Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 12:33:26 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 23, 1996 nn nn
Date: Fri, 23 Aug 1996 12:33:26 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 23, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#137 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/23/96
In This Issue...
* More First Amendment Battles in Utah
* Coalition Plans Rally at Demo Convention
* TheistWatch: When IS It The 21st. Century, Anyway?
* About This List...
RELIGIOUS GROUPS FILE BRIEF IN BAUCHMAN CASE
Rachel Bauchman, the Utah high school student who said that a capella
choir was singing blatantly religious songs as part of a class curriculum and
sued public officials, picked up support on Wednesday from a somewhat
unlikely quarter -- religious groups. Six different organizations filed a
32-page brief supporting Bauchman, charging that "Public school sponsored
attendance at religious services and the use of a public school teaching
position as a pulpit to preach religion" was morally wrong and
The suit was filed on behalf of the United Church of Christ, Presbyterian
Church (U.S.A.), American Jewish Committee, Anti-Defamation League, General
Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, and Union of American Hebrew
Congregations. New York attorney Colby Smith, who represents the group,
said: "Each amicus is a leading religious institution that believes strongly
in preserving religious freedom in the constitutionally mandated separation
of church and state, especially in the field of public education."
Bauchman's 1995 lawsuit stems from events which started the previous year
when Rachel -- then in the 10th-grade-- got involved in the choir at West
High School in Salt Lake City. She was "floored" when the Director, Richard
Torgerson distributed a list of songs all of which were religion and which
praised "Jesus as the Lord, Savior and King," according to Bauchman, who
happenes to be Jewish.
National media coverage of the Bauchman case focused primarilly on the
religious contents of songs which the capella choir was to perform; but there
other problems, endemic to the strong influence throughout Salt Lake City and
the state of Utah exercised by the Mormon Church. On field trips, for
instance, non-Mormon choir students were asked to "witness" Jesus Christ and
sing church songs. Bauchman's protests, first to the choir director and then
to school authorities, resulted in a wave of hostility, resentment and
harassment as well. A local radio talk show featured a program with the
topic: "Rachel Bauchman -- Hero or Bitch." The FBI looked in to threats
against her life, and according to Bauchman she was called everything from a
"Dirty Jew" to a "Jew Bitch" by classmates. One man who called her residence
said "Too bad Hitler didn't finish the job," and was later arrested and
sentenced to six months probation.
The Bauchman case divided Salt Lake City's small Jewish community.
Indeed, some local leaders took the position that Rachel Bauchman was too
confrontational. One told local media that "We try to solve things quietly
before going public. We are very aware of our minority status here; we are a
very small group."
Rachel persisted, though, but in June of this year U.S. District Judge
Thomas Greene ruled that the capella choir performances did not promote
religion. Even so, the Bauchman case was a clear challenge to religious
interests. A federal appeals court had earlier enjoined the choir from
singing Christian songs during 1995 high school graduation ceremonies, but an
"impromptu, student-initiated" demonstration took place and the song
"Friends" was sung by many students and audience members.
Conspicuously absent in this case is an assortment of other religious
groups which are either highly selective in fighting for state-church
separation, or who pay lipservice to the First Amendment while trying to
impose their doctrinal will on society. One of the amicus participants said
that the Establishment Clause "is best for both church and state and is
indispensable for the preservation of religious liberty, which is a unique
blessing of American democracy."
Meanwhile, the courageous Ms. Bauchman won't be returning to the hostile
environment of West High School when classes begin in the fall. Yesterday,
her father confirmed that she wil enroll in a nearby nondenominational
private school. Asked why she wasn't returning to West High, Eric Bauchman
responded "I'll leave that to your imagination."
CHRISTIAN COALITION, ALLIANCE PLAN RALLY AT DEMO CONVENTION
When the gavel drops to open the Democratic National Convention next week,
religious fundamentalists will be there in an effort to begin flexing their
political muscle in Bill Clinton's turf. Both the Christian Coalition and
its subsidiary, the Catholic Alliance will be sponsoring a joint "Celebration
of Life"on Monday at the Field Museum of Natural History; scheduled speakers
include Rep. Ralph Hall (D-TX), Rep. Charles Stenholm (D-TX), Rep. Bart
Stupak (D-MI), Rep. Harold Volkmer (D-MO), Ralph Reed of the Christian
Coalition, Maureen Roselli of the Catholic Alliance, and Carol Long of the
National Right to Life Committee. The event is being promoted as an
"inspirational celebration and 'thank-you' to pro-life Democratic
Congressmen," and an "offer (for) pro-life members of Congress a chance to
speak during the convention."
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Ralph Reed once described his group, Christian Coalition, and just a bunch
of church goin' folks who want "a place in the discussion at the great table
which is called Democracy. Folksy, isn't it? Almost sounds like an FDR
Fireside Chat. Now, the current USA TODAY is informing us that "Muslims want
a place at the political table," and notes that "American Muslims are trying
to shed their political invisibility and gain clout and respect by entering
partisan politics." On Monday, the Council on American-Islamic Relations will
kick off a plan to register Muslim voters in Mosques throughout the nation on
September 13, and encourage (Islamic) immigrants to take out citizenship.
There are even groups like Muslim Women for America (but we don't if
they're agitating to strip off the veil), and the American Muslim Alliance
which supported nearly 200 Islamic candidates in primary contests this year,
of which over 40 were selected as delegates to political conventions. USA
TODAY also notes that there may be as many as 5 million Islamists in the
country, a number which could surpass the Jewish total.
Although the Muslims aren't a monolithic group, the paper observes that
"Most Muslims would feel comfortable with the family values rhetoric of the
Prediction: Ralph Reed may start a "Muslim Brotherhood" of his own -- and why
not? The patriarchal superstition of Islam fits hand-in-glove with Promise
Keepers and other movements which emphasize males as "heads of households"
and other institutions.
Do you care?
Does it REALLY matter?
Different religious cults have quibbled for centuries over whose god
actually exists, what this god allegedly reveals, and how we should spend our
lives supplicating this deity. Even so-called Christians who follow the
god-man Jesus can't make up their minds. Sometimes, the excruciating
theological and ontological questions become, well, downright irrelevant and
absurd -- especially if you're an Atheist.
But as Atheists, we encourage as much skepticism as we can amongst the
ranks of religious believers. And we encourage the Rev. Richard Rhem, a
minister with the Reformed Church in America, a denomination with some
200,000 followers and roots in the teachings of the likes of John Calvin.
Rhem has come to question religious doctrines of whether or not
non-Christians can possibly be "saved." Does one have to "accept Jesus" in
order to get the ticket to the cosmic amusement park of Heaven punched?
Would a life of noble deeds, charitable works and decent behavior could for
zero, zilch, nada -- if you were a Moslem, Hindu or ("heaven" forbid!) an
Atheist, and there did turn out to be an afterlife?
It seems that Rev. Rhem believes that salvation may involve lifestyles
other than the acceptance of the divinity of Jesus Christ -- a litmus test in
many religious congregations like the Southern Baptists, who worry that
non-Christians are destined to an eternity of damnation. That raises
interesting questions, though; if only Christians could enter heaven, why
would god create whole races that existed prior to the advent of
Christianity, or in places where missionaries haven't gone and set up shop?
Like Mars, maybe?
A regional body of the Reformed Church has censured Rhem for entertaining
such heretical thoughts, and a denomination big-wig told the New York Times
that "We think this is a debate of mountainous proportions. It isn't
Mohammed, it isn't Joseph Smith, it isn't David Koresh, it isn't Buddah --
it's through Jesus that God has revealed himself."
Right, dude. And we'd bet the next paycheck that many priests in THOSE
denominations are telling their followers a similar line.
"It isn't Jesus..."
Seems it's the lot of an Atheist in life to constantly be pestered with
remarks like: "What about morality? If you don't believe in "god", how can
you be a good person?"
The implication, of course, is that Atheists are scumbags, and that
religious people enjoy a monopolistic hold on decent, wholesome behavior.
Now, we're not saying that it's just the other way around, but do consider
the behavior of the Benedictine Monks of Buckfast Abbey in Britain.
According to yesterday's Electronic Telegraphy, the Brothers have been fined
nearly $5,000 for making false claims about the wine they peddle. Here's
what we learned from the grapevine... the monks supposedly take a French
base, and jazz it up with a "secret recipe" at Buckfast Abbey. But an entire
consignment of wine exported to the Caribbean , and bottled under the monk's
J. Chandler & Co. firm, falsely stated that it was made at the abbey. It
wasn't, and trading officers confiscated 32,700 bottles of the booze.
The monks admitted to two counts of applying a false description on
labels; the new wine will simply say: "Made to an original recipe of the
monks of Buckfast Abbey."
We expected it. And it's an argument we're NOT going to get into!
In Wednesday's aanews, we included a piece about fears of millennialist
turmoil and panic in Britain, where a study was warning of impending
doomsday, end-of-the world cults. Our first line in the story read: "40
Months and Counting..." Several readers promptly dispatched letters noting
that that time period would make it the year 2000, which, they insisted, was
not the twenty-first century. Presumably, the twenty-first century begins on
Jan. 1, 2001.
In publications and newsgroups devoted to the phenomenon of millennialism,
the debate over time and labels is a hot topic. The phrase "40 Months and
County" referred to the year year 2000 -- or, to be more precise, Jan. 1,
2000 -- or, to be even more exact, New Year's Eve, 1999 -- when for most
casual observers, the new millennium commences. Should it really start on
Jan. 1, 2001? Perhaps, but as Dan and Gail Collins observe in "The Millennium
Book: Your Essential All-Purpose Guide for the Year 2000," the year 2000
SEEMS like a good time to kick off the Millennium. Disagree? Fine. Those
of you who wish to argue the point, meet me to settle this argument -- Times
Square, midnight, Dec. 31, 1999.
Hey, give me those good 'ol Dionysian nature cults any day!
Seems that the Roman Catholic Church has a special rite for "consecrated
virgins," and that these chaste ladies will be holding a reunion next May to
celebrate their status. Is this a hold-over from earlier pagan Temple
virgins, we wonder?
The rite was allowed to lapsefor centuries, until it was revived by the
late Pope John XXIII and the Second Vatican Council. Britains first
consecrated virgin of the modern era recently told The London Times that the
pledge to remain chaste should not be taken lightly: "It means total
dedication and making sacrifices which you cannot undertake easilly..."
The belief in the wholesomeness and "purity" of virgin-hood, of course, is
intertwined with wretched and twisted views about human sexuality, pleasures
of the flesh, and the human body. "Virgin" is promoted by churchmen and
duplicitous politicians of the "Just-Say-No" Party as a sanctimonious state
of being, whereas "whore," "slut" and other terms are inherently perjorative.
What does this say about a culture's attitude toward life, please and
This modern-day virgin cult has even managed to appropriate some of the
terminology of the women's movement. The "first virgin" declared that "many
of the virgins are in touch with each to offer sisterly support and
friendship," and prophesized that "more virgins will be consecrated next
Absurd as this is, we might add that in fundamentalist-evangelical circles
in America, there is emerging the term "secondary virgins." What could this
possibly mean, you ask? "Secondary virgins" are young women who lived a life
of sin (that is, they had sex and orgasms) before they were "re-born in
Christ," and now have decided to "say no" until getting permission from the
preacher and the judge. Interestingly, the virgin cult is still directed
mostly at females.
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