Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:54:25 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 13, 1996 (After
Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:54:25 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 13, 1996 (Afternoon Convention Update)
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#128 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 8/13/96 (Afternoon Convention Update)
In This Issue...
* Religion and Politics ARE Mixing in San Diego
* Suit Challenges Mississippi Abortion Regulations
* A Note To Readers
* About This List...
''MANTLE OF RELIGION'' COVERS ALL PLAYERS AT GOP-FEST
Is there ANYONE at the Republican National Convention who isn't religious,
or at least is bold enough to stand firm as a secularist? We may end up
asking that question when the Democratic convention rolls around, but for now
-- in San Diego -- the answer seems to be a resounding "no".
Starting on the anti-abortion fringe, Operation Rescue and other
supporters of a Human Life Amendment have kicked off their efforts to shut
down clinics and harass abortion providers in the San Diego area. A series
of planned rallies began last Friday at the Operation Rescue headquarters,
the Skyline Wesleyan Church in Lemon Grove. The speaker at Sunday's rally
was Howard Phillips, a former conservative-GOP political operative who know
heads the US Taxpayers Party, the group which was courting Pat Buchanan as a
possible presidential nominee. (Buchanan has since called for a "truce" and
thrown his support to Bob Dole). Phillips, of course, is well known to
regular AANEWS readers as a Christian Reconstructionist and follower of
theologian R.J. Rushdoony and his Chalcedon movement. Reconstructionist
doctrine calls for the death penalty for homosexuals, adulterers, kids who
talk back to parents, blasphemers and unfaithful women.
Tonight, talk-show host Alan Keyes is expected to address the Operation
Rescue rally. Keyes, a former official to the United Nations, was a favorite
of some Christian conservatives during the primaries, but lagged far beyond
Pat Buchanan. Tomorrow, Joseph Scheidler is scheduled. He is the author of
"Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion," a handbook quoted widely within the
Operation Rescue movement, which advocates everything from leaving vicious
messages on clinic answering machines to taking down license plate numbers of
those enterring clinics. According to sociologist Sarah Diamond, author of
"Spiritual Warfare: The Politics of the Christian Right," Scheidler seems "to
relish the thought of inflicting physical pain on women having abortions
(and) has also been charged with using the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that
has inspired anti-abortion activists to firebomb clinics."
Scheidler says that he has "understood the emotions that might prompt one
to violence in an effort to end a greater violence (abortion)." His Pro-Life
Action League has operated a litigation effort which tries to seek out women
who have had medical complications following abortion procedures, and
encourage them to file suit for damages against the clinic.
Operation Rescue has also sent letters to San Diego area ministers and
priests, declaring that: "Bill Clinton is not our Problem (sic), and Bob Dole
is certainly not the solution. America doesn't need a new president, she
needs to return to her true King, one called Jesus."
The group also vows that: "Theology will become biography in the streets
of San Diego. Every morning the Church of Jesus Christ will prayerfully,
peaceably, and lovingly confront the abortion industry with the Gospel of the
It's not just bible-clutching anti-abortionists, though, who are turning
up the rhetorical steam valve in support of their cause. Alas, there is a
pro-choice religious coalition which yesterday conducted its "Faithful
Witness for Choice" at the Cathedral Church of St. Paul, followed by a march
and rally at the convention "free speech zone" which has been established for
different protest groups. The group says that it will "challenge the
Christian Coalition's claim to speak for all religious Americans on the issue
of abortion in the Republican party platform." For Atheists, of course, this
raises the delightful question of just how effective "god" has been at
revealing His "true doctrine" to humanity.
The Cathedral of St. Paul has become the focal point for those more
moderate types who wish to follow the example of their right-wing brethren,
and drape themselves in the mantle of religious respectability. Woe be unto
them who might choose to announce any form of religious skepticism or
dis-belief! Indeed, in what the Cathedral described as "a first for a
national political convention," the Episcopal Church scheduled "a round of
events for delegates and others drawn here for the Republican National
Two services were held on Sunday which included a "Cathedral
Forum...focusing on 'Faith and Politics'." A service that evening included
Nathan Baxter, Dean of the National Cathedral, and Gen. Colin Powell.
"Special invitations have been sent, on behalf of the Presiding Bishop, to
all Republican Members of Congress, the California Legislature, and
The fact that "moderate" elements within the Republican party feel
compelled to so publicly affirm their religious sentiments is testament to
the influence of more extreme groups (like the Christian Coalition) in
effectively "religionizing" what should otherwise be a secular, political
event accessible to a wide spectrum of Americans. It is all the more
insulting when one considers that 10% of the population -- over 25,000,000
persons -- describe themselves as Atheists, agnostics, or skeptics of some
sort on the question of religious belief. Indeed, there are tens of millions
of additional citizens who are condescendingly branded with the pejorative
label "un-churched" Americans, as if they have a form of social disease and
are un-wholesome elements of the body politic.
A Platform Plank to Ponder...
Along with "abstinence" programs in school (the successor, it seems, to a
bizarre and failed Reagan Administration scheme to have the government
establish official "Chastity Centers" throughout the nation), the GOP
platform also includes a curious proposal stating:
"To reinforce our American heritage, we believe our nation's Governor's
State legislators, and local school boards should support requiring our
public schools to dedicate one full day each year solely to studying the
Declaration of Independence and the Constitution."
Teachers, parents and others might well applaud this recommendation,
especially in light of the abysmal knowledge of both current affairs and
history which some students tend to exhibit in our "dumbed-down" culture.
But the platform was crafted by religious ideologues; and this particular
plank has disturbing implications.
AANEWS informed readers last week that one delegate heading for the
convention -- and the Platform Committee -- was "Christian Revisionist"
peddler David Barton, author of "The Myth of Separation" and other dubious
materials. A recent edition of Church&State Magazine exposed the bogus or
highly questionable quotes which Barton has attributed to historical figures
such as Franklin, Madison and others, in supporting his contention that the
United States was founded as a "Christian nation," and that state-church
separation has no basis in either the major founding documents of the nation,
or its early legal history. Critics have attacked Barton for egregious
historical errors, but even an admission by WallBuilders -- the group which
distributes Barton's tracts, books and videos -- that there are errors in the
material has done little to blunt the popularity of his thesis in religious
Indeed, considering the penchant of the Christian Coalition, Eagle Forum
and other allied groups to run stealth candidates and "capture" local school
boards, one must wonder exactly who will be crafting any program which has
students studying documents like the Constitution.
Another agenda lurking behind the GOP education planks -- such as one
stating that children should "learn the three R's through proven methods" --
is the Parental Rights and Responsibilities Act, which has been a major
objective for the Christian Coalition in its campaign to attack the public
school curriculum. Indeed, "parental rights" coupled with Republican
admonitions against "intrusive bureaucrats," is simply more ammunition in
the religious war against teaching everything from human sexuality to even
evolutionary theory in public schools. Groups such as Eagle Forum and
Concerned Women for America (Beverly LaHaye) have drawn up lists with
literally HUNDREDS of "objectionable" areas they encourage members to protest
in school curriculums. It is no wonder that the Parental Rights and
Responsibilities Act has been dubbed a "full employment act for lawyers" in
light of the sheer volume of litigious action it could well stimulate. Many
educators and scientists bemoan the fact that public school texts already
"dumb down" or ignore areas such as evolution, for fear that religious
parents will complain and even propose the teaching of creationism and other
bogus religious doctrines in classes.
MISSISSIPPI ANTI-ABORTION STATUTE IS CHALLENGED
One technique which has been used by anti-abortion groups since the Roe.
v. Wade decision has been to encourage statutes and regulations which make it
difficult, if not impossible, to operate clinics.
In Mississippi, two physicians and a pro-choice coalition today filed suit
to enjoin state officials from enforcing a new Statute and Regulations which
effectively over-regulate abortion providers. According to a dispatch from
the American Civil Liberties Union, "Under the new laws, physicians who
perform at least 10 abortions per month or simply advertise abortion services
would be required to comply with dozens of burdensome requirements
unsupported by any medical rationale." The regulations took effect
yeaterday, and also ban new "abortion facilities" within 1500 feet of a
church, school or kindergarten.
(AANEWS readers may be reminded of a similar "drive 'em out of business"
scheme which was recently enacted in Bavaria, Germany, which attempts to
regulate physicians who earn more than 25% of their annual income through
providing abortion services.)
ACLU, which is representing the physicians and Pro-Choice Mississippi,
added that the new laws "impose requirements far more stringent than those
imposed on birthing centers, even though childbirth carriers a maternal death
rate 10 times higher than abortion."
A Note To AANEWS Readers...
AANEWS has assembled a team to cover developments during the Republican
National Convention which may of interest to Atheists and First Amendment
activists. In addition to televised coverage of the San Diego gathering, we
are also monitoring internet resources, reports and other other news sources.
Any dispatches which have convention-related news will be appropriately
labeled in the "subject" portion of your e-mail. While we apologize for any
"glut" this may create in your mailboxes, we feel that this event deserves
our coverage and attention.
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
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