Monday, August 17, 2009

AANEWS for Monday, August 17, 2009

#1268 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 8/17/09

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


Despite news of battles over healthcare reform at home, a shaky
economic recovery and violence in Afghanistan, media coverage of
the notorious "C-Street" scandal has found traction and surprising
longevity. For nearly two months, reporters have steadily peeled
back the layers of intrigue, salacious behavior and theological
hooliganism linked to the shadowy, Washington, DC-based group dubbed
"the family," "the Fellowship" and even "the Christian Mafia." It is
all about a nondescript building on C-Street in the nation's capital
which serves as a combination bunk house and spiritual retreat for
many prominent insiders, including a number of U.S. senators and
representatives linked to scandalous behavior.

The ne'er-do-wells have become household names. There's South
Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, Nevada U.S. Senator John Ensign and
ex-Mississippi Congressman Chip Pickering. All have been tied to the
"Fellowship," and despite a mantle of Christian probity
and religious righteousness, were exposed for improprieties and
dalliances despite their marital vows and public stance on sectarian
morality (see: , "An
Egyptian River Runs Through Washington," by Saul Landau). A quick
GOOGLE search reveals dozens, if not hundreds of other stories in
the nation's media now shedding light on the C-Street theo-mafiosi,
including U.S. Congressman Zach Wamp, a religious right stalwart who
just over a week following the John Ensign scandal, gladly accepted
a $5,000 donation from the latter's political action committee (see:
, "C Street House Making Wamp a National Joke, Jeff Woods).

Wamp is a regular when it comes to standing on the steps of
the U.S. Capitol and dishing to news media about the virtues
of government-sponsored school prayer, or display of the Ten
Commandments, or why women should be denied abortion services.
Buried in the Woods piece, however, is a new revelation about
Mr. Wamp's efforts to promote sectarian religion through, of all
things, the earmark process. Earmarks are a largesse at taxpayer
expense to lawmakers who wish to fund pet projects without the usual
fiscal committee hearings and oversight. Whether it is a "bridge to
nowhere," a patronage-style public works program (usually bearing
the name of the earmarker) or, in the latest case of Zach Wamp,
a series of mega-chapels to be build on US military bases, earmarks
are the bacon, the pork, the slop trough of the budgetary process.
Both the left and right regularly denounce the practice, but like a
perpetual drunk accepting Jesus and swearing demon liquor, actions
rarely live up too the words.

Woods updates readers -- and, for those True Believers in the
C Street agenda, it must gratifying to note that not all of
the effort within the Fellowship is being expended in cheatin'
hear-style erotica. He notes: "Rep. Zach Wamp, one of Ensign's
fellow C Streeters who's been in the news for defending the Family's
secrecy, has teamed up with Family-linked Reps. Ander Crenshaw,
R-Fla., and John R. Carter, R-Texas, on an obscure appropriations
committee to help greenlight tens of millions in federal funds for
new megachurch-style chapels on military bases around the country."

Whether it has been Christian proselytizing at the Air Force Academy
or distributing bibles in Afghanistan in a "crusade" against Islam,
separation of church and state has been a persistent problem
within the military. Jeff Sharlett, who has written extensively
about the C-Street Fellowship recently exposed another aspect of
this problem involving these modern-day Christian crusaders (see:
Planning: Totalitarians for God..." by Chris Floyd ).

So far, the tab for Wamp's earmarks is overt $14.5 million, with
new mega-chapels planned on two U.S. military bases.

The antics of the C-Street boys, a blend of salacious, frat-house
groping and self-righteous Bible-verse quoting, may be reaching
the limits of tolerance even for some Christian fundamentalists.
World Magazine, a religious-conservative journal founded and edited
by Marvin Olasky, has just run its own expose of the "Fellowship"
(see: , "All in the
Family" by Emily Belz and Edward Lee Pitts). which finds the
"scandal-tainted C-Street house" to be "big on protecting its
own and small on church ties and theology." We might not wish to
argue the latter, but certainly the dictum of "CYA" and profiting
politically from both theology and raw political muscle seems to
prevail amongst these bible-quoting philanderers.

We will continue to follow both the skirts and money which seem to
be so much a part of the C Street lifestyle. This includes keeping
a sharp eye on Mr. Wamp and his earmarks for God, and the larger
problem of transforming our military into Cosmic Warriors with a
global mission to slay the infidels.



Growth in Number of Americans Citing No Religion May Be Slower Than
Previously Reported Americans continue to pull away from organized
religion, but the rate of departure previously reported may not have
been as abrupt as originally thought, according to research to be
presented at the 104th annual meeting of the American Sociological
Association. Sociologists Michael Hout and Claude S. Fischer of the
University of California, Berkeley, find that the previous estimate
of a doubling during the 1990s of the proportion of Americans with
no religion probably started earlier than 1991 and doubled over a
14- or 15-year period. New data suggest that the trend continued
through 2008, likely fueled at least partially by the growing number
of Americans who were raised with no religion.

Shooter Read Sexist Christian Author's Book Before Pittsburgh Female
Aerobics Class Massacre Sodini's final reading: a book by sexist
Fundamentalist who claimed husbands own their wives, as property.

Senate Confirms Outspoken Christian as NIH Head The U.S. Senate
on Friday confirmed prominent geneticist Francis S. Collins as the
new director of the National Institutes of Health.
Professional Atheist Pitchforks New Christian Head of NIH New
atheist Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror
and the Future of Reason (2004) and Letter to a Christian Nation
(2006), takes after Francis Collins, the former head of the federal
government's Human Genome Project. President Barack Obama has just
appointed Collins as the director the National Institutes of Health
where he will oversee that agency's $30 billion annual research
budget. Harris is really ticked that Collins professes to be able
to reconcile Christianity with modern science.

Christian Cowboy Plots to Bring Christ into Kids' Social Studies
Class When the Texas State Board of Education issued a list of
proposed "experts" to sit on a social studies curriculum panel,
one name immediately leaped out to defenders of church-state
separation: David Barton. The panel is supposed to consist of
academics and others with specialized knowledge to assist the board
in drafting new social studies standards for public schools across
the state. The selection of Barton, a Religious Right propagandist
who for years has pushed a fundamentalist "Christian nation" view
of American history, is a sure sign that trouble lurks ahead.

Falling says putting Christian creationism display in the Tulsa
Zoo is top priority Republican mayoral candidate Anna Falling said
Tuesday that putting a Christian creationism display in the Tulsa Zoo
is No. 1 in importance among city issues that include violent crime,
budget woes and bumpy streets. "It's first," she said to calls of
"hallelujah" at a rally outside the zoo. "If we can't come to the
foundation of faith in this community, those other answers will
never come. We need to first of all recognize the fact that God
needs to be honored in this city." Falling, who has founded several
Christian nonprofits and is a former city councilor, also said the
next mayor needs to appoint people to city boards, authorities and
commissions who will "honor God."

Trottier and Michael Payton: Defending atheist bus ads In a recent
interview with Philosophy Now magazine, the Canadian philosopher
Charles Taylor, author of A Secular Age, commented on the atheist
bus-ad campaign, calling it "odd" and "pathetic" for atheists to
use such tactics to promote their worldview. In the same interview,
Taylor, who is a practising Roman Catholic, compared the backlash
of atheists and secularists to the reactions of disgruntled English
bishops after the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of
Species in the 19th Century.

Punk meets Islam for new generation in U.S. The guitarist stands
in front of a mirror messing with his mohawk. The drummer strikes
a wild tempo. The singer rips off his T-shirt and begins to scream
the lyrics.

DART, atheist group benefit from ad debate A controversy over
whether an advertisement for an atheist group should be displayed
on the side of public buses seems to have benefited both parties
involved. Membership in the Iowa Atheists and Freethinkers has
doubled from what it was before the ad campaign began. In addition,
the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority's advertising
department is seeing new groups interested in buying ads.

Moderate scientists caught in middle of evolution debate This spring,
evolutionary biologist and bestselling author Richard Dawkins -
most recently famous for his public exhortation to atheism, The God
Delusion - returns to writing about science. Dawkins's new book, The
Greatest Show on Earth, will inform and regale us with the stunning
''evidence for evolution'', as the subtitle says. It surely will
be an impressive display, as Dawkins excels at making the case for
evolution. But it's also fair to ask: who in the United States will
read his new book (or any like it) and have any sort of epiphany,
or change his or her mind?
Media Coverage of the Faith-Based Initiative in the First Six Months
of 2001 and 2009 When he took over the White House in January 2009,
President Barack Obama quickly adopted much of the "faith-based
initiative" put into place by his predecessor, President George
W. Bush. The initiative was designed to expand the role of
faith-based and community organizations in the delivery of social
services. But a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project
for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion &
Public Life finds that Obama's faith-based initiative has so far
generated little of the contentious press coverage associated with
Bush's effort. And the program is not as closely associated with
the current president as it was with the man he succeeded.

OP-ED smears Camp Quest, Atheists And how did you spend your
summer? Having more fun, I hope, than the English kids marched
off to Camp Quest, a five-day atheist camp supported in part by
Oxford scientist Richard Dawkins. The idea, Dawkins said, is "to
encourage children to think for themselves." Yes, well, as long as
they don't think well of religion, tykes are welcome to join his
herd of independent minds.

Gay Marriage Fight, "Kiss-In" Protests Smack Mormon Image The
Mormon church's vigorous, well-heeled support for Proposition 8,
which banned gay marriage in California last year, has turned
the Utah-based faith into a lightning rod for gay rights activism,
including a nationwide "kiss-in" Saturday. The event comes after gay
couples here and in San Antonio and El Paso, Texas, were arrested,
cited for trespassing or harassed by police for publicly kissing. In
Utah, the July 9 trespassing incident occurred after a couple were
observed by security guards on a downtown park-like plaza owned by
the 13 million-member Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Brad Pitt: Religion Doesn't Make Sense To Me, Gay Marriage Does
Sporting a long gray beard, Brad Pitt visited Bill Maher Friday
night to reaffirm the pro-gay, anti-religion, pro-marijuana agenda
he recently laid out in Parade magazine. "What is it about religion
you don't like?" Maher asked. "You know, I grew up in a religious
family, in a religious community and it just doesn't make sense
to me. It just doesn't work for me in the long run," Pitt said. "I
never wanted to stop anyone else's religion and their beliefs until
I started seeing it defining policy.... Like gay marriage. You have
a group of people telling other people how to live their lives,
and you can't do that. In fact, I'm talking like there are actually
Christians watching your show..."

He had faith in his job - A reporter's work covering church sex
scandals, religious tycoons and healers tests his beliefs --
and triggers a revelation. WHEN Times editors assigned me to the
religion beat, I believed God had answered my prayers. As a serious
Christian, I had cringed at some of the coverage in the mainstream
media. Faith frequently was treated like a circus, even a freak show.,2933,539864,00.html?test=latestnews
No Burquini, No Bathing: British Pools Impose Muslim Dress Codes
on All Swimmers British swimming pools have begun hosting special
Muslim swim sessions during which swimmers - including non-Muslims -
are banned from entering the pool if their swimming attire doesn't
comply with dress code required by Islamic custom. Under the rules,
men must be covered from the naval to the knees, while women,
who swim separately, must be covered from the neck to the ankles,
according to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph newspaper.


August 15, 2009


Dallas Morning News editorial columnist Rod Dreher has written an
op/ed titled "Against atheist fundamentalism" at:

Mr. Dreher begins with unflattering remarks about Camp Quest UK
and Richard Dawkins, and a one-day Camp Quest event in Texas.
He segues into a paean on behalf of a program sponsored by the
Templeton Foundation, and broadens this to an attack on "evangelical
atheists." Mr. Dreher then suggests that belief in religion is "hard
wired" into our brains, and continues with puzzling statements like:
"We ought to reject the shibboleth, advocated by both religious
and secular fundamentalists, that religion and science are doomed
to be antagonists."

Mr. Dreher's column invites feedback from readers. It is an
excellent opportunity for Atheists to speak out against many
misconceptions, including the stereotype than when we express views,
somehow this is inappropriate or an example of "fundamentalism" on
the other side. We urge you to carefully read his latest op-ed, and
provide a measured, thoughtful response. Be polite and courteous,
and concise. You may wish to share your remarks at the NoGodBlog
( as well.

(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.)



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