DIAL A GAY ATHEIST 05 June 1994 A RUN-DOWN OF THE NEWS This is Dial A Gay Atheist, a commu

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DIAL A GAY ATHEIST 05 June 1994 A RUN-DOWN OF THE NEWS This is Dial A Gay Atheist, a communications service of American Gay & Lesbian Atheists. American Gay Atheists, Inc., is a non-profit, educational foundation dedicated to preserving the Jeffersonian concept of separation between state and church and promoting it as the lesbian and gay community's most important constitutional ally. Inquiries should be directed, in writing, to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, Texas 77266. Opinions are those of the commentator and do not necessarily represent an official position of American Gay Atheists, Inc. Contents of Dial A Gay Atheist are protected under the copyright laws of the United States and require written permission for reproduction in any manner. This is Don Sanders for Dial A Gay Atheist. It's been quite a week for state/church issues and I would like to apprise you of some of the more notable. Early in the week, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand the decision of a lower court involving a Cobb County, Georgia courthouse which displayed a framed copy of the Ten Commandments. You might recall that Cobb County, Georgia, is the place whose county council became the first in the nation to pass a resolution denouncing homosexuality and homosexual persons as "evil." Cobb County has also been the site of numerous protests by lesbian and gay civil rights activists denouncing the bigoted decree. Cobb County is a suburban county of Atlanta and will be host to the next summer Olympic games. A recent news article reports that a California-based group calling itself Sports Outreach America plans to descend on the 1996 Olympic games in Georgia in order to win souls for Jesus. Cobb County is one little Peyton Place for Christ- insanity in America, but it appears that their Ten Commandments will have to be removed from the courthouse wall. What a pity! Just after the Supreme Court let stand the ruling in support of separation of state and church, your American Gay & Lesbian Atheist director addressed a letter to Houston's city attorney, Benjamin Hall III, to remind him of the ruling and that the city of Houston needs to remove the religious placard over the entrance to the Fonde Recreation Center, a city-owned and park operated facility, located just outside downtown Houston. On the outside of the building, over the main entrance, and in large letters are these words: "Recreation, like religion, should permeate all of life." It's there, folks, for you to see! [AGLA has sought legal counsel in this matter and plans are underway to sue the city to remove the offensive placard. Don Sanders] On Wednesday, June 8, hearings will commence in front of the Senate's Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Courts and Administrative Practice, to discuss the inclusion of "religious harassment" among the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission's guidelines prohibiting discrimination in the workplace. Senator Howard Heflin will chair the hearings which are scheduled to begin on Wednesday, June 8 at 2 PM. Both American Atheists and American Gay & Lesbian Atheists have contacted Senator Heflin's office as well as the other committee members to demand that a representative of the organizations be allowed to present the Atheist perspective on religious harassment in the workplace. The religious community of America has mounted a well-funded campaign to thwart the inclusion of "religious harassment" in the guidelines against discrimination in the workplace. The Trinity Broadcasting Network reported the other night that it was sending a personal representative to hand deliver some 48,000 post cards from Christians in opposition to the measure. We think this is quite ironic given that Christians, by and large, comprise the largest number of persons who commit religious harassment in the workplace. Our organizations hear constantly from its members about being prodded, pestered and even threatened with physical harm and death from Christians with whom they work. We urge you to contact Senator Heflin's office right away to voice your opinion on this important subject. The most efficient means of communication at this point is via Fax at 202-224-3149. That's 202-224-3149. Perhaps you saw Thursday's USA Today in which right- winger and telecommunications mogul Pat Robertson presented an editorial entitled, "Let Our Youngsters Pray." The paper famous for presenting both sides of an issue at the same time did not present the opposing view. Of course, Robertson is honking his horn about prayer in the schools, saying in the editorial that "School prayer is not about imposing one's religious beliefs on another." Well, Pat, tell us then what it is about? To put it bluntly, Pat Robertson is a gawd-damn liar and he knows it. His burning desire to have children use the facilities of the public schools for organized prayers has everything to do with spreading the gospel of Christianity. The Godsters want to use the mandatory attendance laws and the imprimatur of the public schools to expose everyone to Christianity at an early age. Funny, isn't it, that one never hears Buddhists, Hindus, Sikhs and other minority religions clamoring for the "right" to have vocal prayers in the public schools? This vexatious complaint seems only reserved for Christians. Of course, the right of any child to pray in school has never been taken away. They may pray to themselves at any time and at any place. What they may not do is exactly what the Pat Robertsons want: To return organized Bible reading and prayer recitation so that all children may be exposed to Christianity. Again, Pat Robertson simply lied in his USA Today editorial of June 2. Our friends at American Atheists have demanded rebuttal space. Be watching, but don't hold your breath. Also this week, American Atheists approached the Texas Education Association and the Texas bureau of prisons to demand that a copy of the Bible Handbook be placed on the shelves of every Texas school library and prison library which maintains a copy of the Christian Bible. The Bible Handbook is a 370-page book compiled in England in 1899 by G.W. Foote and W. P. Bell, and is composed of five sections: Bible Contradictions, Bible Absurdities, Bible Atrocities, Unfilled Prophecies and Broken Promises of the Bible, and Bible Indecencies, Immoralities and Obscenities. The handbook is meant to be a companion book to the Bible, and does not push the Atheist position. It is simply intended to foster critical thinking. Thus far, TEA officials have done a song-and- dance routine about the request. What else might one expect? And there was a juicy front-page article in the June 1 Wall Street Journal exposing the strife and violence which plagues the Hasidic Jewish village of Kiryas Joel in upstate New York. You may recall this is the same little religious Peyton Place from which is coming the next big Supreme Court debate over the issue of state/church separation. Everyone who lives in the town belongs to a radical, right-wing fringe of Judaism, one of the nastiest religions ever to be concocted and unleashed upon humankind and from which spun off the two other blood-thirsty and savage religions of Christianity and Islam. The Supreme Court case coming before the Court will investigate whether the village's public school for the handicapped should be allowed to receive federal and state funding as a public school. The Wall Street Journal article of June 1 exposes some very elaborate scams by the rabbis who run the town and dictate every activity of its citizens. Most of these scams have involved defrauding several federal and state agencies out of millions of dollars, using the public funds to funnel back into building programs for their church. Wow! What an expose. If you have not seen that article, I highly recommend it. Folks, the papers are full of stories of religious abuse, intimidation, and harassment. Not only can these stories be found in the mainstream dailies around the nation, they proliferate in the many lesbian and gay oriented weeklies and monthlies produced and distributed around the nation. And, practically every abuse of gays and lesbians has a root running back toward religion. Yet, the single largest gay and lesbian institution remains a church. American Gay & Lesbian Atheists has its finger on the pulse. We write about much of it in our newsletter, a copy of which can be yours simply by writing and making your request. The address is AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, Texas 77266. This telephone line also brings as much information as it can. Donations to AGLA are tax-deductible and help to keep our services operating so that more and more people may enjoy the ultimate freedom -- Freedom FROM Religion. At the tone, tell us from where you're calling and what's on your mind. We love to hear from our callers. And, of course, call this American GAY Atheist again, anytime. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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