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THEISTWATCH FOR AUGUST 15, 1995 Contents: Texas--"JANE ROE" BAPTISED, CONVERTS TO CHRISTIANITY United States--CHRISTIAN MEN'S ORGANIZATION THRIVES World--THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS ____________________ ____________________ "JANE ROE" BAPTISED, CONVERTS TO CHRISTIANITY Litigant in famed decision on abortion rights said to recant for her participation in the pro-choice movement by Conrad Goeringer (Correspondent's Note: Where DID TW go for the last two weeks? Actually, the SYSOP, Ms. Robin Murray-O'Hair, took a well-deserved break from her multiple chores which include management of this and other electronic mailings. It also gave your humble correspondent a respite as well to take care of chores around the house and catch-up on a backlog of "stuff" which badly needed doing. But like the guy in some movie once said . . . I'm baaaack!) Last week ended with the sobering news that Norma McCorvey, the famous "Jane Roe" in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision which legalized abortion for American women, has changed her mind about this controversial issue. There appears to be a gap, however, between what headlines reported and what McCorvey really said. It appears that during an interview on Dallas radio station WBAP, McCorvey declared "I'm pro-life, I think I've always been pro-life, I just didn't know it." She added that "I think abortion's wrong. I think what I did with Roe vs. Wade was wrong. I just have to be pro-life." All of this appears to be rooted in complications within Norma McCorvey's life. The former alcoholic and domestic abuse victim had been working in a Dallas abortion clinic as a marketing director. She had also become involved in a fundamentalist congregation lead by the Rev. Philip Benham, an organizer for Operation Rescue. Even McCorvey admits that her friendship with Benham was a "pretty bizarre relationship." Even more bizarre, however, is what she told CNN news. McCorvey said that following Roe v. Wade she "converted" to Atheism, then joined "a satanic cult." Even more perplexing was her decision last Tuesday to undergo a baptism in the company of 35 "close friends." "Jesus Christ has reached through the abortion mill wall and touched the heart of Norma McCorvey," declared Rev. Benham. Although anti-abortion forces claimed a victory, McCorvey's own statements concerning abortion and her religious conversion seem to be at odds. CNN and other media sources quoted "Jane Roe"-McCorvey as insisting that she still defended abortion rights during the first trimester of pregnancy, a major part of the famous Court decision. Meanwhile, pro-choice activist Kate Michelman of the National Abortion and Reproduction Rights Action League said that McCorvey's change-of-heart would have no major significance. "The real threat is not her, but the radical right, which is control of Congress." If anything, Norma McCorvey's latest statements reflect her own confusion about the manifold aspects of abortion and the psychological turmoil within her own life. "Jane Roe" was a role on the stage of American history which took courage and just plain guts; how much harassment and threatening did McCorvey endure? Perhaps just enough to stir up the anxiety, guilt and psychological angst that, at least for some, is obliterated by transforming yourself into the very opposite of what you once were. CHRISTIAN MEN'S ORGANIZATION THRIVES Promise Keepers draws crowds of more than 50,000 men to stadiums by Conrad Goeringer Promise Keepers, a Christian "men's movement" organized by former football coach Bill McCartney, is getting more national media exposure and drawing more "fans" to its men-only religious spectacles. Two weeks ago, 52,000 "godly men" packed RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. for a two-day prayer marathon. There was a full twelve-hours of preaching, singing and praying before "Coach" McCartney stepped up to the podium in front of the emotionally charged-exhausted throng to deliver his sermon. Despite the explosive growth of the Promise Keepers movement, not everyone is joining in the religious "wave" McCartney is orchestrating. McCartney has been criticized for anti-gay and anti-feminist rhetoric. The Promise Keepers goal of having males "reclaim their leadership" within households and churches has even religious women worried. McCartney's own obsessive and compulsive lifestyle first as a gridiron coach and now as "founder" and head cheerleader for Promise Keepers is attracting some harsh criticism. Much of it stems from McCartney's own guilt concerning his coaching career on the impact it had on life with his wife, Lyndi. In a "mea culpa" to his 52,000 fans, McCartney wailed that "She (his wife) was in so much pain . . . I became convicted (sic) that I was not doing everything I could to bring my wife to splendor in Jesus Christ. . . . For 32 years we had chased Bill McCartney's dreams, not Lyndi's dreams. She was married to a man who was so focused, so driven, so possessed. . . . It was like God opened my eyes." Not so fast, Coach, warns Mattingly. "Adding insult to injury," notes Mattingly, "one of football's fiercest competitors has added another obsession to his life Promise Keepers. . . . Just what McCartney's family needed: a showdown with God and the gridiron." Through "Coach" McCartney's tear-filled confessions, along with the writings of Lyndi, the general public is getting a double-dose of "Family Dysfunction Through Football and Christ." All the sordid torment comes out in the pages of Mrs. McCartney's intro to her husband's autobiography, somewhat pompously titled "From Ashes To Glory." Are we talking about the Rose Bowl here? Or preaching? Or both? There is a good deal of ambiguity in the Promise Keepers movement. This "muscle" version of pop- fundamentalism focuses mostly on married males; Ecumenical News said that the organization aims "at making men better Christians and, as a result, better husbands, fathers, friends and church leaders." The preaching venue reflects McCartney's obsession with athletics. Promise Keepers meetings are held in large arenas and sports stadiums. Local groups have been described as being organized on "military" lines called "squads" complete with a "point man" in charge of 10 or so members. One Promise Keeper organizer said that the organization emphasizes the role of the man as "spiritual leader of the home." But with all of the crying, shouting and public pontificating that marks a Promise Keepers assembly, there is still no clear statement on where the organization in going in terms of social or political action. The fundamentalist and "testosterone" nature of Promise Keepers could very well reflect a conservative bent, especially with the emphasis on "the role of men" in "leading the household." Promise Keepers rhetoric has little encouragement for gays, working-class people, or civil libertarians. Nevertheless, Promise Keepers is thriving. Participation at its rallies has been doubling every six months; organizers are currently studying 36 possible venues for meetings in 1996. There are between 150 and 300 full-time workers (accounts vary) at Promise Keepers headquarters, with an annual budget of over $22 million. Like past teams, McCartney's latest contender on the playing field is just beginning to flex some muscle. THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS by Conrad Goeringer The United States isn't the only nation where citizens are at odds over the role of religious symbols, icons and props in school classrooms. Thursday, August 10, the German Supreme Court ordered the state of Bavaria to remove crucifixes from classrooms. The icons, which depict the carcass of the Christian messiah hanging from a cross, "failed to guarantee philosophical and religious neutrality as required by the constitution," according to a Reuters press report. Bavaria is considered Germany's "cradle of Catholicism" and for years has reflected the social and political intrigues of the Jesuit Order. One of the educational goals in that state is to teach children "respect for the Lord." *************** The "culture wars" debate goes on with GOP frontrunner Bob Dole and President Clinton slugging it out on issues like violence, smoking and gun-control. Your Humbl. Corres. had a good chuckle, though, after learning that Mr. Dole recommended the movie "True Lies" as a film which was "most friendly to the family." No kidding! "True lies" was a spectacular money-maker for Republican tough- guy Arnold Schwarzenegger, who flexed his own financial muscle at the 1994 GOP Convention on behalf of George Bush and Dan Quayle. According to the "Harper's Index," the estimated number of killings (some of them in pretty graphic and grisly detail) in "True Lies" was 94. Must be a pretty large "family" if the movie is that friendly! *************** We're also told by the same Harper's Index that the percentage of French respondents who say that "believing in God is not necessary anymore" stands at a respectable 32 percent. *************** Senate testimony last week in Washington over planned social services cuts included a representative of the Family Research Council. Charmaine Yoest said that the current family planning program is "ineffective" and should be eliminated, and charged that Planned Parenthood was "the bartender for irresponsible sexual behavior." But Health and Human Services director Donna Shalala was quoted by Associated Press saying that cuts in family planning would lead to an increase in abortions, unintended pregnancies, higher rates of infant mortality, and more parents and children living in poverty and on welfare. Sen. Arlen Specter, head of the Appropriations Subcommittee conducting the hearings, appeared to agree and declared that events in Washington are leading to "a virtual meltdown of a woman's constitutional right to choose." *************** Speaking of families and "family values", it appears that traditional religious customs of being plentiful, multiplying, and over-running planet earth with swarms of faithful MAY be hazardous to educational performance. An Ohio State University study indicates that the more children in a family, the lower grades are in schools. "Parents only have so much time and money," sociology professor Douglas Downey told USA TODAY (August 7). "The more children they have, the more those resources are diluted." The research is to be published in the October edition of the American Sociological Review. It found that as family size increases, parents seem to communicate with each child less and less about school. Lower expectations by parents, coupled with lower savings for college and educational materials, then appear to result in a bad influence on academic performance. *************** Think that trying to stop marijuana, cocaine or other illegal substances as the U.S. border is an effort in futility? What if the politicians and cops outlaw legal abortion? The results may be stranger than anticipated. Along with "underground" abortion clinics, there may be some unanticipated consequences of bringing back illegal abortion. Prisons may fill up with a new generation of "criminals," including health personnel who, for either profit or political purposes, end up providing clean and safe abortions to women. There may be a whole "above ground" infrastructure of organizations which screen and then direct needy women to the "underground" health care apparatus, all the while trying to defeat the machinations of a religionized police force. And there may be a new, thriving underground selling or dispensing the controversial French abortion pill, RU486. That's not a new microprocessor for your PC. RU486, also known as Mifepristone, is an effective "morning after" pill which can be used as soon as pregnancy is confirmed. Since last fall more than 2,000 U.S. women have used this medication in a nationwide clinical trial. Most have found RU486 to be convenient and effective, although there have been some reports of minor pain, crams and prolonged bleeding. The overwhelming number found the pill to be preferable to an abortion procedure. But there's the rub. RU486 IS an abortive agent, since it results in the miscarriage of a fetus and that renders it a target for the anti-abortion movement. If the Food and Drug Administration approves Mifepristone, the drug could be on the U.S. market by next year. It's been legal in France since 1989 and already accounts for a third of the abortions in that country. But that's a big "If." Outlawing abortion could result in the same social and economic dynamic we already see with "illegal" drugs and witnessed during the religious crusade known as Prohibition. RU486 could become a new "black market" product, easily smuggled into the U.S. and sold at high prices and high profit. To compete, the pill would have to be sold at a price roughly equal to that of any "underground" abortion services. It may also be a lot less riskier for both dealers and their customers. The government may have double-trouble if the religious right succeeds in outlawing abortion. Local police, state police agencies, even the FBI and the Department of Justice would be drawn into the nasty, expensive and time-consuming business of tracking down a huge abortion underground, shutting down illegal clinics, prosecuting doctors, nurses and patients, and then finding enough prison space for those convicted of this new "crime." And it might not even work! Thanks to technology and RU486, relief from un- wanted pregnancy will be legal or not just a pill away. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: * * PO Box 140195 FTP: * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: * * Info on American Atheists:, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: * * 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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