Big Mac Attack
by Conrad Goeringer
©1996 by AANEWS from American Atheists
October 19, 1996
It seems that just about wherever one looks, there is evidence of fundamentalist reaction against the pitfalls and joys of modernity. Take the penchant in some Christian and Moslem circles, for instance, to ban or even burn certain musical recordings or videos, prohibit the wearing of certain kinds of clothing (usually on women!), and demand other forms of social conformity. At times, it is puzzling to divine who is doing the banning and burning -- are the cassette tapes in the blazing fire the victims of a Christian fundamentalist church or a Taliban Muslim militia? Is the neighborhood "modesty patrol" under the direction of a mullah or a rabbi? Hmmm. It appears that hardly any country is immune from these fundamentalist ravishings of civil liberties, common sense, and free choice.
While mullahs in Iran and Afghanistan are scouring the streets in search of provocative women, though, orthodox rabbis in Israel have mobilized their followers against the latest target of religious righteousness -- the Big Mac.
Recall than in support for helping to elect the Likud Party and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's fundamentalists have won themselves unprecedented powers and a number of influential ministry posts. Indeed, religious fundamentalists are now trying to enact mandatory observance of old sabbath laws, have disrupted archeological sites, battled secularists in efforts to shut down traffic arteries, and now want to ban advertising of non-kosher foods on Israel's Channel 2.
One ad depicts a "virtual" hamburger complete with layers of bread, meat and vegetables -- and the one offending ingredient, a slice of cheese. See, the injunction found in Exodus 23:19 -- "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk" -- is interpreted by some to constitute a dietary prohibitition against consuming meat and dairy products together. Thirty or so centuries later, this biblical ranting now means that the Big Mac is a "forbidden" food.
The spokesperson for McDonald's told reporters: "This is a political. The religious parties want to prove they have the power to enforce their beliefs on other people's behavior." He also termed the prohibition "ridiculous," and said that the burgermeisters were ready to go to Israel's High Court if necessary to protest the invasive religious dietary restriction and advertising ban.
Channel 2 is a government network which is overseen by the Israeli Ministry of Education; that department is now controlled by the National Religious Party, one of the beneficiaries of the Netanyahu victory.
Britain's Telegraph newspaper notes that McDonald's outlets are regularly picketed by orthodox Jews, not just because of the offending cheese, but because they have become symbols of cosmopolitanism and secularism. Strangely, the Golden Arches which have become the company's trademark, were used in TV ads by the defeated Labor Party as symbols of economic prosperity and foreign investment. But religious fundamentalists like the United Torah Judaisim Party and the National Religious Party, also used the arches to symbolize secular corruption of religious belief.
The burger war might end up in the Israeli Supreme Court, where fundamentalists
have also been calling for the ouster of the Chief Justice and other jurists
who would not approve demands to close major transportation arteries in
Jerusalem during the sabbath.
by Joe Zemecki with Conrad Goeringer
from AANEWS by American Atheists (July, 1997)
Correspondent Joe Zemecki who works at the American Atheist center sends us the following report from Australia titled: "SCANDAL, The Priest and The Swan":
In an attempt to rid the sex debate of double standards the Eros Foundation (Canberra's only honest employer) has written to Deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Senator Brian Harradine and Attorney General Daryl Williams. Eros -- whose motto could well be "Non violent sexual erotica is good for Australia" -- argues that if our politicians weren't such a bunch of hypocrites, they would institute "an urgent Parliamentary inquiry into the curriculum and running of Australia's religious training institutions."
The basic thrust of the Eros argument is that Australia's religious training institutions have taught substantial numbers of people who have subsequently become well known pedophiles. The evidence they muster to support this proposition is persuasive. Eros lobbyist Robbie Swan argues "It is now an established and obvious fact that the recently published Australian Pedophile and Sex Offender Index listed 'Clergy, Church and Religion related' as the largest identifiable group of offenders -- by almost twice the size of the next group." Court records since the publication of this references how the conviction of priests for child sex abuse is running at 4:1 to other occupations. This means that the church and religious orders in Australia could be producing up to approximately one-third of the nation's pedophiles. Warming to his argument, Swan points out "that if the same number of church-based pedophiles had come from the sex industry, a Parliamentary inquiry would have commenced years ago. The sex industry and the church both employ approximately 20,000 people in Australia. As it appears, the sex industry seems remarkable free of convicted pedophiles ... no prostitutes, X-Video producers or sex shop owners appeared on the Pedophile Index and none have been recorded in court records since."
Excerpted from AANEWS, by American Atheists.
Hoaxes Are Religious
Right Cottage Industry
By John Young, Cox News Service
August 24, 1995
WACO, Texas -- There are alligators in the sewers. And down there you also might find Ashley Pollack's lunch boxes. And if you happen to see Ashley, tell her some school officials would love to meet her.
In recent months Ashley and the Millcreek Township school district in suburban Erie, Pennsylvania, were held up as an example of how public schools trample on religious freedoms.
The story, passed on by syndicated columnist Cal Thomas, was that the fourth grader had purchased and given to two classmates new lunch boxes with the note "God loves you in Christ." The story goes that the girl was reprimanded by her teacher, told, according to Thomas, "she must not write or even speak about religion in school."
It would be an abomination if true. The true abomination is that it's a lie.
A district spokesperson, interviewed by phone, said Ashley Pollack doesn't exist. Or, if real, Ashley never attended Millcreek schools.
Then in Texas there was 5-year-old Shannon. According to the 1992 story passed on by Pat Robertson's "700 Club," she'd been told by her teachers in Kingsville she couldn't say grace over her meal.
One technical problem with that story. Shannon didn't exist. Or if she existed, she didn't attend Kingsville schools. But Kingsville, and all other public schools, took a mighty airwave thrashing.
Concocted incidents purporting to demonstrate how public schools "crush" religious liberties could fill up volumes. Let's commission Paul Dickson. His book, There Are Alligators in Our Sewers, takes on widespread urban myths. He'd have a field day with what the Religious Right passes on as Gospel.
The Rev. James Watkins of the Old South Church of Christ in Kirtland, Ohio, could write the book. He chases down stories in which students allegedly have been denied the right to pray. His assessment: lies, lies, and damned lies.
The Religious Right sprays hoaxes like mushrooms disseminate spores. Then the hoaxes bear their fruit in cover of night.
"When asked by informed investigators," writes Watkins in a recent commentary, those with the wild assertions "are unable to produce one bona fide instance of a student's right to pray being violated by a public school official anywhere."
Advocacy groups like the Rutherford Institute exist to take flimsy allegations to court. Even if frivolous, the suits will still harvest some ink, prestige, and financial backing.
In St. Louis, with the involvement of the Rutherford Institute, the Waring School is being sued by a former student who asserts he was punished for praying over his lunch. School officials say plain old misbehavior, not prayer, is the issue. The plaintiff said he has witnesses, but hasn't produced them.
Back in Texas the author of two new laws which made "legal" what was already legal -- silent, voluntary school prayer and silent moments that don't solicit prayer -- gladly perpetuates the hoax-making.
A press release from the office of state Rep. Al Edwards, D-Houston, proclaims "Prayer is back in our public schools." (Silent, voluntary prayer was never out of our schools.) It also reads, "A number of people have been reprimanded, suspended and even fired because of their beliefs and participation relating to prayer in public schools."
When asked on the phone to enumerate, Edwards could cite only one example: Waco teacher Linda Thrasher, fired after repeated warnings for clearly and zealously promoting her religion in class. In point of fact, Rep. Edwards, Thrasher's firing was her own choice. She said she had to abide by God's rules, not those of the school board.
And so the hoaxers go merrily on their way. They make public schools
the bad guys, anti-God and anti-good, for making the tough calls that come
with accommodating a nation of many faiths.
God Loses Presidential
by Chuck Shepherd
Actor and proud philanderer Jose Estrada was elected president in one of the Philippines's quietest elections ever, in that only 45 people were killed in campaign-related incidents.
Among the presidential losers was Mario Lagazpi, who stayed in character as God, claiming he had taken a leave of absence from Heaven to help the country.
God Gets Nine Months
San Rafael, California, Feb 14, 1996 -- A man who legally changed his name to Ubiquitous Perpetuity God began serving a nine-month sentence for indecent exposure Wednesday.
God, 68, has been convicted 18 times for similar offenses since 1978. His latest arrest came October 26, when he exposed himself to a woman waiting in line at a coffee shop. He said he did it so that women "could have some type of awareness of God," according to police reports.
Marin Superior Court Judge Lynn O'Malley Taylor addressed the defendant as "Mr. God" at a hearing Tuesday, and sentenced him to nine months in Marin County Jail. He will be released to a residential mental health facility if one agrees to admit him, she said.
God was born Enrique Silberg in Cuba and later immigrated to the United States in search of "women, silver, gold, knowledge, and God," he told his probation officer Richard Howell.
A court-appointed psychiatrist, Dr. Diane McEwen of Tiburon, said God suffers from "a severe psychotic delusional disorder. He is simply too sick," she said, "to be out in the streets."
Hoax or Space Nazis?
by Conrad Goeringer
©1996 by AANEWS from American Atheists
August 26, 1996
In Burlington County, New Jersey, a 60-foot high swastika was carved in the middle of a 30-acre field. Police have made no arrests.
Despite wide regional media coverage, no group which subscribes to the hypothesis that crop circles represent mysterious paranormal forces, or are in some way connected with alien spacecraft, has proposed that the swastika outline was made by extraterrestrials -- either as a joke, a warning, an innocent, symmetrical design, or a statement of political belief.
The swastika was surprisingly well aligned -- placed near the exact center of the cornfield, with the arms right-angles to adjacent roads and a driveway . The image could have been carved as long as a month ago; it was only first noticed last week by pilots flying out of nearby McGuire Air Force base, who informed Burlington County authorities.
Jeffrey Maas, executive director of the New Jersey Anti-Defamation League, told news reporters that he had never heard of "swastika carving" in the 21 years he has been with ADL. "I find it disturbing, but nothing surprises me these days," he told the Philadelphia Inquirer recently.
Why have the usual list of crop circle groups and publications not stepped forward to claim this latest apparition as yet another manifestation of aliens, spirits or other paranormal forces? And why is there nothing unusual between this swastika and other patterns which have described as being "impossible" to have manufactured as hoaxes?
Contrary to the assertions of many crop-watchers, as they are called, there is nothing "mysterious" about these ornate patterns; two British men say they started the whole crop circle rage years ago, and in the case of the Burlington County swastika, the Inquirer reports: "Township police guessed that the swastika could have been the work of nearby high school students ... " Far from requiring the advanced technology of space-faring aliens, constructing a crop-pattern hoax is relatively simple, though somewhat time consuming.
Circle watchers see mazes and other designs as "proof" of alien visitation; but why not the swastika? It is, after all, a symbol which pre-dates the Nazi era and appears in various configurations throughout cultures in ancient America, India, Japan and Persia. Why not New Jersey? In our quest for answers, for certainty, perhaps the first step involves a healthy skepticism of unusual claims, and an appreciation of how problematic the human psyche can be.
Afterlife Weather Forecast
(From Applied Optics vol. 11, A14, 1972)
The temperature of Heaven can be rather accurately computed. Our authority is Isaiah 30:26, "Moreover, the light of the Moon shall be as the light of the Sun and the light of the Sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days." Thus Heaven receives from the Moon as much radiation as we do from the Sun, and in addition 7 x 7 (49) times as much as the Earth does from the Sun, or 50 times in all. The light we receive from the Moon is one 1/10,000 of the light we receive from the Sun, so we can ignore that. The radiation falling on Heaven will heat it to the point where the heat lost by radiation is just equal to the heat received by radiation, i.e., Heaven loses 50 times as much heat as the Earth by radiation. Using the Stefan-Boltzmann law for radiation, (H/E)^4 = 50, where E is the absolute temperature of the earth (-300ºK), gives H as 798ºK (525ºC).
The exact temperature of Hell cannot be computed. However, Revelation 21:8 says "But the fearful, and unbelieving ... shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone." A lake of molten brimstone [sulphur] means that its temperature must be at or below its boiling point, 444.6ºC.
We have, then, that Heaven, at 525ºC is hotter
than Hell at 445ºC.
A Mole of Souls
A thermodynamics professor wrote a take-home exam for his graduate students. It had one question: "Is hell exothermic or endothermic? Support your answer with proof."
Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle's Law or some variant. One student, however, wrote the following:
"First, we postulate that if souls exist, then they must have some mass. If they do, then a mole of souls can also have a mass. So, at what rate are souls moving into hell and at what rate are souls leaving? I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving. As for souls entering hell, let's look at the different religions that exist in the world today. Some of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to hell. Since there are more than one of these religions and people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all people and all souls go to hell. With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in hell to increase exponentially.
Now, we look at the rate of change in volume in hell. Boyle's Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in hell to stay the same, the ratio of the mass of souls and volume needs to stay constant.
1. So, if hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter hell, then the temperature and pressure in hell will increase until all hell breaks loose.
2. Of course, if hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until hell freezes over.
So which is it? If we accept the postulate given me by Therese Banyan during our freshman year, and take into account the fact that I still have not succeeded in having sexual relations with her, then #2 cannot be true, and hell is exothermic."
This student got the only A.
Beyond Global Warming
by Chuck Shepherd
According to two physicists from the University of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, whose work was reported in an August issue of The New Scientist, hell is certainly very hot (833 degrees Fahrenheit), but so is heaven (about 450 degrees). The researchers used passages in the Bible reporting that "brimstone" (sulphur) boils in hell and that heaven contains "sevenfold" the light of the sun for seven days.
Studies: Atheists Supply
less than One Percent
of Prison Populations
by Dale Clark
Received July, 1997
It's surprising how many people remark to me, "You're an Atheist? You must have no conscience about committing crime then." Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, if we examine the population of our prisons, we see a very different picture.
In "The New Criminology," Max D. Schlapp and Edward E. Smith say that two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about one-tenth of one percent. W.T. Root, Professor of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, examined 1,916 prisoners and said, "Indifference to religion, due to thought, strengthens character," adding that Unitarians, Agnostics, Atheists and Free-Thinkers were absent from penitentiaries, or nearly so.
During 10 years in Sing-Sing, of those executed for murder 65 percent were Catholics, 26 percent Protestants, six percent Hebrew, two percent Pagan, and less than one-third of one percent non-religious.
Steiner and Swancara surveyed Canadian prisons and found 1,294 Catholics, 435 Anglicans, 241 Methodists, 135 Baptists, and one Unitarian.
Dr. Christian, Superintendent of the N.Y. State Reformatories, checked records of 22,000 prison inmates and found only four college graduates. In "Who's Who," 91 percent were college graduates; Christian commented that "intelligence and knowledge produce right living," and, "crime is the offspring of superstition and ignorance."
A survey of Massachusetts reformatories found every inmate to be religious.
In Joliet Prison, there were 2,888 Catholics, 1,020 Baptists, 617 Methodists and no prisoners identified as non-religious.
Michigan had 82,000 Baptists and 83,000 Jews in the state population; but in the prisons, there were 22 times as many Baptists as Jews, and 18 times as many Methodists as Jews. In Sing-Sing, there were 1,553 inmates, 855 of them (over half) Catholics, 518 Protestants, 117 Jews, and 8 non-religious.
Steiner first surveyed 27 states and found 19,400 Christians, 5,000 with no preference and only 3 Agnostics (one each in Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Illinois). A later, more exhaustive survey found 60,605 Christians, 5,000 Jews, 131 Pagans, 4,000 "no preference," and only 3 Agnostics.
In one 19-state survey, Steiner found 15 non-believers, Spiritualists, Theosophists, Deists, Pantheists and one Agnostic among nearly 83,000 inmates. He labeled all 15 as "anti-Christians." The Elmira, N.Y. reformatory system overshadowed all others, with nearly 31,000 inmates, including 15,694 Catholics (half) and 10,968 Protestants, 4,000 Jews, 325 refusing to answer, and no unbelievers.
In the East, over 64 percent of inmates are Roman Catholic. Throughout the national prison population, they average 50 percent. A national census of the general population found Catholics to be about 15 percent (and they count from the diaper up). Hardly 12 percent are old enough to commit a crime, and half of these are women. That leaves an adult Catholic population of 6 percent supplying 50 percent of the prison population.
Author Chaz Bufe responds:
This [last paragraph] is wrong. If he's going to subtract the women
from the Catholic population, he necessarily has to do it for all other
religious groups too. That would leave the Catholic percentage at 12 percent,
not six percent.
Top Ten Reasons Why
Beer is Better than Jesus
by Paul D. Jones
10. No one will kill you for not drinking Beer.
9. Beer doesn't tell you how to have sex.
8. Beer has never caused a major war.
7. They don't force Beer on minors who can't think for themselves.
6. When you have a Beer, you don't knock on people's doors trying to give it away.
5. Nobody's ever been burned at the stake, hanged, or tortured over his brand of Beer.
4. You don't have to wait 2000+ years for a second Beer.
3. There are laws saying Beer labels can't lie to you.
2. You can prove you have a Beer.
1. If you've devoted your life to Beer, there are groups to help you stop.
Beer-Jesus list creator Paul D. Jones explains:
I had the idea, and about half of the reasons are from my original list on a Bulletin Board called EvilAntiForum at Texas A&M, sometime in '90 or '91. I had just seen a T-shirt with the
"Top Ten Reasons Why Jesus is Better than Beer"
list, so I rebutted. After some discussion and revision, the list was made into a T-shirt, which had two printing runs.