A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
A A N E W S
#1267 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 8/07/09
A Service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement that defends
civil rights for non-believers; works for the total separation of
Church and State; and addresses issues of First Amendment public
"ATHEIST is really a thoroughly honest, unambiguous term, it admits
of no paltering and no evasion, and the need of the world, now as
ever, is for clear-cut issues and unambiguous speech."
-- Chapman Cohen
In This Issue...
* Blackwater probe, suit -- Christian Supremacist, an
Army of Templars?
* Lammers at Midwest Humanist Conference tomorrow!
* Worth Noting -- More C-Street expose!
* Get on the team, join American Atheists
* Dave's blog
* About this list...
BLACKWATER (XE), BOSS PRINCE UNDER SCRUTINY FOR CHRISTIAN
"CRUSADE TO WIPE OUT MUSLIMS," PIMPING, MURDER, ARMS TRAFFICKING
Founders Family Funded Religious Right Groups
The controversial private security army once known as "Blackwater"
is at the center of new allegations involving everything from murder
to illegal arms dealing .
A former employee of the firm -- now known as XE -- and an
ex-Marine who served as a security operative under contract
in Iraq -- gave depositions which were filed this past week in
federal court. Identified as "John Doe One" and "John Doe Two,"
the pair made explosive allegations against Blackwater founder Erik
Prince. According to a story in The Nation magazine, Prince "may
have murdered or facilitated the murder of individuals who were
cooperating with federal authorities investigating the company."
One portion of the affidavit claimed that Mr. Prince "views himself
as a Christian crusader tasked with eliminating Muslims and the
Islamic faith from the globe."
Indeed, Mr. Prince is an unabashed Christian evangelical with a
family pedigree of support for religious extremism. He is the
son of the late Edgar Prince, a wealthy Michigan industrialist and
vocal born-again Christian who bankrolled a number of organizations
including James Dobson's Focus on the Family, Promise Keepers,
and Donald Wildmon's American Family Association. He also provided
the seed money for Gary Bauer's Washington, DC-based Family Research
Council. Wife Elsa was active in the semi-secret Council for National
Policy, (Board of CNP Governors, 1996 and 1998) a meeting venue
for conservatives and religious right leaders.
The elder Prince also funded Christian evangelical ministries like
Gospel Communications International, a Michigan-based outreach which
produces proselytizing films. Today, that ministry has expanded to
include a number of internet-based projects including The Navigators,
Intervarsity Christian Fellowship and Children's Bible Hour
Erik Prince's sister, Betsy, married Richard DeVos, President of
the multi-level marketing giant Amway. DeVos's involvement in
religious right politics dates back to the 1970s when he helped
found the so-called "Third Century Movement" which grew out of a
series of secret meetings in Washington, DC. According to author
and historian Sarah Diamond ("Spiritual Warfare, The Politics
of the Christian Right"), this was the genesis of the modern
religious right. Also "present at the creation" were Bill Bright
(Campus Crusade for Christ); insurance magnate Arthur De Moss; and
then-Congressman John Conlan. DeVos also bank funded the FRC's
glitzy Washington, DC office building. Wife Betsy was prominent
in the "school choice" movement, and at one time served as Chair
of the Michigan Republican Party.
Erik Prince was born in 1969, gained entrance to the U.S. Naval
Academy, but transferred to Hillsdale College in Michigan and
graduated in 1992. He served as an intern for George H.W. Bush in
1990, and two years later joined the Navy SEALS. From there, he
inherited an estimated $1.3 billion from the sale of his father's
company, Prince Automotive, and in 1997 established the Blackwater
firm. From there, Prince operated under a Byzantine array of names
including Blackwater Security Consulting (2002), and quickly won
crucial government contracts. In 2007, Erik Prince testified before
Congress during a probe of allegations that Blackwater operatives
engaged in misconduct in Iraq and Afghanistan. Prince resigned as
Blackwater CEO; meanwhile, the company morphed into XE. Prince has
retained his title as Chairman, though, and according to published
reports claims little involvement in day-to-day operations.
The depositions filed in federal court portray Erik Prince as a
driven, ruthless paramilitary boss with a Christian supremacist
vision of global affairs. "John Doe #2" stated in his deposition:
""Mr. Prince intentionally deployed to Iraq certain men who shared
his vision of Christian supremacy, knowing and wanting these men to
take every available opportunity to murder Iraqis. Many of these
men used call signs based on the Knights of the Templar (sic),
the warriors who fought the Crusades."
The deposition continues:
"Mr. Prince operated his companies in a manner that encouraged and
rewarded the destruction of Iraqi life. For example, Mr. Prince's
executives would openly speak about going over to Iraq to 'lay
Hajiis out on cardboard.' Going to Iraq to shoot and kill Iraqis
was viewed as a sport or game. Mr. Prince's openly and consistently
used racist and derogatory terms for Iraqis and other Arabs, such as
'ragheads' or 'hajiis'."
Despite growing problems over the Blackwater-XE operations, Prince
has continued the family legacy of serving as philanthropist for
religious right interests. He serves as Vice President of the Edgar
and Elsa Prince Foundation, which according to Salon.com provided
$630,000 in funding over a three-year period to the Family Research
Council, and over $500 to the Focus on the Family. Erik Prince
is on the board of the group Christian Freedom International,
a nonprofit mission to assist "Christens who are persecuted for
their faith in Jesus Christ."
He has also contributed money to the Alliance Defense Fund, a
religious advocacy and legal group that defends school prayer,
posting of the Ten Commandments on public property and other
Along with the federal investigation into Blackwater and XE,
there is a civil suit filed on behalf of Iraqis by the Center for
Constitutional Rights. All of this may shed more light on the
secretive, "private army" which, say some critics, is the modern
day equivalent of the crusaders.
Links to Resources used in this story:
Blackwater Founder Implicated in Murder A former Blackwater employee
and an ex-US Marine who has worked as a security operative for
the company have made a series of explosive allegations in sworn
statements filed on August 3 in federal court in Virginia. The two
men claim that the company's owner, Erik Prince, may have murdered
or facilitated the murder of individuals who were cooperating with
federal authorities investigating the company. The former employee
also alleges that Prince "views himself as a Christian crusader
tasked with eliminating Muslims and the Islamic faith from the
globe," and that Prince's companies "encouraged and rewarded the
destruction of Iraqi life."
Wikipedia entry on Erik Prince, including useful links
The Man Behind Blackwater Dutiful and intense, son of a self-made
billionaire, Erik Prince is an adventure seeker and conservative
true believer. An exclusive. By Evan Thomas and Mark Hosenball
NEWSWEEK From the magazine issue dated Oct
Sourcewatchy story, useful links
Media Mouse background on Prince
AMERICAN ATHEISTS EVENT ANNOUNCEMENT
LAMMERS ON ROSTER FOR
FIRST ANNUAL MIDWEST HUMANIST CONFERENCE
Saturday, August 15, 2009 -- Lincoln, Neb.
GREG LAMMERS, Missouri State Director for American Atheists,
will be among the speakers at the FIRST ANNUAL MIDWEST HUMANIST
CONFERENCE on Saturday, August 15, 2009 at the University of
Nebraska, Lincoln, Neb.
Mr. Lammers joins a distinguished line-up of speakers representing
various Atheist, Freethougtht, Humanist and other secular groups,
* Jim Bechtel, Omaha REASON
* D.J. Grothe, Center for Inquiry Vice President
* Dr. Darrel Ray, Psychologist
* Howard Menzer, Scouting for All
* Cole Morgan & Kay Huddleston, Kansas City Freethought
* Jason Frye, American Humanist Association
* Bobbie Kierstead, Planned Parenthood
You can register on-line and get more info for this big event at
WHO & WHAT: Greg Lammers & more at the Midwest Humanist Conference
WHEN: Saturday, August 15, 2009
WHERE: Lincoln, Neb.
MORE INFO: http://www.midwesthumanistconference.com .
(AMERICAN ATHEISTS is a nationwide movement that defends civil
rights for Atheists, Freethinkers and other nonbelievers; works for
the total separation of church and state; and addresses issues of
First Amendment public policy.)
WORTH NOTING ...
An Egyptian River Runs Through Washington : Summer of Denial During
mid July, the Senate Judiciary Committee held hearings on Judge
Sonia Sotomayor's qualifications for the Supreme Court. The Solon's
oratory focused on themes of some fictional world, not one threatened
by global warming and diving economies. Scientists regularly
predict dire consequences if current production and consumption
practices continue, but southern Republicans emphasized the country's
"fundamental" issues: the rights to own guns and numchuks, plus the
sins of abortion, affirmative action and liberal-activist judges who
allow "foreign law" to stain our judicial system. Simultaneously,
news of record June foreclosures and higher unemployment competed
with stories of three self-righteous, high-level, elected Christians
who practiced the very sins against which they had preached.
Feds probe multi-million dollar "racing ministry" The pastor of
a Sterling church says the IRS is investigating his control of
church finances, which include $8.5 million in church real estate
and hundreds of thousands of dollars' worth of vehicles that he
and his wife use in a "racing ministry."
Feds can seize Dinosaur Adventure Land A ruling this week says the
nine properties that make up Dinosaur Adventure Land, and two bank
accounts associated with the park will be used to satisfy $430,400
in restitution owed to the federal government. Kent Hovind, who
founded the park and his ministry, Creation Science Evangelism,
is serving 10 years in federal prison as a result of a tax-fraud
conviction for failing to pay more than $470,000 in employee taxes in
a long-running dispute with the Internal Revenue Service. Kent Hovind
was found guilty in November 2006 on 58 counts, including failure
to pay employee taxes and making threats against investigators.
Beyond belief: Atheists push for greater visibility and acceptance
There's nothing unusual about churches advertising Sunday services,
but South Florida atheists are turning that idea on its head:
Why not promote the belief that there is no God? ``Most people
are under the impression that atheists lack morals and ethics. We
are trying to dispel that myth,'' said Ken Loukinen, founder of
the 400-member Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists, which is
sponsoring a controversial billboard in Broward County. Being a good
person doesn't require God,'' the sign declares. ``Don't believe
in God? You're not alone!''
Surprises pop up in new survey of U.S. Mormons On July 24,
the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released an extensive
statistical portrait of Mormons in the United States. It drew on
answers by self-identified members of The Church of Jesus Christ
of Latter-day Saints to Pew's U.S. Religious Landscape Survey
in 2007. Though it will come as no surprise to Utahns that most
Mormons are church-attending, Bible-believing Republicans, some of
the other results may be less predictable.
Supreme Court to be asked to hear Ten Commandments case The
U.S. Supreme Court will be asked to resolve the controversy over a
Ten Commandments monument on the Haskell County courthouse lawn,
Alliance Defense Fund attorney Kevin Theriot said Friday. "We
are planning on filing a petition for certiorari with the Supreme
Court," said Theriot, of Leawood, Kan.By a 6-6 vote, the full 10th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals declined Thursday to rehear the June
ruling of a three-judge panel, which held that the monument violates
the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment.
Church-state groups concerned about nominated Army secretary
Organizations that advocate the separation of church and state
say they are concerned about President Obama's pick as Secretary
of the Army. Brent Walker, executive director of the Baptist Joint
Committee for Religious Liberty, said July 30 that U.S. Rep. John
M. McHugh, a five-term Republican from New York, has a voting record
that shows he is no friend to religious liberty. Critics say John
McHugh's voting record in Congress suggests he has little regard
for separation of church and state. Walker said McHugh, who is
expected to be confirmed at the conclusion of hearings before
the Senate Armed Services Committee, has a background that is
"generally well-suited for the job," but his voting record "raises
serious questions about his understanding of the constitutional
restraints on government in matters of religion."
Catholic bank owned pill shares A Roman Catholic bank in Germany
has apologized after admitting it bought stocks in defence, tobacco
and birth control companies. Der Spiegel newspaper discovered the
bank had invested 580,000 euros ( 495,310, $826,674) in British arms
company BAE Systems. It also invested 160,000 euros in American birth
control pill maker Wyeth and 870,000 euros in tobacco companies.
The bank apologised for behaviour "not in keeping with ethical
Study: Religiosity of Humanities Students Most Likely to Wane
Results from a recent study on the impact of a college student's
major on their religiosity have led researchers to conclude that
postmodernism, rather than science, is the greatest antagonist of
religiosity. Researchers at the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor drew
the conclusion after finding that majoring in Humanities or Social
Sciences has a significant negative effect on religious attendance
and self-assessed importance of religion in one's life."Because
we consider both the Humanities and many of the Social Sciences
particularly strongly imbued with Postmodernism, we take this as
evidence for a negative effect of Postmodernism on religiosity,"
they state in their report, which was released last month. Meanwhile,
majoring in the Biological Sciences and the Physical Sciences has
a much smaller negative or no effects on religiosity.
Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers launch awareness campaign The group
Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers (IAF) has launched an advertising
campaign on the sides of 20 transit buses in Des Moines. The ad
features an image of a blue sky with clouds and the words "Don't
Believe in God? You are not alone."
Acknowledging existence of atheists is too offensive for Des Moines
After a wave of complaints, Des Moines Area Regional Transit buses
will no longer display advertisements that acknowledge the existence
of atheists in Iowa. The ads, which said, "Don't believe in God? You
are not alone," first went up on buses Saturday and were removed
by Tuesday. Gov. Chet Culver said he was "disturbed" by the ads.
Texas gov. urges Christians to get involved in politics According
to MySanAntionio.com, during remarks this past Sunday at New Life
Christian Center, Governor Perry said Christians should be involved
in politics. He also said freedom of religion should not be confused
with freedom from religion.
CELEBRATE YOUR INTELLECTUAL INDEPENDENCE! JOIN
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SILVERMAN BLOG SHAKING UP CYBERSPACE!
It is one of the fastest growing blogs in the
Atheist/Freethought/Secular Humanist community, and you can get in
on the discussion!
Dave Silverman, Communications Director for American Atheists is in
the Blogosphere at http://nogodblog.com. It's filled with insight,
wit, hot news, controversial opinion -- and polite, thoughtful
commentary. So join the conversation! Sign up (it's free) by
visiting http://www.atheists.org and click on the blog navigation
button, or go directly to http://nogodblog.com .
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AANEWS is a free service from American Atheists, a nationwide
movement founded by Madalyn Murray O'Hair that defends the civil
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