Freethought Today, May 1995


You Won't Believe You're Reading This

Didn't Wait Long

Organized antiabortion protesting resumed at a Boston Planned Parenthood
clinic only 90 days after an employee there was slain by a gunman on Dec.
30. About 90 people gathered on Feb. 11 to harass clinic workers and
patients, praying and holding rosaries. Source: Washington Post, 2/12/95

Bangladesh Rape Victim Flogged

Instead of convicting her rapist, a self-appointed village "court" of 13
priests in Bakshipara, Bangladesh sentenced a 20 year old rape victim to 80
lashes with a bamboo cane for having "unlawful sex"--because she could not
produce 3 male witnesses. Hazera Begum, 20, passed out after 35 blows.
Source: AP/Kenosha News, 12/19/94

Another Religious Criminal

Recently convicted sex abuser Tupac Shakur, a rapper, invoked God during
his sentencing for gang-raping a female fan. Shakur got a light sentence of
1.5-4.5 years. Source: New York Post, 2/8/95

Not Comforting

A Washington Post poll of 1,011 adults over Dec. 9-13 found that 59%
disapproved of the Supreme Court ruling against required reading of the
Lord's Prayer or bible verses in public schools, and 64% approved "a moment
for voluntary silent prayer or meditation daily." Source: Washington Post,

How About Chocolate Electric Chairs?

Easter is coming . . . and so are the candy crucifixes! Real fundies don't
hand out chocolate eggs and jelly beans, but chocolate crucifixes, made by
Madelaine Chocolate Novelties, Inc., "one of our most popular Easter
items." Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 3/31/94

Holy Ghost Believers

A nationwide poll of college students found 71% believe in ghosts, 75% in
the Big Ghost In The Sky. Good News: almost a quarter (23%) reject god
belief. Source: U. Magazine, 10/94

Pastor: Shoot All Liberals?

Jerry Prevo of Anchorage Baptist Temple, blamed liberals during a sermon on
Oct. 16 for a possible financial collapse of the nation: "Let me tell you,
the liberals know what's happening. I think I'd be for gun control, too,
I'd be for banning guns, too, if I were a liberal. Since I'm not, I'm not
for it [gun control]. I may want to use one, one of these days. The only
reason I would not take a gun and do it is because of God. That's the only

During Prevo's "Scare the Liberals" Sunday on October 30, 2,500 packed the
church as various Republican candidates sat in the front row. Featured
speaker was Bailey Smith, past president of the Southern Baptist
Convention, who once declared, "God doesn't hear the prayers of Jews."
Source: Anchorage Daily News, 10/22/94

We've Got Trouble . . .

Operation PUSH of Chicago announced a new campaign to enlist 100 pastors to
establish 100 Boy Scout troops with 100 boys each (no unbelievers admitted,
of course)--with the help of the public schools, of course. Source:
Kup-Chicago Sun Times, 12/4/94

Vatican Fires Bishop

The Vatican "fired" French Bishop Jacques Gaillot of Evreux--defender of
priestly marriage and condom use by gays--in an almost unprecedented
action. Source: AP/Hartford Courant, 1/14/95

Pity The Foxes

A traditional Hindu festival involves ritual torture and slaughter of rare
red foxes. Drunken worshippers sew the foxes' mouths shut, pierce their
ears, tie lighted firecrackers to their tails and leave them to die at a
temple. A court in India just banned the "worship." Source: New York Post,

Safer To Be A Freethinker

The bodies of nearly 50 men, women and children, ages 10-72, were found in
a gutted farmhouse and 3 chalets near Geneva on Oct. 5. The murder/suicides
were related to the Quebec-based Order of Solar Temple, and The Cross and
the Rose. Source: London Free Press, 11/6/94

You Heard It Here

The Millennial Prophecy Report out of Philadelphia tracks 1,100 groups
which believe the apocalypse is at hand, including one which claims elderly
Nazis hiding at the South Pole will take over the planet (with help from
space aliens), and another prophesying a monster quake will turn Phoenix
into a seaport and unearth Atlantis by 1997. Source: LA Times/Columbia
Missourian, 9/25/94

GOP & Antis Too Cozy

The National Republican Senatorial Committee contributed $175,000 to the
National Right to Life Committee just before last fall's election,
violating election laws, letting the GOP evade spending limits and rules by
running it through a nonprofit group. Source: Washington Post, 2/12/95

Public School Prayer Room!

A public high school in Portland, Maine established a temporary prayer room
for Muslim students so they could pray at sunset per religious edict.

Falwell Distributes Anti-Clinton Tapes

Character-assassinating videos depicting President Clinton as a
philanderer, cocaine abuser and even murderer are being distributed by the
UnRev. Jerry Falwell through his weekly Old Time Gospel Hour. Falwell
refused ClintonÕs evangelical friend Rev. Tony Campolo time to give a
5-minute rebuttal of the underground videos, "Clinton's Circle of Power"
and "The Clinton Chronicles." Source: Washington Post, 1/27/95

Smith's Christian Coalition Connection

Devoutly religious Susan Smith, charged with drowning her 2 small sons in
South Carolina, had accused her stepfather of molesting her when she was
16. Her stepfather, Beverly Russell, is a state Republican executive
committeeman and member of the advisory board of the Christian Coalition.
Source: AP, 11/27/94

Preaching School Bus Driver Unrepentant

The ACLU has complained that Mary S. Burke, a school bus driver in Spraggs,
PA, often prays at students and has given them bibles. "Every Friday
morning at 7:50, after the last student gets on the bus, the children say
'The Lord's Prayer,' " she brags. Source: AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

God Gets The Blame

Sen. John Danforth (R-MO) gives the credit for Clarence Thomas' appointment
to the Supreme Court to a hasty prayer session in the rest room of a Senate
office during Senate hearings, according to Danforth's new book,
Resurrection: The Confirmation of Clarence Thomas. In attendance: Danforth,
his wife Sally, Thomas, his wife Ginny, and--of course--God. Source:
Chicago Sun-Times, 9/12/94

Unfair To Chickens

An Associated Press photographer captured an ultraorthodox father in
Jerusalem during the Jewish High Holy Days shaking a live chicken over the
head of his daughter while saying a prayer to transfer her sins to the
chicken. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 9/14/94

Religion Dangerous To Health

More than 2,200 Israelis needed medical treatment following a 25-hour food
& drink fast during a Yom Kippur heat wave. Source: Appeal-Democrat, 9/94

We Bless Cars

Russian Orthodox priests in Moscow are busy blessing apartments, bars,
casinos and even cars on the street. One priest, sporting a sign "We Bless
Cars," charges $15-$25 to bless autos with incense, prayers and holy water.
Source: AP/Inland Valley Bulletin, 8/7/94

Miracle Mass Causes Stampede

When 50,000 Catholics congregated around a Brazzaville church in the Congo
to hear a preacher advertised as working miracles, 142 of them, mostly
children, were crushed or suffocated to death in a stampede; 118 people
were injured. Source: Chicago Sun-Times, 8/14/94

Holy Redeemer Is Right!

Worshippers are encouraged to place casino chips in the collection plate at
the $3.5 million Shrine of the Most Holy Redeemer Roman Catholic Church on
the Las Vegas Strip. Source: Standard-Examiner, 11/24/94


Anti-Brady Law gun advocate Herbert Kershaw, pastor of the New Life
Christian Fellowship, Enfield, NH, accidentally shot himself to death while
demonstrating gun safety to his family. Source: Hartford Courant, 11/2/94

A Fool & His Money . . .

Developer Charles Witte is looking for a likely spot to build a $5 million
prayer "mountain" near Toledo, OH, to be made of reinforced concrete and
covered with artificial snow. Source: AP/Norwich Bulletin, 2/4/95

666 Is Deep-Sixed

A school reassigned numbers after parents complained when their little boy
was given the "number of the beast," No. 666, by an automated computer
system in Evansville, IN. Source: Norwich Bulletin, 1/20/95

What's His Electric Bill?

Jennings Osbourne of Little Rock was ordered by the Arkansas Supreme Court
to dim his display of 3 million Christmas lights, following complaints by
neighbors that the display spreading over three lots is disruptive,
obnoxious and unsafe. Source: AP, 12/18/94

Mercury-Poisoned Worshippers

Cuban and Haitian communities such as Santeria, Voodoo and other
Afro-Caribbean religionists, routinely sprinkle mercury, found in capsules
known as botanicas, around themselves and homes, even babies' cribs.
Seventeen families in Belle Glade, FL, were evacuated while Environmental
Protection agents measured mercury levels. Source: N.Y. Times News Service,

Fickle, Fickle

When Episcopal priest Allan Hawkins recently converted to Catholicism, he
took his entire 200 parishioners in Arlington, TX, with him. Source: AP,

Exorcists' Wrists Slapped

Two religious zealots were sentenced to several months of prison, and two
received suspended sentences, for the 1993 exorcism death of Joan Vollmer,
49, Horsham, Australia, who died after her husband and 3 others held her on
a chair for 4 hours in 102-degree heat, slapped her and stroked her carotid
artery, triggering a heart attack. Source: AP: 12/2/94

Sexual Assault By Exorcism

The pastor and 5 members of a Protestant charismatic church in Nuremberg,
were indicted for sexually assaulting a woman by using force to anoint her
genital area when she resisted an exorcism. Source: St. Joseph News-Press,

Not For Amateurs

Leave exorcisms to the experts, said officials from the Catholic Church in
Canada, following the manslaughter death in January of an Ontario girl, 2,
allegedly at the hands of her Catholic grandmother, Portuguese mother and 2
neighbors. Source: Star Phoenix, 1/19/95

Mary Gets Around

About 8,000 descended on "the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows" in
Belleville, KY, last September, while others claim she is in Emmitsburg,
MD. "Visions" there have tripled attendance at St. Joseph's Catholic Church
and caused traffic, parking and litter problems. Meanwhile, Nancy Fowler of
Conyers, GA, who has been attracting as many as 30,000 pilgrims at a time
since 1990, announced the Virgin would no longer always appear to her on
the 13th of each month, but may ration future visits. Rosa Lopez also
claims Mary visits her on the 13th of each month in her tract house in
Hollywood, FL, and other sightings have been reported in Marlboro, NJ,
Denver; Scottsdale, AZ, and Cold Spring, KY.

Not to be outdone, Jesus can be found in the bathroom window of a home in
Santa Monica, CA, where 300-700 believers show up daily to stand in the
bathtub and see a cross through frosted glass. Sources: Arizona Republic,
9/10/94; Detroit Free Press, 6/15/94; AP,9/23/94; AP/Columbia Daily
Tribune, 10/16/94

Now We've Heard Everything!

A Christian Scientist who refused to take a blood test after being stopped
for drunken driving asked a judge to block state efforts to suspend his
license for a year, saying it violates his religious beliefs. Source:
Philadelphia Inquirer

Arrest Anyone Having Fun!

The provincial government in Islamabad, Pakistan banned all partying on New
Year's Eve: "Several police parties will raid any place where there is a
party going on and any one who is having a fun time will be arrested, no
matter how rich or influential he is," an Urdu-language newspaper quoted
Punjab provincial Chief Minister Mansoor Wattoo as saying. The ban came
after threats by members of the Party of Islam to smash cars of partygoers.
Source: AP/Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, 12/31/94

Holyland Heroes?

Cashing in on Power Rangers' popularity with children, a Vermont toy maker
is marketing 5 violent Holyland Heroes sets (Samson & Philistine; David &
Goliath, Judas & Syrian warrior, Moses & Ramses II, Joshua & Canaanite),
featuring muscular, grimacing toys wielding spears, swords and, in Samson's
case, the jawbone of a donkey--which the bible says he used to smite 1,000
men. Source: AP/Norwich Bulletin, 2/11/95

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