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Free Inquiry

The following articles are from Free Inquiry magazine, Volume 19, Number 2.

Fear and Loathing in Teletubbyland

by Amanda Chesworth

Jerry Falwell, in a continuing effort to define family values, has declared the TV show "Teletubbies" a threat to our children. His concern stems from Tinky Winky, one of the Teletubby characters. Tinky Winky's male voice and red purse and the triangle protruding from his head have convinced Falwell that the creators of the show, aimed at toddlers, are intentionally promoting homosexuality. With the occasional tutu being worn by cast members, the creators have also been accused of confusing gender identity.

Surprise - people have responded with laughter and ridicule. Comedy Central's "The Daily Show" refers to Falwell as "America's favorite jackass." An ABC news poll reports 83% of the 7,800 respondents have declared Falwell crazy. But we may find comfort in knowing that, as Jerry Falwell and the toddlers mature, the line between fantasy and reality will become clearer.

Overcrowding in the Pearly Gates

by Norm Allen

According to the Reverend Billy Graham, the estimated size of heaven is only 1,500 cubic miles. If true, this is bad news for most of the billions of Christians throughout history who have hoped to find everlasting joy - not to mention the billions of non-Christians who have dreamt of heavenly bliss. There seems to be a real space problem.

Poundstone Disses God

by Matt Cherry

At her recent concert at Cornell University, comedian Paula Poundstone asserted once again that she was an atheist. "The nice thing about being an atheist," she said, "is that you don't feel compelled to try to convert everybody. Can you just see a couple of atheists going door to door on Sunday morning and saying to people who come to the door in their bathrobes, 'We have no word. Here's a book of blank pages we'd like you to take a look at.'"

Speak of the Devil

by Norm Allen

In an attempt to satisfy liberal Catholics who have become embarrassed by the practice, the Vatican has advised exorcists to be careful to distinguish between real demonic possessions and cases where victims are suffering from mental or psychological problems.

Jorge Arturo Cardinal Medina Estétez, head of the Vatican congregation responsible for religious rites, says there are various criteria for determining legitimate demonic possessions. They include "a vehement aversion to God, the Blessed Virgin, the saints, the cross, and sacred images."

But, according to Michael Cuneo, a Fordham University sociologist who is writing a book on exorcism in American culture, most Catholic bishops in the U.S. consider exorcism "to be antiquated, to be an embarrassment, to be a survival of medieval superstition."

Send interesting news items and tidbits to Sidelines, Free Inquiry, POB 664, Amherst, NY 14226-0644, or e-mail to: aszalanski@centerforinquiry.net.

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This page was last updated 02/13/2004

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