Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 5, 1996 A M E

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Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 5, 1996 Reply-To:, A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #148 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 9/5/96 In This Issue... * House To Vote on "Defense Of Marriage Act" * Pressure Builds Against Islamist "Rally for Revival" * TheistWatch: A Bad Hair Day, Robertson Plans For Future * Still -- An Offer You Hopefully Can't Refuse... * Our New ftp Site Under Construction * About This List... GAY MARRIAGE DEBATE BOGS DOWN RELIGIOUS AGENDA As reported in yesterday's AANEWS, several pieces of legislation -- including constitutional amendment on behalf of school prayer, and an effort to overturn President Clinton's veto of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban -- are being positioned for congressional floor votes in the next several days. Many bills represent important parts of the religious conservative agenda, and closely follow point-by-point the goals ennunciated in the Christian Coalition's "Contract With the American Family." It's rough sailing, though, for at least one piece of legislation -- the so-called Defense of Marriage Act, which officially has government define marriage as "a union between one man and one woman." The Act capitalizes on a fact openly recognized by both supporters and opponents -- polls suggest overwhelming public opposition, as much as 60% to 70%, against same sex (gay) marriages. No state has passed passed legislation which recognizes gay marriages, although some municipalities such as San Francisco have sanctioned "unofficial" ceremonies involving gay and lesbian partners. Still, the Defense of Marriage Act has become an emotional, highly symbolic piece of legislation in religious and social conservative efforts to suggest that "tranditional" or "family" institutions are, somehow, under attack. The proposed Act does more, too; as with school prayer and abortion, a vote in Congress provides raw ammunition to get Senate and House candidates "on the record" in terms of where they stand on a highly emotional issue. Particularly anxious for such a floor vote is the christian Coalition, which plans to distribute around 55 million "voters guides" in time for the November elections. But yesterday, the Defense of Marriage Act ran into problems in the Senate. Democrats tagged on numerous amendments and riders to the bill, including proivisions which would expand federal jurisdiction on hate crimes directed at homosexuals, and even a proposal to deny firearms to men convicted of domestic violence. Many felt it was point-for-point on "pro-family legislation," especially since some of the riders -- including the firearms ban -- have been presented as President Clinton's Democratic "pro-family" agenda. Republicans called some of the measures a "poison pill" to kill the Defense of Marriage Act; Democrat Edward Kennedy (Mass.) then glibly dubbed the amendments as "a multi-vitamin." Although it passed in the House, the Defense of Marriage bill may not clear the Senate, at least during this session. It faces some formidable opposition on both sides of the partisan and even ideological aisle. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay lobby, is running TV ads featuring supporters of the anti-jobs bias amendment which would protect homosexuals from discrimination. The faces are all-too-familiar to some Republicans, and include New Jersey Governor Christie Whitman, Kathleen Gingrich (House Speaker Newt Gingrich's mom), Gingrich's openly lesbian sister, Candace, and the avuncular Barry Goldwater who more than once has denounced religious right leaders including Jerry Falwell, and Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition. USA TODAY noted that the jobs-discrimination amendment to the bill "was attracting support from Democrats and some Republicans seeking a way to vote for the marriage act without seeming like gay-bashers." Already, some Republicans, including Senator Don Nickles (Okla.) have stated that they will oppose the Defense of Marriage Act if it includes the anti-discrimination proviso; Nickles specifically noted that the amendment would force groups like the Boy Scouts to hire gays. As of this afternoon, the outcome on a pending vote in the Senate is too close to call. The anti-discrimination provision had 31 co-sponsors as of last evening. But win or lose, the voting record on the Defense of Marriage Act will be an important piece of ammunition in the religious agenda come November. *** PRESSURE MOUNTING ON BRITAIN OVER ''RALLY FOR REVIVAL'' Britain's Home Office issued a terse statement late yesterday warning organizers of a Muslim "Revival Rally" that any statement supporting violence or social unrest could result in prosecution. Press sources, including the London Times, attributed the two-sentence admonition to "mounting pressure" from Members of Parliament, Jewish organizations and Arab governments. The declaration read: "The British Government condemns any statement made at the rally in support of terrorism, or violence more generally. We will ensure that the rule of law is upheld." In addition to fundamentalists and terrorist groups like Hamas which are sending representatives or videotaped "greetings" to the Rally, another organization has been identified as a participant. It is the Hizb-al-Tahrir or "Liberation Party" which has been accused of harassing Jews and homosexuals in British universities, especially the School of Oriental and African Studies. A separate release from the Home Office said that entry visas into the country have been denied to at least three individuals linked to the Revival gathering; they are Omar Abdur-Rahman, the "blink sheikh" convicted in the bombing of the World Trade Center; Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, a spiritual guru of the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon; and Osama Bin Laden, a wealthy Saudi expatriate with ties to guerilla organizations throughout the middle east. According to The Times, the growing Muslim community in Britain is heavilly divided over the Rally for Revival; many fear that Islamic militants, "claiming to speak for the 1.5 million Muslims in Britain, will strengthen prejudice against them and the association of Islam with terrorism." *** THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS Atheists and state-church separationists seem to come in all colors and flavors of America's postmodernist political spectrum; we include Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Socialists, Libertarians -- an ideological Gordian Knot which pretty well rules out an "Atheist political party." Even so, we're happy to see that Reason Magazine, a major libertarian publication, is less than enthused about the overtures of Ralph Reed and the Christian Coalition to link the economic and social agenda of the religious right with the distrust of government inherent in libertarianism. A Review of Reed's new book, "Active Faith: How Christians Are Changing The Soul of American Politics" by Charles Oliver in the October issue of Reason was less than salutary. Oliver does seem to underestimate and misread the partisan nature of the Coalition, and suggests that the group -- founded by televangelist Pat Robertson -- has avoided the pitfalls of the old Moral Majority. Oliver adds that he has yet to see an anti-CC bumper sticker (is he blind? Or doesn't he get the message that "The Christian Right Is Neither"?). But what about the efforts of Reed and his 1.7. million-member group to "reach out to the so-called economic conservative and the more libertarian elements of the Republican party"? Oliver properly observes that "Ralph Reed talks a good libertarian game, but following through is another matter," and cites the Coalition's support of Big Brother proposals like the Communications Decency Act (an Orwellian example of authoritarian state power eagerly embraced by "family values" Democrats like Bill Clinton as well...) as a red-flag warning for lovers of freedom and personal liberty. "Ultimately, the defining political characteristic of the religious right is its concern with moral issues..." says Oliver. We agree. And we welcome his skepticism when listening to the promise of the Coalition that it REALLY believes in a smaller, more benign government, and more freedom for individuals. ** Somewhere, I remember reading that cereal packaged in bright red boxes was a significantly better seller than the same product in a white, green, blue or yellow container. Advertisers have known for decades that in the fickle marketplace, consumers are often attracted by such non-tangible qualities as "image" or cache. There is, for instance, a popular brand of cologne for men which boasts that it contains pheromones, scent chemicals, which supposedly are sexually stimulating to females. While many would-be studs gladly plop down $30 for a small bottle of the stuff believing that they will transform into Don Juans, scientists note that the pheromones in the bottle are indeed sexually exciting to females -- pigs, swine, that is. Ah, image. Maybe that's what the Church of England's Communication Department had in mind this week when it kicked off a provocative poster campaign aimed at generation-X types who are not regular churchgoers. The poster depicts a pop-style trio wearing regal crowns with the legend: "BAD HAIR DAY? You've a virgin, you've just given birth, and now three kings have shown up." Underneath is smaller type invited readers to "find out the happy ending at a church near you." The London Times says that the poster campaign is a conscious effort to depict religion in a new light, and replace the "authoritarian and preachy" character of religious belief and ritual with a more modernist cache. But Church leaders are furious. The Archbishop of York is leading the bluenose reaction against the posters, charging that they demean the Christian faith; and the equally cranky head of a group known as Forward in Faith declared: "It is slick and supercilious. It is about time that trendy liberals realize the world is not interested in gimmicks." Well, we disagree somewhat. Alas, the world is often interested in "gimmicks," many of them religious in nature. And the "trendy liberals" inside the church should realize that you can overhaul reactionary, oppressive, faith-based ideology only so much before it does indeed lose all substance. *** Speaking of a "bad hair day," according to some recent studies, fewer than half of Americans polled could answer the following questions correctly: * Human beings developed from earlier species of animals - True or False? * The earliest humans lived at the same time as dinosaurs - True or False? * How long does it take for the Earth to go around the sun - one day, one month, one year? * Give evangelist Pat Robertson his due -- he is a long-range planner, even if he does tell viewers of the "700 Club" that apocalypse and the Second Comin' are just around the millennialist corner. A case in point is news that Robertson's Regent University School of Law has received full accreditation from the American Bar Association after a decade-long wait. When informed of the Bar's decision, Robertson gushed: "The fact that they acknowledge our overtly evangelical mission statement to me is a major breakthrough." Regent University is successor to what was originally CBN University, begun by Robertson in 1977. The law school was established in 1986, and received provisional accreditation in 1989. Since then, it has undergone annual inspections and evaluations by the American Bar Assopciation. So far, Robertson's law college has churned out hundreds of graduates, and with the new semester has a total enrollment of nearly 370 students. The televangelist and founder of the Christian Coalition told the Los Angeles Times: "Evangelically trained scholars will be moving into positions as clerks for various judges, as members of legislative bodies and, of course, as practioners of law around the country." Even more disturbing was Robertson's claim that eventually "evangelical judges" will someday preside over many of the nation's courts. ** AN OFFER WE HOPE YOU CAN'T REFUSE... During the month of September, we have a special -- and,hopefully, irresistable -- offer for AANEWS readers. We have discounted the price of membership in American Atheists by 50%! Individual memberships are now available for just $25 per year, and families can join for $37.50. Members receive the American Atheist Newsletter, American Atheist Magazine, catalogues, periodic updates and other benefits. It's easy to join. For membership information, just send mail to:, and include your name and postal address. When you receive your membership application, just put "AANEWS" and your e-mail address on it, and return it along with your check to American Atheists. AND MORE GOOD NEWS FROM AMERICAN ATHEISTS... Several weeks ago, we launched our new site on the world wide web at We are now pleased to inform you that a new ftp site is now under construction, thanks to the efforts of our Site Administrator, Don Rivers. We hope to make this a leading information resource for Atheists and state-church separationists in cyberspace, with a dazzling (overwhelming? shocking? stupdendous?) offering of informative files. We'll let you know when the site is operational. *** 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. 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. Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait,


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