A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nn nn AANEWS nn #205 u 11/25/96 (Nightowl Edition) In This

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A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #205 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 11/25/96 (Nightowl Edition) In This Issue... * Cardinal Blasts Music * Religious Center Concedes In Park Dispute * City Must Stop "Neighborly" Service For Churches * TheistWatch: Parting Dornan-isms * AACHAT UPDATE * About This List... INQUISITION HEAD WARNS OF ''DIABOLICAL'' ROCK MUSIC Rock 'n roll, as well as heavy metal music contains "subliminal" evil influences and is repleat with "diabolical and satanic messages" according to a leading official of the Roman Catholic Church. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger made the remarks yesterday at a mass in Rome commemorating the feast of St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music. Ratzinger is Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern-day version of the Office of the Holy Inquisition; the London Times describes the Cardinal as "the highest moral authority in the Vatican after the Pope, at whose side he has been for almost all of the latter's 18-year reign. His stern admonishment and even excommunication of dissident theologians has earned him a fearsome reputation." Ratzinger's remarks may elicit consternation in more moderate church ranks, especially in light of efforts by Pope John Paul II to project a more up-beat image on the world stage. Earlier this month, for instance, the pontiff declared that the Church accepted the scientific validity of evolution, although the Vatican's statement on the subject adroitly managed to omit any reference to Charles Darwin. But Cardinal Ratzinger's pronouncement on the evils of contemporary pop music underscore the reactionary, even frightening stand the church maintains on other issues including the role of women, gay rights, abortion and censorship. The Cardinal warned that heavy metal music was particularly offensive, and branded rock n' roll an "instrument of the Devil" which young people should avoid listening to "for fear of endangering their souls (London Times)." He singled out musical groups, including Pink Floyd, Queen, Led Zeppelin, the Beatles, the Eagles and, of course, the Rolling Stones. He also called on members of heavy metal bands to "purify themselves." Although Ratzinger evinced a surprising repertoire of music, The Times notes that Vatican officials have listed as "worst offenders" Alice Cooper, Black Sabbath, and the group AC/DC. The Times noted that church leaders claim that the latter initials "referred not to alternating current or even bisexuality, but to the satanic phrase "Antichrist, Death to Christ." Ratzinger is considered one of the most authoritarian and ferocious ultra-hardliners within the Vatican establishment. He maintains links to the semi-secretive Opus Dei organization, and has used his Inquisitorial office -- the successor to the Sacred Officium -- to police even other Cardinals, as well as the ranks of potentially-dissident Bishops, Archbishops and other church functionaries. Ratzinger heads a block of "fundamentalist" prelates, and has ties with other anti-reformists including Cardinal Joseph Glemp (Poland), Cardinal Jean-Marie Lustiger (Paris) and Cardinal John O'Connor (New York). ** SHERMAN WINS IN COMMUNITY PLAYGROUND SPAT Chicago Atheist activist Rob Sherman has racked up another win on behalf of state-church separation, this time over a dispute with the regional Jewish Federation. A Community Center affiliated with the religious group says that it will remove fences and play equipment on land which should be utilized as a public park. Last Monday, Sherman was arrested for trespassing when he walked onto a playground claimed by the Northwest Jewish Community Center; he had earlier pointed out that the land was part of a re zoning agreement between the Center and the village of Buffalo Grove, and was to be maintained as a public playground. The Center, however, had posted warning signs reserving the use of the park area during certain hours. Following his arrest, Mr. Sherman attended a meeting of the Village Board, and asked public officials to review their decision which permitted the Jewish Community Center to post the signs and monopolize use of the park. The Buffalo Grove Park District and the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago now admit that some 800 square feet of the center playground is encroaching on public land. Sherman says that his own research indicates that 1,200 square feet of another JCC playground also is public property. Although the Federation told the local Daily Herald newspaper that it was unaware of the conflict, Sherman thinks otherwise. "Once again, they fail action until Rob Sherman went to the newspapers, " he said. "If they remove themselves from public land then the encroachment issue is resolved." ** JUDGES RULES THAT CITY MUST STOP ''Neighborly' HELP FOR CHURCHES "It all began last winter when twenty storms brought a record amount of snowfall to southeastern New England," recalls Regional American Atheists Director Gil Lawrence. In the town of Barrington, Rhode Island, city crews and snow plows were busy removing the white stuff from public streets, and the parking lots of churches in the vicinity. And Lawrence adds that "When the snow removal director was questioned about the situation he replied in the Providence Journal Bulletin, "We were just being neighborly." Six town residents, through the American Civil Liberties Union, asked that the town of Barrington cease and desist from using government employees, funds and equipment for the "neighborly" task of keeping church parking lots empty of snow and, presumably, more able to accommodate the whims of their car-driving parishioners. "Last winter," says Lawrence, "the town council held an emergency meeting to discuss what to do. You guessed it! They voted unanimously to continue the practice..." It was also learned that in addition to free snow removal, area churches were receiving another taxpayer-funded service, that of free trash pickup. The residents took the city to court, and on Friday, a New Hampshire federal judge put an end to the half-century old "neighborly" practice of subsidizing services for churches. In the eight-page decision, the court ruled that "the town clearly is providing a benefit to religious entities, and thus is promoting religion over nonreligion..." Lawrence notes that Barrington has ten churches, a synagogue, and a monastery, and adds that "Rhode Island is not unique in its 'neighborly' enterprise...There are possibly hundreds of cities and towns across the country violating the constitution for its neighbors." ** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Even though Pope John Paul II has finally caved in to reality and admitted the overwhelming evidence on behalf of evolution, the Church reserves the intellectual fiat of insisting that in some point along the evolutionary road, "god" supposedly upgraded the intellect and consciousness of a pre-human life form by retrofitting a "soul." This isn't exactly a literal interpretation of Genesis and the story of Adam, his rib and Eve which appeals to more fundamentalist-type Protestants. But New York's Cardinal John O'Connor -- ever the beacon of thoughtful enlightenment and tolerance -- has now gotten into the act with his observations about anthropology. Yesterday he told his fan club at St. Patrick's Cathedral that Adam and Eve may have been something other than human beings when Jehovah "breathed life into them." According to CNN, the Cardinal mused that it was a "scientific question" whether the First Couple of the Bible were created "in some other form." How's this for scientific method? ** Credulity seems to be one of those human traits which acknowledges no boundaries of ethnicity, nation, age, sex or just about anything else. On Sunday's "60 Minutes' program, there was a thoughtful piece concerning the controversy over "Afrocentrism," the belief that (simply put) much of the intellectual and cultural greatness of ancient Greece actually was transmitted from a black or mostly-black African civilization in Egypt as part of a "stolen legacy." Regardless of your opinion on this topic, this observer has to give kudos and knocks to some of those interviewed. Dr. Mary Lefkowitz ("Not Out Of Africa") provided some insightful remarks about the need for recognizing facts and not attempting to twist the truth for political, religious, cultural or other agendas; and Dr. Molefi Kete Asante of Temple University, an "Afrocentrist," had his provocative claims, and the intellectual integrity to point out that Louis Farrakhan's story that Napoleon's troops shot the nose off the Sphinx (because of its "Negroid" features) was just so much balderdash. But at least one school program in St. Louis which supposedly incorporates an "Afrocentrist" agenda has come under attack from scholars both pro and con. One credulous teacher informed "60 Minutes" that ancient Egyptians could well have mastered flight, and knew how to levitate. That fantasy isn't all that different from those bug-eyed new age types who muse that the land of the Pharaohs was really an outpost for benevolent aliens, or populated by a race of advanced beings with paranormal powers. Such rubbish does a disservice to schools, students, blacks and, of course, the Ancient inhabitants of Egypt. The Egyptian civilization was adept at a variety of engineering feats, most of that expertise being used for the construction of monuments and burial places for a ruling elite. No shopping malls here, folks, and not even the "polis" of Athens. ** In monitoring the national and world press, it is truly surprising to see the number of news papers and magazines which are sorry to see Rep. Bob Dornan (R-Ca.) being put out to political pasture following his upset-defeat by Ms. Linda Sanchez in the elections earlier this month. Recall that Dornan has been one of the poster boys and stalwarts of the religious right in America, blasting gays, blacks, Hispanics, women, his colleagues, fellow Republicans and even the President of the United States. You'd think that a fellow like that wouldn't have anyone who would sorry to see him thrown out of Congress -- especially by a woman, a woman who is a political novice, and a woman who defeated the nine-term Capitol Hill solon by 984 votes. One reason for the nostalgia is that Bob won't be around to be kicked, or provide some of the most outrageous, eccentric and in a perverse way, amusing copy for news hounds and political watchers. Quoting Bob Dornan has become a veritable cottage industry for the Washington Press corps. So, who are we to resist the tide? Here are some more Dornanisms for your collection, as reminisced in the Washington Post... --"Men in the pro-choice movement are either women trapped in men's bodies like Alan Alda or Phil Donahue, or younger guys who are like camp followers looking for easy sex." (Feb., 1990 at anti-abortion rally) -- "I used to pine away that my birthday wasn't April 13. That was Thomas Jefferson's birthday, and I loved Thomas Jefferson. I always wished I had a '1' in front of my '3' -- until I discovered that April 3 was the day that Christ was crucified." (Washington Post, April, 1985) --"How man people are going to emulate (her) now, trying to go to high school like Sharon Stone with no underwear on because she uncrossed her legs in front of five detectives." ("Showbiz Today" program on CNN, June, 1992 discussing "Basic Instinct" --"Every lesbian spear-chucker in this country is hoping I get defeated." (October, 1992 and October 1996) "If (Madonna) were a young lady, 30 years old, of Jewish heritage and hated Judaism as much as she is a young Italian American, former Catholic, hates Catholicism and Christianity, she would be branded as an antisemitic Semite and would be a pariah and would never be signed to a contract by anybody at Time Warner." (House floor, June, 1992) "The bottom line is: The seat was UP! I had a doctor's note in my pocket that the stewardess wouldn't even look at. This woman was like Annie in "Misery.' " (In April, 1992, Dornan was ejected from a United Airlines flight after a confrontation with an attendant over the position of his seat.) ** Forget anti-lock breaks, improved materials, even superior highway engineering. The secretary of Britain's Christian Road Safety Association has told the Electronic Telegraph that a reduction of road deaths in recent years is an indication that prayers are being answered, and cites the group's new book, "Road Safety Service and Hymns." The compilation of prayers and songs includes "incantations about coping with road rage and obeying the highway code," says the paper, and even boasts one hymn imploring god to take time from running the rest of the universe, and instead "guide the wheels" and "inspire us with the Christian's code to keep us safe upon the road." But what about gruesome traffic accidents, or even other transportation tragedies? Did god overlook ValuJet because the pilot wasn't singing some ditty like: "Keep thy oxygen in its place So fire throughout the storage compartment does not race" Truly, a book like "Road Safety Service and Hymns" (available for about $7.50 through Effective Publishing) is an example of widespread credulity, lack of critical reasoning, and our penchant for "magical" thinking. When accidents seem to decline, we ascribe causes such as divine intervention; if accidents suddenly increase, it is punishment, or a sign that we aren't praying enough. ** AND ANOTHER NOTE TO AACHAT PARTICIPANTS... We absolutely refuse to blame the breakdown in our moderated, on-line discussion group --aachat -- on a failure to pray. As you know, the American Atheists discussion forum for members has been off-line for nearly a week, much to the distress of the dozens of participants. The moderator, Ms. Margie Wait, has had repeated problems in trying to connect to the internet through her service provider following a software installation conflict. As of this evening (Monday, 11/25), the aachat system is still down, and Margie informs us that her provider has shipped her the wrong software -- again. New, and hopefully more workable software, is in the overnight mail. Being Atheists, we'll just wait in see. In the meantime, aachat members are asked to NOT send more mail into the system until they begin receiving the backlog of dispatches. ** About This List... 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 mail to info@atheists.org and include your name and postal address. Or, check out our web site at http://www.atheists.org, or ftp at ftp.atheists.org/pub/. 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 aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER (cg@atheists.org). 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