Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 1, 1996 Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 13:03:59 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 1, 1996
Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 13:03:59 -0700
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#118 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/1/96
In This Issue...
* Coalition Spent $1.4 Million Illegally, Says FEC Documents
* Voucher Plans, Juror Oaths
* Religious "Mod Squads" Harrass Israeli Women
* Sherman May Challenge "Eruv"
* Our New Web Site
* About This List...
DOCUMENTS IN FEC SUIT ~ COALITION SPENT $1.4M ILLEGALLY
Newly released documents in a Federal Election Commission suit indicate
that the Christian Coalition illegally spent over $1.4 million supporting
political candidates, including close to $1 million in 1992 in an effort to
re-elect President George Bush. The papers support allegations made by the
FEC, which earlier this week announced its investigation and lawsuit against
the powerful religious lobby, charging that it was a political action group,
not a social welfare, educational movement as it has claimed since its
founding over seven years ago.
While the action to file the suit drew the support of both Democrats and
Republicans on the Commission, the new documents suggest what the Washington
Post described as a "bitter partisan split" on the board "about how to
proceed." Meanwhile, representatives of the Christian Coalition kept up
their efforts in attacking the FCC suit. Attorney James Bopp charged that
the suit was politically motivated, adding: "This case has been going on
since '92. They (FEC) filed three months before the '96 election."
The suit is based mainly on a complaint by Democratic Party officials who
charge that the Christian Coalition is a de- factor political committee,
which is thus required to report and list donations like any other PAC.
Officials point to the tens of millions of "voters guides" which the
Coalition distributes through its network of churches. Critics say that the
"guides" really amount to campaign literature, and often do not adequately
present information about a candidate's position on issues. But the
Coalition, founded in 1988-89 by televangelist Pat Robertson, says that it is
simply trying to "encourage active citizenship among people professing the
In addition to showing evidence that the Christian Coalition vigorously
backed then-President Bush, documents reflect that some $325,000 went to the
National Republican Senatorial Committee in 1990 for distribution to various
campaigns, and another $52,000 was funneled into the 1990 re-election effort
of Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.). Helms won a narrow, late-count victory over
challenger Harvey Gantt. Some political observers say that efforts by the
Coalition, including the use of scorecards, "voters guides" and
target-identification from voter registration lists, played a vital role in
that razor-thin win for Helms.
The Post also reports that money likewise flowed from the NRSC to the
Christian Coalition, citing expenditures of some $64,000 used in 1990 to
prepare "voters guides." While GOP spokesman Dan McLagan said yesterday that
there "was absolutely no coordination" between the two groups, he
nevertheless admitted that the money did change hands, saying: "We (the GOP)
just sent the money to them as we do to other organizations that engage in
good government activities."
COURTS RULE ON SWEARING FOR JURORS, VOUCHER SCHEMES
It has been a mixed-week of results for First Amendment state-church
Yesterday, a state court in Ohio ruled that a plan to give state funds to
Cleveland-area parents for sending their kids to private religious schools
was legal. That was a victory for the administration of Governor George
Voinovich, who has promoted a number of voucher schemes, including this
latest one which provides grants and "scholarships" to an pilot group of
parents of 2,000 students. The program could initially end up costing
$5,000,000. Studies indicate that the biggest recipient of such state aid
would be Ohio's parochial (Roman Catholic) school system.
The Voinovich plan had been praised by GOP presumed-nominee Bob Dole, who
last week made campaign stops in Ohio, including numerous appearances at
Catholic schools. It has also been challenged by the State Educational
Association, who insisted that the scheme violates separation of church and
state, and was just another drain on already cash-strapped public schools.
In New Jersey, a judge in Passaic County has told colleagues to not use
bibles when swearing in jurors in order to conform to a new state law which
removes references to god from any jury oaths. Some Jersey counties were
already leaving bibles out of the juror oath procedure. Judge Joseph A.
Falcone, the presiding judge of the criminal division in the Passaic County
Courthouse, put new wording for jurors in a memo: "Do you swear or affirm
that you will try the matter in dispute and give a true verdict according to
Falcone's memo to other judges added: "Please note that phrases such as
'in the presence of almighty God' and 'so help you God' have been deleted
from the oaths. In light of these deletions, it is my understanding that the
Bible is not used during the administration of an oath. However, I believe
the person taking the oath must raise his-her right hand."
There has been little reaction to the Falcone memo, other than a statement
made by State Senator Wi.lliam Gormley who said: "I think sometimes we
take... separation of church and state to a point that excludes a reasonable
use of tradition..."
''MODESTY SQUADS'' BECOMING ACTIVE IN JERUSALEM
In a disturbing parallel with Islamic fundamentalism, ultra-Orthodox
religious fanatics in Israel are establishing "modesty squads" which rove
public streets, harass women, and engage in acts of violence. The patrols
are just the latest development in a growing confrontation in that country
between religious fundamentalists who now hold a record 26 seats in the
Knesset, and secular and liberal-religious Israeli's who fear that progress
and civil liberties are in jeopardy. Observers fear that the "modesty
squads" -- a form of hooliganism once associated with Muslim countries like
Iran and Saudi Arabia -- may be out in force now that the weekend and
"sabbath" period is approaching. For the past three weekends, tens of
thousands of Orthodox militants have poured onto Bar Ilan Street in
Jerusalem, in a attempt to shut down traffic during the holy period. The
new-found boldness of the Orthodox may come from their role in helping to
elect Likud candidate Benjamin Netanyahu as the country's new Prime Minister;
in order to cobble together a working coalition government, Netanyahu -- who
is not regarded as a particularly religious man -- has nevertheless had to
make important concessions to the religious parties, including United Torah
Judaism, the Shas Party, and the National Religious Party. Those groups have
also won a record 26 seats in the Israeli parliament, or Knesset.
The fight over the sabbath has been escalating ever since the Netanyahu
victory a few weeks ago. The Israeli Amos communications satellite is turned
off during that time; and secularists fear that religious groups will now be
targeting non-kosher restaurants, and trying to shut down movie theatres,
cafes and other signs of "irreligious" diversion.
When Orthodox Jews -- mostly bearded men wearing their distinctive garb of
heavy coats and hats -- poured onto Bar Illan three weeks ago, they began
pounding on passing cars, battling police and throwing garbage and dirty
diapers at victims. Each weekend has seen an escalation of the tensions; the
progressive Meretz Party has joined with other groups, including some
religious Jews who feel that the Orthodox militants are threatening the
integrity and image of the Israeli nation.
This past week, new "modesty squads" began harassing women, including
those who work in the Ministry of Education. According to press accounts,
one woman who happened to be bare-legged and wore a short-sleeved dress,
parked her vehicle a block away from the ministry building. When she
returned to her car, she found that the tires had been slashed and the
vehicled "egged." There was a flyer nearby which declared "Parking in
immodest dress is forbidden."
Reports of such attacks are multiplying, and earlier this week an
ultra-Orthodox was arrested for throwing a rock at a woman dressed in a short
summer dress who happened to be an undercover police agent.
Posters around Orthodox neighborhoods declare: "If you're a woman and you
are not properly dressed -- don't pass through our neighborhood" according to
While Jerusalem is considered a hotbed and concentration of Orthodox
sentiment, they comprise only 31% of the city's total population.
Secularists and their allies in Jerusalem fear that Bar Illan street is
"only the beginning" in an Orthodox effort to shut down all traffic
throughout the city during the sabbath.
AP also noted that the Education Ministry building which has been a focus
of "modesty squad" vigilance, "is a fitting symbol of the culture clash."
"For some, the ultra-Orthodox militancy suggests unsettling parallels with
Islamic fundamentalism," adds the wire service.
As in Muslim nations, women are usually the focus of "modesty" patrols.
In Saudi Arabia, a clerical politice force known as the Mutawah patrols
streets, admonishes females who are out in public alone, not wearing their
veil headgear, or engaging in "un-Islamic behavior." In Algeria, a brutal
civil was has been waged against fundamentalists; on July 21, four women
wearing bikinis were decapitated on a public beach in Algiers.
Leaders of Orthodox political groups deny in public that they are linked
to the "modesty squads" and rioters on Bar Ilan. Even so, organizations
like United Torah have not condemned the patrols, and insist that they are
"self-appointed groups acting on their own authority."
More rioting is anticipated this weekend, and the secular Meretz Party is
expected to be back on Bar Ilan confronting the fundamentalists. We wish
SHERMAN MAY CHALLENGE ''ERUV'' ENCLOSE
First Amendment activist Rob Sherman in Chicago may challenge an effort in
that city to establish an "eruv" or religious enclose around certain
neighborhoods. As reported in yesterday's AANEWS, efforts are underway to
permit the stringing of a black wire from public lightposts, which would
surround specific areas and, according to religious teaching, permit
otherwise-prohibited activities during a holy time.
The plan is supported by some orthodox Jews. A rabbi told The Chicago
Tribune: "It's especially good for women because it enables them to go out
and carry their children. It enables them to attend synagogue. It allows
families to go for a walk and be out of the house. And it can be done
But Sherman, who has made a career of challenging religious violations of
the First Amendment, said that may not be true. He cited the Illinois
Constitution, Article 1, Section 3 which says that "No person shall be
required to support or attend any ministry or place of worship against his
consent, nor shall any preference be given by law to any religious
Aside from the provocative and reactionary cultural aspect of the "eruv"
proposal, it is a clear violation of state-church separation. Public
property -- especially roads and lightposts -- should have an obvious
secular, non-religious purpose. Chicagoans may also ask themselves if their
city should boast "religious neighborhoods' which are defined by zones and
boundary markers like the "eruv" wire.
Sherman is a well-known Atheist activist in Chicago; he has been engaged
in numerous court battles, and has successfully fought the use of religious
decorations and graffiti on municipal seals.
A NOTE ON OUR NEW WEB SITE...
Thanks to the many AANEWS readers who have visited our new site on the
world wide web and shared comments and suggestions with us. We ARE working
diligently to bring more sections of the site, including the "Flashline" news
feature, on line. We are also working with the service provider to assure
you a faster connection. The response to our site has been overwhelmingly
positive and encouraging, and we thank you for your support!
We also want to take this opportunity to welcome the dozens of new
subscribers who have joined the AANEWS list in the past several days since we
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