Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 14:05:46 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 6, 1996 nn nn AA

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Date: Tue, 6 Aug 1996 14:05:46 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 6, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 * Erratum * AACHAT * 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 his party. 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 evolution. *** 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 project. 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. Finally, we appreciate your comments about our new web site. We should repeat, though, that the site is best seen using the Netscape browser; some browsers provided by on-line services may cause problems, or not permit you to appreciate the full range of contents. If you are using America On-Line, be sure to upgrade to version 3.0. Those using CompuServe may add on a browser extention, and we suggest that you do so. As the site informs you, it is "under permanent construction." New features will be gradually added, the first of which will be our FLASHLINE. We hope to post the latest AANEWS at that location on a regular basis. **** AACHAT is a moderated on-line discussion forum for members of American Atheists. If you would like to participate, just contact our Internet Representative Margie Wait at Be sure to include your name and postal address. ** 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 more information about American Atheists, send e-mail to: and include your name and postal address. Or, check out our cool new site on the web at You may post, forward or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, contact:, and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please!) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER.


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