Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 5, 1996 A M E
Date: Thu, 5 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 5, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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:
email@example.com, 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:
firstname.lastname@example.org 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, email@example.com.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank