And Christian Senator Hates It!
Wiccan priestess handles
the rites on Monday
by David Kravets
May 11, 1999
Pointing her wand, called an "athame," in the air, a pagan priestess blessed the 30 lawmakers in the Senate chamber Monday.
"Great guardians of the east, powers of air, breezes, zephyrs and winds, I invoke your qualities of high ideas, quick thought, vast wisdom and creative inspiration upon all who are gathered here," chanted Cleda Johnson of Jefferson. She's a priestess of Wicca, a nature-based religion.
Throughout the legislative session, each day often begins with prayer, musical acts, jugglers and poets in the House and Senate chambers. It's all part, Oregon's open-door policy for visitors.
Legislative rules allow for opening religious invocations and other nonreligious acts. On the House floor last week, for example, a local blues band, the Bitch Creek Nymphs, opened the daily session.
Becca Uherbelau the daughter of Rep. Judy Uherbelau, D. Ashland, read a poem about her mother, bringing the representative tears.
The invocation that Johnson gave Monday was different than most. That is specifically why Senate Minority Leader Kate Brown, D. Portland, sought her out.
"I just feel strongly if we are going to have people giving invocations, we should allow anyone and anybody," Brown said. "It's been primarily Christian invocations this session."
Sen. Eileen Qutub, R-Beaverton, stomped out during Johnson's prayer.
"I worship one true God," she said. "I refuse to participate. It offends me."
Johnson's blessing, however, may have seemed downright mainstream compared to a 1983 Senate invocation by Ma Anand Sheela, a top aide to Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. She chanted indecipherable "oms" but elicited little reaction from senators.
Sheela's invocation came before Oregonians learned of the various crimes ascribed to the Rajneeshees, including wiretaps, food poisonings and the attempted assassination of U.S. Attorney Charles Turner. The cult formerly had an encampment in Eastern Oregon.
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
STATE OF OREGON
WHEREAS: Christianity is an integral part of our Western civilization and the history of this nation; and
WHEREAS: America was founded on the principle of religious freedom, and many Americans have benefitted from this privilege by being able to pursue Christianity as a means of developing their own faith.
WHEREAS: It is important for Americans to know the influence of various religions and philosophies of our nation; and
WHEREAS: Christianity has been a constant source of moral and spiritual guidance for many Americans throughout history; and
WHEREAS: Christianity has been a major ifluence in American art, literature, music, and has inspired a sense of charity in our communities; and
WHEREAS: Christianity has long provided hope and comfort for millions of Americans and will continue to do so in the years ahead.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, John A. Kitzhaber, Governor of the State of Oregon,
hereby proclaim April, 1996
CHRISTIAN HERITAGE MONTH
in Oregon and encourage all Oregonians to join in this observance.
IN WITHESS WHEREOF, I hereunto set my hand and cause the Great Seal of the State of Oregon to be affixed. Done in the City of Salem in the State of Oregon on this day, January 24, 1996.
John A Kitzhaber, Governor
Phil Keisling, Secretary of State
No Meeting Prayer
Yamhill County, Oregon (1996)
County Commissioner Rob Johnstone has dropped his plan to start each meeting with prayer, but he will continue having a moment of silence.
In January, Johnstone opened his first meeting in his year-long stint as board chairman with a prayer. It wasn't a religiously neutral prayer, but a Christian prayer reflecting Johnstone's born-again faith.
The following week he switched to the moment of silence, putting the prayer on hold to await county counsel's opinion on its legality.
This week Johnstone decided the prayer issue was too divisive and asked the county's lawyer to drop his research into the opinion. The prayer might have been acceptable, he said, if he had opened it up to other faiths.
But he wasn't willing to do that. "I believe Christians are the only ones with access before God in their prayers," Johnstone said. "I didn't want to make a mockery of the process by opening it up to what I consider to be false religions."
Johnstone said he thought the less controversial moment of silence has
introduced greater spirituality to government.
Falwell Arms the Opposition
The San Francisco Chronicle
September 19, 1982
People for the American Way, a political counterforce to New Right groups, says it has yet to find anyone who has made a stronger case against the school prayer Constitutional amendment than the Reverend Jerry Falwell, founder of the Moral Majority, who is an advocate of the amendment.
Falwell is quoted as telling a meeting of the Religious Newswriters Association in New Orleans that because members of the Moral Majority represent a variety of denominations, "if we ever opened a meeting with a prayer, silent or otherwise, we would disintegrate."
Asked why this reasoning would not apply in classrooms, Falwell said school prayer was "in the intent and mind of the First Amendment framers." Cal Thomas, director of communications for Moral Majority, said his group did not open meetings with prayer because it is a political organization that includes Jews, Catholics, Mormons, Protestants, and some "non-religious" members.
"What kind of prayer would we use?" he asked.
Couple To Church
by Chuck Shepherd
source: Seattle Times
July 16, 1994
In suburban Seattle, Washington, according to allegations, a 33-year-old state trooper, who had made a routine traffic stop of a 20-year-old man who was rushing his girlfriend to an abortion clinic, detained the couple for 90 minutes so they would miss their appointment, while attempting to talk them out of the abortion. They were forced to follow the trooper to a church, where a woman continued to exhort them.
Godly Guys Promise
to be True
to Jesus and the Tax Man
by Hugh Davies
The London Telegraph
June 15, 1995
In one of the fastest growing evangelical movements in America, men are eagerly ditching their macho masculinity for a new identity. The successful modern man is, they believe, the sensitive "Godly Guy".
The so-called Promise Keepers are moving far beyond the Bible Belt with huge rallies in the big cities. Stadiums are packed with tens of thousands of men who pay $55 (£35) for the privilege of publicly vowing never to cheat on the wife or the tax man, pledging fidelity to friends and office colleagues, singing hymns, reciting prayers and hugging each other.
In four years, the founder, Bill McCartney, 51, a rugged-looking "born-again" University of Colorado football coach, has turned the New Age fad of male-bonding into a brothers-for-Jesus phenomenon. RFK Stadium in Washington, home of the Redskins gridiron team, was packed recently with 52,000 men bent on saving their souls. They ranged from crew-cut carpenters to wealthy businessmen in pony tails. They were bikers on Harley Davidsons and country boys in baseball hats and cowboy boots driving trucks.
As they arrived, 50 women toured the stadium, praying over each seat and anointing the chair with oil. But, as the gates opened, they made themselves scarce. Signs saying "men's" were pinned to the women's lavatories.
The movement's brochure says: "Something special happens when men come together in the name of Jesus Christ. We have discovered that men are more apt to hear and receive the full instruction of the sessions when they are within an all-male setting."
A Christian band struck up with "Born to be Wild" then, using huge video screens to project his image, evangelist Luis Palma whipped them into a frenzy with calls to make a life change and say: "Jesus be my God."
The audience stood and sang words they had learned from cassettes in their conference pack: "I'm not a creature of brute chance and lies. Now, as his man, I am destined for the skies."
In Pontiac, Michigan, 72,000 men turned up for what was called their "awakening".
Colorado's Folsom Stadium was jammed with 52,000 to see evangelist Chuck Swindoll roar on stage astride a motorbike to deliver a sermon on temptation. At the Los Angeles Coliseum, 72,548 men spent a total of $4 million (£2.5 million) to shout, clap and throw fists into the air for a 16-hour "Christian warrior" rave fueled, as one observer put it, by doses of testosterone and piety.
The rallies seem to be the preserve of white men, supposedly in crisis at the moment because of job quotas for racial minorities and the rise of the aggressive American woman.
Participants have to fill out cards committing themselves to honour Jesus Christ, practise moral and sexual purity, have close male friends, defy racial and denominational barriers and encourage the world to follow suit. Tony Evans, a movement leader who is a bible fellowship pastor in Dallas, advises in the official handbook: "The first thing you do is sit down with your wife and say something like this, 'Honey, I've made a terrible mistake. I've given you my role. I gave up leading this family.'
"I'm not suggesting that you ask for your role back, I'm urging you to take it back ... Be sensitive. Listen. Treat the lady gently and lovingly. But lead!"
This has stirred up the National Organisation of Women which called the approach a "not-very-well-cloaked misogynist message". Feminists say the Promise Keepers want to return women to the role of subservient housewives.
But Michael Johnson, a new convert in California, insisted that women need have no fear. "When I got back from my first conference I got down on my knees and prayed right in front of my wife, asking her forgiveness for not treating her as a wife ought to be -- with equal respect," he said.
"I feel strongly about being a spiritual leader of the household, but I do the dishes. I vacuum. I iron. It is a misconception that we are out to attack women and make them less."
Democratic congresswoman Pat Schroeder labelled founder McCartney a "self-appointed ayatollah" for his anti-abortion and anti-gay views. She reckoned he had a hidden agenda.
McCartney shrugged the criticism off. He said that it was vital for men to become responsible members of their families and "bring them to Jesus". He added: "A real man, a man's man, is a Godly man. A real man is a man of substance, a man that's vulnerable, a man who loves his wife, a man that has a passion for God, and is willing to lay down his life for him."
He said he had now quit his $350,000-a-year job to devote more time to his wife. "For years we have been chasing my dreams. Now it's time we chased her dreams."
McCartney's organisation has 150 people on a $22 million budget. Books, tapes, cassettes, CDs, golf shirts and baseball caps are sold by mail-order, and there is a bi-monthly magazine, New Man, which features comment on safe sex and advises people to join "an institution called marriage".
Promise Keepers Inherit
the Earth -- and More!
by Conrad Goeringer
from AANEWS by American Atheists
Promise Keepers, the evangelical Christian "men's movement" which holds gut-wrenching, tear-jerking altar call events in stadiums and other sports venues, wants to bring its version of the "million man march" to Washington, D.C. in October. But in the meantime, the organization is bringing in millions of dollars as well as followers. Last year, revenues approached $100 million, and the 1997 budget is set for $117 million. Notes Associated Press, despite some possible financial setbacks, "This much is certain: Promise Keepers was blessed with quick riches."
This year, the group is sponsoring 18 giant conferences. Tickets are $60 in advance, $70 at the door if available; participants get a book, tape cassette and a box lunch which AP values at about $6.50 total. Rental for stadiums is surprisingly low; the group paid just $85,000 for the use of Legion field, which included the rental of 8,500 chairs.
The President of Promise Keepers, Randy Phillips, reportedly tears down an annual salary of about $155,000 plus another $17,638 in benefits and allowances.
With figures like that, it appears that it's more than the meek who will inherit the earth.
The Seduction of
(author and source unknown)
Many members of fundamentalist religions were first seduced into it because it appeared to them to be a comforting religion. It promised to the person who felt lost in a society that is not perfect that, yes, there are simple answers to complex problems.
Many people find it hard to cope. They see that the universe is not only complex but it is dangerous. There are diseases and death, floods and hurricanes, earthquakes and catastrophes. The poor frightened human, able to understand the danger but neither able to accept it nor do anything about it, finds that the presence of the Supreme Boss is extremely desirable -- especially if the Boss can be manipulated by magical signs and incantations.
But it will ultimately occur to the fundamentalist that anyone or anything which denies the existence of the Boss threatens the safety, even the very survival, of the believer. The infidel must be brought into the fold or, at least, prevented from acting contrary to the values of the fundamentalist.
It is at this time that the fundamentalist is in the greatest danger of gradually becoming part of a religion of violence. The first promise of fundamentalism has disappeared. It has become a religion that turns its members into irrational followers whose hatred for much of this world is now the most basic part of their personality. Little did these converts realize that they were in danger of becoming believers who religiously violate the basic standards of the religion.
Day by day, the scripture has become the fundamentalist's only source of knowledge because it is the very word of the Boss. By definition, the bible must be literally true. "The Boss said it, I believe it, that settles it."
The Boss must be understandable, so the believers create a being that looks like them and talks like them. The Boss even has many of the same limitations that they have. Then they define the Boss as omnipotent which also brings the dream of their own omnipotence a step closer.
The world of the scripture is not without its hazards, though. It is filled with demons, witches and evil spirits. The fundamentalists feel that they are in direct contact with these magical beings, possibly even under attack by them. These evil creatures are more real to them than, say, the existence of an old dinosaur fossil is to us. But the Boss will protect them.
Because it often contradicts scripture, secular knowledge is rejected as unreliable and even false. Therefore, anything or anybody who denies the literal truth of the scripture is working for the devil. In fundamentalism there is a three-track road to knowledge: (1) faith (2) the scripture and (3) direct communication with the Boss. Fundamentalists do not have opinions, rather they have revelations. Anything which conflicts with the revelation, since it did not come from the Boss must, therefore, have come from Satan.
Finally, even thinking about one's own values becomes blasphemy because thinking requires questioning of a personal revelation from the Boss. Reality has disappeared. The Boss protects the fundamentalist but, at the same time, the fundamentalist protects the Boss. Anything which threatens the Boss's universe must be destroyed.
When the believer has reached this level, logic is Satanic because it is not based on scripture and knowledge is evil because it leads to questioning. Now, everyone must think and act as the fundamentalist does because that's the way the Boss wants it to be. Now you understand why these people can kill in the name of the Boss.
Law School Accredited
by Conrad Goeringer
from AANEWS by American Atheists
September 5, 1996
Give evangelist Pat Robertson his due -- he is a long-range planner, even if he does tell viewers of the "700 Club" that apocalypse and the Second Comin' are just around the millennialist corner.
A case in point is news that Robertson's Regent University School of Law has received full accreditation from the American Bar Association after a decade-long wait. When informed of the Bar's decision, Robertson gushed: "The fact that they acknowledge our overtly evangelical mission statement to me is a major breakthrough."
Regent University is successor to what was originally CBN University, begun by Robertson in 1977. The law school was established in 1986, and received provisional accreditation in 1989. Since then, it has undergone annual inspections and evaluations by the American Bar Association. So far, Robertson's law college has churned out hundreds of graduates, and with the new semester has a total enrollment of nearly 370 students.
The televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition told the Los Angeles Times: "Evangelically trained scholars will be moving into positions as clerks for various judges, as members of legislative bodies and, of course, as practitioners of law around the country."
Even more disturbing was Robertson's claim that eventually "evangelical judges" will someday preside over many of the nation's courts.