Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 26, 1996 nn nn AAN
Date: Sun, 26 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 26, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#47 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/26/96
In This Edition...
* RAHOWA, Church Of The Creator, Other Fantasies...
* TM & Natural Law Party: Levitating At A Ballot Box Near You!
* Florida Prayer Controversy Approaches Signing/Veto Deadline
* TheistWatch: Praying In The Jury Box & Don't Pass The Diploma!
* A Word of Welcome ~~ A Request For Your Help.
* Finally: Where's The Beef? A Pearl Of Wisdom
CHURCH ORDERED TO PAY BLACK FAMILY FOR ATTACK
But Veredict Raises Serious Legal, Social Questions
A jury in North Carolina has ruled that a racial separatist group known
as Church of the Creator is liable for attacks on a black man in May, 1991
carried out by its 29-year old "Reverend."
The ruling stems from an incident where Harold Mansfield, a black seaman,
was attacked and shot in Jacksonville, Florida by Rev. George Loeb, who had
been taunting the victim with racial epithets. Loeb was convicted of the
crime in July, 1992 -- but not before the head and founder of the Church, Ben
Klassen, sold off some of the assets for $100,000, about 1/4 of the market
value. Klassen, the "Pontifex Maximus" of the Church, had expressed concerns
that the Church may be held liable for Loeb's actions.
The case involves important legal and social questions, and raises
concerns about the growing influence of white, nationalist religious groups
such as Church of the Creator, and allied philosophies such as Christian
Identity, espoused by many militia organizations and the Freemen compound
dwellers in Montana.
The Church of the Creator property was sold to William Pierce, author of
the controversial novel "The Turner Diaries" which describes an apocalyptic
racial war, and according to some was a blueprint for the Oklahoma City
bombing. Pierce heads a group known as National Alliance, and presides over
another religious movement called the Cosmotheist Church.
Church of the Creator was founded in 1973 by Ben Klassen, a Ukrainian
immigrant. In the 1950's, he was an electrical engineer in California and
inventor. He moved to Florida in 1958, and sold real estate. In 1965, he
was elected to the state legislature and became involved in various
conservative political movements.
By the early 1970's, though, Klassen was rejecting mainstream
conservatism, and in his writings later described it as a "smokescreen for
Jews." He steadilly embraced more bizarre teachings from Ku Klux Klan and
neo-nazi organizations, and then published his own philosophical work which
he called Nature's Eternal Religion. Parting company with the growing
conservative fundamentalists of the time, he founded the Church of the
Creator which he declared "completely rejects the Judeo-democratic-Marxist
values of today." Another book followed, called The White Man's Bible. It
stated that "Today's Black Plague is spelled niggers...we regard them as
subhuman or humanoid... and "We...declare everlasting war on the Jews, a war
to the finish, until we have expelled them from all the lands inhabited by
the white race."
In May, 1982, Klassen relocated the Church of the Creator to a compound in
Mulberry, North Carolina, and started publication of a quarterly magazine
known as Racial Loyalty. By now, COTC was part of a nexus of white racialist
religious groups which included practioners of Christian Identity, a theology
which taught that Jews, blacks and other "mud peoples" had descended from a
union between Eve and the devil in the Garden of Eden; most of these groups
believed that an impending, apocalyptic race war foretold in prophetic
biblical literature, including the Books of Daniel and Revelation. Unlike
Christian fundamentalists and evangelicals, though, Christian Identity did
not believe in the efficacy of the electoral political process,and embraced a
Tribulationist interpretation of history. The "kingdom of God" could only be
fulfilled after a series of apocalyptic events, including RAHOWA ("Racial
Holy War") and the establishment of a "White bastion" since Whites were the
"true" Lost Tribes of the bible.
Between 1985 and 1987, Church of the Creator ground out a steady stream of
racialist, apocalyptic literature, including "Building Whiter and Brighter
World." In that book, Klassen stated:
"RAHOWA! In this one word we sum up the total goal and program of not only
the Church of the Creator, but of the total White Race and it is this: We
take up the challenge. We gird for total war against the Jews and the rest
of the goddamn mud races of the world politically, militantly, financially,
morally and religiously. In fact, we regard it as the heart of our religious
creed, and as the most sacred credo of all. We regard it as a holy war to
the finish, a racial holy war. RAHOWA!
By the early 1990, Church of the Creator was recruiting youthful and
violent gangs of neo-nazi Skinheads throughout the nation. Skinhead groups
traveled to the COTC compound in North Carolina for religious proselytizing,
weapons training and other indoctrination. Numerous incidents of Skinhead
racial violence involved groups and individuals linked to the Church of the
Creator, such as Fourth Reich Skins and the American Front.
The Loeb incident, however, prompted Klassen to unload the COTC compound
to another racialist, William Pierson, whose book "The Turner Diaries" has
become an underground best seller. Pierson already had a 346-acre compound
of his own known as the Cosmotheist Church in West Virginia, which like the
COTC fused apocalyptic doomsday visions of the future with elements of
Christianity, paganism and even Norse mythology. But after buying the COTC
property, in March of 1993 Pierce then placed the old COTC compound on the
market. It was sold the following year to a buyer not linked to any of the
previous groups or organizations.
The family of Harold Mansfield, the black sailor shot in the confrontation
with Rev. George Loeb, was represented in court by the Southern Poverty Laws
Center, an organization which tracks racialist political and religious
movements throughout the country and is an advocate in cases involving racial
discrimination. The Center, based in Montgomery, Alabama, has been
instrumental in shutting down several racialist groups including Klan
movements whose members have been found liable in attacks against
minorities. In the Manfield case, SPLC attorney Richard Cohen declared:
"We're trying to make sure that the organizers and leaders of hate groups
which take violent actions play the price." Last week's ruling orders Pierce
to turn over to the Mansfield family $85,000 in profit he made from the sale
of the Church of the Creator compound in 1994.
One issue involved in the Mansfield case concerns the role which
organizations are believed to play when members, acting on the teachings and
doctrines of the group, engage in acts of violence. Critics of SPLC say that
the group uses cases as a fundraising project. Church attorney Steve
Kropelnicki told the New York Times that success in theses lawsuits "seems to
generate, in fund-raising alone, many times the amount of the court
judgments," and creates "an incentive for the center to 'harass' groups that
are outside the mainstream."
There is also the issue of growing popularity of bizarre
racialist-religious ideas, especially those promulgated by groups such as
Church of the Creator and Christian Identity. Estimates of the "hard core"
of such movements go up to 30,000 or more with a much larger, diffuse support
base of sympathizers. Indeed, the COTC cry of RAHOWA! is echoes by skinheads
appearing on TV talk shows, sites throughout the internet, magazines, books
and other literature, electronic bulletin boards and even in a cultural
underground of racialist-skinhead record and tape labels.
(A note from AANEWS: The so-called "Skinhead" movement -- younger people
dressing in a distinctive style often with shaved heads, tattoos, leather
jackets, chains boots and other accoutrements -- is by no means a monolithic
entity. There are literally dozens of different Skinhead groups, including
Skins Against Racism and the alternative, somewhat progressive "Straightedge"
movement. Skins represent the gamut of views on the political spectrum, and
the subculture is itself divided into tendencies, groups and sects.
"Alternative Music," produced by artists who "haven't sold out" to major
companies, is often a unifying factor, as is a venue of select clubs and
gathering spots. In August, 1993, "Pontifex Maximus" Ben Klassen
committed suicide by taking four bottles of sleeping tablets. This followed a
number of somewhat unsuccessful attempts to turn over the leadership of the
Church of the Creator to underlings, including a butcher who served time in
prison for a major meat scandal, and some rather marginal followers whose
displayed an attrocious lack of basic grammar and spelling in the Church
magazine, Racial Loyalty. One appeared in March, 1993 on the Sally Jesse
Raphael show along with assorted Church Skinheads and Christian Identity
activists. Following that, the new Pontifex Maximus was stopped for drunk
driving and got into a violent scuffle with police.
It is doubtful that last week's ruling will put an end to the Church of
the Creator infrastructure. Meanwhile, both Christian Identity and Pierce's
National Alliance/Cosmotheist movement are thriving.)
TRANSCENDENTAL MEDITATION GROUP ON BALLOT
With the November '96 elections just a few months away, third-party groups
are scrambling to make it onto the ballot throughout the individual states
and possessions such as Guam and Puerto Rico. Groups such as the
Libertarians, the Patriot Party, Ross Perot's Reform movement and the
Christian-Reconstructionist US Taxpayer's Party will be represented in many
states. And in at least 18 states, voters will also be able to choose
something calling itself the Natural Law Party. .
It isn't exactly what philosopher Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) had in mind
when he ennunciated his social contract theories in works like "Leviathan"
and "Human Nature", seen as perhaps the major exposition of Natural Law
The Natural Law Party is affiliated with the Transcendental Meditation
movement of "His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi," who in the 1950's began
publicizing a zen-like program emphasizing meditation and altered states of
consciousness. Blending classic Vedic sacred literature from India with
pop-psychology and some scientific terminology, TM promises followers a
"grand unity of all material diversity of creation, of all sciences, of all
religions." TM practioners engage in a daily meditation ritual where the
body supposedly becomes relaxed and "the mind transcends all mental activity
to experience the simplest form of awareness, transcendental consciousness,
where consciousness is open to itself."
Scientists and medical experts have debated the value of meditation
techniques; the range of claims about meditation, though, is so broad that it
is sometimes difficult to distinguish for the media and public the more
prosaic reports (that, for instance, meditation lowers blood pressure) to
more bizarre claims, including reports that "advanced" TM'ers can fly through
the air and levitate at will. Some cynics point out that the "secret" word
or mantra which some meditation enthusiasts repeat in their ritual actually
has the same effect as repetative use of any other term; they also suggest
that more prosaic activities such as petting a dog can result in minor
Even so, the Natural Law Party promises Big Things. The group insists
that social problems such as crime, community disintegration, drug abuse and
family breakdown is caused by a "deeper level", namely, "the psychological
and physiological devastation wrought by constant, traumatic stress" which
results in "serious physiological malfunction." Party literature says that
"This out-of-balance biochemistry has been linked with anxiety, fear, anger,
impulsive violent behavior and substance abuse. Moreover, the combined
stress of all the individuals in society builds up and creates a dangerous,
criminal atmosphere in the whole community."
The group proposes mass-meditation as a tool in combatting social
dysfunction as al alternative to "unproven" programs including "basketball,
DARE, police, and prisons."
Many of the "studies" cited by TM and Natural Law Party supporters which
purport to support the claims of Transcendental Meditation turn out to have
been done by "Universities" set up by the Maharishi. And critics also charge
that "meditation" is a term which covers a range of reflective activities,
including contemplative rituals in Christianity.
TM enthusiasts have recently engaged in "mass meditation" projects to
"focus" their "mental energies" on distressed areas, including Washington,
D.C., in an attempt to lower crime or effect other changes. This may be seen
as a new age counterpart to the growing popularity of Christian social
events, including March for Jesus, where participants often gather and
demonstrate in towns and cities, promoting a religious solution to community
FLORIDA GOVERNOR IN SCHOOL PRAYER BATTLE
Christian Coalition Says Bill Is "A Step In The Right
A school prayer bill headed for the governor's desk in Florida that would
permit "student led" religious incantations is generating political heat,
especially with the May 31 deadline for enactment or veto fast approaching.
Governor Lawton Chiles is under considerable pressure to sign the bill,
which cleared the Florida State Education Committee and was then passed by
the Legislature on the last day of session. Thousands of letters and faxes
are being generated by religious groups throughout the state, including the
powerful Christian Coalition which last week declared that the proposal was
"a step in the right direction for religious freedom."
The bill is actually part of a larger measure which would require students
to earn a 2.0 grade average or better in order to graduate, and mandate
certain courses including math. The St. Peterburg Times noted last week that
"The standards are important reforms in a state often noted for its
educational embarrassments." The school prayer provision would permit local
school board to adopt resolution which allow public school students to "lead"
or "initiate" prayer at graduation ceremonies, althletic events and other
"non-mandatory" activities. The Times observed that "current law allows
school to set aside up to two minutes at the beginning of the day for silent
prayer or meditation," a practice which critics charge is clearly a violation
of First Amendment state-church separation.
The legislation has attracted considerable attention and lobbying efforts;
there is also confusion, since the school prayer provision is linked to the
educational reforms which many insist are badly needed. In fact, State
Senator Don Sullivan, the Chairman of the Education Committee, had originally
expressed his opposition to school prayer in April; he is now urging
Governor Lawton Chiles to not veto the proposal, insisting that the
educational reforms are "too important to throw away." That sentiment has
also been echoed by the State Education Commssioner, Frank Brogan who told
the Times "Higher student standards, a key element in this bill, are critical
for the state of Florida and cannot wait another year." In a letter to
Chiles, Brogan also stated that "By emphasizing the importance of invocations
and benedictions at school functions, our classrooms just might become more
disciplined as our students learn to become more tolerant of each other."
But state-church separation activist Chris Allen disagrees. An official
with Society of Separationists, the parent organization of American Atheists,
Allen observed: "School prayer doesn't teach tolerance, it teaches just the
opposite. By presuming to impose one brand of worship on everyone, public
prayer excludes and denigrates students with different religious beliefs or
no religious belief. It's a classic lesson in intolerance endorsed by the
Allen also observed, "The fact that this is attached to a badly needed
education reform bill shows the lack of commitment of these politicians to
good public education."
A Related Note For AANEWS Readers...
American Atheists Media Coordinator Ron Barrier will be appearing on
NewsTalk TV this Tuesday, May 28 between 10:10 am and 11:15 am (EST) with
host Lisa Evers, to discuss the Florida prayer bill. Check your local cable
listings for the channel in your area.
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
Yesterday's dispatch mentioned Paris Archbishop Lusitger as another
practioner of "selective indignation." But this malady is by no means a
monopoly of Roman Catholic clerics; indeed, it is often practiced by those in
authority, or those who demand special treatment for their peculiar creed or
Take the case of a student who recently chose to wear a multicolored
garment on her graduation gown during ceremonies at the local high school.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, Garrica Johnson was barred from walking across the stage
to pick up her diploma, and was even more surprised when she and two other
college bound classmates were informed that they were being denied their
diplomas and transcripts. The LA Times reported Friday that "To graduate and
get their diplomas, Johnson; Sydney Watts, who also wore a Kente cloth; and
Danaj Battese Trudell, who wore an eagle feather in her mortarboard, would
have to attend a five-week summer school...Thus far, all three women have
said they will not."
Ah, there's always a big BUT in stories such as this, however. According
to officials from the local American Civil Liberties Union, "some students
wore...visible Christian crosses and that was considered appropriate."
School officials say they won't give diplomas to the three women because
"the school district felt previous graduation services(!) were a bit on the
rowdy side...We wanted to bring back some level of dignity."
We're anxious to learn whether this "graduation service" had prayer as
part of the official itinerary; and we note that any students not given
diplomas because they wore religious symbols would have immediately resulted
in a national outcry from religious groups that they were having their civil
libereties and "religious rights' violated.
So, if some students can wear crosses, others should be permitted to wear
crescents, star-of-David medallions, satanic emblems, and yeah, even Kente
cloths -- or no emblems whatsoever. This is what happens when constipated
officialdom -- especially those anal retentives who inhabit parts of the
educational establishment -- begin churning out rules, regulations,
guidelines, mantras and pronunciamentos whose better fate involves a quick
trip to the circular file.
Imagine if Clinton were an Atheist! According to press reports, U.S.
District Judge George Howard "heaped compliments" on jurors who are
deliberating charges in the Whitewater trial against the President's former
business pals, because they held regular prayer sessions. The judge
declared: "I'd like to commend you (jurors) as it is my understanding
that...you pray and ask God the Almighty for assistance." During the
panegyric, one juror reportedly "wiped tears away" as the judge rambled on.
Is this right? Is the process of jury deliberation an appropriate venue
for religious ritual? And is it proper for a judge -- who supposedly is
sworn to uphold the Constitution, and its Articles and Amendment, one of
which enjoins the government from "establishment of religion" -- to praise
such an official practice? We say no. Three people's lives are really at
stake in this trial -- businessman James McDougas, his ex-wife Susan, and
Arkansas Governor Jim Tucker. All are accused of serious charges of fraud,
and the matter could spill over to involve their former partners, President
Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham Clinton. If anything, the jury deliberation
room is the place for cool, objective examination of evidence -- not
And what if an Atheist, or group of Atheists happened to be on trial?
Would it be proper for a judge to praise and encourage a jury which engaged
in prayer? How sure would YOU be, as an Atheist, if YOUR fate were in the
hands of a "god fearin' " judge and jury? The jury may have a prayer, of
course -- but you wouldn't.
As Atheists, we should always be concerned with the related issue of
defending civil liberties. After all, non-believers have had more than their
share of persecution and harassment from The Powers That Be, both
governmental and ecclesiastical. Our history is filled with plenty of
examples about the fate of men and women who chose to speak out in their
doubts concerning religious orthdoxoy, and what happened to them. Hardly a
day passes when SOMEONE isn't trying to justify the censorship of banning of
SOMETHING based on SOME dubious grounds, a proposal which is often prefixed
with the oozing claim "I'm not in favor of censorship, BUT..."
So, gentle readers, beware yet another White House proposal which would
limit free speech in cyberspace. No sooner had the tenuous rationales behind
the infamous Communications Decency Act (now Law) been demolished in a couple
of recent court challenges, than Bill Clinton's White House is again coming
up with a scheme to sneak Big Brother into our Macs and PC's. The new plan
calls for the government to have digital "keys" to everyone's computer, in
exchange for the guarantee of greater privacy and security in doing business
online. Specifically, Bill & Co. want to develop an encryption system that
would let all of us transact our business online by using unbreakable codes.
According to Associated Press, though, "In return...the government wants
possession of the encryption 'keys' that are necessary to decipher the code.
Otherwise it fears that terrorists and other criminals might use such codes
without fear of getting caught."
Naturally, these "keys" would be available to "appropriate" agencies, with
a warrant, blah, blah, blah.
The tone of the proposal is pretty nightmarish; in effect, Americans are
being maneuvered into a "give and take" relationship with the state. We get
"security" in buying a trinket or two online, but we "give" the government
something which it may well have no right to in the first place. And as with
so many laws, the scope of such legislation quickly grows; government could
read ANYTHING it wanted to involving cyber-communications.
That may sit well with some religious types who think that Big Brother
does indeed need to sneak into our lives and bedrooms in order to enforce
morals, combat sin and perverse behavior, and otherwise engage in the
Orwellian task of "protecting us from ourselves." It also sits well with the
Clinton administration, which is under pressure from religious
conservatives, is doing all it can to come off as an all American "tough guy"
when it comes to fighting crime and depravity.
And it might not even work. There are already some great programs out
there which are for now anyway virtually unbreakable; and terrorists,
organized crime types and others will surely secure their communications in
some other fashion. But get this: the scheme, as proposed by the White
House, is world wide; it proposes international agreements whereby foreign
government do the same coding procedure, including keys, for their citizens.
That's enough to make us want to go back to handwriting letters.
There's a group called Marketplace Ministries which now has branches in 29
states, and has established special relationships with some 143 businesses to
send ministers into the workplace to "counsel" employees. The Texas-based
ministry encourages firms to utilize its staff of "company chaplains," and to
pledge 10% of corporate profits to charity. That 10% often goes to religious
charities, of course, and can cover the "costs" of having a "company
chaplain" roam the fields, halls and assembly lines of the work place.
We're told that the chaplains are "another pair of ears on the front
line," at least to a report in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Conversations with
chaplains take place during break time and are supposedly "confidential."
Although the idea is supposedly "to be there for workers," one wonders why
workers -- if they wanted counselling or contact with ministers, rabbis,
priests or mullahs -- just can't go to the local church, temple of synogogue
on their own time. Besides, my guess is that the average working man or
woman -- who has been losing ground economically for the past ten years in
terms of real wages -- would rather have that 10% of profits themselves in
the form of a decent raise! Instead, brother, can you spare a cheap prayer?
A WORD OF WELCOME...AND A CALL FOR ASSISTANCE...
Perhaps it is due to the efforts of our Internet Representative, Margie
Wait, or simple "word of mouth." Those wonderful 'SUBSCRIBE" messages have
been pouring into aanews at an unprecedented rate during the past 48 hours or
so; we're not at our goal yet of having 10,000 subscribers before the end
of the year, but we are getting there. So, a word of WELCOME! to those of
you who have just logged on. And we though that everyone would be on vacation
for the weekend, or at least stuck in a traffic jam!
AANEWS is the result of considerable efforts by staff members of American
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Kudos to O. Pearl, "Oyster" whoever and wherever you might be. Yes, our
headline about the sacred cows of India which read "Hindu Nationalists Keep A
Steak In India" was intentional. Anyone got a beef with that?
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