Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 31, 1996 Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 10:15:27 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 31, 1996
Date: Wed, 31 Jul 1996 10:15:27 -0700
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#116 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/31/96
In This Issue...
* Dole Has More Than Alien Invasion To Worry About...
* Coalition "Voter Guides" Prompt FEC Suit
* Coming Soon ~ Brassiere Wars In Mexico, Religious Neighborhoods in
* About This List...
RELIGIOUS FEUDS, AGENDA READY TO SPLIT REPUBLICAN RANKS?
Reports Say Buchanan Ready To Launch Third Party Effort
GOP frontrunner Bob Dole went to the movies this past weekend to see the
blockbuster film "Independence Day," but his campaign seems to have even more
problems that the beleaguered on-screen President who managed to fend off an
alien invasion from outer space.
With two weeks left until the Republican convention in San Diego, Dole
appears unable to focus any successful attacks on the Clinton White House.
Worse yet, squabbling continues to erupt in party ranks, and developments in
the last 24-48 hours don't bode well for the Kansas senator.
* According to a report filed by Stephen Robinson in Britain 's Electronic
Telegraph, Pat Buchanan is "so incensed by exclusion from the Republican
convention in California that he seems to be preparing to run as a third
party candidate to sabotage Robert Dole's presidential campaign." The
Telegraph says that communication between the Dole and Buchanan camps has
"broken down", and that Buchanan "is believed to be torn between a desire to
get back at Mr. Dole and his wish to remain in the party."
* Bad feelings are boiling over ever since Buchanan turned down a "sound
bite" role which would have permitted him to address the convention through a
brief video clip, the content of which would have been subject to approval by
the Dole forces. GOP Chairman Haley Barbour has been scrambling all week in
spin-doctor mode, stressing party unity and portraying the San Diego
convention as "a festival of Republican idea." But Buchanan's sister who has
run his last two primary efforts for the nomination told media: "We consider
the decision to deny Pat (Buchanan) a speaking role at the GOP convention,
and offer him instead a pre-taped "sound bite"... an affront to the millions
who believe in Pat the the 3 million who voted for him."
* Buchanan still has 141 floor delegates at the upcoming convention,
enough to cause plenty of headaches for Barbour and GOP managers. Dole has
the convention locked-up with some 1,477 delegates; but "culture war" issues
ranging from abortion to the "tolerance statement" Dole has proposed can
easilly disrupt any scripting the presumed nominee's handlers have in mind.
Any floor fights inside the San Diego convention may also support the
efforts of anti-abortion activists outside to picket and close clinics
throughout the area. Expect Randall Terry and other Operation Rescue types
to take at least some of the air time away from Dole, and focus it instead on
splits and the religious agenda plaguing the Republican establishment.
* The Telegraph, the Moonie-conservative Washington Times and other
sources say that the US Taxpayers Party may be Buchanan's vehicle in a third
party effort. There are unconfirmed reports that USTP has slated Rep. Robert
K. Dornan of California to speak at its own San Diego gathering, and that the
group has already offered Buchanan its presidential nomination. USTP is
headed by Howard Phillips, a recent convert to the Christian
Reconstructionist theology. That religious tendency advocates the death
penalty for a range of bible-law offenses, including homosexuality,
blasphemy, adultery and talking back to parents. If anything, a link between
Buchanan and the USTP would suggest a growing religious radicalization of
those elements already slighted and disenchanted by the Republican Party.
* The Christian Coalition, which is now firmly married to the Dole cause,
may have problems of its own. The FEC has filed charges against the group,
saying that it violates its educational tax-exemption by engaging in partisan
political activity (see related story.)
* Even without the FEC problem, Christian Coalition Director Ralph Reed
has his hands full trying to finesse the Dole camp to "stay on track," and
prevent Christian conservatives who are even further to the right from
bolting the party ranks. Reed has been the architect of a "stay faithful"
strategy which clearly involves remaining within the GOP ranks; he also knows
(as a student of history) that third party efforts are generally not
successful. Reed continues to wheel-and-deal behind the scenes, offering his
precinct-level organization of some 1.6 members and 64 million "voters
guides", in exchange for loyalty to the Coalition's religious-social agenda
-- or as much of it as he can win. One prospect -- a split within religious
conservative ranks between Reed and the Buchanan camp.
* Dole handlers are scrambling to complete their screening process for
potential vice presidential running mates. Several names have been
mentioned, including Ohio Governor George Voinovich, Michigan's John Engler
and and Illinois Jim Edgar. A late-comer to the list -- Oklahoma Senator Don
Nickles, 47, and a staunch Roman Catholic anti-abortionist. Unlike the other
candidates, Nickles has been asked to submit to a background investigation.
COALITION HOWLS OVER FEC SUIT ON POLITICAL ACTIVITY
No sooner had the Federal Election Commission announced yesterday that it
was filing suit against the Christian Coalition for its violation of tax
exemption laws governing partisan political activity, than the group
cranked-up its propaganda and legal machinery, and vowed to assemble "the
finest election law legal team" to fight the charges.
Statements and press releases poured out of the Coalition's office in
Chesapeake, Virginia decrying the FEC "attempt to suppress First Amendment
rights of people of faith." The statement termed the charges "totally
baseless," "frivolous," and said that the Coalition remains "confident that
the courts will uphold the rights of Christians to participate in the
political process and hand the FEC yet another defeat."
But the FEC suit appears to have nothing to do with the "rights of
Christians" to engage in political activism, but rather the status of the
Coalition as an educational, tax-exempt organization.
The Coalition was founded in 1988 by televangelist Pat Robertson following
his unsuccessful campaign for president. Since then, under the leadership of
Director Ralph Reed, it has swelled to a membership of 1.6 million, and
claims to have between 60,000 and 100,000 churches "affiliated" with its
efforts, including the distribution of tens of millions of "voters guides."
Most of these guides, along with "scorecards" rating political candidates on
key issues like abortion, pornography and school prayer are circulated to
church congregations. In addition, the Coalition holds rallies -- often to
coincide with important political events, such as the upcoming Republican
national convention -- conducts workshops on precinct-level organizing, and
has a weekly satellite-television uplink to several thousand church-based
Despite this, the Coalition claims to be a religious and educational
organization, not a political movement. But critics have long complained
that the group is, in fact, a political organization, especially since its
"voters guides" are allegedly disingenuously skewed and composed to depict
certain candidates for public office in an unfavorable light. Democrats have
insisted that the sudden and coordinated distribution of "voters guides" has
played a key role in a number of campaigns, along with other Coalition
activity such as "identifying voter blocks" and the "scorecard" distribution.
The legal area which the FEC charges has been violated is considered
somewhat gray and ambiguous by some observers; it involves whether the
Coalition, or any other group, engaged in partisan or primarilly political
activity. According to today's Chicago Tribune, the FEC complain is one
where "there is a good chance the government will lose the case."
Last April in a similar suit, a federal judge ruled that voter guides
which had been distributed by Maine Right to Life Committee did not violate
election laws. The Tribune notes: "At issue in that case, and the one
against the Christian Coalition, is whether an organization that is not
obliged to account for its spending and rundraising should be allowed to
operate as a de factor political action committee."
But those committees -- known as PAC's -- are required to file public
reports in order to reveal the source of their funding. In addition,
partisan political activity is not a legitimate function of an educational or
religious tax-exempt group.
One key element in the FEC case will be the role played by Christian
Coalition "voters guides." In court documents, the FEC says that Director
Ralph Reed targetted specific political officials for defeat, citing the case
of Rep. Pat Williams (D-Mont.). It also charges that in 1990, the Coalition
distributed up to 10 million "guides" which had been assembled in
"coordination, cooperation, and/or consultation" with the National Republican
Senatorial Committee, which servces as the political campaign and fundraising
arm of GOP candidates for the U.S. Senate.
"Pushing the Envelope" and Its Consequences...
When word about the FEC charges broke yesterday afternoon, pundits
immediately began speculating on a possible outcome.
Dr. Larry Sabato, a political scientist from the University of Virginia,
said that the Christian Coalition has all of the appearances of being a
campaign organization, and that Ralph Reed works with a "leadership manual"
that is a handbook for political action. Sabato told CNN: "I think the
Federal Election Commission shows definitely that the Christian Coalition is
a partisan political organization and its intent is to help Republican
candidates...That doesn't come as a surprise to anybody who has been watching
the Christian Coalition since it was founded."
Indeed, the Coalition has been accused of "punshing the envelope" and
stretching its role as an educational, family-oriented religious group into
that of a political campaig machine. Reed once commented on the role
evangelical groups like the Coalition could play in local school-board
elections by running "stealth candidates" who advocated a religious agenda.
These "stealth candidates" were useful in gaining control of local boards,
insisted Reed, who remarked that such a strategy would surprise opponents.
"Wham! They're in a body bag!" he euphemistically remarked.
Yesterday's suit involved four of the five FEC members. Two Republicans,
FEC Chair Lee Ann Elliott and Commissioner Joan Aikens joined the two
Democrats on the board, Scott Thomas and John McGarry, in supporting the
government action. (One Democratic member was absent, and the remaining GOP
seat is vacant.) The move also represents the first time the Federal
Election Commission has moved to resolve the ambiguous area separating
issue-advocacy and overt political activity; it comes against a backdrop of
growing political activism by religious and other groups across the political
But the Coalition argues that its scorecards and "voters guides" are
designed to "give America's Christian voters the facts they will need to
distinguish between GOOD and MISGUIDED congressmen." One of those
congressmen was House Speaker Newt Gingrich; the George Christian Coalition
sent out literature terming the Republican a "Christian Coalition 100
It is doubtful that the FEC suit will be resolved before the November
election; and the Coalition still intends to proceed with plans to distribute
65,000,000 "voters guides" in time for the 1996 election through a network of
some 100,000 churches and other religious groups throughout the country.
Interestingly, in public statements yesterday, Reed revised that figure down
to a mere 45,000,000, and added that "the FEC's attempt to silence people of
faith will not affect that effort one bit."
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Coming In Our Evening Dispatch...
* Should There Be a "Religious Neighborhood" In Chicago?
* Religious Battle in Mexico Focuses on Bras (Yes, we're serious!)
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