Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 14:05:46 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 6, 1996 nn nn AA
Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 14:05:46 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 6, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#121 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/6/96
In This Issue...
* Ralph & Co. ~Is Abortion Issue Ready To "Bury" GOP?
* Egyptian Court: Divorce For Blasphemy
* "Parental Rights" Feud in Colorado
* About This List...
DOLE CAMPAIGN YIELDS ON STERN ANTI-ABORTION PLANK
"Digging Bob Dole's political grave" ?
Anti-abortion forces, led by the Christian Coalition scored an expected
victory yesterday during hearings and deliberations by the Republican Party's
Platform Committee. In a 21-4 vote, the inappropriately-named "individual
rights subcommittee" of the platform crafting body voted to continue a policy
of support for the Human Life Amendment which, if enacted, would ban all
abortion procedures in the United States.
The lopsided vote was another victory for Ralph Reed and the Christian
Coalition. It also seems to have doomed for now any prospect of a "tolerance
statement" in the final platform document which would acknowledge that
Republicans could disagree over abortion. Reed threatened that even the
mention of "abortion" in any tolerance declaration was unacceptable, adding
"If we are unable to resolve this this week, we will go to the floor."
The convention floor now seems to be the final redoubt for any pro-choice
Republicans. Yesterday's capitulation by the Dole campaign, reflected in the
subcommittee vote, sent a clear signal to abortion rights supporters in party
ranks, including Govs. George Pataki of New York, Pete Wilson of California
and William Weld of Massachusetts. Wilson and Weld are now promising a floor
fight on behalf of an abortion rights plank. Meanwhile, Ann Stone of the
group Republicans for Choice, accused the anti-abortion right of "digging Bob
Dole's political grave."
Still A One-Issue Campaign?
Dole released his economic agenda yesterday in an elaborate tax-cut
supply-side proposal that attracted national media attention and debate.
Even so, a considerable amount of media focus remains fixed on the abortion
battle which is now sure to break out on the convention floor in some form.
Senator Dole also made a cryptic reference yesterday, comparing himself to
an Olympic athlete who -- up to now -- had been trying to run with 50-pound
weights on his feet. Dole's heralded announcement of his tax cut proposal
may be not just a jab at President Clinton and the Democrats, but an attempt
to break free of the constraining abortion issue which continues to bog down
Ironically, Christian Coalition Ralph Reed may find a different sort of
"tolerance statement" working against him when his organization heads to
Chicago for the Democratic convention, as he has promised to do. Recently
the Coalition has been trying to promote what it says is a pro-life impulse
inside of the Democratic party; today, though, the New York Times noted that
Democrats will doubtlessly take the oppose side of the issue from the
Republicans, but will "include vague language expressing respect for
Democrats who disagree as a matter of conscience."
DIVORCE IS SENTENCE FOR PROFESSOR WHO PROFANES ISLAM
A hapilly married university professor must divorce his wife because he
was thought to have renounced the Islamic religion, a top appeals court in
Egypt has ruled. Nasr Abu Zeid, a professor of Arabic was accused by Muslim
fundamentalists of writings and interpretations of the Koran which were
profane, and resembled "atheism" -- a term used not to specifically refer to
a non-theist, but rather to those who do not believe in Islam.
The ruling by the Court of Cassation, the nation's top appeals body,
upholds an earlier decision where a judge ruled that Zeid's writings do, in
fact, make him an unbeliever. But the professor insists that he is still a
Muslim, and continues to accuse religious leaders of quoting the Koran out of
context and making historical errors.
Mr. Zeid and his wife, who is also a professor, fled to the Netherland
last year; officials declared that should they decide to return to Cairo, the
couple would be compelled to separate. But the Zeid case has become a major
cause celebre for human rights organizations, some of which expressed shock
and dismay at yesterday's ruling. The secretary general of the Egyptian
Organization for Human Rights told the New York Times: "This is a big shock
to us. The ruling is a slap in the face of civil society in Egypt and to its
development. It is another addition to the backward behavior in Egypt that
is working to stop any real development and it strengthens the limitations on
freedom of opinion and belief."
Human rights groups immediately called upon Egyptian President Hosni
Mubarak to overturn the ruling; they also expressed fears for Mr. Zeid's
life, saying that the decision would simply encourage the Muslim militant
groups who have been fighting to turn the nation into a strict Islamic state,
modeled after Iran.
COLORADO WILL FACE ''PARENTAL RIGHTS'' BATTLE IN NOV.
Supporters of a so-called "Parental Rights Amendment" made the deadline on
Monday, and turned in petitions with some 83,100 signatures of persons who
support placing the controversial measure on the November election ballot.
The proposal, similar to a number of "parental rights" bills and amendments
being promoted throughout the nation, would acknowledge the "inalienable
rights of parents to direct and control the upbringing, values and discipline
of their children." Supporters insist the measure is necessary to prevent
the intrusion by governmental authorities into the family structure.
Outside of the Capitol building, though, opponents of the Amendment
carried signs which warned that it was "dangerous" and "deceptive." Critics
charge that it is just a ruse to permit religious brainwashing of children by
objecting to school curriculums which fundamentalists consider sinful and
wrong, and that it would permit corporal punishments and beatings under the
guise of "bible-based discipline."
Reacting to the Amendment, the president of the Colorado Education
Association warned that it would "disrupt the delivery of education and creat
chaos in our schools." And a representative for a group known as Adoption
Exchange told reporters that the proposal "would have a 'chiling effect' on
adoptions because birth parents with late blooming regrets about giving up
their children could break up adoptive families."
The measure again throws the state of Colorado back into the national
spotlight of the "culture wars." Colorado is still recovering from the
battle over a proposition which was enacted, then later overturned in court,
which voided anti-discrimination laws protecting gays. The state lost an
estimatefd $200 million as a result of an economic boycott over the issue.
Yesterday's petitions, however, surprised few observers, who note that the
state has become a mecca for religious political and social organizations,
many of which have set up shop in Colorado Springs. The largest is Focus on
the Family, headed by Christian writer and radio show personality James
Dobson. Dobson is a proponent of "bible discipline" and has published a
number of books on the subject.
Still another organization speaking out against the Parental Rights
Amendment was "Protect Our Children" which tracks similar legislation
throughout the country. A spokesman said that the PRA "is not about parental
authority, involvement, responsibility or choice. Parents already have those
things. The Parental Rights Amendment is about giving any parent the right
to sue at the drop of a hat." Critics note that the measure will encourage
religious fundamentalists to take local school districts to court over
everything from sex education courses to AIDS awarness and even teaching of
ERRATUM...AND A 'THANKS' FROM THE EDITOR
No sooner had your faithful editor hit the "Send" button transmitting
yesterday's AANEWS, than a flood of e-mail came pouring back, pointing out a
major error in our dispatch. We incorrectly identified a speaker at the
upcoming Christian Coalition shindig known as the Faith & Freedom rally,
Scott O'Grady who, we said, had been discharged from the military for
refusing to sport a UN insignia while on patrol with U.S. forces in Bosnia.
We were wrong. Mr. O'Grady was the American fighter pilot who was shot down
over Bosnia, and spend several days living off the land (ostensibly with the
assistance of god) while evading his Serbian pursuers. It was Spl. Michael
New of Texas who refused to wear a UN badge while serving in bosnia; he was
subsequently court martialed and discharged. We apologize for any confusion.
We might note that Mr. O'Grady was part of an American involvement in a
nationalistic war and ethnic-religious conflict which many people do not
comprehend. The thuggish Serbians, in particular, are motivated by a
long-standing religious xenophobia and hostility to others, especially that
group somewhat incorrectly identified as "muslims." Indeed, the
distinegration of the former Yugoslavia and the establishment of ethnic-based
"nations", strongholds and fortified regions is a paradigm which threartens
to engulf much of the planet; fueling this dangerous trend is a resurgent
religious fundamentalism and a spirit of hostility toward the Enlightenment
First to identify our goof, though, concerning Mr. O'Grady was a staunch
AA supporter, Wayne Aiken. We thank him, and the rest of you, who brought
the error to our attention. It is also assuring to know that many of you DO
read aanews! We appreciate your continued input, suggestions and criticism.
We also apologize for clogging your mailboxes with two copies of the
previous AANEWS dispatch. A mail gateway was "down" thus prompting us to
re-send AANEWS a second time. We regret the error.
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