Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 1, 1996 Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 13:03:59 -0700 nn nn AA

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Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 1, 1996 Date: Thu, 1 Aug 1996 13:03:59 -0700 From: Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 Christian faith." 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 separation activists. 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 the evidence?" 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 Associated Press. 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 them well! ***************** 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 legally, Jewishly." 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 denomination." 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 launched *************** About This List... AANEWS is a free service from 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. For information about American Atheists, send mail to:, and include your name and postal address. Or, check out our cool new website at You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to aanews and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to: and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please!) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. *********************************************************************** * * * 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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