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DIAL A GAY ATHEIST 06 February 1994 (713) 880-4242 THE NATION INVOKES PRAYER AS A SOLUTION 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 keeping state and church separate and promoting the concept as the gay community's most important constitutional ally. For information, write to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. Reproduction in whole or in part of this program is prohibited without written consent from American Gay Atheists, Inc. This is Don Sanders for Dial A Gay Atheist. It's the answer to all of America's social problems: rampant and violent crime, excessive drug abuse, homelessness, divorce, abortion, the economy, air and water pollution, depletion of the rain forests, AIDS, and even potholes in the streets. Well, to hear the U.S. Senator from North Carolina tell it, all America needs to do is bring prayer back to the public schools, and like magic, every social ill will disappear, sort of like an eraser eliminates chalk from the blackboard. Before the Senate this week, Jesse Helms claimed that "You can pinpoint when the decline of this country actually began," in reference to the 1963 Supreme Court decision disallowing organized Bible reading and prayer recitation in the nation's public schools. The suit was brought by American Atheist founder and my personal friend, Dr. Madalyn O'Hair. These words, spoken by the senator, were in support of a provision authored by Helms and attached to a $422 million education bill intended to improve education. Helms originally sought to cut off aid to state and local school boards which prohibit or limit "prayer in public schools by individuals on a voluntary basis." It wasn't until Senator Bob Packwood (the Republican senator from Oregon accused of allowing his genitals take precedence over his brain) suggested adding the words "constitutionally protected" that the measure gained more support from among the more liberal wing of that esteemed body, among whom were Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts. The education bill, with the attached prayer mandate, passed the Senate by a vote of 75 to 22. Of course, this is just another slap in the face of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution which every elected representative promised to uphold, protect and defend. It is also another way to gain votes from the followers of powerful organized religion whose main purpose is and remains to influence politics. The most preposterous thing about the recent brouhaha to return prayers to public schools is that *truly* voluntary prayer was never abolished in the first place. A student has never been prohibited from murmuring a prayer to him/herself at his locker, before school, after school, during gym class, prior to examinations, or at any time. The 1963 Supreme Court decision only disallowed *ORGANIZED* Bible reading and prayer recitation, actions which necessarily force other students to join in with the gang or face rejection by their peers. And we all know how portentous a thing peer pressure is in schools! The truth is that Christians are not content to practice their religious beliefs in the privacy of their own homes, churches and own heads. Rather, they want to use the power and influence of the public schools and other public, tax-supported institutions to foist their religion upon everyone. And in order to do just that, they will lie, lie, and do whatever it takes to get their way, including, but not limited to, creating vast fabrications such as the old popular one of persecution. Later this week in Washington, DC, the annual National Prayer Breakfast occurred in the huge ballroom of the Washington Hilton Hotel. Over 4,000 attended, including, of course, President Clinton and First Lady Hillary, Vice-President and Mrs. Gore and practically every elected official within miles of Washington. Guest of honor was Mother Teresa, who flew in (not on her broom) from Calcutta to deliver a political address which castigated the United States for allowing members of her own sex to have access to abortion, and couples who dare to opt for birth control methods other than the ONE officially approved by the Vatican. Here is an octogenarian who has wasted her entire life being the bride of a 2000 year-old Jew who never existed and who has spent most of her days in one of the poorest, filthiest and malnourished countries urging its citizens to continue breeding themselves into decay. And for this she has earned a Nobel Prize! In the meantime, our illustrious liberal president again states that the concept of freedom from religion is anathema to the concept of freedom of religion as outlined in the U.S. Constitution, and that prayer is a cornerstone of our society. The entire affair echoed with the premise that every ill of humankind can be fixed if only more of us would engage in prayer. Surprise! Surprise! The National Prayer Breakfast came from those red-baiting McCarthy days of the Cold War era, the same time which brought us our national civic religion and inserted god into our Pledge of Allegiance and made it mandatory that every dollar bill we carry be a billboard of proselytization. Thomas Jefferson never sponsored a National Prayer Breakfast, nor did George Washington or John Adams. Even Abraham Lincoln, the revered emancipator of the blacks, did not find it necessary to resort to grovelling to the great sadist-in-the-sky to solve the nation's ills. In fact, Mr. Lincoln is known to have been a great opponent of religion and especially chastised it creeping its way into politics. Of the Civil War, Lincoln said, "Both (sides) read the same Bible and pray to the same god, and each invokes his aid against the other." And he is also quoted as having said, "The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession." So as the week marched on, Washington fell to its knees and kissed the puckered proboscis of religion, catering to the emotional issues such as school prayer as an elixir to cure every ill of a deteriorating society whose own excesses in the hog trough of religious illiteracy have asphyxiated reason, logic and virtue, and have replaced them with easy fixes for complex issues. With church attendance allegedly at an all-time high in America, with more people than ever believing in the power of prayer and the phenomenon of angels watching over us and protecting us from harm, and with a church on practically every corner, one must ask the question why crime seems to be the factor most prominent in everyone's mind and why Atheists are statistically under- represented in our nation's prisons. The facts of figures of our disintegrating society seem to indicate that rather than evoking more religion, what the nation really needs is less. For a free sample copy of The American Gay & Lesbian Atheist newsletter, write to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. The American Atheist TV Forum can next been seen in Houston over your access cable channel on Wednesday, February 16 at 5:30 PM. At the tone, your opinions and comments are welcome. We look forward to hearing from you. And, of course, you can 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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