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24 May 1994 DIAL A GAY ATHEIST NO CRITICISM OF RELIGION AMENDMENT 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 lesbian and gay community's most important constitutional ally. 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. For information, write to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. This is Don Sanders for Dial A Gay Atheist. Yea, I'm late again getting the message changed. Life is busy with many things, one of which is the arrival of the latest edition of The American Gay & Lesbian Atheist newsletter and the usual busy-ness of the office. There is literally so much happening in this nation concerning state/church separation and the attempt by Christians to turn this nation into a theocracy that our office is inundated. We simply hate to say it, but "we told you so!" And that seems to apply to many things. You may recall that back on November 16 of last year that President Clinton -- who is turning out to be the single greatest mollifier of religion that this nation has seen whether it's simply for political purposes in order to try to prove to the strong right-wing element of this nation that he really is a wonderful, moral and Christian man, the results, nevertheless, are the same, and that can only be bad news for all of us. Anyway, on November 16, Clinton signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. This is as if religion needs restoring! This is the most religious Western nation in the world, despite our Constitution's promise that Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act is just one act of Congress which throws mud in the First Amendment's eyes. We predicted that it would only be a matter of time until the next great thing happened, and sure enough, we were right. On April 1 of this year, a letter from the U.S. Civil Rights Commission urged the Justice Department to step up enforcement of existing laws against protests of churches and synagogues (no mention was made of mosques or temples, of course!), saying "actions of religious bigots should not be tolerated in a nation dedicated to religious freedom." Well, what that simply translates into is this: NO CRITICISM OF RELIGION WILL BE ALLOWED! This whole thing, of course, was prompted, primarily because of protests at churches by gay and AIDS groups in opposition to the churches' deep involvement in anti-gay movements, local referenda, and their opposition to safer sex education, the distribution of condoms, their condemnation of reproductive services for women, and their direct subversion of a progressive, positive social and political movement. No criticism, of course, seems ever to be made about the churches' flagrant violations of the many laws which govern the parameters of their tax-exemption by involving themselves in direct partisan politics. We expect that Janet Reno, bowing to pressure from the right-wing fascists, will soon be making a statement on this matter in the near future. This may very well be another "I told you so." It also may not surprise you that it was Senator Orrin Hatch, a devout Mormon from the state of Utah, also a Republican, who attached an amendment to the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act which will bar protests at churches and effectively make it illegal to criticize religion in its face. The Senate has already approved his so- called religious freedom amendment and is presently in committee to resolve differences. Actually, the amendment should be called "The No Criticism of Religion Amendment." This bill may be just a first step in making it a crime to speak or act in any way which criticizes what religion is doing in your life. This line and possibly our newsletter could someday come under fire, for both are stalwart critics of the most destructive force which has ever plagued humankind. So, ladies and gentlemen, pretty soon the Lesbian Avengers of Austin may be thrown in jail and fined heavily for dumping a load of manure at the steps of the church which helped fan the flames of hate and misinformation about Measure 22 recently. It may soon be impossible for AGLA to protest peaceably outside a church, as we have done in the past, to point out grievances we have of that church meddling into the private, personal and political affairs of citizens. We simply do not know how such a measure can pass given the First Amendment's call for freedom of speech. But we would not have believed that such a thing as a Religious Freedom Restoration Act could have passed either, given that the First Amendment also calls on Congress not to make any law respecting the establishment of religion. Well, I'm afraid that religion has been established for quite a long time in this nation and this is yet another example of Jefferson's wall of separation being torn away brick by brick. Our newsletter is just choked full of information. A copy can be yours by writing at AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. The American Atheist TV Forum will air on Wednesday, May 25 at 7:00 PM on your community access channel in Houston. We love to hear from our callers. At the tone, tell us from where you're calling and what's on your mind. 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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