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 Amendment. 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 plank. 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 vests. 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 illegal abortions. 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 for women!). 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 befuddled humanity. *************** AANEWS is a free service from 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. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************


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