Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:54:25 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 13, 1996 (After

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Date: Tue, 13 Aug 1996 13:54:25 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for August 13, 1996 (Afternoon Convention Update) Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 Kingdom." *** 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 convention." 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 Governors." 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 right circles. 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 American Atheists, send mail to: and include your name and postal address. 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) in the message body. Edted and written by Conradf F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. Internet Representative is Margie Wait,


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