KENTUCKY ATHEISTS NEWS & NOTES Date: July 13, 2008
Kentucky Atheists, P.O. Box 666, Union, KY 41091; Email: [email protected]
Phone: (859) 384-7000; Fax: (859) 384-7324; Web: http://www.atheists.org/ky/
Editor’s personal web site: www.edwinkagin.com
Editor’s personal blog: http://edwinkagin.blogspot.com
Edwin Kagin, Kentucky State Director, American Atheists, Inc.
IT IS OKAY TO BE AN ATHEIST
To Unidentified Recipients:
Now hold on here a second. This ain’t right. In Texas the courts say that it is okay to let your kid be injured by virtue of the parents’ idiotic religious beliefs and rituals, but in Kentucky the police are out busting people for using poisonous snakes in their rituals because of their religious beliefs. In short, Kentucky gives legal protection to harmful poisonous snakes used in crazy religious rites and Texas gives legal protection to harmful poisonous parents who use their children in crazy religious rites.
Could this have anything to do with the fact that the Supreme Court said that in Texas the Ten Commandments could be posted in public places and also said that in Kentucky the Ten Commandments could not be posted in public places?
I didn’t make the facts.
Had enough? Here is a news flash.
IT IS OKAY TO BE AN ATHEIST.
From reader Robin:
Snake-handling pastor arrested
FRANKFORT, Kentucky (AP) — The pastor of a Kentucky church that handles snakes in religious rites was among 10 people arrested by wildlife officers in a crackdown on the venomous snake trade.
Undercover officers purchased more than 200 illegal reptiles during the investigation.
More than 100 snakes, many of them deadly, were confiscated in the undercover sting after Thursday’s arrests, said Col. Bob Milligan, director of law enforcement for Kentucky Fish and Wildlife.
Most were taken from the Middlesboro home of Gregory James Coots, including 42 copperheads, 11 timber rattlesnakes, three cottonmouth water moccasins, a western diamondback rattlesnake, two cobras and a puff adder.
Handling snakes is practiced in a handful of fundamentalist churches across Appalachia, based on the interpretation of Bible verses saying true believers can take up serpents without being harmed. The practice is illegal in most states, including Kentucky.
Coots, 36, is pastor of the Full Gospel Tabernacle in Jesus Name in Middlesboro, where a Tennessee woman died after being bitten by a rattlesnake during a service in 1995. Her husband died three years later when he was bitten by a snake in northeastern Alabama.
Coots was charged Thursday with buying, selling and possessing illegal reptiles. He had no listed telephone number and couldn’t be reached for comment. There was no phone listing for the church.
“It is disturbing to me that individuals would keep such dangerous wildlife in their homes and in neighborhoods where they put their families, visitors and neighbors at such high risk,” Milligan said.
The snakes, plus one alligator, were turned over to the nonprofit Kentucky Reptile Zoo in Slade. Most appeared to have been captured from the wild, with some imported from Asia and Africa.
Zoo Director Jim Harrison said some of the animals would likely have become exotic pets had they not been seized.
“There’s been a large trade in exotics for years,” he said. “Some people are just fascinated with them.”
Undercover officers purchased more than 200 illegal reptiles during the investigation, some of which were advertised for sale on Web sites. One such
Web site lists copperheads for $50 each and cobras for $450.
“You can purchase anything off the Internet except common sense,” Harrison said. “A venomous snake isn’t a pet. You don’t play with it. If you do, you’re an idiot.”
From Joe Zamecki, Texas State Director for American Atheists:
FORT WORTH, Texas – The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of her old church, ruling that the case unconstitutionally entangled the court in religious matters.
In a 6-3 decision, the justices found that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God’s First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress triggered by a “hyper-spiritualistic environment.”
Laura Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members’ actions in 1996, when she was 17. Schubert said she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during the exorcism, the Austin American-Statesman reported. She also said the incident led her to mutilate herself and attempt suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric help.
But the church’s attorneys had told jurors that her psychological problems were caused by traumatic events she witnessed with her missionary parents in Africa. The church contended she “freaked out” about following her father’s life as a missionary and was acting out to gain attention.
Abuse and false imprisonment?
The 2002 trial of the case never touched on the religious aspects, and a Tarrant County jury found the Colleyville church and its members liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning the girl. The jury awarded her $300,000, though the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth later reduced the verdict to $188,000.
Justice David Medina wrote that finding the church liable “would have an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs.”
But Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the “sweeping immunity” is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the Constitution’s protections for religious conduct.
“The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion’s name,” Jefferson wrote.
After the 2002 verdict, Pleasant Glade merged with another congregation in Colleyville, a Fort Worth suburb.
A message left for the church’s attorney Friday evening was not immediately returned, and calls to two numbers listed in Schubert’s name went unanswered.
From reader Frank:
Seems to me a good argument can be made for
permitting legal venomous snake-handling for
religious reasons — namely, it allows natural
selection a better chance to thin the herd, you
know, unburden the gene pool — and, as a
(little-l) libertarian, I (for one) am all in favor of
genuine religious liberty.
Do unto others as they want to be done unto,
or else leave ‘em the heck alone.
———————— The Libertarian Golden Rule —–
From reader Jan:
Subject: Re: Ky in the news again for crazy biblical views
> it allows natural
> selection a better chance to thin the herd
Trouble is that the snakes are killing them off fast enough. Besides, IF they really are serious about that scripture passage, I want to know why they don’t use any of these < http://arachnophiliac.info/burrow/tenmostvenomous.htm >. Until they do that, they are wussies.
From the story: “plus one alligator”. I want to know the scripture passage for using alligators.