Falwell's killers for Christ
Scouts consider atheists more dangerous than gays
Vatican corrects infallible pope:
aetheists will still rot in hell
& secularists are best tippers
Pope attacks "dictatorship
of the economy"
the IRS didn't investigate
Great thoughts of Pat Robertson
Guthrie explains Jesus
One in four Americans suspect Obama
is the Anti-Christ
phones even trump the pope
Tree Hugger - The NBC News Facebook
page recently showed two photos from the Vatican's St. Peter's
Square, one from 2005 and another from March 13, 2013, when the
new Pope was elected.
48% of American Christians think
Jesus will be back within forty years
Books: Religion Without God
Three things lost in the papal
Americans calling themselves strong
Catholics at four decade low
First reads on new pope
Britain's atheist church attracting
Catholics now big supporters of
same sex marriage
Top British Catholic accused of misconduct
Most religious states use the most
Poll: Nearly three in ten Americans
believe God decides sporting events
Evangelicals in decline
What the collapse of religion
South Carolina Episcopalians ditch
Real Christians want to help the
that explains it
What the Bible would be like if
Jesus had been a Republican
The truth about religion and birth
What would Jesus do with bankers?
Judge overturns anti-Muslim ruling
by Immigration Service
Southern Baptists poised to elect
first black president
Effort to have Presbyterians divest
from corporations aiding Israeli apartheid fails by 2 votes
God found to be just a subatomic
How school vouchers are used to
push rightwing evangelism
Arizona says Christianity the
only religion allowed to be taught
to a House summary on the bill, here's what the classes will
- The contents, characters, poetry
and narratives that are prerequisites to understanding society
and culture, including literature, art, music, mores, oratory
and public policy.
- The contents of, history recorded
by and literary style and structure of the Old and New Testament.
- The influence of the Old and New
Testament on laws, history, government, literature, art, music,
customs, morals, values and culture.
Was Jesus gay?
heretical Christian preachers teach their followers
Asked whether Obama
is Christian or Muslim,
some 45 percent of Alabama Republican respondents picked Muslim;
14 percent correctly identified him as Christian. Another 41
percent said they were unsure. In Mississippi, a majority of
Republicans, 52 percent, identified Obama as Muslim; 12 percent
said he was Christian and 36 percent were undecided.- Talking
The Anti-Tebow: Football player
sues Baptists for hurting his skills
Number of America's nine "Founding Fathers" who denied
the divinity of Jesus: 7
The problems of making a fetus
Kidnapped for Christ: Evangelicals
sending children off to prison camp
Obama comes up with more practical
birth control insurance plan
The right to be jerks
Paris branch of Scientology convicted
ON THE WEB
16 year old gets prayer removed
from school wall
Supreme Court rejects rejects
predominantly Christian prayer at government meetings
Flowchart for choosing your religion
Religions by state
Insider's e-mail alleges Scientology
The empty churches of Detroit
the 2011 Baylor University Religion Survey they spend no time
seeking "eternal wisdom," and 19% said "it's useless
to search for meaning."
a 2011 survey by Nashville-based evangelical research agency,
LifeWay Research, they never wonder whether they will go to heaven.
LifeWay "it's not a major priority in my life to find my
deeper purpose." And 18% scoffed that God has a purpose
or plan for everyone.
Americans turned up on Pew Forum's 2007 Religious Landscape Survey
unconnected to God or a higher power or any religious
identity and willing to say religion is not important in their
lives. - USA
The censorship of religion's real
role in politics
Bay area churches take on big
Standard & Poor chair is big
Some good Christian reasons not to read the Bible literally.
. . Nowhere does the Bible claim to be inerrant. . . Reading
the Bible literally distorts its witness. . . Reading the Bible
literally undermines a chief confession of the Bible about God
Romney gets a million bucks from
a corporation that only existed for four months
Teacher wants kids to learn how
to add, while evaluator obsesses over definitions
Only 28% of high school biology
teachers dare to stick with evolution
THEN AND NOW: THE TWO POPE BENEDICTS
THE CARE OF MEZUZAS
CALVINISM IS BACK
AMERICAN MEDIA IGNORED BRITISH
PRESS REVELATION OF POPE COVERING UP SEX ABUSE CASES
HOW TO GET GOD OUT OF THE PLEDGE
GETTING THE NUMBERS RIGHT
GAY TEEN WORRIES HE MIGHT BE TURNING
THE RELATION BETWEEN RELIGION
IN THE TIME OF MYTH
CATHOLIC CHURCH GRABS RIGHTS FROM
GAYS & WOMEN IN SAME WEEK
R CRUMB TAKES ON THE BIBLE
AMERICANS LIE ABOUT GOING TO CHURCH;
HERE ARE THE STATS
THE RELATION BETWEEN RELIGION
EIGHT PERCENT OF NEW JERSEY VOTES
THINK OBAMA IS THE ANTI-CHRIST
ARIZONA HIGHWAY OFFERS DRIVE THRU
JESUS WAS BORN IN DALLAS
WHAT JOHN ENSIGN, HILLARY CLINTON
& THE HONDURAN RIGHT WING HAVE IN COMMON
WHAT'S HAPPENING TO RELIGION IN
STATS SHOW RELIGIOUS BELIEF HARMS
POLL: RELIGION LOSING INFLUENCE
MANY CANADIAN TEENS DUMPING RELIGION
STUDY: STATS SHOW RELIGIOUS BELIEF HARMS COUNTRIES
SUE OVER NATIONAL PRAYER DAY
Freedom From Religion Foundation, a national state - church watchdog,
filed a federal lawsuit broadly challenging the federal law designating
a National Day of Prayer and requiring a National Day of Prayer
Proclamation by the President.
Law 100-307 sets the first Thursday in May as "National
Day of Prayer." The Foundation is seeking a declaration
that the law violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment
to the U.S. Constitution.
Prayer Proclamations by the President exhorting each citizen
to pray constitutes an unabashed endorsement of religion,"
contends the Foundation complaint, filed on behalf of the Foundation
by attorney Richard L. Bolton of Boardman Law Firm, Madison,
alleges that a task force associated with Focus on the Family
is "working hand-in-glove" with the government in organizing
the National Day of Prayer.
charges that the government "aligns and partners" with
the NDP Task Force as the official organizer of the National
Day of Prayer. The NDP Task Force identifies itself online as
"The National Day of Prayer 'Official Website.' " The
task force has close ties to Focus on the Family. Its chair person,
Shirley Dobson, is married to Focus on the Family founder James
Dobson, and the task force is located in the Focus on the Family
force proposes the wording of proclamations and chooses a yearly
theme and a bible quote. In 2008, Psalm 28:7, "The Lord
is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him and I am
helped" was selected by the NDP as its official biblical
reference, and was recited in Bush's proclamation and in at least
15 gubernatorial NDP proclamations. Other governors picked up
variations of the task force resolution template and the annual
complaint contends that the establishment clause "prohibits
government officials and persons acting in joint and concerted
action with government officials from taking actions that endorse
religion, including specific religions in preference to others,
as well as preferring religion over non-religion."
to pray in official presidential proclamations do not constitute
ceremonial deism solemnizing some other occasion," the Foundation
asserts, but "constitute an end in itself intended to promote
and endorse religion."
alleges that the NDP Task Force pressures governors from all
50 states to issue official proclamations, acting "in concert"
in a way that aligns them with "the Judeo-Christian principles
on which the Task Force is based."
ATHEISTS IN THE FOXHOLE SUE OVER
BY MILITARY RELIGIONISTS
WHAT AMERICAN JEWS REALLY THINK
Silverstein, Tikun Olam J Street has commissioned its first opinion
survey seeking to determine the level of support among American
Jews for territorial compromise and a negotiated solution to
the Israeli-Arab conflict . . . One of the more interesting survey
results was a mixed finding: when asked whether Israel played
a "big role" in their election vote, 58% answered "yes."
But when listed among a group of other issues, Israel came out
in the bottom tier of issues and only 8% noted Israel was one
of their two top issues in determining their vote for president
or Congress. This interesting outcome indicates that theoretically
Jews believe Israel is an important political issue. But when
push comes to shove there are other bread and butter issues like
the economy and Iraq war which are far more important. To me,
this indicates that support for the Israel lobby is quite shallow
among the Jewish community outside that 8% who are driven by
beats McCain in the poll by 62% to 32%. This is a respectable
showing by McCain compared to past Republican presidential races,
but still quite low. Respondents disapproved of Bush's Middle
East policy and believe he should be much more engaged in lobbying
for peace. 61% believe Israel is "less secure" than
it was before his presidency. Only 26% believe it is more secure.
whether the solution to the Israeli-Arab conflict involved negotiating
peace agreements or relying on military force alone to achieve
security, the survey endorsed the former over the latter by 50%
75% of those polled believe that the U.S. should play an aggressive
role in promoting a negotiated peace even if it meant disagreeing
publicly with the positions of the parties to the conflict. 70%
were even willing for the U.S. to exert "pressure"
on those parties it saw as impeding progress toward a settlement.
Joe Lieberman isn't going to like the following results. Only
7% of poll respondents view evangelical Zionist leader John Hagee
favorably. Only 19% have a favorable impression of Christians
United for Israel. Only 1 in 4 said Jewish groups should form
alliances with CUFI. Finally, Holy Joe himself only earns a 37%
favorable rating (48% unfavorable).
Iran: 69% said they were more likely to support a candidate who
called for negotiations with Iran and resorting to sanctions
if they failed.
results I found alarming: 48% were more likely to vote for a
candidate who called for supporting Israel if it launched a pre-emptive
attack on Iran. That indicates not enough American Jews understand
that our national interests may diverge from Israel's.
more likely to support a candidate who said (falsely by the way)
that Arabs have repeatedly rejected Israeli peace offers. Only
44% support the idea of declaring East Jerusalem the capital
of a Palestinian state.
Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for peace with Syria.
59% support withdrawal from "most" of the West Bank.
52% believe the U.S. should tell Israel to "end settlement
expansion." 76% believe Israel should negotiate with Hamas
on behalf of peace. 54% believe that IDF killings of Palestinian
civilians lead to more terror. 61% are opposed to collective
punishment (Israel's current policy toward Gaza). 81% will support
"any peace deal" agreed to by Israel with its Arab
neighbors. One should keep this fact in mind when listening to
the geshrei from the Orthodox community, which calls any territorial
compromise on Jerusalem a betrayal of the Jewish people. Only
a very small minority of American Jews agree.
frankly, I was shocked that AIPAC itself earned only a 38% favorable
rating (21% unfavorable). 60% say it does not bother them when
American Jews disagree with Israeli government policy. When asked
whether traditional Jewish groups in general do a good job of
representing the community's views on Israel 49% agreed. When
asked specifically whether AIPAC did a good job that number fell
to 34%. All this again showing the weakness of the AIPAC when
it is viewed in the context of the overall Jewish community.
LET'S SAY YOU'VE GONE TO HEAVEN WITH THE
RAPTURE; HOW DO YOU EMAIL YOUR FRIENDS YOU LEFT BEHIND?
WHY AMERICANS HAVE A HARD TIME
A poll, by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, has found
that nearly three-fourths of Americans believe in heaven as a
place where people who have led good lives will be eternally
rewarded. And almost 60 percent believe in hell, where people
who have led bad lives and die without repenting are eternally
punished, the poll found. Majorities also believe that angels
and demons are at work in the world and that miracles occur today
as they did in ancient times.
LET'S SAY YOU'VE GONE TO HEAVEN
WITH THE RAPTURE; HOW DO YOU EMAIL YOUR FRIENDS YOU LEFT BEHIND?
YOU'VE BEEN LEFT BEHIND
Store up to 250mb of documents . . . Send to up to 62 individual
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We have set up a system
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6 days after the "Rapture" of the Church. This occurs
when 3 of our 5 team members scattered around the U.S fail to
log in over a 3 day period. Another 3 days are given to fail
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We give you 150mb of encrypted
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Box #2 is for more generic documents to lost family & friends.
The cost is $40 for the
first year. Re-subscription will be reduced as the number of
subscribers increases. Tell your friends about You've Been left
SPIRITUALITY AND THE LAW DON'T
GO WELL TOGETHER
The shelf of a large Toronto bookstore after
moved the contents to other places in the bookstore, like Fiction,
Humor, Sexuality, Erotica, Cuisine, Parenting, Mental Disorder,
Parapsychology and the Occult."
WILL REAR ENDING SOMEONE IN FLORIDA
OR NORTH CAROLINA BECOME BLASPHEMY?
EINSTEIN THOUGHT GOD WAS A CHILDISH
BRITISH TEEN FACES PROSECUTION
FOR SIGN CALLING SCIENTOLGY A CULT
A QUARTER OF SCHOOL SCIENCE TEACHERS
PUSH CREATIONISM ON STUDENTS
EINSTEIN THOUGHT GOD WAS A CHILDISH
WHY IS THE MEDIA CONCEALING
HILLARY CLINTON'S RIGHT WING RELIGIOUS TIES?
Thanks to alternative media coverage
- including that of the Progressive Review - there has been a
slight increase in corporate press coverage of John McCain's
ties to extremist Christian evangelist John Hagee. But even conventional
liberals like Bill Moyers and EJ Dionne, while finally citing
the McCain-Hagee connection, still refuse to delve into Hillary
Clinton's ties to The Fellowship, a secret rightwing religious
group involving a number of Washington big names like herself.
The story has been well documented
by such publications as Harper's, the Los Angeles Times and Mother
Jones. And it's not a new tale, but it's one the Washington media
runs away from, in part because it might wreck the journalists'
comfortably servile relationship with some of their sources -
with the Clintons near the top of the list.
It's Washington journalism at its
worst, the sort of politician-pet relationship that led the media
to so badly mislead the public about the Iraq war and, for that
matter, many other crucial facts about the Clintons. To this
day, for example, the media is tough on Barack Obama's Tony Resko
relationship but doesn't mention Hillary Clinton's much deeper
relationship with Webster Hubbell.
As we noted about a week ago, the
two big exceptions to the media cover up of The Fellowship are
Andrea Mitchell and Jim Popkin of NBC, who reported:
"In his preaching, [Fellowship leader Douglas] Coe repeatedly
urges a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. It's a commitment
Coe compares to the blind devotion that Adolph Hitler demanded
from his followers -- a rhetorical technique that now is drawing
"'Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of
the immense power these three men had, these nobodies from nowhere,"
"Later in the sermon, Coe said: "Jesus said, You have
to put me before other people. And you have to put me before
yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party.
You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your
own life and ahead of other people."
Coe also quoted Jesus and said: "One of the things [Jesus]
said is 'If any man comes to me and does not hate his father,
mother, brother, sister, his own life, he can't be a disciple.'
So I don't care what other qualifications you have, if you don't
do that you can't be a disciple of Christ."
The sermons are little surprise to writer Jeff Sharlet. He lived
among Coe's followers six years ago, and came out troubled by
their secrecy and rhetoric.
"'We were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler,
Lenin and Mao. And I would say, 'Isn't there a problem with that?'
And they seemed perplexed by the question. Hitler's genocide
wasn't really an issue for them. It was the strength that he
emulated," said Sharlet. . . 'They're notoriously secretive,'
Sharlet said. 'In fact, they jokingly call themselves the Christian
Mafia. Which becomes less of a joke when you realize that they
really are dedicated to being what they call an invisible organization.'"
SOURCE WATCH The Fellowship, headquartered in Washington D.C.,
is a humanitarian religious-right Christian organization about
which very little is known. Their signature event is the annual
National Prayer Breakfast but that is only a small part of their
activities. They are heavily involved in the political culture
of Washington, counting at least a dozen Senators and Congressman
as known members. The group has also gone by the names Family,
Foundation, C Street Center, and International Christian Leadership.
An article published in the March 2003 issue of Harper's entitled
"Jesus Plus Nothing" by Jeffrey Sharlet provides an
excellent exposition; however, Sharlet infiltrated only at the
lowest level and so his article is woefully short of details
concerning the organization, its mission, or who runs it.
In a June 12, 2003, followup interview
by Anthony Lappé for Guerrilla News Network, Jeffrey Sharlet
declares that the group's goal and aspiration are "an 'invisible'
world organization led by Christ"; and that in his view,
their "core issue is capitalism and power."
In 1972, The Fellowship was reorganized
to be even more clandestine, shedding the overhead of a typical
high-profile nonprofit so that it was essentially little more
than a holding company disbursing cash to dozens of ministries
beneath it. By 1985, The Fellowship had 150 individual ministries
beneath it. This model continues to this day with countless ministries
coming into and going out of existence depending upon the current
needs of the organization and the initiatives it wishes to fund.
As Sharlet writes in his Harper's piece, The Foundation believes
that its mobile "cell" structure, which it likens to
those organized by Lenin, Bin Laden, and Hitler, makes it far
more efficient than a hierarchical organization. And just like
Enron's many shell corporations, their cell structure has the
additional advantage of being able to move money around very
quickly and in a way that makes it difficult to track or audit.
Those in the Fellowship who are
asked about their role either deny its existence or politely
refuse to answer questions about it. All have taken a vow of
silence not to speak about The Fellowship.
JESUS MADE ME PUKE & OTHER
TALES FROM THE EVANGELICAL FRONT LINES
MORE ON THE POPE AND CHILD ABUSE
WHAT'S AN EXISTENTIALIST?
UK - [Jean Paul] Sartre
was an atheist. As God does not exist, there are no 'essences.'
By essence, Sartre is talking about a pre-defined human nature.
What Sartre meant by the phrase 'existence precedes essence'
is this: If there is no cosmic designer, then there is no design
or essence of human nature. Human existence or being differs
from the being of objects in that human being is self-conscious.
This self-consciousness also gives the human subject the opportunity
to define itself. The individual creates his/her self by making
As human existence is self-conscious
without being pre-defined, we, as autonomous beings are "condemned
to be free": compelled to make future directed choices.
These choices induce anxiety and uncertainty in to our psyches.
If we, as individuals, simply follow custom or social expectations
in order to escape this angst, we have escaped the responsibility
of making our own choices, of creating our own essence. We have
acted in bad faith.
To act authentically we must take
responsibility for our future. We cannot choose what gender,
class, or country we were born into, but we can choose what we
make of them. We are free to create our own interpretation of
ourselves in relation to the world, to create a project of possibilities,
of authentic actions as the expression of freedom.
IT'S NOT THE POOR WHO VOTE THEIR FAITH
Barack Obama recently postulated that frustrated poor people
vote based on cultural and religious values. But the data say
exactly the opposite - value voting is a high-income activity.
Regular churchgoers are
about 15% more likely than non-attendees to vote Republican.
Perhaps surprisingly, this big religion gap did not show up until
1992, when Bill Clinton ran against George H. W. Bush. Back in
1980, Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority and other Religious Right
organizations played a prominent role in rallying support for
Ronald Reagan and other Republican candidates. But the gap between
religious and non-religious in voting was actually less for Ronald
Reagan-in both 1980 and 1984-than for Gerald Ford in 1976. .
Nothing much was happening
until 1992, when all of a sudden George H. W. Bush received 20%
more of the vote among religious than among the nonreligious.
The difference in Republican
support, comparing regular religious attendees to non-attendees,
is huge for rich voters but low among the poor; This result-that
church attendance predicts voting more for the rich than the
poor-is consistent with the finding of Ansolabehere, Rodden,
and Snyder that "low-income Americans are significantly
less inclined to vote based on moral values than are high-income
groups." They find the impact of economic issues on voting
is larger for regular churchgoers, residents of Republican-leaning
states, and rural voters than for non-churchgoers, residents
of Democratic states, and urban or suburban voters.
MEDIUMS THREATENED BY NEW EUROPEAN LAW
Your editor ran into
this problem while putting out a community paper in the 1960s.
On reflection he could discover no difference between a medium
telling someone what was going to happen next week and an established
minister telling someone what was going to happen to them when
they died. So we accepted advertising from both.
TAKING DRUGS, NOT PICKING UP DOG
POOP ADDED TO DEADLY SINS
SOLDIER CLAIMS PROMOTION DENIED
BECAUSE OF HIS ATHEISM
3O YEARS AGO: WHEN FAITH BECAME
THE LAST MINUTES OF JONESTOWN ON TAPE
THE HIDDEN POWER OF
SUZAN MAZUR, SCOOP, NEW
ZEALAND - Mormons are clearly not evangelical Christians. And
there are 11 million of them. They run the "biggest and
best" gun shows nationwide. They tend to vote Republican.
And their church is rich, because it asks its members to tithe
10% of their annual income. . .
Mormons have historically
played a significant behind-the-scenes money and power role in
America. Sally Denton and Roger Morris have written about Mormon
banker Parry Thomas's financing of Las Vegas, for example, in
their book, The Money and the Power: The Making of Las Vegas
and Its Hold on America. . .
fathers" Dan Altobello, Steve Norris, Fred Malek and Dan
D'Aniello, who participated in the catering service buyout by
Carlyle, all came from the Marriott Mormon culture before joining
Carlyle. Malek was number two man at Marriott and a former Director
of the Republican Party; it was Malek who brought George W. Bush
into the Carlyle fold.
Looking closer at the workings
of the Mormon Church and its wealth - it is not particularly
choosy about the source of its tithes. It accepts money, for
example, from a circle of LDS lawyers, bankers and businessmen
who represent the polygamist Mormons living out West. . .
The Mormons have been crucial
to George W. Bush's political campaigns. A major supporter has
been former Utah governor Mike Leavitt, now Bush II's EPA director.
Leavitt is part of a 2,000 member clan. . .
Another LDS star who's
been cheerleading for Bush is Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney.
Then there's Karl Rove
-- "Bush's Brain". Although Rove is not Mormon, he
was nurtured in the Salt Lake City Mormon culture and educated
at the University of Utah. . .
Harvard Business publications
is Mormon-run. And the editor of Harvard Business Review as well
as the Dean of Harvard Business School are Mormon.
TOM CRUISE'S DISCOURSE ON SCIENTOLOGY
IAN McEWAN ON ATHEISM
ISAAC CHOTINER, NEW REPUBLIC
- Do you see religion as ineradicable, or do you think there
is a chance to change people's minds on religion?
IAN McEWAN - I think it
is ineradicable, and I think it is a terrible idea to suppress
it, too. We have tried that and it joins the list of political
oppression. It seems to be fairly deeply stitched into human
nature. It seems to be part of all cultures, so I don't expect
it to vanish. And yet at the same time, if it is built into human
nature, why are there so many people who don't believe in it?
I think it is important that people with no religious beliefs
speak up and speak for what they value. It is a bit of a problem,
the title "Atheist"--no one really wants to be defined
by what they do not believe in. We haven't yet settled on a name,
but you wouldn't expect a Baptist minister to go around calling
himself a Darwinist. But it is crucial that people who do not
have a sky god and don't have a set of supernatural beliefs assert
their belief in moral values and in love and in the transcendence
that they might experience in landscape or art or music or sculpture
or whatever. Since they do not believe in an afterlife, it makes
them give more valence to life itself. The little spark that
we do have becomes all the more valuable when you can't be trading
off any moments for eternity.
A FREETHINKERS' BILL
[From Sacramento Free Thought]
The freedoms of thought and expression
count among our most fundamental and cherished rights, and promote
both individual welfare and the common good in a democratic state.
Historically, however, unbelievers such as secular humanists,
atheists, agnostics, rationalists, and freethinkers have faced
prejudice, intolerance, and discrimination for their opinions
In the firm conviction that the
principle of church-state separation guarantees the equal rights
of the religious and non-religious, we the Campus Freethought
Alliance, on this 12th Day of July, 1998, hereby present the
following Bill of Rights for Unbelievers.
Unbelievers shall have the right
Think freely and autonomously, express
their views forthrightly, and debate or criticize any and all
ideas without fear of censure, recrimination, or public ostracism.
Be free from discrimination and
persecution in the workplace, business transactions, and public
Exercise freedom of conscience in
any situation where the same right would be extended to believers
on religious grounds alone.
Hold any public office, in accordance
with the constitutional principle that there shall be no religious
test for such office.
Abstain from religious oaths and
pledges, including pledges of allegiance, oaths of office, and
oaths administered in a court of law, until such time as these
are secularized or replaced by non-discriminatory affirmations.
Empower members of their community
to perform legally-binding ceremonies, such as marriage.
Raise and nurture their children
in a secular environment, and not be disadvantaged in adoption
or custody proceedings because of their unbelief.
Conduct business and commerce on
any day of their choosing, without interference from laws or
regulations recognizing religious days of prayer, rest, or celebration.
Enjoy freedom from taxation supporting
the government employment of clergy, and access to secular counseling
equivalent to that provided by chaplains.
Declare conscientious objection
to serving in the armed forces under any circumstance in which
the religious may do so.
Live as citizens of a democracy
free from religious language and imagery in currency, public
schools and buildings, and government documents and business.
SPAGHETTI MONSTER SCARES OFF CREATIONIST POLS
THE ECONOMIST ON THE
ATHEIST POLITICAL PROBLEM
ECONOMIST - According to
figures compiled by the American Religious Identification Survey,
almost 30m people claimed "no religion" in 2001, a
doubling from 1991. This dwarfs America's 2.8m who describe themselves
as Jews according to the same survey (although other estimates
suggest that the Jewish population is much larger, at about 6m.
And yet those with no religious
beliefs are shut out from political power. Earlier this year,
a secularist group offered $1,000 to the highest-ranking politician
in the land who would publicly proclaim no belief in God. This
turned out to be Peter Stark, a Democratic congressman from the
San Francisco area. He is the only congressman, of 535, who professes
no belief in the Almighty.
Mr Stark suspects that
many of his colleagues secretly agree with him. But they dare
not do so publicly, even Democrats. And every one of the Democratic
presidential contenders has talked about God; they even submitted
to an awkward debate on religion, in which they were asked about
their biggest sin and their favorite Bible verses. The Republicans
were not put through a similar inquisition; their religious bona
fides are apparently not in any doubt.
What accounts for the failure
of atheists to organize and wield influence? One problem is that
they are hardly a cohesive group. Another issue is simply branding.
"Atheist" has an ugly ring in American ears and it
merely defines what people are not. "Godless" is worse,
its derogatory attachment to "communist" may never
be broken. "Humanist" sounds too hippyish. A few have
taken to calling themselves "Brights" for no good reason
and to widespread mirth. And "secular" isn't quite
the word either; one can be a Christian secularist.
But another failing of
the irreligious movement has been its tendency, frequently, to
pick the wrong fights. Keeping the Ten Commandments out of an
Alabama courthouse is one thing. But attacking a Christmas nativity
scene on public property does more harm than good. Such secular
crusades allow Christians - after all, the overwhelming majority
of the country - to feel under attack, and even to declare that
they are on the defensive in a "War on Christmas".
When a liberal federal court in California struck the words "under
God" from the pledge of allegiance, religious conservatives
rallied. Atheists might be tactically wise to accept the overwhelming
majority's comfort with such ceremonial deism.
If atheists, agnostics
and secularists could polish their image they might prove powerful
and increasingly so. If the number of people declaring no religion
can double over the ten years to 2001 who know how many more
there are now or might be in years to come. Polls have shown
that eight years of Mr Bush's mix of piety, divisiveness and
incompetence have pushed young people towards the secular in
higher numbers than before.
If these growing ranks
concentrate on areas where American religiosity can do harm -
over-aggressive proselytizing in the armed forces, undermining
science or AIDS programs, alienating minorities at home and Muslims
abroad - they could wield the sort of influence that any other
minority representing 10% of the country might do. An unbelieving
president still seems an unlikely prospect. On the other hand,
only 53% of Americans still say they would not vote for an otherwise
[BTW, our name for these
folk is SHAFAR for secularists, humanists, agnostics, free thinkers,
atheists and rationalists]
EXCLUSIVE: THERE IS
A RELIGIOUS TEST FOR HIGH OFFICE AND HERE IT IS
We are once again being
treated to that remarkably self-serving and hypocritical myth
that there should be no religious test for high office. For one
thing, it's a lie: if you aren't religious, you don't get high
office. For another thing, if you are religious, you spend a
good deal of your campaign convincing some voters just how faithful
you are while trying to fool the rest into thinking that it doesn't
make any difference. In both cases, the unusual aspect of the
test is that no one is meant to think it exists.
As yet another public service,
the Review proposes to bring the religious test out of the closet
and into the debate in a reasonable fashion, helping the voter
judge the relative worth of various candidates' Leave No Apostle
Behind programs. We shall revise the exam from time to time and
welcome any suggestions
RELIGIOUS TEST FOR HIGH
1. Does the candidate belong
to one of the kookier sects such as Scientology or Mormonism?
What does this suggest about the candidate's ability to deal
rationally with real situations and the quality of that candidate's
2. Is the candidate a saint
in the church but a devil under cover? As Mahalia Jackson put
it, "I can't go to church and shout all day Sunday, come
home and get drunk and raise hell on a Monday."
3. Does the candidate try
to appear highly religious to one set of voters and highly broad
minded to another?
4. If the candidate is
a Catholic, whoms does he or she most admire: the current Pope,
the Berrigan Brothers or various liberation theologians?
5. If the candidate is
Episcopalian, to which branch does he or she belong: the high
and crazy, broad and hazy or low and lazy?
6. Which aspects of the
candidate's religion or its history will that candidate openly
7. Is faith used by the
candidate as a space filler for the absence of facts or is it
used as a false replacement for facts?
8. Does faith primarily
influence the candidate by providing positive values or by supplying
wildly unsupportable information posing as truth?
9. Would the candidate
support the end of discrimination against secularists? For example,
would the candidate support an atheist opening sessions of the
Senate and would the candidate host idea breakfasts as well as
prayer breakfasts at the White House?
10. Does the candidate
think God talks to him? How does one distinguish this from the
heard voices that lead others to be committed to mental institutions?
11. Does the candidate
believe God is responsible for improvements in poll numbers?
Does the candidate agree with Mike Huckabee's assessment: "There's
only one explanation for it, and it's not a human one. It's the
same power that helped a little boy with two fish and five loaves
feed a crowd of 5,000 people?"
12. If, as Mitt Romney
claims, "We are a nation under God, and we do place our
trust in him," and if as Barack Obama says, "What role
does [religion] play? I say it plays every role." then shouldn't
there be a religious test of candidates so we can tell who God
trusts the most?
13. But since there supposedly
isn't a religious test for high office, why does Mike Huckabee
run TV ads proclaiming himself a "Christian leader?"
Or tell a group of evangelicals, "God is not spelled G-O-P,
and if the G-O-P ever leaves G-O-D then the G-O-P will lose m-e?"
14. Why does the media
use the term "pro-family" to describe Republican policies
when the divorce rate in heavily GOP states in the Mid West is
higher than in God-forsaken Massachusetts?
15. If there is no religious
test than why are issues like abortion and gay marriage so important,
since the about the only people worried about them are religious
16. Mitt Romney says, "Freedom
requires religion just as religion requires freedom." What
section of the Constitution is that in? What if one seeks freedom
17. If there is no religious
test for high office, why does a new president have to take an
oath using a Bible?
YOUNG FAR MORE HOSTILE TO CHRISTIANITY
BARNA GROUP - A new study by the Barna Group conducted among
16 to 29-year-olds shows that a new generation is more skeptical
of and resistant to Christianity than were people of the same
age just a decade ago. . . For instance, a decade ago the vast
majority of Americans outside the Christian faith, including
young people, felt favorably toward Christianity's role in society.
Currently, however, just 16% of non-Christians in their late
teens and twenties said they have a "good impression"
One of the groups hit hardest by the criticism is evangelicals.
Such believers have always been viewed with skepticism in the
broader culture. However, those negative views are crystallizing
and intensifying among young non-Christians. The new study shows
that only 3% of 16 - to 29-year-old non-Christians express favorable
views of evangelicals.
The research shows that many Christians are innately aware of
this shift in people's perceptions of Christianity: 91% of the
nation's evangelicals believe that "Americans are becoming
more hostile and negative toward Christianity." Among senior
pastors, half contend that "ministry is more difficult than
ever before because people are increasingly hostile and negative
Among young non-Christians, nine out of the top 12 perceptions
were negative. Common negative perceptions include that present-day
Christianity is judgmental (87%), hypocritical (85%), old-fashioned
(78%), and too involved in politics (75%) - representing large
proportions of young outsiders who attach these negative labels
to Christians. The most common favorable perceptions were that
Christianity teaches the same basic ideas as other religions
(82%), has good values and principles (76%), is friendly (71%),
and is a faith they respect (55%).
Even among young Christians, many of the negative images generated
significant traction. Half of young churchgoers said they perceive
Christianity to be judgmental, hypocritical, and too political.
One-third said it was old-fashioned and out of touch with reality.
Interestingly, the study discovered a new image that has steadily
grown in prominence over the last decade. Today, the most common
perception is that present-day Christianity is "anti-homosexual."
Overall, 91% of young non-Christians and 80% of young churchgoers
say this phrase describes Christianity. As the research probed
this perception, non-Christians and Christians explained that
beyond their recognition that Christians oppose homosexuality,
they believe that Christians show excessive contempt and unloving
attitudes towards gays and lesbians. One of the most frequent
criticisms of young Christians was that they believe the church
has made homosexuality a "bigger sin" than anything
When young people were asked to identify their impressions of
Christianity, one of the common themes was "Christianity
is changed from what it used to be" and "Christianity
in today's society no longer looks like Jesus." These comments
were the most frequent unprompted images that young people called
to mind, mentioned by one-quarter of both young non-Christians
(23%) and born again Christians (22%).
THAN LUTHERANS, PRESBYTERIANS, EPISCOPALIANS, JEWS AND MORMONS
or Shafars as we call them - are now up to 12% of the US population.
This makes them twice as common as Lutherans, four times as common
as Presbyterians, six times more common than Episcopalians and
9 times more common as Jews. They have, however, yet to have
appeared on any US coinage nor have they been invited to open
a session of the US Senate. Nor has the media noticed.
in compiling these stats, we came across some 2002 figures that
show which religions are the smartest based on SAT scores.
Dana Milbank of the Washington Post recently covered a rightwing
conference dealing with the question on why Jews were smarter
than everyone. In fact, these score show Jews ranking second
to Unitarians (Once again Shafars are not included) and barely
ahead of Quakers. What this suggests is that relative non-theism
is more significant factor than simple chosenness.
Average SAT score
2 Judaism 1161
3 Society of Friends (Quakers) 1153
4 Hinduism 1110
5 Mennonite 1097
5 Reformed Church of America 1097
7 Episcopal 1096
8 Evangelical Lutheran Church 1094
9 Presbyterian Church (USA) 1092
10 Baha'i 1073
[Shafar = Skeptics,
humanists, agnostics, free thinkers, aethists & rationalists]
HEY KIDS, READ THIS
YOUNG FAR MORE HOSTILE TO CHRISTIANITY
HOW ABE FOXMAN AND THE ADL HURTS JEWS
JOEY KURTZMAN, JEWCY - Abdullah Gul needed
a favor. It was February 5 of this year, and the Turkish foreign
minister was fighting a push in the U.S. House of Representatives
to recognize the Turkish murder of one million Armenians during
World War I. In past years the House had placated Turkey by dropping
similar resolutions. But now, with the American-Turkish alliance
weakened by the Iraq war, the resolution had found renewed support.
Gul summoned representatives from the Anti-Defamation League
and several other Jewish-American organizations to his room at
the Willard Hotel in Washington. There he asked them, in essence,
to perpetuate Turkey's denial of genocide. . .
Foxman's statement is in every way that
matters equivalent to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim that he takes
no position on the historicity of the Jewish Holocaust, but only
hopes to see the matter resolved by dispassionate study. Throughout
the congressional saga surrounding the resolutions, virtually
no one other than Turkish lobbyists had explained their opposition
by challenging the nearly undisputed consensus among historians
that a genocide did indeed take place. . .
Foxman's ADL no longer represents the interests
of the Jewish community. In fact, it seems the only interests
it represents are its own.
What's surprising is how unabashedly forthright
Abraham Foxman has become about what motivates him and his institution.
In October of 2005, Foxman addressed a classroom of Jewish students
at New York University. Young heads nodded and brows furrowed
as Foxman riled them with his customary rhetoric: Isn't it anti-semitic
for pro-Palestinian groups to seek divestment only from Israel,
ignoring the far greater crimes of regimes like Sudan or North
Korea? How do we describe this sort of selective flagellation
of the world's only Jewish state, if not as antisemitism?
"What if the campus Free Tibet club
campaigned for divestment from China? Would that be anti-Chinese
bigotry?" asked Asaf Shtull-Trauring, a 20-year-old student
and conscientious objector from the Israeli army.
Of course not, answered Foxman, but it
was preposterous to compare the two conflicts, what with the
Jews' experience of two millennia of murderous persecution. Shtull-Trauring
responded with two questions: Did Foxman mean that selective
treatment is okay so long as it's not directed at Jews? And where
did the Anti-Defamation League get off telling Jewish university
students which opinions about Israel were acceptable and which
The dialogue spiraled into a confrontation.
Shtull-Trauring says Foxman, frustrated and under attack, placed
his cards on the table, angrily retorting: "I don't represent
you nor the Jewish community! I represent the donors."
Foxman's outburst was surprising not because
of its content, but because of its candor. Foxman needn't bother
himself with the trifling concerns of American Jews who happen
not to be multimillionaire philanthropists. If he makes the Jewish
community less appealing to young Jews, if his theatrics turn
us off and turn us away, that's all beside the point. Foxman's
job is to keep the millionaire benefactors happy: the rest of
us can go jump in the Kinneret.
Without a meaningful mission to pursue,
the ADL has resorted to scaremongering to fill its coffers and
justify its existence. These efforts have grown increasingly
bizarre and damaging. For example, the ADL website surveys the
vast changes in Jewish-American life over the past century and
offers the grandiose judgment that they "are due, in large
measure, to the efforts of the League and its allies." Yet
Foxman also claims that today the Jewish people face as great
a threat to their safety and security as they did in the 1930s.
In other words, the ADL takes credit for the vast improvements
in the circumstances of American Jewry, and then denies that
those changes have taken place. It is still 1939. It will always
be 1939. . .
The ADL can libel American Christians in
general without fear of legal consequence, but when it goes on
to identify specific "anti-semites" it leaves itself
more vulnerable. Time after time, Americans who resented being
named-and-shamed as anti-semites have sued the ADL for libel.
Foxman's ADL justifies its existence by
beckoning us backward, encouraging us to hide from the ever-present
Cossacks in a psychological shtetl. It's a dark vision that serves
the ADL's interests, but not ours. . .
LOCAL TV STATION GIVES APPROVING REPORT
ON THEOCRATIC ROLE IN MARTIAL LAW
established by the Lord, you know.
And, that's what we believe in the Christian faith. That's what's
stated in the scripture."
JEWISH STATS CHANGING
ABC NEWS - The Jews of the United States
and Israel are growing further apart, and the schism is a contributing
factor to the declining numbers of Jews outside of Israel, a
Jewish think tank concluded in a report. The Conference on the
Future of the Jewish People brought together 120 leaders to address
issues facing Jews. It cited intermarriage, lack of affordable
Jewish education and diminishing Jewish identity in the Diaspora
as the leading factors in the decline in Jewish numbers.
According to statistics presented at the
conference, the world's Jewish population stands at just over
13 million. The population remains stable thanks to Israel's
natural growth, which offsets the continuing decrease in Jews
elsewhere. Jews today represent only two out of every 1,000 people
in the world, compared to a ratio of 3.5 to 1,000 in 1970, 4.7
to 1,000 in 1945, and 7.5 to 1,000 in 1938. Israel is home to
5.4 million Jews. Last year it became the largest world Jewish
community, passing the U.S. with its estimated 5.3 million Jews.
Jewish leaders have long warned that the
Diaspora's identity is eroding as more Jews marry non-Jews and
blend into the mainstream, a phenomenon known as "assimilation."
In contrast, Israel has established its own intense Jewish character.
ON DEMOCRATIC CANDIDATES PANDERING ON
TERRY MICHAEL, POLITICO
- Having worked as press spokesman for the Democratic National
Committee 20 years ago, when the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's Moral
Majority was in full flower, I am appalled at how little possible
future leaders of the free world have learned from decades of
mixing "faith" and politics.
I came to Washington in 1975 with the late
Paul Simon, working for five years as his House press secretary
and later traveling with him for seven months as spokesman for
his 1988 presidential campaign. Never once in the almost four
decades I knew the Illinois Democrat did I ever hear him invoke
religion or mention God in a speech, or even in private conversation,
though I assumed his religious views were probably those you
would expect from the son of Christian missionaries to China
(where he was conceived in 1928) and the brother of a Lutheran
A man with the moral rectitude of an Eagle
Scout, Simon understood why the Founders included not a single
reference to a deity in our Constitution. The best way to protect
your right to be guided by faith (and mine to be guided by reason)
is to keep our understandings of where we come from and how we
come to be moral animals on the other side of a very high wall
between the state, with its coercive powers, and the temples
created by believers.
The willingness of Democratic candidates
to breach that barrier reflects a failure of nerve in a political
party that ought to be our best hope for secular governance in
a world where so much hate and murder is still being unleashed
by "people of faith," whose beliefs were never touched
by The Age of Reason and The Enlightenment -- the same felicitous
era in human history that gave us Jefferson and others averse
to the mingling of religion and governance.
MY SPACE PAL OF THE DAY
God has spoken to me. I
listen to God and what I've heard is that I'm supposed to devote
myself to rebuilding the conservative base of the Republican
Party. - Tom DeLay
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS ON MORMONISM
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS, GOD IS NOT GREAT
- In March 1826 a court in Bainbridge, New York, convicted a
twenty-one-year-old man of being "a disorderly person and
an impostor." That ought to have been all we ever heard
of Joseph Smith, who at trial admitted to defrauding citizens
by organizing mad gold-digging expeditions and also to claiming
to possess dark or "necromantic" powers. However, within
four years he was back in the local newspapers (all of which
one may still read) as the discoverer of the "Book of Mormon."
He had two huge local advantages which most mountebanks and charlatans
do not possess. First, he was operating in the same hectically
pious district that gave us the Shakers and several other self-proclaimed
American prophets. So notorious did this local tendency become
that the region became known as the "Burned-Over District,"
in honor of the way in which it had surrendered to one religious
craze after another. Second, he was operating in an area which,
unlike large tracts of the newly opening North America, did possess
the signs of an ancient history. . .
The actual story of the imposture is almost
embarrassing to read, and almost embarrassingly easy to uncover.
(It has been best told by Dr. Fawn Brodie, whose 1945 book No
Man Knows My History was a good-faith attempt by a professional
historian to put the kindest possible interpretation on the relevant
"events.") In brief, Joseph Smith announced that he
had been visited (three times, as is customary) by an angel named
Moroni. The said angel informed him of a book, "written
upon gold plates," which explained the origins of those
living on the North American continent as well as the truths
of the gospel. There were, further, two magic stones, set in
the twin breastplates Urim and Thummim of the Old Testament,
that would enable Smith himself to translate the aforesaid book.
After many wrestlings, he brought this buried apparatus home
with him on September 21, 1827, about eighteen months after his
conviction for fraud. He then set about producing a translation.
The resulting "books" turned
out to be a record set down by ancient prophets, beginning with
Nephi, son of Lephi, who had fled Jerusalem in approximately
600 BC and come to America. Many battles, curses, and afflictions
accompanied their subsequent wanderings and those of their numerous
progeny. How did the books turn out to be this way? Smith refused
to show the golden plates to anybody, claiming that for other
eyes to view them would mean death. But he encountered a problem
that will be familiar to students of Islam. He was extremely
glib and fluent as a debater and story-weaver, as many accounts
attest. . .
it is. . . a simple if tedious task to
discover that twenty-five thousand words of the Book of Mormon
are taken directly from the Old Testament. These words can mainly
be found in the chapters of Isaiah available in Ethan Smith's
View of the Hebrews: The Ten Tribes of Israel in America. This
then popular work by a pious loony, claiming that the American
Indians originated in the Middle East, seems to have started
the other Smith on his gold-digging in the first place. A further
two thousand words of the Book of Mormon are taken from the New
Testament. . .
They have assembled a gigantic genealogical
database at a huge repository in Utah, and are busy filling it
with the names of all people whose births, marriages, and deaths
have been tabulated since records began. This is very useful
if you want to look up your own family tree, and as long as you
do not object to having your ancestors becoming Mormons. Every
week, at special ceremonies in Mormon temples, the congregations
meet and are given a certain quota of names of the departed to
"pray in" to their church. This retrospective baptism
of the dead seems harmless enough to me, but the American Jewish
Committee became incensed when it was discovered that the Mormons
had acquired the records of the Nazi "final solution,"
and were industriously baptizing what for once could truly be
called a "lost tribe": the murdered Jews of Europe.
ORDER GOD IS NOT GREAT
DEATH OF A CON MAN
ANDERSON COOPER: Christopher, I'm not sure
if you believe in heaven, but, if you do, do you think Jerry
Falwell is in it?
CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS: No. And I think it's
a pity there isn't a hell for him to go to. . .
The empty life of this ugly little charlatan
proves only one thing, that you can get away with the most extraordinary
offenses to morality and to truth in this country if you will
just get yourself called reverend. Who would, even at your network,
have invited on such a little toad to tell us that the attacks
of September 11 were the result of our sinfulness and were God's
punishment if they hadn't got some kind of clerical qualification?
People like that should be out in the street, shouting and hollering
with a cardboard sign and selling pencils from a cup. . .
COOPER: Do you believe he believed what
HITCHENS: Of course not. He woke up every
morning, as I say, pinching his chubby little flanks and thinking,
I have got away with it again. . .
COOPER: You don't believe that, I mean,
in his reading of the Bible, you don't think he was sincere in
his - whether you agree or not with his reading of the Bible
- you don't think he was sincere in what he spoke?
HITCHENS: No. I think he was a conscious
charlatan and bully and fraud. And I think, if he read the Bible
at all - and I would doubt that he could actually read any long
book of - at all - that he did so only in the most hucksterish,
as we say, Bible-pounding way. . .
COOPER - Coming up, we are going to look
at Jerry Falwell's war on homosexuality, blaming gays and lesbians
for 9/11, among other things [and] even warned about the Teletubbies."
WIT & WISDOM OF JERRY FALWELL
If you're not a born - again
Christian, you're a failure as a human being
I hope I live to see the
day when, as in the early days of our country, we won't have
any public schools. The churches will have taken them over again
and Christians will be running them. What a happy day that will
AIDS is not just God's punishment
for homosexuals; it is God's punishment for the society that
The idea that religion and
politics don't mix was invented by the Devil to keep Christians
from running their own country.
The Jews are returning to
their land of unbelief. They are spiritually blind and desperately
in need of their Messiah and Savior.
I do not believe the homosexual
community deserves minority status. One's misbehavior does not
qualify him or her for minority status.
We're fighting against humanism,
we're fighting against liberalism ... we are fighting against
all the systems of Satan that are destroying our nation today
... our battle is with Satan himself.
The ACLU is to Christians
what the American Nazi party is to Jews.
PHILADELPHIA BANS FORTUNE TELLERS, PERMITS CHURCHES
TO REMAIN OPEN
TIP TO PHILLY DEFENSE LAWYERS: We ran into
this problem when publishing an alternative newspaper. Should
we accept ads from fortune tellers? We finally decided to do
so on the grounds that they were indistinguishable in their unscientific
prognostications willingness to take money for them than most
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER - Alerted to a forgotten
state ban, Phila. authorities have closed at least 16 storefront
fortune-tellers. One alleged discrimination. A city official,
however, said most psychics were con artists who prey on vulnerable
Fortune-telling for profit is a third-degree
misdemeanor. The law has been on the books for more than 30 years.
The owner of Psychic, a fortune-telling
shop at 2041 Walnut St., sat on his steps yesterday and complained
bitterly about the police action. He would not give his name
or his lawyer's name. . . "They're discriminating against
Gypsies," he said, although he said he was born and raised
Finally, he noted that critics "considered
that Jesus was a psychic, a fortune-teller, and they crucified
him." He saw a certain parallel. "Look what they want
to do with the fortune-tellers," the man said. "We
might be coming to the end of the world."
AROUND THE WORLD
Source: Cambridge Companion to Atheism
15% ( ? )
8-14% ( ? )
7% ( ? )
THE FIVE JUSTICES
who voted to restrict abortions
were all Catholic men.
D.M BENNETT, THE TRUTH SEEKER
AMAZON - D. M. Bennett was the most
revered and reviled publisher-editor of the Gilded Age. Loyal
supporters lauded Bennett as the "American Voltaire"
while his Christian adversaries called him the "Devil's
Own Advocate." Inspired by Thomas Paine, Bennett founded
the Truth Seeker in 1873, devoted to science, morals, and free
thought. Bennett promoted birth control, supported women's rights,
and opposed dogmatic religion. In less than a decade, he became
the country's leading publisher of liberal literature. Mark Twain,
Clarence Darrow, and Robert G. Ingersoll-"the Great Agnostic"-were
only a few of the illustrious freethinkers who subscribed to
the Truth Seeker.
Bennett took great pride in debunking
the Bible and exposing hypocritical clergymen. He was the first
editor in America to routinely report the misdeeds of ministers,
compiling a list of crimes by clergymen that he published as
"Sinful Saints and Sensual Shepherds." A prolific and
provocative writer, Bennett was vilified by religionists for
denouncing Christianity, which he called "the greatest sham
in the world."
Bennett's publications were censored,
prohibited at newsstands, and denied access to the US mail long
before the expression "banned in Boston" was heard.
At the same time Bennett began publishing the Truth Seeker, free
speech came under attack by Anthony Comstock, the US Post Office's
"special agent" and America's self-appointed arbiter
of morals. Comstock, who bragged of driving fifteen persons to
suicide in his "fight for the young," was the chief
vice-hunter of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice,
an organization founded by wealthy and powerful purity crusaders
including soap tycoon Samuel Colgate.
Bennett's opposition to religion
and puritanical obscenity laws infuriated Comstock, the self-proclaimed
"weeder in God's garden." Comstock arrested Bennett
for publishing his incendiary "An Open Letter to Jesus Christ"
and entrapped the elderly editor for mailing a free-love pamphlet.
Bennett was prosecuted, subjected to a widely publicized trial,
and finally imprisoned in the Albany (New York) Penitentiary.
. . .
Roderick Bradford follows Bennett's
evolution from a devout Shaker to an unremitting skeptic and
America's most iconoclastic publisher.
STUDY FINDS PRAYER DOESN'T WORK - AT
LEAST IN HEART BYPASS SURGERY
MSNBC - In the largest study of its kind,
researchers found that having people pray for heart bypass surgery
patients had no effect on their recovery. In fact, patients who
knew they were being prayed for had a slightly higher rate of
complications. . . Critics said the question of God's reaction
to prayers simply can't be explored by scientific study.
The work, which followed about 1,800 patients
at six medical centers, was financed by the Templeton Foundation,
which supports research into science and religion. It will appear
in the American Heart Journal.
Dr. Herbert Benson of Harvard Medical School
and other scientists tested the effect of having three Christian
groups pray for particular patients, starting the night before
surgery and continuing for two weeks. The volunteers prayed for
"a successful surgery with a quick, healthy recovery and
no complications" for specific patients, for whom they were
given the first name and first initial of the last name.
The patients, meanwhile, were split into
three groups of about 600 apiece: those who knew they were being
prayed for, those who were prayed for but only knew it was a
possibility, and those who weren't prayed for but were told it
was a possibility. . .
59 percent of the patients who knew they
were being prayed for developed a complication, versus 52 percent
of those who were told it was just a possibility.
NEARLY HALF OF ALL AMERICANS - INCLUDING
A THIRD OF COLLEGE GRADUATES - BELIEVE CREATION MYTH OVER EVOLUTION
BRIAN BRAIKER NEWSWEEK - Nearly half (48
percent) of the public rejects the scientific theory of evolution;
one-third (34 percent) of college graduates say they accept the
Biblical account of creation as fact. Seventy-three percent of
Evangelical Protestants say they believe that God created humans
in their present form within the last 10,000 years; 39 percent
of non-Evangelical Protestants and 41 percent of Catholics agree
with that view. . . ajorities of each major party - 78 percent
of Republicans and 60 percent of Democrats - rule out [voting
for an aethist]. Just under half (45 percent) of registered independents
would not vote for an atheist. Still more than a third (36 percent)
of Americans think the influence of organized religion on American
politics has increased in recent years.
INFALLIBLE POPE, DIFFERING WITH PREVIOUS
INFALLIBLE POPE, SAYS HELL AND DAMNATION ARE REAL AND ETERNAL
RICHARD OWEN, TIMES, UK - Hell is a place
where sinners really do burn in an everlasting fire, and not
just a religious symbol designed to galvanise the faithful, Pope
Benedict XVI has said. Addressing a parish gathering in a northern
suburb of Rome, the Pope said that in the modern world many people,
including some believers, had forgotten that if they failed to
"admit blame and promise to sin no more", they risked
"eternal damnation - the inferno". Hell "really
exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any
more". . .
In 1999, pope John Paul II said heaven
was "neither an abstraction nor a physical place in the
clouds, but that fullness of communion with God, which is the
goal of human life". Hell, by contrast, was "the ultimate
consequence of sin itself. Rather than a place, hell indicates
the state of those who freely and definitively separate themselves
from God, the source of all life and joy".
PETER STARK: THE ONLY NATIONAL POLITICIAN
WILLING TO SAY HE'S A NON-THEIST
FRIENDLY ATHEIST -
The Secular Coalition for America announced that Congressman
Pete Stark (D-CA) is the first openly non-theistic congressperson
in history. Congressman Stark has served in Congress for California's
13th District since 1973. He is currently a senior member of
the Ways and Means Committee and the Chairman of its Health Subcommittee.
He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and
received his MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.
People were invited to submit the name
of "the highest level atheist, humanist, freethinker or
other non-theist currently holding elected public office in the
United States of America." . . .
Once the nominations were received, the
staff of the SCA sent the named public officials a letter explaining
the contest and requested a response as to whether the person
(1) was a non-theist who would allow the SCA to announce this
fact, (2) was a theist, or (3) felt that this was not a question
they wished to discuss in the context of an elected position.
In many instances, follow-up phone calls were made when warranted,
and in the case of Congressman Stark, there were face-to-face
meetings with his staff.
In all, only four individual allowed the
SCA to identify them as out non-theists. The other three nominated
themselves, and while they are not as highly ranked as Congressman
Stark, they should be commended for publicly coming out as a
non-theist. Those individuals include: Terry S. Doran, president
of the School Board in Berkeley, California; Nancy Glista on
the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone,
a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Massachusetts.
"NONTHEISTIC Americans, including
humanists, are the group most likely to be discriminated against
for their convictions," said Fred Edwords, director of communications
for the American Humanist Association. "Recent polls show
that fewer than 50 percent of Americans would vote for an atheist
presidential candidate, even if that candidate is well qualified.
The fact that Pete Stark's public avowal of nontheism is controversial
reinforces this point. Atheists are the last group that a majority
of Americans still think is okay to discriminate against."
"By contrast, such an announcement
by a politician wouldn't be news in Europe, where the public
has embraced secularism to a degree not seen in the United States,"
Edwords continued. "Clearly, when it comes to American religious
prejudice, we still have a lot to overcome."
NEARLY A QUARTER OF PROFESSORS FOUND
TO BE RATIONALISTS
LIZ YATES, TUFTS DAILY -
Researchers at the Harvard Divinity School recently implemented
a study to determine the religiosity of college and university
professors around the country. The study, entitled "How
religious are America's college and university professors?,"
has been circulating throughout academia since last year. It
will be published in a forthcoming volume entitled "The
American University in a Post-Secular Age," edited by Douglas
Jacobsen and Rhonda Jacobsen, Oxford University Press.
The study found that 23.4 percent of college
and university professors describe themselves as either atheists
or agnostics, with the remainder reporting some level of belief
in God or another higher power. The authors also made a distinction
between the general professoriate and those professors who teach
at "elite doctoral institutions," as defined by the
US News and World Report's list of the 50 best doctoral-awarding
universities. In the latter category, 36.6 percent of respondents
described themselves as atheists or agnostics. . .
The fields of accounting, elementary education,
finance, marketing, art, criminal justice and nursing were found
to have the highest rates of religious professors, ranging from
44.4 percent to 63 percent. Psychology and biology tied for the
lowest percentages of religious professors, with 61 percent of
respondents in both fields describing themselves as atheists
GOP CANDIDATES LEAD IN DIVORCES
POLITICAL WIRE -
Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's entry into the Republican
presidential campaign "gives the emerging GOP field the
edge over the Democrats in the number of divorces or annulled
marriages," according to Cox Newspapers. "The GOP has
long touted itself as the party of family values, but its developing
2008 presidential field has recorded four divorces and one annulment,
compared to three divorces among the Democrats." "In
addition to Giuliani, who has had one marriage annulled and another
end in divorce, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich is twice divorced
and Sen. John McCain of Arizona has one divorce. Among the Democrats,
Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has had two divorces and Sen. Chris
Dodd of Connecticut has one."
NEWSPAPER DISCOVERS PRIESTS DON'T CONSIDER
JOHN HOOPER, GUARDIAN, UK - A yawning gulf
between the stern doctrines preached by Pope Benedict and the
advice offered by ordinary Roman Catholic priests has been exposed
by an Italian magazine which dispatched reporters to 24 churches
around Italy where, in the confessional, they sought rulings
on various moral dilemmas. One reporter for L'espresso claimed
to have let a doctor switch off the respirator that kept her
father alive. "Don't think any more about it," she
was told by a friar in Naples. "I myself, if I had a father,
a wife or a child who had lived for years only because of artificial
means, would pull out [the plug].". . .
The church's official teaching is that
homosexuality is "disordered" and that homosexual behavior
is wrong. Yet a practicing gay man in Rome was told: "Generally,
the best attitude is to be yourself - what in English is called
'coming out'." On one issue alone - abortion - the priests
all stuck firmly to official doctrine.
MASSACHUSETTS STATUTE, CHAPTER 272, Section 36 - Whoever willfully blasphemes the
holy name of God by denying, cursing or contumeliously reproaching
God, his creation, government or final judging of the world,
or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching Jesus Christ or the
Holy Ghost, or by cursing or contumeliously reproaching or exposing
to contempt and ridicule, the holy word of God contained in the
holy scriptures shall be punished by imprisonment in jail for
not more than one year or by a fine of not more than three hundred
dollars, and may also be bound to good behavior
STATES DISCRIMINATE AGAINST NON-RELIGONISTS
Arkansas State Constitution,
Article 19 Section 1: No person who denies the being of a God
shall hold any office in the civil departments of this State,
nor be competent to testify as a witness in any court.
Maryland's Declaration of Rights,
Article 36: Nor shall any person, otherwise competent, be deemed
incompetent as a witness, or juror, on account of his religious
belief; provided, he believes in the existence of God, and that
under His dispensation such person will be held morally accountable
for his acts, and be rewarded or punished therefore either in
this world or in the world to come."
Massachusetts' State Constitution,
Article 3: Any every denomination of Christians, demeaning themselves
peaceably, and as good subjects of the commonwealth, shall be
equally under the protection of the law: and no subordination
of any one sect or denomination to another shall ever be established
Mississippi State Constitution.
Article 14: Section 265 No person who denies the existence of
a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.
North Carolina's State Constitution,
Article 6 Section 8: The following persons shall be disqualified
for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty
South Carolina's State Constitution,
Article 4 Section 2: No person shall be eligible to the office
of Governor who denies the existence of the Supreme Being. .
Tennessee's State Constitution,
Article 9 Section 2: No person who denies the being of God, or
a future state of rewards and punishments, shall hold any office
in the civil department of this state."
Texas' State Constitution, Article
1 Section 4: No religious test shall ever be required as a qualification
to any office, or public trust, in this State; nor shall any
one be excluded from holding office on account of his religious
sentiments, provided he acknowledge the existence of a Supreme
FROM GODLESS GEEKS
CHRISTIAN RIGHT IS BUILT ON SUBURBAN
CHRIS HEDGES, ALTERNET - The engine that drives the radical Christian
Right in the United States, the most dangerous mass movement
in American history, is not religiosity, but despair. It is a
movement built on the growing personal and economic despair of
tens of millions of Americans, who watched helplessly as their
communities were plunged into poverty by the flight of manufacturing
jobs, their families and neighborhoods torn apart by neglect
and indifference, and who eventually lost hope that America was
a place where they had a future.
This despair crosses economic boundaries, of course, enveloping
many in the middle class who live trapped in huge, soulless exurbs
where, lacking any form of community rituals or centers, they
also feel deeply isolated, vulnerable and lonely. Those in despair
are the most easily manipulated by demagogues, who promise a
fantastic utopia, whether it is a worker's paradise, fraternite-egalite-liberte,
or the second coming of Jesus Christ. Those in despair search
desperately for a solution, the warm embrace of a community to
replace the one they lost, a sense of purpose and meaning in
life, the assurance they are protected, loved and worthwhile.
In the United States we have turned our backs on the working
class, with much of the worst assaults, such as NAFTA and welfare
reform, pushed though during President Clinton's Democratic administration.
We stand passively and watch an equally pernicious assault on
the middle class. Anything that can be put on software, from
architecture to engineering to finance, will soon be handed to
workers overseas who will be paid a third what their American
counterparts receive and who will, like some 45 million Americans,
have no access to health insurance or benefits.
There has been, along with the creation of an American oligarchy,
a steady Weimarization of the American working class. The top
one percent of American households have more wealth than the
bottom 90 percent combined. . .
The danger of this theology of despair is that it says that nothing
in the world is worth saving. It rejoices in cataclysmic destruction.
It welcomes the frightening advance of global warming, the spiraling
wars and violence in the Middle East and the poverty and neglect
that have blighted American urban and rural landscapes as encouraging
signs that the end of the world is close at hand. . .
All radical movements need a crisis or a prolonged period of
instability to achieve power. And we are not in a period of crisis
now. But another catastrophic terrorist attack on American soil,
a series of huge environmental disasters or an economic meltdown
will hand to these radicals the opening they seek.
[Hedges is the author of American Fascists: The Christian Right
and the War On America]
LOCAL JEWISH GROUPS RETURNING TO SOCIAL
JUSTICE ISSUES THAT NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS LEFT FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
JAMES D. BESSER, JEWISH WEEK
- In Chicago, a local Jewish group recently helped create a day
labor center for mostly Hispanic workers, many undocumented immigrants.
In Minneapolis, a similar group has been a prominent player in
local efforts to fight predatory lenders who victimize the poor.
In Boston, Jewish activists played a significant role in state
legislation legalizing certain kinds of stem cell research.
What's striking about these and
similar efforts is that they have nothing to do with the major
Jewish 'defense' agencies that once were the heart and soul of
Jewish progressive activism.
As big national agencies pull
back from domestic issues and grass-roots activism to focus increasingly
on Israel and anti-Semitism, innovative, community - oriented
progressive groups are filling the vacuum - and appealing to
a younger generation for whom social- justice issues resonate
Some of the most prominent are
actually breakaway chapters of a group that was once the face
of Jewish progressivism: the American Jewish Congress. Others
were created because of the perception that there was little
or no Jewish presence in local coalitions dealing with a wide
range of close-to-home issues. . .
'It's a new mode of Jewish activism,
and it may be the future of Jewish activism,' said Sammie Moshenberg,
Washington director for the National Council of Jewish Women.
NCJW is one of few national Jewish groups still emphasizing progressive
grass-roots activism and increasingly it is finding valuable
partners in the new breed of progressive groups.
In Philadelphia, the Jewish Social
Policy Action Network (JSPAN) is struggling to build the kind
of base JCUA and several others have long enjoyed. While it seeks
a critical mass of donors, the group is taking advantage of some
high-powered legal talent among its volunteers to continue a
tradition of judicial activism started by the group from which
it sprang: the American Jewish Congress.
TAKING OATH ON SOMETHING OTHER THAN
THE BIBLE IN A LONG AMERICAN TRADITION
CHRISTIAN CENTURY - When Keith
Ellison, the recently elected Minnesota Democrat who will be
the first Muslim in Congress, announced that he would take his
oath of office on Islam's holy book, the Qur'an, he provoked
sharp criticism from conservatives . . .
But Ellison would not be the
first member of Congress to forgo a Bible at the swearing-in
ceremony. Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.) took
her oath in 2005 on a Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, which she borrowed
from Representative Gary Ackerman (D., N.Y.) after learning a
few hours earlier that the speaker of the House didn't have any
Jewish holy books. . .
Hawaii governor Linda Lingle
used the Tanakh when she took her oath in 2002, and Madeleine
Kunin placed her hand on Jewish prayer books when she was sworn
in as the first female governor of Vermont in 1985.
As for U.S. presidents, in 1825
John Quincy Adams took the presidential oath using a law volume
instead of a Bible, and in 1853 Franklin Pierce affirmed the
oath rather than swearing it. Herbert Hoover, citing his Quaker
beliefs, also affirmed his oath in 1929 but did use a Bible,
according to the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
Theodore Roosevelt used no Bible in taking his first oath of
office in 1901, but did use one in 1905.
House members are sworn in together
on the House floor in a ceremony without any book, holy or otherwise.
But in an unofficial ceremony, individual members reenact an
oath-taking so that it can be photographed - a tradition dating
from the beginning of the wide use of photography.
CHRISTIAN EXTREMISTS MOVING MILITARY
AND LAW ENFORCEMENT TO RIGHT
CHRIS HEDGES, TRUTHDIG - The
drive by the Christian right to take control of military chaplaincies,
which now sees radical Christians holding roughly 50 percent
of chaplaincy appointments in the armed services and service
academies, is part of a much larger effort to politicize the
military and law enforcement. This effort signals the final and
perhaps most deadly stage in the long campaign by the radical
Christian right to dismantle America's open society and build
a theocratic state. A successful politicization of the military
would signal the end of our democracy.
During the past two years I traveled
across the country to research and write the book "American
Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America." I
repeatedly listened to radical preachers attack as corrupt and
godless most American institutions, from federal agencies that
provide housing and social welfare to public schools and the
media. But there were two institutions that never came under
attack-the military and law enforcement. While these preachers
had no interest in communicating with local leaders of other
faiths, or those in the community who did not subscribe to their
call for a radical Christian state, they assiduously courted
and flattered the military and police. They held special services
and appreciation days for all four branches of the armed services
and for various law enforcement agencies. They encouraged their
young men and women to enlist or to join the police or state
troopers. They sought out sympathetic military and police officials
to attend church events where these officials were lauded and
feted for their Christian probity and patriotism. They painted
the war in Iraq not as an occupation but as an apocalyptic battle
by Christians against Islam, a religion they regularly branded
as "satanic." All this befits a movement whose final
aesthetic is violence. It also befits a movement that, in the
end, would need the military and police forces to seize power
in American society. . .
THE 4862 NAMES OF GOD
[Encouraged by our two
leading presidential candidates I decided to also try to have
a conversation with the Father Almighty. I got through without
any trouble - Sam Smith ]
SAM - Hey Pops, this is
Sam down on earth just checking in.
GOD - Good to hear from
you. I get so tired of those suck-ups at the Christian Coalition
and the Republican National Committee. Like I told them, the
deal was I work six days, take the next day off, and then get
at least three millennia in comp time.
But, no, they keep calling
me and saying stuff like "You're with us if we take down
Fallujah, right?" and I tell them they're on their own but
then they run it through the spin cycle and the next thing I
know I got a bunch of dead or angry Muslims on my hands.
SAM - Got any thoughts
on the race?
GOD - Well, I wish that
Shilling guy wouldn't give me so much credit for his pitches
in the World Series. I mean, where does that leave me with those
born-agains on the Cards and the Yankees? I try to be fair, you
know, but everyone keeps insisting I'm their God and then using
it as an excuse to beat the shit out of somebody else. Besides,
I've been a Red Sox fan since at least 1932 and it hasn't done
them much good until now.
SAM - I didn't know you
used language like that.
GOD - Where do you think
Howard Stern learned it? I'm God to all people, after all, not
just to George Bush and Michael Powell.
SAM - I was actually asking
about the presidential race.
GOD - Oh that one. Well,
I got to say I'm pretty disappointed in how you all are handling
your democracy. Kind of wished I had thought of that one a little
earlier myself, but then when Tommy Jefferson and the gang came
along I had real hopes that the earth might work out better than
it seemed. Now it's only two centuries later and you folks are
about to blow the whole deal. I don't believe in messing with
things, but I did try to warn them with those Florida hurricanes
and all. I guess I was too subtle. I'd hate to think I'd have
to come back down there but I'm getting pretty pissed. . .
SAM - Sounds like you're
GOD - Well, I'm tempted
but my basic rule is create and then stand back. But it's me
damn tough, especially when you've got that Bush guy taking my
name in vain every chance he gets and talking about sanctity
of life and then going out killing a whole bunch of people. Thing
I want to know is why does the sanctity of life expire after
only nine months? It should have a longer warranty than that.
SAM - So you got anything
less than an endorsement, say like a suggestion?
GOD - Me yes, here's my
tip for swing states: vote Kerry and then gain absolution by
voting for every Green elsewhere on the ticket. It's that old
Catholic trick: sin and then say a few Hail Marys. I like those
Catholics because they still sin. The trouble with the born-agains
like Bush is that they think they're always right because they
claim I said so. Never did no such thing. Ever heard of Bush
admitting he was wrong after he found Jesus? I mean, my me, if
that was the case I could close down this place and move to Texas.
You don't need two heavens.
SAM - Didn't know you were
GOD - Well, I got to admit
I prefer folks who try to do my will over those who claim I blessed
them and then do whatever they want. Remember my man Frankie
over at Assisi? He said, always preach the gospel and if necessary
There's too much talk about
me and too little action. For a bunch of humans the Greens aren't
It was like I was telling
my son the other day: you know, if you go back on earth you might
want to think about registering Green. And he says, but Dad,
I thought Bush was the Big Christian. And I said, my me, if Bush
had been born in that manger instead of you he would have had
cut some Enron type deal with Pontius Pilate, privatized miracles,
outsourced charity, and give a big tax deduction to crucifix
SAM - Well, this is quite
a different take on the election than I've been hearing from
certain Catholic bishops and members of the Christian right.
GOD - So you think I'm
going to go to all the trouble to create a world and then pass
on my opinions through the likes of some pompous priest, Pat
Robertson, or George Bush? I am the almighty after all. I don't
have to use charlatans to get my word out. Hell, I'd rather use
Jessica Simpson as my emissary.
SAM - Well, that raises
a whole new issue, but I've taken enough of your time.
GOD - No problem, mate.
Just answer me one question
SAM - Sure
GOD - I thought you didn't
believe in me so how come we're having this conversation?
SAM - Well, you know what
they say about us journalists. We'll do anything for a story.
GOD - Okay, but don't go
soft on me. I get so tired of talking with phony true believers.
Especially the ones who give big tax cuts to the rich and bomb
the hell out of people they don't like.
SAM - If you want I could
get you a list of states with same day registration
GOD - You tempt me but
I think I'll stay here and wait to see how it all comes out..
IN DEFENSE OF BIBLICAL MARRIAGE
PROTESTANTS FOR THE COMMON GOOD
-- The Presidential Prayer Team is currently urging us to: "Pray
for the President as he seeks wisdom on how to legally codify
the definition of marriage. Pray that it will be according to
Biblical principles. With any forces insisting on variant definitions
of marriage, pray that God's Word and His standards will be honored
by our government." This is true.
Any good religious person believes
prayer should be balanced by action. So here, in support of the
Prayer Team's admirable goals, is a proposed Constitutional Amendment
codifying marriage entirely on biblical principles:
A. Marriage in the United States
shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women.
(Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5)
B. Marriage shall not impede a man's
right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II
Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21)
C. A marriage shall be considered
valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin,
she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21)
D. Marriage of a believer and a
non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra
9:12; Neh 10:30)
E. Since marriage is for life, neither
this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any
state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut
22:19; Mark 10:9)
F. If a married man dies without
children, his brother shall marry the widow. If he refuses to
marry his brother's widow or deliberately does not give her children,
he shall pay a fine of one shoe, and be otherwise punished in
a manner to be determined by law. (Gen. 38:6-10; Deut 25:5-10)
G. In lieu of marriage, if there
are no acceptable men in your town, it is required that you get
your dad drunk and have sex with him (even if he had previously
offered you up as a sex toy to men young and old), tag-teaming
with any sisters you may have. Of course, this rule applies only
if you are female. (Gen 19:31-36)
SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE IN THE NATION'S CAPITAL
A RECENT exchange on the DC History
bulletin board on why Washington attracted so many weddings reveals
just how the sanctity of marriage used to be observed in the
nation's capital right under the nose of the sort of legislators
now demanding a constitutional amendment to preserve the sanctity
MICHAEL WASSERMAN - Based on my
review of the statute applicable between 1901 and 1925, it seems
to me that the reason was the combination of (1) the slight requirements
for obtaining a marriage license; (2) the absence of any waiting
period or residency requirement; (3) the apparent validity under
D.C. law of even an unlicensed marriage; (4) the rather small
penalty imposed on the officiant of an unlicensed marriage (up
to a $500 fine, no possibility of jail); (5) the apparent absence
of any penalty on the parties to an unlicensed marriage; (6)
the low age of consent for a valid marriage (16 for males and
14 for females); (7) the absence of any requirement for witnesses.
Section 1291 specified the requirements
for obtaining a license from the clerk of the court. All that
was needed was for the parties to answer under oath a series
of questions regarding their identity and capacity to marry each
other: ages, consanguinity, prior marriage, parental consent
if under age (21 for men, 18 for women). If the questions are
answered correctly, the clerk must issue a license.
Section 1288 allowed marriages to
be celebrated by any "minister of the gospel"--who
needn't be a resident of the District--"authorized by any
justice of the supreme court of the District of Columbia,"
which was the trial court with general jurisdiction. The 1904
amendment made provision for members of religious societies "which
does not by its custom require the intervention of a minister
for celebration of marriages."
There doesn't seem to have even
been a requirement that the marriage be witnessed by anyone other
than the officiant.
Moreover, if the boy were between
16 and 21 or the girl between 14 and 18, but didn't have parental
consent, they could still get married without a license as long
as they found a "minister of the gospel" (previously
authorized by a justice) who was willing to run the risk of a
$500 fine, imposed by section 1290. (Of course, the minister
was likely to be the only resident of the District who witnessed
the "crime," although even that wasn't necessarily
Sections 1283 and 1284 specify which
marriages are absolutely void or merely voidable after judicial
decree. Neither includes the absence of a license. Only purported
marriages involving incest or bigamy were absolutely ineffectual.
Marriages could be judicially declared void based only on mental
or physical incapacity (i.e., inability to consent to or consummate
a marriage) or if consent of a party was obtained by fraud. The
fourth paragraph of section 1284 (added in 1902) specifically
declares the age of consent to marriage to be 16 for males and
14 for females, and makes marriages in which one party is under
age voidable at the suit of the party.
Section 1290 is the only section
dealing with the consequence of the absence of a license. It
provided: "No person authorized hereby to celebrate the
rites of marriage shall do so in any case without first having
delivered to him a license therefor addressed to him issued from
the clerk's office ..., under a penalty of not more than five
hundred dollars, in the discretion of the court, to be recovered
upon information in the police court of the District." In
fact, it may have been possible for anyone to "celebrate"
a valid marriage, because section 1289 provides that anyone without
proper authorization under section 1288 was subject merely to
a $500 fine as well. It does not address whether the marriage
so celebrated was or was not otherwise valid.
So, if you wanted to get married
quickly and with a minimum of fuss -- and questions, D.C. was
the place to be.
WILLIAM WRIGHT - Thanks to all of
you who had information about what would have made DC the East
Coast version of Las Vegas, and some additional research confirmed
most of the suggestions you made. Though there were couples from
Pennsylvania and elsewhere, including New York, the majority
of those coming here seemed to be from Virginia; there was even
what the Post called the "Cupid Special," a train from
Richmond that arrived every spring for more than twenty years.
Most women on the train who were identified were under 21, but
there were some exceptions.
ZIONIST MCCARTHYISM SPREADS ON CAMPUSES
INSIDE HIGHER ED - At Barnard
College, Nadia Abu El-Haj, an anthropologist who is coming up
for tenure, is under attack by some alumnae and pro-Israel groups
for a book, published by the University of Chicago Press, that
was critical of Israeli archaeology and its use in the context
of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At Wayne State University,
similar groups are pushing the university not to hire Wadie Said
for a faculty position in the law school. In that case, critics
of Said are attacking him and his late father, the literary theorist
Edward Said, saying that both Saids' activism on behalf of the
Palestinian cause has amounted to support for violent groups.
These debates follow the cancellation
last month of a lecture by Tony Judt, a professor at New York
University, at the Polish consulate in New York City, amid charges
that the Anti-Defamation League had encouraged Polish officials
to call off the talk. And in June, Yale University turned down
Juan Cole, a University of Michigan professor who is a leading
figure in Middle Eastern studies, for a position - after a lengthy
period in which critics of Cole argued that he was not a suitable
choice for the position, in part because of his criticism of
Israel. And Princeton University has faced criticism over a possible
hire as well.
This weekend, the Middle East
Studies Association, of which Cole is the president, voted to
expand the work of its academic freedom committee - which has
focused on helping scholars in the Middle East - to engage in
efforts on behalf of colleagues in the United States.
"The subtext of these controversies
is whether it is going to be allowed for Palestinians to hold
positions in academe in the United States. Is it going to be
allowed for people who are not Zionists to hold positions? Is
there a Zionist litmus test in the United States?" said
Cole in an interview Monday. He characterized the pro-Israel
groups' activities as "the privatization of McCarthyism"
and said that they represented the most serious threat today
to academic freedom in the United States....
HUMANISTS SUE TO STOP CHURCH-BASED VOTING
CHURCH AND STATE IN ARKANSAS
Arkansas Constitution: Miscellaneous
1. Atheists disqualified from
holding office or testifying as witness.
No person who denies the being
of a God shall hold any office in the civil departments of this
State, nor be competent to testify as a witness in any Court.
THOSE 'CERTAIN' THAT GOD EXISTS
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - Nearly half of Americans
are not sure God exists, according to a poll that also found
divisions among the public on whether God is male or female or
whether God has a human form and has control over events. The
survey conducted by Harris Poll found that 42 percent of US adults
are not "absolutely certain" there is a God compared
to 34 percent who felt that way when asked the same question
three years ago.
Among the various religious groups, 76
percent of Protestants, 64 percent of Catholics and 30 percent
of Jews said they are "absolutely certain" there is
a God while 93 percent of Christians who describe themselves
as "Born Again" feel certain God exists. When questioned
on whether God is male or female, 36 percent of respondents said
they think God is male, 37 percent said neither male nor female
and 10 percent said "both male and female." Only one
percent think of God as a female, according to the poll.
Asked whether God has a human form, 41
percent said they think of God as "a spirit or power that
can take on human form but is not inherently human." As
to whether God controls events on Earth, 29 percent believe that
to be the case while 44 percent said God "observes but does
not control what happens on Earth".
RELIGIONS FAVORED BY SPECIAL
LAWS, EXCEPTIONS, EXEMPTIONS
DIANA B. HENRIQUES, NY TIMES - In recent years, many politicians
and commentators have cited what they consider a nationwide "war
on religion" that exposes religious organizations to hostility
and discrimination. But such organizations - from mainline Presbyterian
and Methodist churches to mosques to synagogues to Hindu temples
- enjoy an abundance of exemptions from regulations and taxes.
And the number is multiplying rapidly.
Some of the exceptions have existed
for much of the nation's history, originally devised for Christian
churches but expanded to other faiths as the nation has become
more religiously diverse. But many have been granted in just
the last 15 years - sometimes added to legislation, anonymously
and with little attention, much as are the widely criticized
"earmarks" benefiting other special interests.
An analysis by The New York Times
of laws passed since 1989 shows that more than 200 special arrangements,
protections or exemptions for religious groups or their adherents
were tucked into Congressional legislation, covering topics ranging
from pensions to immigration to land use. New breaks have also
been provided by a host of pivotal court decisions at the state
and federal level, and by numerous rule changes in almost every
department and agency of the executive branch.
The special breaks amount to
"a sort of religious affirmative action program," said
John Witte Jr., director of the Center for the Study of Law and
Religion at the Emory University law school. Professor Witte
added: "Separation of church and state was certainly part
of American law when many of today's public opinion makers were
in school. But separation of church and state is no longer the
law of the land.". . .
As a result of these special
breaks, religious organizations of all faiths stand in a position
that American businesses - and the thousands of nonprofit groups
without that "religious" label - can only envy. And
the new breaks come at a time when many religious organizations
are expanding into activities - from day care centers to funeral
homes, from ice cream parlors to fitness clubs, from bookstores
to broadcasters - that compete with these same businesses and
POPE'S HANDLING OF CHILD SEX ABUSE CASES
HIT IN BBC DOCUMENTARY
AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE - A British
documentary claimed that Pope Benedict XVI was implicated in
the systematic cover-up of child sex abuse allegations against
Catholic priests. Before becoming head of the church, the then
cardinal Joseph Ratzinger enforced church doctrinal orthodoxy,
including a "secret Vatican decree which seemed to shelter
the perpetrators and silence the victims of abuse", the
Panorama program said. This was the 1962 document Crimen Sollicitationis,
which told top churchmen how to deal with priests who "solicit
or provoke the penitent toward impure and obscene matters",
according to a translation from Latin on the BBC website. It
imposed an oath of secrecy on victims, witnesses and those probing
abuse claims and said that anyone breaking this would be excommunicated,
the BBC said.
Father Tom Doyle, a canon solicitor
reportedly sacked by the Vatican after criticizing its handling
of child abuse claims, told the BBC that Crimen was "an
explicit written policy to cover up cases of child sexual abuse
by the clergy, to punish those who would call attention to these
crimes by the churchmen." . . .
Ratzinger clarified church law
on the issue in 2001 and Panorama reported that he had ordered
that the Vatican must have "exclusive competence" for
child abuse cases. "It's all controlled by the Vatican and
at the top of the Vatican is the pope so Joseph Ratzinger was
in the middle of this for most of the years that Crimen was enforced,"
[We posted the following earlier
MARY ALICE ROBBINS, TEXAS LAWYER
- On Dec. 22, U.S. District Judge Lee Rosenthal of Houston dismissed
claims against Pope Benedict XVI in a suit in which three plaintiffs
allege that the pope conspired to cover up a seminarian's sexual
abuse of them in the mid-1990s. Rosenthal based her decision
in John Doe 1, et al. v. The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston,
et al. on Pope Benedict's head-of-state-immunity, although the
suit was filed in 2004 before he was elected pope. Pope Benedict,
formerly Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, alleged in amended motions
filed in May that he should be dismissed from the suit on several
grounds, including immunity. . .
"I think it's a shame that
our State Department would get involved in an issue that basically
involved covering up the sexual abuse of children in this country,"
says Tahira Kahn Merritt, attorney for two of the plaintiffs.
"We're going to go forward with the case against the archdiocese,"
says Merritt, of Kahn Merritt & Allen in Dallas. . .
The plaintiffs alleged in their complaint that Ratzinger "designed
and explicitly directed" a conspiracy to fraudulently conceal
tortious conduct in connection with Colombian-born Juan Carlos
Patino-Arango's alleged abuse of them while he was a seminarian
working at St. Francis de Sales Church in Houston. They further
allege in the complaint that after the parents of one plaintiff
reported the alleged abuse to the archdiocese, Patino-Arango
was moved to a "retreat house for abusive priests"
and later "secretly spirited" out of this country and
sent back to Colombia.
A Harris County grand jury indicted
Patino-Arango on a charge of indecency with a child in 2004 and
he is a fugitive from justice,.
ATM MACHINES CROPPING UP AT CHURCH
KIDS FOR JESUS
DAN HARRIS, ABC
- Speaking in tongues, weeping for salvation, praying for an
end to abortion and worshipping a picture of President Bush --
these are some of the activities at Pastor Becky Fischer's Bible
camp in North Dakota, "Kids on Fire," subject of the
provocative new documentary, "Jesus Camp.". . . "I
want to see them as radically laying down their lives for the
gospel as they are in Palestine, Pakistan and all those different
places," Fisher said. "Because, excuse me, we have
the truth.". . . "A lot of people die for God,"
one camper said, "and they're not afraid.". . . "We're
kinda being trained to be warriors," said another, "only
in a funner way."
SCENES FROM JESUS CAMP
die for Christ,
praying to a picture of George Bush
POLL FINDS 40% OF FUNDIE
WOMEN "INVOLVED IN SEXUAL SIN IN THE PAST YEAR"
MARKET WIRE -
Recently, the world's most visited Christian website, Christianet.com,
[asked] site visitors eleven questions about their personal sexual
conduct. "The poll results indicate that 50% of all Christian
men and 20% of all Christian women are addicted to pornography,"
said Clay Jones, founder and President of Second Glance Ministries
whose ministry objectives include providing people with information
which will enable them to fully understand the impact of today's
societal issues. 60% of the women who answered the survey admitted
to having significant struggles with lust; 40% admitted to being
involved in sexual sin in the past year; and 20% of the church-going
female participants struggle with looking at pornography on an
ongoing basis. . . "There have been dynamic paradigm shifts
in the behavior of Christians over the last four years,"
explained Jones. "Technology [the Internet] has allowed
pornography to flood the market place beyond a controllable level."
JESUS RODE A DONKEY,
NOT AN ELEPHANT
A BANANA PROVES THAT EVOLUTION IS WRONG
MAKES YOU FAT
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES - "America is becoming known as a nation
of gluttony and obesity, and churches are a feeding ground for
this problem," says Ken Ferraro, a Purdue sociology professor
who studied more than 2,500 adults over a span of eight years
looking at the correlation between their religious behavior and
their body mass index. . . . Ferraro's latest study found that
about 27 percent of Baptists, including Southern Baptists, North
American Baptists, and Fundamentalist Baptist, were obese.
Surely there are several contributing factors to such a phenomenon,
but when Ferraro accounted for geography (southern cooking is
generally more high-caloric), race and even whether overweight
folks were attracted to churches for moral support, the statistics
still seem to indicate that some churches dispense love handles
as well as the love of the Lord. . .
While some megachurches
have fitness facilities and long have offered exercise classes
as well as Bible studies, in most congregations you're still
more likely to find a bake sale than a spinning class on any
also found that about 20 percent of "Fundamentalist Protestants,"
(Church of Christ, Pentecostal, Assemblies of God and Church
of God); about 18 percent of "Pietistic Protestants,"
(Methodist, Christian Church and African Methodist Episcopal),
and about 17 percent of Catholics were obese.
about 1 percent of the Jewish population and less than 1 percent
of other non-Christians, including Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists
and others), were tipping the scales with commensurate gusto.
"In my mind,
one of the distinctive things about Christianity, particularly
American Protestant Christianity, is we don't have any [dietary]
behavior codes," said Daniel Sack of Chicago, a historian
and author of the 2000 book, Whitebread Protestants: Food and
Religion in American Culture. "Islam does, Judaism does,
Catholicism does, but basically there's nothing scriptural and
in most [Protestant] traditions as long as you don't drink, you're
fine. Particularly in that Baptist cohort, that's the only real
OUTDOES JERRY FALWELL
UPI - The bishop
of the Roman Catholic Church's Rockford, Ill., diocese has issued
a withering indictment of Democratic Party leaders. Bishop Thomas
George Doran, writing on the diocesan Web site, described as
seven "sacraments" the party's devotion to "abortion,
buggery, contraception, divorce, euthanasia, feminism of the
radical type and genetic experimentation and mutilation."
wrote that these seven secular sacraments are espoused, professed
and promoted by Democratic Party leaders - whom he referred to
"as adherents of one political party." The continuance
of these politicians "in public office is a clear and present
danger to our survival as a nation," Doran wrote Aug. 10.
ASSOCIATION JOURNAL - What students and parents don't realize
is that today's campuses are functioning as an indoctrination
into the realm of liberalism. As early as the 1790s, Yale college
students were openly disavowing Christ. Despite periods of revival,
the denial of Christian beliefs and the acceptance of secularism
have persisted and gained strength through the years. . .
It is obvious
that the Left has a prominent place on public, private, secular
and Christian campuses and is so convincing that some Christians
are denying their faith while other students are forming a personal
set of beliefs for the first time.
In his book University
of Destruction, David Wheaton cites research by Dr. Gary Railsback
and the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Wheaton
wrote, "Depending on the type of college attended, as many
as 51% of students who claimed to be 'born-again Christians'
as freshmen said they were no longer born-again Christians four
everyone has heard about - but most people underrate - is the
sheer spiritual disorientation of the modern campus," wrote
J. Budziszewski in a Focus on the Family magazine article.
HOW A BANANA PROVES EVOLUTION
POPE MAY BE READY TO BUY BANANA
WHAT ATHEISTS IN THE
FOXHOLE REALLY THINK
NEWSWEEK - There are no atheists in foxholes," the old saw
goes. The line, attributed to a WWII chaplain, has since been
uttered countless times by grunts, chaplains and news anchors.
But an increasingly vocal group of activists and soldiers - atheist
soldiers - disagrees. "It's a denial of our contributions,"
says Master Sgt. Kathleen Johnson, who founded the Military Association
of Atheists and Freethinkers and who will be deployed to Iraq
this fall. "A lot of people manage to serve without having
to call on a higher power.". . . Just last month Lt. Gen.
H. Steven Blum, chief of the National Guard Bureau, said, "Agnostics,
atheists and bigots suddenly lose all that when their life is
on the line." Atheist groups reacted swiftly, releasing
a statement that "Nonbelievers are serving, and have served,
in our nation's military with distinction." . . .
In the past several
years, atheists have organized letter-writing campaigns against
Katie Couric, Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer (who issued a public
apology) and other news anchors for repeating the "no atheists
in foxholes" line on TV. And on Veterans Day 2005, several
dozen atheist veterans paraded down the National Mall bearing
American flags and signs reading ATHEIST VETERAN-WE SHARED YOUR
FOXHOLES! Johnson says atheists in the military face prejudice.
"Before I got to be the rank I am I had to keep my head
down and my mouth shut. I had commanding officers who made it
clear that they wouldn't tolerate atheism in their ranks."
WHERE LIBERALS COME FROM
THREE TIMES AS MANY
AMERICANS ARE ANTI-MUSLIM AS ARE ANTI-JEWISH
FOR ALL THE TALK
OF ANTI-SEMITISM, a new CBS poll finds that about the same number
of Americans have unfavorable opinions of the Protestant religions
as they do of Judaism, with both having unfavorability ratings
one half that of Catholics and one third that of Muslims. And
over half of Americans have an unfavorable view of Scientology.
16% Jewish religion
31% Christian fundamentalism
COLORADO ROCKIES MAINLY
INTERESTED IN CHRISTIAN PLAYERS; WHERE'S ABE FOXMAN WHEN WE NEED
USA TODAY- No copies of Playboy or Penthouse are in the clubhouse
of baseball's Colorado Rockies. There's not even a Maxim. The
only reading materials are daily newspapers, sports and car magazines
and the Bible. Music filled with obscenities, wildly popular
with youth today and in many other clubhouses, is not played.
A player will curse occasionally but usually in hushed tones.
Quotes from Scripture are posted in the weight room. Chapel service
is packed on Sundays. Prayer and fellowship groups each Tuesday
are well-attended. It's not unusual for the front office executives
to pray together.
On the field,
the Rockies are trying to make the playoffs for the first time
in 11 seasons and only the second time in their 14-year history.
Behind the scenes, they quietly have become an organization guided
by Christianity - open to other religious beliefs but embracing
a Christian-based code of conduct they believe will bring them
focus and success.
on down, it's an approach the Rockies are proud of - and something
they are wary about publicizing. . .
approach is unusual in that religious doctrine is a guide for
running a franchise. The club's executives emphasize they are
not intolerant of other views. . .
Is it possible
that some Rockies are playing the role of good Christians just
to stay in the team's good graces? Yes, former Rockies say. "They
have a great group of guys over there, but I've never been in
a clubhouse where Christianity is the main purpose," says
San Francisco Giants first baseman-outfielder Mark Sweeney, a
veteran of seven organizations who spent 2003 and 2004 with the
Rockies. "You wonder if some people are going along with
it just to keep their jobs. . .
Nationals suspended a volunteer chaplain and issued an apology
last year after outfielder Ryan Church, a devout Christian, made
public conversations he had with the chaplain about an ex-girlfriend
who was Jewish. Church told The Washington Post he had asked
Jon Moeller whether Jews were "doomed" because they
"don't believe in Jesus." Church said Moeller "nodded,
like, that's what it meant." After Jewish community leaders
complained, Church issued a statement saying, "I am not
the type of person who would call into question the religious
beliefs of others."
COLLEGE FOR RELIGIOUS
CULT TOP SOURCE OF WHITE HOUSE INTERNS
JULIA BARD, CHANNEL
FOUR, UK - Patrick Henry College [was] set up five years ago
in Virginia, near Washington DC. Its mission is to train young
fundamentalist Christians to become the next generation of America's
cultural and political leaders. Though the separation of church
and state is enshrined in the US Constitution, with financial
backing from the evangelical community the college aims to 'rechristianise'
America; to 'preserve the world from the sinfulness of man'.
are an isolated group who come from close-knit communities where
everyone prays together and shares moral certainties. . . Once
at the college, the students ceremonially sign a covenant which
commits them to a strict behaviour code: no alcohol, drugs or
obscene literature; sex will be reserved for marriage; personal
conflicts will be resolved biblically; the students will be above
reproach, will uphold the tenets of evangelical Christianity
and lead the nation for Christ. . .
Everyone at PHC,
including the academics, also signs a statement of faith which
includes these assertions:
- The Bible in
its entirety . . . is the inspired word of God, inerrant in its
original manuscripts, and the only infallible and sufficient
authority for faith and Christian living.
- Man is by nature
sinful and is inherently in need of salvation, which is exclusively
found by faith alone in Jesus Christ and His shed blood.
- Satan exists
as a personal, malevolent being who acts as tempter and accuser,
for whom Hell, the place of eternal punishment, was prepared,
where all who die outside of Christ shall be confined in conscious
torment for eternity.
There are political
as well as biblical imperatives. The students are highly trained
in political debating techniques for which they win national
trophies. The college is extremely well-connected in Washington,
and students are propelled towards internships working for top
God's Next Army
shows students taking their first step towards power, canvassing
for a key Republican candidate. They visit a conservative lobbying
company which is opposing the payment of compensation to people
affected by asbestos, and is trying to repeal estate tax because
'the earth is the Lord's'.
Helped by the
institution's friends-in-high-places, PHC has already provided
the current White House administration with more interns than
any other college in the USA, and more are in the pipeline -
on the way to becoming 'key players in a Christian republic'.
CULT PUSHED BUSH ELECTION WITH FOREIGN MONEY
DAVID MARR, SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, AUSTRALIA
an iron hand, West Ryde businessman Bruce D. Hales rules his
world church. To his 40,000 followers in the Exclusive Brethren,
this prosperous supplier of office equipment in the Sydney suburbs
is known as the Elect Vessel, the Lord's Representative on Earth,
the Great Man, the Paul of Our Day, Minister of the Lord in Recovery
and Mr Bruce.
For 175 years
the sect has counted among its strange proscriptions - no public
entertainment, no novels, no eating with outsiders, no university,
no membership of other organizations of any kind, no shorts ("God
has no pleasure in the legs of a man"), no party walls shared
with non-Brethren, no films, no radio, no television and no mobile
phones - an absolute ban on worldly politics. . .
A fortnight after
[John] Howard's re-election [as prime minister], a group called
the "Thanksgiving 2004 Committee" registered with the
US Internal Revenue Service and placed ads in Florida newspapers
supporting the Senate campaign of Cuban-American Mel Martinez,
a passionate campaigner against gay marriage. Newspapers reported
the committee had registered too late for voters to be able to
determine the source of the money. Press inquiries got nowhere.
A Knoxville map-store
owner told the St Petersburg Times his committee was "working
with a larger group" but refused to identify it. "We
like to fly beneath the radar," he said. On election day,
the committee placed a hugely expensive full-page ad supporting
Bush in The New York Times under the banner headline: "America
Is In Safe Hands.". . .
When the financial
returns of the Thanksgiving 2004 Committee were published by
the Federal Elections Commission in January last year, they revealed
that $US377,262 of more than $US600,000 raised by the committee
came from a Londoner called Bruce Hazell. Press calls to Hazell
established little except that he was Exclusive Brethren.
That the Brethren
were last-minute, large-scale backers of Bush interested the
Federal Elections Commission. A spokesman told the St Petersburg
Times that "any money contributed by a foreign national
and used to purchase advertising so close to an election violates
a 1966 law designed to limit foreign intervention in US elections".
The commission now tells the Herald it cannot comment on whether
it is investigating the sect's role.
RELIGIOUS LEADERS SEEK
END TO FREEDOM OF RELIGION
Amendment Would Make Their Version Law
NY TIMES - About
50 prominent religious leaders, including seven Roman Catholic
cardinals and about a half-dozen archbishops, have signed a petition
in support of a constitutional amendment blocking same-sex marriage.
Archbishop John J. Myers said of the campaign, "We think
the American people are on our side on this, and we want the
Senate to know it."
Both the organizers
and gay rights groups said what was striking about the petition
was the direct involvement by high-ranking Roman Catholic officials,
including 16 bishops. Although the church has long opposed same-sex
unions, and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
had previously endorsed the idea of a constitutional amendment
banning such unions, it was evangelical Protestants who generally
led the charge when the amendment was debated in 2004. . .
the petition had brought together cardinals from both the left
and right sides of the United States bishops' conference, including
the liberal Cardinal Roger M. Mahony of Los Angeles and the conservative
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, as well as Cardinals Edward
M. Egan of New York, Theodore E. McCarrick of Washington, William
H. Keeler of Baltimore and Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston.
included James C. Dobson of Focus on the Family; the evangelist
D. James Kennedy; Bishop Charles E. Blake of the historically
black Church of God in Christ; the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez Jr.,
president of the National Hispanic Association of Evangelicals;
Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb of the Orthodox Union; and officials
of the Orthodox Church in America.
BRITISH JOURNALIST PENETRATES
INDEPENDENT, UK Sitting on a red velvet chair in the middle of
a majestic, oak-paneled hall in East Grinstead, I have rarely
felt more fearful for my sanity. On the wall in front of me,
a creepy, larger-than-life-sized portrait of an old man seems
to be staring straight at me. In front of the portrait, Laura,
a middle-aged woman wearing a high-necked blouse and ostentatious
gold cross, stands behind a lectern reading aloud from a huge
None of the worshippers
take their eyes off Laura as they repeat her words back to her.
Phrases such as: "All men have inalienable rights to think
freely, to talk freely, to write freely their own opinions and
to counter or utter or write upon the opinions of others"
are made ridiculous by the followers repeating them in a monotonous
drone. . .
Part of my tour
takes in converted outbuildings that comprise a sauna, showers
and a gym area. Three teenage boys and a girl wearing swimsuits
are sitting eating a spartan meal of rice and beans. "These
people are undergoing a period of purging," Ron tells me.
After taking a variety of vitamins and minerals designed to cure
addiction, they spend the day alternately sweating in the sauna
and running full tilt on the machines. When I ask what the purpose
of the exercise is, Ron is unable to tell me whether these youngsters
are addicted to alcohol or drugs - they're just "addicts".
None of them look up when I say hello. They do not even look
at each other. . .
Quite what Scientology
does for the individual has been a matter of debate since Hubbard
set it up in 1954. Tellingly, four years earlier, he had announced
at an authors' convention: "Writing for a penny a word is
ridiculous. If a man really wants to make a million dollars he
should start his own religion.". . .
As I'm led inside
another room by Ron, I see at least 100 people - most of them
elderly - poring over huge leather-bound books. It reminds me
of one of the large reading room in the British Library - but
these people are not browsing for free. Although Ron will not
give me an exact figure, he says that recruits pay "thousands"
to study Scientology.
are hundreds of machines stacked up in readiness for a possible
sales event that afternoon. Called E-meters (short for electropsychometer)
they look like two tin cans attached by thin wires to a navy
blue control panel. . . Although the Scientologists' own prayer
book states they can only be used by Scientology ministers, I
- a definite non-minister - am offered the chance to purchase
one, a snip at L3,000. . .
The cult has
attempted to intimidate news organisations who expose it. Last
year, it threatened court action against Google, which had to
remove websites that criticised the group. After a day witnessing
what goes on on the inside, I realise it's little wonder the
"church" needs to resort to such tactics.
MEDIA BLACKS OUT MAINLINE
POLITICAL CORTEX - Are Christians being silenced? The question
sounds like the perennial complaint from members of the Christian
Right. But in fact, as specious as the Christian Right's complaints
along these lines usually are, this one is different. . .
When the Sunday
morning public affairs talk shows think about getting a Christian
view on public affairs who do they call? According to Rev. Robert
Chase, Director of Communications for the 1.3 million member
United Church of Christ, over the past 8 years the Sunday network
public affairs shows have interviewed political leaders of the
religious right 36 times, and leaders of mainline Christian denominations
such as the United Church of Christ, United Methodist Church,
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A), American Baptist Church, Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America, African Methodist Episcopal Church,
Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and African Methodist
Episcopal Zion Church, Reformed Church in America, the Greek
Orthodox Archdiocese of America, among others -- exactly zero
Chase added at a national news conference, "millions of
U.S. Christians have grown weary of having their more-inclusive,
more-progressive values silenced." . . . The UCC's complaint
that the networks are silencing mainstream religious voices does
not stop there. They are also having trouble with the advertising
departments of the networks. The church is currently engaged
in a multiyear outreach campaign that includes television advertising.
But unless you have cable you won't get to see their new ad --
because the networks won't run them. . . ABC, CBS, NBC and FOX,
reports Religion News Service, deemed them "too controversial.".
Susan Sewall told Kevin Eckstrom of Religion News Service: "The
network doesn't take advertising from religious groups. It's
a long-standing policy. . .
But on Sunday,
on the same network's public affairs show, This Week with George
Stephanopolis, if you want a religious point of view on news
and public affairs you are far more likely to hear from James
Dobson of Focus on the Family, who has appeared three times (and
who by the way, is a psychologist), than Rev. John Thomas, President
of the United Church of Christ who has never appeared.
AMERICANS LIKE ATHEISTS
LESS THAN MUSLIMS, GAYS
MINNESOTA DAILY, - Atheists are America's least trusted group,
according to a national survey conducted by university sociology
researchers. Based on a telephone survey of more than 2,000 households
and in-depth interviews with more than 140 people, researchers
found that Americans rate atheists below Muslims, recent immigrants,
homosexuals and other groups as "sharing their vision of
American society." Americans are also least willing to let
their children marry atheists. . .
JEWISH THINK TANKER:
HAARETZ - The situation of world Jewry is much better than Israel
and the major Jewish organizations would like us to think, says
historian Dr. Antony Lerman, the new director of the Institute
for Jewish Policy Research in London. In his opinion, all of
the talk in recent years about a new form of anti-Semitism that
is camouflaged as criticism of Israel is nothing but pure drivel.
True, he says, there are more instances in Europe of attacks
on Jews by Muslim immigrants, but the problem can be easily resolved:
as soon as Israel agrees to a "just solution to the Palestinian
problem." . . .
that paranoia has developed around the issue of anti-Semitism,
and the tendency to define anything negative that happens to
a Jew as an anti-Semitic incident.
of the Jewish community in Britain, he contends, only complicate
matters by insisting on public debates with public figures they
consider to be anti-Semites, instead of arranging matters in
the traditional and respectable manner, behind closed doors.
Lerman, 60, who
until January served as director of European programs for the
Rothschild family's Yad Hanadiv Foundation, previously served
as director of the Institute for Jewish Policy Research in the
1990s. The institute is a prestigious private think-tank: four
lords of Jewish descent - Rothschild, Weidenfeld, Kalms and Haskel
- are on the honorary board of directors of JPR; and the British
media and governing authorities place great weight on the position
adopted by the institute. . .
"I never claimed that anti-Semitism is not a serious problem.
At the same time, I feel now, no less than in the past, that
it is impossible to say that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism are
the same thing." . . .
NON-RELIGIOUS ARE FASTEST
GROWING BELIEF SYSTEM IN U.S.
STOELTJE, SAN ANTONIO EXPRESS-NEWS - A study done by the Graduate
Center of the City University of New York found that the percentage
of the population that describes itself as "nonreligious"
more than doubled from 1990 to 2001, from 14.3 million to 29.4
million people. The only other group to show growth was Muslims.
"Right now, the fastest-growing religious identity in America
is the nonreligious," says Dan Barker, co-president of the
Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wis.-based group
that champions church-state separation and works to educate the
public on non-theism. A study by the Pew Forum on Religion and
Public Life found that 16 percent of Americans (about 35 million)
consider themselves "unaffiliated" -- a category that
includes "unaffiliated believers," "secularists"
Bible contains six admonishments to homosexuals and 362 admonishments
to heterosexuals. That does not mean God doesn't love heterosexuals.
It's just that they need more supervision - Lynn Lavner
GENERAL FOLLOWS ONGOING STRATEGIC VISION OF JESUS
OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH -
After anxious months of waiting, Gregg F. Martin's superiors
have again validated his strategic leadership principles. Martin
wrote the classic military guide "Jesus the Strategic Leader."
On February 17, G.W. Bush's nomination of Gregg F. Martin was
confirmed by the Senate. After writing his famous study, then-Lieutenant
Colonel Martin was promoted to command the 130th Engineer Brigade
of the Army's 5th Corps. The 51-page-long "Jesus the Strategic
Leader" [in the Army War College Journal] includes a drawing
of Martin's "pyramid model" of Jesus the strategic
leader. According to this model, Jesus is a pyramid, resting
atop and partially intersecting God. God is a pyramid, too, but
with a broader base. A third, inverted pyramid is supported atop
Jesus' pyramid. This third pyramid begins with what Martin calls
the "Top Three" disciples (Peter, James and John) and
broadens to include the other apostles, then the disciples and,
topping everything, the masses. Admirers are eager to see how
high up the military pyramid the new general will rise.
A SECULAR JEW ON THE
WASHINGTON TIMES - Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, while not at
all religious, says she takes pride in her Jewish heritage. .
. [she] told Abigail Pogrebin, who writes about the jurist in
her book "Stars of David." [In an] excerpt in the February
issue of the Jewish magazine Moment . . . Justice Ginsburg said
that being Jewish matters greatly to her. "I'll show you
one symbol of that which is here," she told the writer,
guiding her to the main office door, where a gold mezuzah was
nailed prominently to its frame. "At Christmas around here,
every door has a wreath. I received this mezuzah from the Shulamith
School for Girls in Brooklyn, and it's a way of saying, 'This
is my space, and please don't put a wreath on this door.' "
said she boycotts the annual Red Mass, because of the Catholic
Church's teaching on abortion. "Before every session [of
the court], there's a Red Mass. And the justices get invitations
from the cardinal to attend that. And a good number of the justices
show up every year. I went one year, and I will never go again,
because this sermon was outrageously anti-abortion. Even the
Scalias -- although they're very much of that persuasion -- were
embarrassed for me."
said that she and her Jewish colleague, Justice Stephen G. Breyer,
succeeded in blacking out the first Monday in October when the
date conflicts with the Jewish religious calendar. "We will
not sit on any first Monday that coincides with Yom Kippur,"
NO MARRIAGE FOR GAYS,
BUT AN AIRPORT FOR POLYGAMISTS
reporting in New Zealand's Scoop, thinks the FBI is covering
up for the Mormons, in particular the polygamous sect known as
the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
The larger Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints still
includes polygamy in its scriptures. Says John Dougherty of the
Phoenix New Times, "The only difference between the FLDS
and the LDS is that the FLDS practices what the LDS preaches."
While the FBI has placed FLDS leader Warren Jeffs on its most
wanted list, Mazur considers this a distraction from the real
story. In her piece, Mazur interviews Buster Johnson, a Los Angeles
deputy sheriff in the 1980s, assigned to narcotics, who is now
a resident of Mohave County, Arizona -- which includes the polygamist
town of Colorado City. Johnson has served on the Mohave County
Board of Supervisors for the past nine years.]
Suzan Mazur -
Are most residents [of Colorado City] members of the polygamist
All residents are members of the FLDS church.
Can you briefly describe Arizona's position on polygamy?
It really has no statute against polygamy that's enforceable.
It has a law against bigamy but that doesn't pertain to the FLDS
church or the polygamists because they're only married one time.
The only thing that we can really go after [under existing legislation]
is when they're married in a formal setting - in a church or
through a justice of the peace. That way we can prosecute. But
we have no control over the celestial marriages that they have.
Do you know if Arizona has any plans to update the bigamy statute?
There's nobody championing that cause in the legislature right
now. . .
Is the legislature in Arizona like Utah's where it's very dominated
by the Republican party?
Yes. At this point we're very heavily Republican.
Now in 1985, according to Twin City historian Ben Bistline, the
Mohave County Board of Supervisors enabled the town of Colorado
City to incorporate. And at that point the town became eligible
for government grants. Its that right?
Yes, it is. . .
What happened next is that Colorado City applied for a grant
to build an airport in the canyon lands and it didn't even have
bus service into the nearest town. But it applied for a grant
for this airport and did indeed receive $3 million in federal
money - 91% of the grant was federal, 4.5% was state and 4.5%
local. It also got a HUD grant of $1.8 million to spruce up the
neighborhood. What's your response to this?
Obviously, I wasn't around when they were doing that. But you
have to question the reasons behind the town building an airport,
the sincerity. I mean you have an area that is so sparsely populated,
which had locked itself away from civilization with no public
means of transportation and with one road in and out of Colorado
City so the people living there could be controlled as well as
the people who come in and out. Why would an airport be built
when there weren't even any planes in that area?
Yes. Why not put a bus line in to the nearest town for starters?
And these people aren't allowed to be traveling anyway. You wouldn't
see kids get on the bus to go to town by themselves. When they
travel, they have chaperones - they go as a group. The average
person would take advantage of a bus system, where a group like
this would not.
Then Arizona in 1992 declared the airport "Airport of the
Year". And when I spoke to LaDell Bistline, the Colorado
City airport manager in 2001, he told me there were only about
seven planes kept there, including then-FLDS prophet Rulon Jeffs'
leased jet. What do you suppose the purpose of the Colorado City
When I was first elected to the Mohave County Board of Supervisors
in 1996 and before I took office, the people who'd been elected,
we all took a plane ride up to Colorado City because I hadn't
been there before. I'm not sure if the others had or not. And
we landed at the airport. And the airport was locked in. You
couldn't get in or out without calling somebody at the municipal
offices to come and let you in or let you out.
So it wasn't
like open to the public. And I saw the plaque that said "Airport
of the Year" and I wondered why because there weren't any
airplanes sitting on the tarmac or hangars for planes to be sitting
in. And coming from a law enforcement background, I thought -
here's a remote airstrip sitting in the middle of nowhere - drug
running came immediately to mind. . .
Has anyone you're aware of actually chronicled events at the
airport? Has anyone actually gone there and done a stake out?
Are there accounts of any of this activity?
Reports came to me when I first started looking into this regarding
the airport and regarding drugs and other things that possibly
could be coming in. It isn't until recently that some eyes were
on it. Up until the last few years, you could not even enter
the town of Colorado City without being followed by the police.
I experienced that myself.
And then you were escorted out.
Let alone the airport. And people, some of the women I talked
to and some of the boys would tell me planes at the airport would
land, products would be unloaded and planes would take off in
very short order. Because it's such a closed community, they
obviously weren't allowed to talk to anybody on the outside,
so you didn't question anything. Plus, the majority of the people
are not streetwise. They're raised in a society that's not familiar
with drugs, so they wouldn't know what would be unloading or
what wouldn't be unloading, if it was legal or illegal.
At the same time,
we had numerous reports of drug labs in the Colorado City area.
And at that time there wasn't so much worry about those people
using drugs. They were more into the money part of it. Where
they facilitate it and make a profit from the drugs. . .
So the airport's closed off at night and no one can just walk
No. It's chain-linked fenced-in.
But I thought it was a "municipal" airport - a sort
of public place.
Even when we flew in as elected officials in 1996, as I mentioned
earlier, we had to call somebody to come and unlock the gates
to let us out.. . .
Isn't anybody in government looking into where the money's going?
You would hope so. But obviously not. . .
Do you lament the lack of action on the part of the FBI in dealing
with the problem on the Utah-Arizona border? I mean they're going
after one guy. And I assume largely for the assets he's got.
The FBI has been contacted over the years time and time again
with allegations about the FLDS and complaints of what we believe
has been going on in Colorado City, and they basically refuse
to do anything. Anytime you ask them or state agencies a question,
they'll say: "If you bring me this information and you can
get the witnesses, then we'll do something."
Well I thought
that was their job. I thought if complaints came forward and
you knew about this, then it was the FBI's responsibility to
say: "We're going in and look at this and clean it up once
and for all. We have something or we don't have." It's not
like it was just one person making this complaint. . .
I also understand the Senate Judiciary Committee which oversees
the DOJ and FBI is having no luck in dealing with them. Not only
on this issue but on every other issue. So we have a shut down
of Justice. What's going on?
And it comes from LDS leadership in the Justice Department and
FBI. Obviously, this is not something they want to take action
on. Even now that they've put Warren Jeffs on the 10 most wanted
list. Does he deserve to be there with so many murderers out
there? I'd like to see attention brought to the Colorado City
issue. But you can remove Warren Jeffs tomorrow and the issue's
still going to remain. They'll just pick another prophet.
To me, the FBI
is grandstanding by saying, "Yes, we're looking for this
guy, and yes, 10 years ago or 12 years ago he may or may not
have molested an eight-year old boy. And he may or may not be
performing these illegal marriages."
Does that qualify
him for the top 10 when we have murderers and other people? I
don't think so. I think there are other people who qualify for
that top 10 list much more. . .
The way I look
at it is, government has allowed this to grow to the proportion
it has. They're responsible. Law enforcement is responsible and
could be indicted as co-conspirator. Like you say, government
allowed the Colorado City polygamists to be incorporated.
to arming the Mafia who are say, "Hey we have our own town.
We want to be legitimized."
saying, "We're legitimizing your town. Now you can get federal
grants. And have your own police force and have access to anything
that the City of New York has."
The atrocities have been going on for a hundred years on the
Utah-Arizona border. There's a lot to account for.
And because of these incestuous relationships, producing deformities
and that sort of thing, the lifestyle of raping young daughters,
raping young boys, brutalizing women and the brutalizing of women
among women - I think that these people basically are so hard
core that they cannot be allowed back into normal society. They
need to be allowed to die out completely.
You can't just
say, "Okay we're going to take this family and place them
in LA or somewhere." First of all it's not fair to the family
itself. Nor is it fair to the community. They need to go somewhere
where you can deprogram them and show them another life. And
it's going to be just as hard as kicking the drug habit or any
other addiction. . .
Is there anything you'd like to say in closing?
We need to look at who has facilitated the cult for all these
years. And those people need to be held accountable - specific
elected officials, bureaucrats, law enforcement people who turned
their back and allowed the people of Colorado City to get to
the position where they are today. Where it's normal for people
to be raped and beaten and there are no consequences.
mailto:sznmz @ aol.com
WHY YOU DON'T WANT THE
TEN COMMANDMENTS POSTED AT YOUR STATE CAPITOL
MICHIGAN PROSPECT - The Michigan House of Representatives has
passed a resolution seeking to have the Ten Commandments displayed
in or around the State Capitol. State Representative Casperson
sees this as an important way to restore "a moral compass
to our society." Rep. Gosselin calls the Commandments the
"bedrock of Michigan law," while Rep. Hoogendyk calls
them "the foundation for the freedoms we hold dear."
None of these assertions is valid.
The First Commandment
begins, "I am the Lord thy God, which have brought thee
out of the land of Egypt." Many of our citizens are Moslems,
Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Taoists, Shintoists, Jains, Confucians,
and adherents of Native American religions. . .
The Second Commandment
forbids making any "graven," or carved, image - or
bowing down to one. Does the legislature wish to display this
warning in front of the noble statue of Michigan's Civil War
governor, Austin Blair? . . . The Second Commandment also threatens
to visit "the iniquity of the fathers upon the children
unto the third and fourth generation." Should a child visiting
the capital start to become fearful because long ago a great
grandfather may have struck his thumb with a hammer and impulsively
used the name of the Lord in vain? Does any American law seek
to punish children, let along grandchildren and great grandchildren,
for the sins of the fathers? . . .
The Fourth Commandment
forbids any work on the Sabbath. Does the Legislature wish to
reinstate "blue laws" that forbid working on Sunday
(and presumably on Friday for Muslims and Saturday for Jews)?
Does it wish to ban all shopping malls, golf courses, television
stations, restaurants, football teams, backyard gardeners and
flood harvesters from operating on the Sabbath?. . .
The Third forbids
taking "the name of the Lord thy God in vain." Courts
have held that the First Amendment's guarantee of free speech
protects even blasphemy.
The Fifth enjoins
us to "honor thy father and thy mother." Most parents
deserve to be honored, though no law requires it. In 2003 the
state found 26,700 Michigan children to have been victims of
abuse or neglect. Are all of them required to honor their parents?
The Seventh says,
"Thou shalt not commit adultery." This was the foundation
for some laws in the past, but there have been no prosecutions
for adultery for several decades. Has the practice disappeared
in Michigan? If so, it has happened without the Commandments
being posted in the state capitol.
The Tenth forbids
coveting not only "thy neighbor's house" but also his
wife, servants, ass and "anything that is thy neighbor's."
Frank Loesser once enunciated a clear principle of American law
- "Brother, you can't go to jail for what you're thinking."
More important, isn't it a trifle quaint today to be listing
a man's wife among his possessions? Consider too, that the "maid
servant" in the Commandment was commonly a concubine - often
purchased from her own father. . .
not kill" is a powerful statement, but violation of eight
of the Ten Commandments is subject to the death penalty. One
is murder, still subject to the death penalty in many other states.
But others are cursing one's parent, sacrificing for the wrong
god, idolatry, adultery, blasphemy, working on the Sabbath, and
bearing false witness. Would the Legislature ask us to emulate
these archaic and brutal standards?
JESUS WAS PROBABLY A
GUARDIAN - Jesus was almost certainly a cannabis user and an
early proponent of the medicinal properties of the drug, according
to a study of scriptural texts published this month. The study
suggests that Jesus and his disciples used the drug to carry
out miraculous healings. The anointing oil used by Jesus and
his disciples contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which
has since been identified as cannabis extract, according to an
article by Chris Bennett in the drugs magazine, High Times, entitled
Was Jesus a Stoner? The incense used by Jesus in ceremonies also
contained a cannabis extract, suggests Mr Bennett, who quotes
scholars to back his claims. "There can be little doubt
about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion," Carl Ruck,
professor of classical mythology at Boston University said. .
"If cannabis was one of the main ingredients of the ancient
anointing oil _ and receiving this oil is what made Jesus the
Christ and his followers Christians, then persecuting those who
use cannabis could be considered anti-Christ," Mr Bennett
TEXAS, OTHER CONSTITUTIONS REQUIRE RELIGIOUS BELIEF
FOR PUBLIC OFFICE
MEGACHURCHES MODELLING THEMSELVES ON CORPORATIONS
DECLINE OF JEWISH SOCIAL CONSCIENCE
SOME MEGACHURHES CANCELLING CHRISTMAS SERVICES
CHURCH SAYS MARRIAGE FOR ALL OR FOR NONE
ANNIE GOWEN WASHINGTON POST - Clarendon Presbyterian
Church Pastor David Ensign has an alternative air about him.
He wears an earring and has been known to pick up his guitar
to play a few hymns during Sunday services. But he surprised
even some of Arlington's die-hard progressives Nov. 3 at the
county's annual human rights awards ceremony, where his church
was honored. He used the occasion to announce the church's new
wedding policy: "What we're saying is that in the commonwealth
of Virginia, the laws that govern marriage are unjust and unequal,"
says Pastor David Ensign of Clarendon Presbyterian Church. To
protest Virginia's laws banning same-sex marriage, Ensign and
the church's governing council decided recently that Clarendon
Presbyterian will no longer have any weddings, and Ensign will
renounce his state authority to marry couples. Any heterosexual
couple who has their union "blessed" in a "celebration
ceremony" at the tiny church will have to take the extra
step of being officially wed by a justice of the peace at the
THE CHRISTIAN RIGHT
AND THE RISE OF AMERICAN FASCISM
THEOCRACY WATCH, 2004 - Dr. James Luther Adams, my ethics professor
at Harvard Divinity School, told us that when we were his age,
he was then close to 80, we would all be fighting the "Christian
given to me 25 years ago, came at the moment Pat Robertson and
other radio and televangelists began speaking about a new political
religion that would direct its efforts at taking control of all
institutions, including mainstream denominations and the government.
Its stated goal was to use the United States to create a global,
Christian empire. It was hard, at the time, to take such fantastic
rhetoric seriously, especially given the buffoonish quality of
those who expounded it. But Adams warned us against the blindness
caused by intellectual snobbery. The Nazis, he said, were not
going to return with swastikas and brown shirts. Their ideological
inheritors had found a mask for fascism in the pages of the Bible.
He was not a
man to use the word fascist lightly. He was in Germany in 1935
and 1936 and worked with the underground anti-Nazi church, known
as The Confessing Church, led by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Adams was
eventually detained and interrogated by the Gestapo, who suggested
he might want to consider returning to the United States . It
was a suggestion he followed. He left on a night train with framed
portraits of Adolph Hitler placed over the contents inside his
suitcase to hide the rolls of home movie film he took of the
so-called German Christian Church, which was pro-Nazi, and the
few individuals who defied them, including the theologians Karl
Barth and Albert Schweitzer. The ruse worked when the border
police lifted the top of the suitcases, saw the portraits of
the Fuhrer and closed them up again. I watched hours of the grainy
black and white films as he narrated in his apartment in Cambridge
He saw in the
Christian Right, long before we did, disturbing similarities
with the German Christian Church and the Nazi Party, similarities
that he said would, in the event of prolonged social instability
or a national crisis, see American fascists, under the guise
of religion, rise to dismantle the open society. He despaired
of liberals, who he said, as in Nazi Germany, mouthed silly platitudes
about dialogue and inclusiveness that made them ineffectual and
impotent. Liberals, he said, did not understand the power and
allure of evil nor the cold reality of how the world worked.
The current hand wringing by Democrats in the wake of the election,
with many asking how they can reach out to a movement whose leaders
brand them "demonic" and "satanic," would
not have surprised Adams . Like Bonhoeffer, he did not believe
that those who would fight effectively in coming times of turmoil,
a fight that for him was an integral part of the Biblical message,
would come from the church or the liberal, secular elite.
of the prominent research universities, along with the media,
was no less withering. These institutions, self-absorbed, compromised
by their close relationship with government and corporations,
given enough of the pie to be complacent, were unwilling to deal
with the fundamental moral questions and inequities of the age.
They had no stomach for a battle that might cost them their prestige
and comfort. He told me that if the Nazis took over America "60
percent of the Harvard faculty would begin their lectures with
the Nazi salute." This too was not an abstraction. He had
watched academics at the University of Heidelberg , including
the philosopher Martin Heidegger, raise their arms stiffly to
students before class.
Two decades later,
even in the face of the growing reach of the Christian Right,
his prediction seems apocalyptic. And yet the powerbrokers in
the Christian Right have moved from the fringes of society to
the floor of the House of Representatives and the Senate. Christian
fundamentalists now hold a majority of seats in 36 percent of
all Republican Party state committees, or 18 of 50 states, along
with large minorities in 81 percent of the rest of the states.
Forty-five Senators and 186 members of the House of Representatives
earned between an 80 to100 percent approval ratings from the
three most influential Christian Right advocacy groups - The
Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum, and Family Resource Council.
Tom Coburn, the new senator from Oklahoma , has included in his
campaign to end abortion a call to impose the death penalty on
doctors that carry out abortions once the ban goes into place.
Another new senator, John Thune, believes in Creationism. Jim
DeMint, the new senator elected from South Carolina , wants to
ban single mothers from teaching in schools. The Election Day
exit polls found that 22 percent of voters identified themselves
as evangelical Christians and Bush won 77 percent of their vote.
2005. . .
When thou prayest,
thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray
standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets,
that they may be seen of men. But thou, when thou prayest, enter
into thy closet, and when thou has shut thy door pray to thy
Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret
shall reward thee openly. - J. Christ
WANT TO BAN SUNDAY MORNING SOCCER
WHITE HOUSE, TN
- Two aldermen here say league and tournament games should be
banned in the municipal park on Sunday mornings for religious
reasons. Alderman Darrell Leftwich wants organized games in White
House Municipal Park to be restricted to the 1-4:30 p.m. period
on Sundays. "I am concerned that we are not sending the
right message to the community by having tournaments and league
play during worship hours," Leftwich said.
that he drove by the park last Sunday morning on his way to church
and saw that it was full of people attending a soccer tournament.
He attends services at Temple Baptist Church in White House.
Father intended the seventh day to be one of rest and worship,"
Leftwich said during a recent city board meeting. "At my
church, several people brought up the tournament. In their opinion
and mine, I feel like we should establish new hours for our parks."
Bibb Jr. said the city should look into the matter further. "With
all due respect to Alderman Leftwich, the seventh day of the
week is Saturday," Bibb said. . .
that people have a freedom of choice as to whether or not they
attend church, but I still think that we, as a city, should send
the right message to the community and restrict the hours of
play," Leftwich said.
UNDER GOD DO BETTER
TIMES, UK - Religious belief can cause damage to a society, contributing
towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide,
according to research published today. According to the study,
belief in and worship of God are not only unnecessary for a healthy
society but may actually contribute to social problems. The study
counters the view of believers that religion is necessary to
provide the moral and ethical foundations of a healthy society.
It compares the
social performance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain,
with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather
than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals
in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that
it inspires atheism and amorality.
Christians and believers of other faiths hold that religious
belief is socially beneficial, believing that it helps to lower
rates of violent crime, murder, suicide, sexual promiscuity and
abortion. The benefits of religious belief to a society have
been described as its "spiritual capital". But the
study claims that the devotion of many in the US may actually
contribute to its ills.
The paper, published
in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal,
reports: "Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation
is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that
stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical
higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate
with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality,
STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous
democracies. The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional
of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so."
the author of the study and a social scientist, used data from
the International Social Survey Program, Gallup and other research
bodies to reach his conclusions. . .
The study concluded
that the US was the worldâs only prosperous
democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least
devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that
rates of gonorrhea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times
higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also
suffered from " uniquely high" adolescent and adult
syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the
study suggested. . .
He said that
the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with
other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian
countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing
murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases
and abortion, he added.
EVANGELICALS CHALLENGE THEORY OF GRAVITY WITH 'INTELLIGENT
JULY 2005. . .
STUDY: PRAYER DOESN'T HELP HEART TREATMENT
BBC - Praying
for patients undergoing heart operations does not improve their
outcomes, a US study suggests. A study found those who were prayed
for were as likely to have a setback in hospital, be re-admitted,
or die within six months as those not prayed for. The Duke University
Medical Center study of 700 patients, in the Lancet, said music,
image and touch therapy did appear to reduce patients' distress.
Christian, Muslim, Jewish and Buddhist prayer groups were assigned
to pray for 371 of the patients. The rest had no prayer group.
In addition, 374 of the patients were assigned MIT therapy and
the rest none. MIT involved teaching the patients relaxed breathing
techniques and playing them easy listening, classical, or country
music during their procedure.
The researchers found that neither therapy alone, or combined,
showed any measurable treatment effect on serious cardiovascular
events, hospital readmission or death.
But those given music, imagery and touch therapy had less emotional
distress and had a lower death rate after six months, though
this was not seen as statistically significant.
JUNE 2005. . .
HARVARD DEAN MOVES FROM ONE CULT TO ANOTHER
BOSTON GLOBE - In his 56 years as a member of the Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints, Kim B. Clark had met the church's
president exactly once, and had never had a real conversation
with him. But for Mormons such as Clark, 95-year-old Gordon B.
Hinckley is not just the top of the ecclesiastical hierarchy,
not just the holder of the keys to all of the ordinances of salvation;
he is also a prophet, a seer, and a revelator.
So when Hinckley
called Clark on May 25 to ask him to leave his post as dean of
Harvard Business School and take a job heading a Mormon college
in Idaho, Clark knew the answer before Hinckley posed the question.
The answer was
And now Clark,
who at Harvard holds one of the loftiest jobs in academe, is
heading off to Rexburg, Idaho, to become president of the newest
outpost of Mormon higher education: Brigham Young University-Idaho,
a proud name for a campus that until four years ago was a two-year
institution known as Ricks College.
FORCE PANEL ADMITS ACADEMY PROMOTED CHRISTIANITY
GOODSTEIN, NY TIMES - An Air Force panel sent to investigate
the religious climate at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs
found evidence that officers and faculty members periodically
used their positions to promote their Christian beliefs and failed
to accommodate the religious needs of non-Christian cadets, its
leader said Wednesday. But the panel said it had found no "overt
religious discrimination" - only "insensitivity"
- and praised the academy leadership for working aggressively
to confront religious problems in the last two years. . .
Among the incidents highlighted in the report were fliers that
advertised a screening of "The Passion of the Christ"
at every seat in the dining hall, more than 250 people at the
academy signing an annual Christmas message in the base newspaper
that said that "Jesus Christ is the only real hope for the
world" and an atheist student who was forbidden to organize
a club for "Freethinkers."
[The Times story then included this remarkable graf]
found that several incidents widely covered by news organizations
were overblown. The report said a chaplain who reportedly exhorted
cadets in a worship service to tell their classmates to accept
Christ or "burn in hell" was merely using language
"not uncommon" for his Pentecostal denomination.
[Apparently, it's okay to be an evangelical bigot as long
as one uses language "not uncommon" to your denomination]
OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS
I am writing
you with much concern after I read of your hearing to decide
whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design to be taught
along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree
that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints
so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most
sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only
hear one theory of Intelligent Design..
Let us remember
that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and
many others around the world are of the strong belief that the
universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He
who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly
that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary
processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him.
It is for this
reason that I'm writing you today, to formally request that this
alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the
other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you
do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal
action. I'm sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent
Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific
theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to
be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.
Some find that
hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more
about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster
created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see
it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy
volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be
surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing.
We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs
are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people
don't understand is that He built the world to make us think
the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist
may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds
that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron
emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately
10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be
5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that
every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster
is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have
numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible
and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and
can pass through normal matter with ease. . .
We will of course
be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am
eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal
action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward
to the time when these three theories are given equal time in
our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the
world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time
for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical
conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.
SMITHSONIAN CAVES TO CREATIONISTS
AND JOSEPH KAY, WORLD SOCIALIST - On June 23, the Smithsonian
Institution's National Museum of Natural History in Washington,
D.C., is scheduled to show a documentary, "The Privileged
Planet," put out by the Discovery Institute. The Seattle-based
Discovery Institute is the country's most prominent advocacy
group for the "theory" of intelligent design, a quasi-religious
teaching that seeks to undermine the science of evolution.
is a government-funded institution and one of the most prestigious
museum systems in the country. Its decision to show the film
has the effect of lending the anti-scientific views of the Discovery
Institute a legitimacy of which they are completely undeserving.
The film's showing is part of an ongoing attack on scientific
thought in the United States, an attack that has been spearheaded
by Christian fundamentalist groups closely allied with the Bush
administration. . .
Museum of Natural History is noted for showcasing its substantial
collection of fossil organisms, as well as its displays elaborating
the workings of the process of Darwinian evolution. But according
to Discovery Institute president Bruce Chapman, the Smithsonian
is "warming up" to the theory of intelligent design.
After it came
under some criticism for deciding to show the film, the Smithsonian
eventually gave back the $16,000 fee charged to the Discovery
Institute. However, it did not cancel the event, even though
the museum's stated policy is to prohibit the showing of any
material of a religious or political nature. The Discovery Institute
was so delighted by the Smithsonian's sudden and unexpected pliability
on this matter that it is claiming that the museum is co-sponsoring
the event, something the Smithsonian vigorously denies.
LATINO POPULATION GROWTH HELPS
TIMES - A population and immigration boom has flooded Northern
Virginia with residents who are filled with the Holy Spirit,
officials with the Catholic Diocese of Arlington said. The diocese
-- which encompasses 21 counties and seven cities in Northern
Virginia -- has experienced a 42 percent increase in registered
Catholics over the past decade. The increase has prompted the
creation of a new parish and two new missions. . .
400,000 registered Catholics live in the diocese, which officials
said is among the top five fastest-growing and the 50th largest
in the country. More than 12,000 Catholics join the diocese each
year, officials said. The membership growth of the diocese has
directly correlated with the population growth in Northern Virginia.
Loudoun County, with a population of 229,429 last year, is the
fastest-growing county in the nation, census figures show. The
population in Prince William has grown by 19.9 percent from 2000
to last year.
POLL: RELIGION STRONGER IN U.S.
USA TODAY - Nearly
all U.S. respondents said faith is important to them and only
2% said they do not believe in God. Almost 40% said religious
leaders should try to sway policymakers, notably higher than
in other countries.. . . In contrast, 85% of French object to
clergy activism - the strongest opposition of any nation surveyed.
France has strict curbs on public religious expression and, according
to the poll, 19% are atheists. South Korea is the only other
nation with that high a percentage of nonbelievers.
MAY 2005. . .
MODERATES STAND UP AGAINST THE RIGHT
JEAN TORKELSON, ROCKY MOUNTAIN NEWS - Religious groups critical
of Sen. Ken Salazar's support of the Senate filibuster for judges
were denounced by clergy and political leaders as crackpots,
American Taliban and the Gestapo. The intent of such groups,
said the Rev. Bill Kirton of the Interfaith Alliance of Colorado,
is to impose their religious values on others.
friends, is the Gestapo," said Kirton, a United Methodist
minister. Later, Kirton defended his description saying, "I
said Gestapo, and I meant it." Kirton was among speakers
who rallied behind Salazar at a news conference at the state
Capitol. In a supportive letter to Salazar, the group condemned
"the pursuit and abuse of earthly power," which was
driving religious groups to support an up-or-down vote of President
Bush's court nominees.
the actions of an American Taliban, of reactionary, religious
zealots," said the Rev. Peter Morales, head of the public
policy commission of the Interfaith Alliance. "We applaud
the courage of Senator Salazar and his refusal to be bullied."
IN SPIRITUAL MODESTY
And you thought the Christian
right was full of itself. . .]
AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE
- A new analysis of 30 years of research shows that Jews are
the most distinctive ethnic and religious group in America, exhibiting
strong support for personal choice, liberal ideals and higher
education. At the same time, the report reveals that the gap
between Jews and other Americans has narrowed over the years,
largely because other ethnic and religious groups have moved
closer to positions held by Jews.
lead over, the news release then turns to some interesting stuff]
Asked to rank five values
for children, 71 percent of Jews said thinking for oneself was
the most important value for children compared with 50 percent
of non-Jews. Of all ethnic and religious groups, Jews are the
most supportive of abortion rights, the issue where Jews and
non-Jews disagree the most, the research shows.
On the religious front,
Jews are the least likely of any religious group in America to
pray on a daily basis, at 26 percent, compared with 56 percent
of non-Jews; they are also the least likely to be sure that God
exists. Still, the same percentage of Jews and non-Jews say they
have a strong religious attachment.
Among other findings, the
reports states that: Jews are the most pro-civil liberties of
all ethnic groups on most issues; Jews strongly support separation
of church and state, and are the group most in favor of the Supreme
Court ruling against school prayer; Jews are more supportive
of racial equality, integration, and inter-group tolerance than
other groups are.