DIAL A GAY ATHEIST 06 March 1994 (713) 880-4242 POLITICAL MEDDLING + THE CHURCH This is Di

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DIAL A GAY ATHEIST 06 March 1994 (713) 880-4242 POLITICAL MEDDLING & THE CHURCH 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 it as the lesbian and gay community's most important constitutional ally. Please address all inquiries, in writing, to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. Contents of this message are protected under the copyright laws of the United States and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without permission from American Gay Atheists, Inc. This is Don Sanders for Dial A Gay Atheist. The week was a busy one for AGLA. Texans are in the midst of the primary elections. The churches, particularly the black churches, are also busy in the political processes. On a tip from a member who happens to be running for a position in local politics, AGLA has set about trying to document as many cases of abuses of religious political meddling as possible. Because of our member's open lifestyle and notoriety, she has met with tremendous discrimination at the various and sizable events either conducted in churches or sponsored by ministerial groups, whose sole purposes are to use their positions of power within the community in order to influence their respective flocks in the political arena. Because I refuse to enter the doors of a church, for any reason, I took my trusty 35mm camera and set about photographing direct political meddling by local area churches. Yes, photographing! What I found were several churches with the campaign signs of their favorite candidates sitting on the front lawns, next to the church's sign, at the driveway entrances, etc. Perhaps not coincidentally, each church where I found such blatant abuse is headed by a minister who is also a member of one of the numerous ministers' associations in this city. Direct political involvement on the part of churches and other non-profit entities is strictly prohibited by the codes of the Internal Revenue Service. This is what the IRS handbook has to say about some of the activity in which the churches in this area seem to be so involved: "Any attempt to influence any legislation through a move to affect the opinions of the general public or any segment thereof; and any attempt to influence any legislation through communication with any member or employee of a legislative body, or with any government official or employee who may participate in the formulation of the legislation," is considered to fall under the definition of lobbying to influence legislation. We know that many churches have, for years, been up to their ears in direct political involvement. It is our stratagem this time around to demonstrate, with actual, clear photographs, the degree to which many churches are stooping to involve themselves in the political process. Such activity affects everyone, religious or not. But it especially affects those groups and communities who are vilified, for one reason or another, by churches. In our particular area, many churches, and I regret to note, black churches, have been especially vocal against gays and lesbians seeking equality of treatment under the law. We will keep you informed should our efforts prove positive. In the meantime, you callers have left some interesting messages this go 'round. Since it's been a while since we played your messages, let's go about that now. Our first caller sarcastically wonders why he has heard the same Dial A Gay Atheist message. Actually we were only a day late in changing it last week, due to our task of checking up on the meddling churches. Since I announced over this line, some time back, that I am HIV-positive, a number of Christians call in every week to see whether or not I have died from the disease. Here's one of them. PLAY MESSAGE. Sorry to disappoint you, caller, but I'm not dead yet. And I'll guarantee you that this is one Atheist who will not have a so- called "death bed" conversion. Our next caller gets right to the point: PLAY MESSAGE. Continue with MESSAGES. Interject comment after caller's political comment: The organization to which the caller is referring is not chartered as a non-profit organization as are churches. And the Houston Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus is specifically chartered to look after the overall political interests of the community it serves. In so doing, it does not violate the laws of the U.S. Department of the Treasury as do churches whenever they instruct followers for whom to vote and how to vote. Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States. At the same time, that same Constitution also prohibits the establishment of a sectarian state. Make no mistake. Every time a church engages in lobbying activities and instructing its members for whom to vote, it is trying to incorporate its own sectarian views into law. Political activity on the part of Christians is unprecedented. And it is at the grassroots level where most of this activity is taking place. It is projected that by the end of this decade, the Christian Coalition, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, will be the most powerful and influential political organization in the entire nation. Its projected budget by that time is expected to reach over a quarter billion dollars. The Christian Coalition currently has over 860 local chapters in all 50 states. It is the purpose of the Christian Coalition and its affiliates to take control of America from the bottom up. Presently, positions on school boards, city councils and state legislatures are filling up with those who have one goal in mind: to turn America into a religious state. History should have taught us a clear lesson as to what happens whenever religion rules the state. A thousand years of Dark Ages, repression, the stifling of knowledge, the brutalizing of people, should have taught us something. The cultural war is waging and its plans of action are being formulated in many churches. We at AGLA are doing what we can, but the enemy (and they are an enemy) is tremendous. We must have your support, financially and otherwise. Donations are tax-deductible and unlike churches, we do not meddle in politics. We go about our stated business of educating a populace which is steeped in religious hypocrisy, tradition and so-called "family values." Help how you can by sending a donation to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. We'll send you a copy of our newsletter which is just chock full of information. In Houston, tune in to the American Atheist TV Forum on Wednesday, March 9 at 7:30 PM on your community access cable channel. At the tone, let us hear from you. Tell us from where you're calling and what's on your mind. And, 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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