Subject: AAFWD: Theistwatch for 2/24 (THEISTWATCH is a service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nat
Subject: AAFWD: Theistwatch for 2/24
(THEISTWATCH is a service of AMERICAN ATHEISTS, a nationwide movement founded
by Madalyn Murray O'Hair for the advancement of Atheism, and the total,
absolute separation of government and religion. It is distributed to members
and supporters via the AAFWD list; our thanks to Rich Daniels for
establishing this list. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer.)
DOIN' THE TENNESSEE TIME WARP?
While most people are worried about what the future has in store for our
jobs, families and the economy, some people are paying considerably more
attention to looking backwards -- a long, long way. In Tennessee, the state
Senate has approved a resolution urging everyone in the state to post copies
of and observe the Ten Commandments. Sponsored by State Senator Ben Atchley,
the resolution was defended as a statement of morals; but the Tennessee
attorney general says that it is probably against the law, clearly
While the more enlightened may be chuckling over this latest example of
Bible-belt atavism, though, the Tennessee Senate also approved by 8-1 a bill
which would allow local school boards to dismiss teachers who teach evolution
as a scientific fact rather than a "theory."
Other privisions of these nutty bills include:
...a call for the period of May 5 to May 15 to be set aside to "Honor
...citing the alleged decline in the nation's moral standards.
...insisting that the Founding Fathers "respected the place that the Ten
Commandments occupy in the history of law and government."
Unfortunately, the first criticisms of the legislation came from the
"religious liberty" types, who insisted that "The Ten Commandments were given
to us by God. God does not need the Tennessee General Assembly's help in
But the Senate's only Jewish members was more to the point. Senator Steve
Cohn declared that "The religious right has many people crippled and
blinded...They're cowering when there's no need to cower. The government's
job is not to suggest, promote or choose religious thoughts to be recommended
to the people."
BUCHANAN CAMPAIGN TRYING TO FEND OFF CRAZIES?
If you think that Pat Buchanan's is way out, you don't have the problems
his campaign insiders are confronting. As Buchanan stumps the country, the
media is exposing more and more far-right crazies who work inside the GOP
front-runner's campaign organization.
Last month, for instance, Buchanan strategists and muscle-men had to keep
a "cordon sanitaire" between their candidate and for Ku Klux Klan leader
David Duke who showed up at a suburban New Orleans campaign event. Buchanan
insiders wouldn't let their man into the Quality Hotel auditorium until they
had a promise from Duke that he would maintain his distance.
The Buchanan people have other problems as well; while the state-by-state
campaign organization is swelling, the people at the top are having
difficulty in keeping track of some of the people signing up as volunteers
and administrators; as a result, the Buchanan forces have been distancing
themselves from some supporters. They include:
...Kenny Knight, who provided office space for early meetings of the
Buchanan organization, and a delegate committed to Buchanan. He is a key
adviser to David Duke.
...Sandy Lamb, a former county campaign chairman for Buchanan, was forced
to resigned after her connections with the National Association for the
Advancement of White People became public knowledge. The NAAWP was founded
by David Duke.
There was also an unpleasant incident during the Louisiana cacuses;
Buchanan supporters were accused of ciruclating fliers which showed a
photograph of Texas Senator Phil Gramm, at the time a GOP nomination
contender. It showed Gramm next to his Korean-American wife, and read: "He
divorced a white wife to marry as Asiatic!"
Last week, the Buchanan people pulled what the New York Times described as
a "fringe article" from their site on the world wide web; it charged that
First Lady Hillary Clinton was an agent for Israeli Intelligence.
Anti-Semitic and other racist overtones have been giving the Buchanan
forces other problems as well. Samuel Francis, a columnist for the
Washington Times and a former campaign adviser, told a conference in Atlanta:
"Whites must reassert our identity and our solidarity, and we must do it in
explicitly racial terms through the articulation of racial consciousness as
And there is the Rev. Donald Wildmon, head of the American Family
Association and a leading religious right figure in the battle against
"obscenity." Wildmon is co-chairman of the Buchanan Campaign. As a leading
exponent of the "Hollywood Hates America" syndrome, Wildmon's group demanded
that studios not release the controversial film in 1988, The Last Temptation
of Christ. AFA and other religious zealots picketed movie theaters across
the country which showed the film. The Anti-Defamation League noted that
Wildmon's criticism was that it was "made by a Hollywood studio run by
non-Christians" (NYT, 2/24/96).
People close to Pat Buchanan suggest that the candidate is not a racist,
and is less extreme than many of his followers. Even so, Buchanan's "America
First'' and "culture wars" themes resonate with many religious zanies, who
have latched onto the campaign as a vehicle for their own agendas. It
remains to be seen whether or not candidate Buchanan will take positive steps
to distance himself from these bizarre elements.
More on Buchanan; in a talk yesterday to the Arizona Right To Life
organization, Buchanan compared pro-choice elements in the country with the
"evil empire" of International Communism, and pledged again to become the
"most pro-life president in history." He vowed to select a pro-life running
mate if he won the nomination, and appoint "Supreme Court justices who are
constitutionalists and who will overturn that abomination called Roe v. Wade"
if elected. He charged that "The abortion industry is built on the same lie
that the Communist empire is built (sic)."
On the international front, Turkey's Islamic fundamentalist political
group, the Welfare Party, moved a step closer to reaching a power-sharing
agreement with that nation's secular (but conservative) Motherland Party last
week. Welfare head Necmettin Erbakan declared "I can hapilly say that we
have reached a wide agreement on the main issues," referring to conversations
with Motherland officials.
The Islamic right was the big winner in December's parliamentary
elections; and they now have their biggest share of power since the modern
Turkish state was founded.
Critics fear that the Welfare Party seeks to establish closer ties to
Islamic states like Iran, and overturn secular reforms.
Is the social-religious right capturing the airwaves? People have
wondered about that ever since radio personality Rush Limbaugh became the
leading airtime guru in the country. Other popular figures in the
religious-conservative pantheon also have shows, including G. Gordon Liddy
and James Dobson. But add to this the new #2 host, Laura Schelssinger, known
to her 10,000,000 fans as Dr. Laura. She has two popular books out, "How
Could You Do That?!: The Abdication of Character, Courage, and Conscience,"
and "Ten Stupid Things Women Do to Mess Up Their Lives."
According to USA TODAY, Dr. Laura believes that abortion is wrong,
premarital sex is taboo, and women should not put their kids in daycare. She
describes her family as a "50's family", and says she is a conservative Jew.
(Thanks to all of you who have responded to my information requests about
BBS's. I appreciate the input. Your comments will be considered as we
resurrect American Atheists On-Line Services!)
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