Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 12, 1996 (Ni

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Date: Thu, 12 Sep 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for September 12, 1996 (Nightowl Edition) from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #156 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 9/12/96 (Nightowl Edition) http://www.atheists.org In This Issue... * Decision On Prayer Bill? Only Ralph Reed May Know For Sure... * About This List... PRAYER BILL RETURNING? FATE MAY BE DECIDED TOMORROW AT CHRISTIAN COALITION ''VICTORY'' CONFERENCE Less than 48 hours ago, reports from Capitol Hill suggested that any attempt to bring school prayer legislation to a floor vote in Congress was being shelved until after the November election. There are new indications tonight, however, that this proposal -- in the form of the Religious Freedom Amendment -- is once again being reconsidered for action. There are two developments connected with this story, and both involve in the Christian Coalition. School prayer legislation has been a centerpiece in the Coalition's Contract With the American Family which was introduced nearly eighteen months ago, in the wake of a major Republican victory which gave the GOP control of the both the House and Senate. It had taken Republicans nearly four decades to capture control of Capitol Hill, and considerable credit for that victory was due to the efforts of the Christian Coalition and its religious allies. Tens of millions of "voters guides" flooded the congressional districts of the nation; and an army of precinct level volunteers mobilized by the Coalition -- often working hard for GOP candidates -- made the crucial difference in several key races. In exchange for their efforts, the Coalition was promised enactment of its social agenda on issues such as abortion, welfare reform, censorship of obscene materials and school prayer. There has been considerable tension, however, between Republican kingmakers and groups like the CC; indeed, some organizations on the religious right insist that the GOP, under the leadership of House Speaker Newt Gingrich, has chosen to emphasize the economic side of the "Republican Revolution," at the expense of the social agenda. The problematic ties between the Republican Party and the religious right -- especially the Christian Coalition -- flared anew at last month's GOP Convention in San Diego. There, the CC invested over $750,000 in high-tech communications equipment and other expenses to operate a command center and "war room," in part to defeat any effort at watering-down the anti-abortion platform . Despite the public profiling of pro-choice Republicans, including Rep. Susan Molinari (NY) and New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman, Ralph Reed (Coalition Director) was content to stay out of the limelight. Nominee Bob Dole selected a pro-life running mate, Jack Kemp, and the party remained firmly wedded to both the anti-abortion plank and the religious right. That relationship continues to show signs of strain, however, especially with Senator Dole still trailing badly in the polls behind President Clinton. A "morals" based attack on the White House by the GOP has not worked. Potential scandals, such as the involvement of White House strategist Dick Morris with a prostitute, or the failure of Mr. Clinton to release all of his medical records, even the imprisonment of Susan McDougal in the White Water affair (a favorite of the conservative Washington Times, a newspaper linked to Rev. Moon) have done nothing to diminish the Clinton lead. Christian Coalition promises to distribute between 50 and 65 million "voters guides" in time for the November election. While Republican leadership in both the House and Senate hasn't "delivered the goods" in terms of passing the full social agenda outlined in the Contract With the American Family, a floor vote on issues like school prayer could be included in the election-time "guides." As of tonite, there are several reports that a final decision on whether or not the Religious Freedom Amendment is to be brought onto the floor for a vote will be made sometime tomorrow. The venue could well be the annual "Road to Victory Conference" organized by the Christian Coalition, which begins tomorrow in Washington, and will feature an address by Speaker Newt Gingrich. Last year's event attracted over 3,500 delegates, and the Coalition is boasting that this weekend's meeting will involve 10,000 people. Speakers include: Pat Buchanan, Bill Bennet (Empower America), Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp, Rep. Henry Hyde (who co-authored the Religious Freedom Amendment), Ross Perot, televangelist Pat Robertson, and of course CC Director Ralph Reed. We expect that the Coalition will be doing its utmost to pressure Newt Gingrich and other GOP leaders into bringing the Religious Freedom Amendment back for a vote, so that incumbents must "go on the record" with their stand regarding school prayer. A Coalition "Stealth Attack" Coalition Director Ralph Reed made headlines several years ago when he advised Christian fundamentalists to run so-called "stealth candidates" in obscure election contests for school board positions and other posts. He also spoke of turning out voters from fundamentalist and evangelical churches in unprecedented numbers, and talked of "putting your opponents in body bags." One tool in this Coalition "stealth attack" has been the so-called "voters guides" and other campaign literature, which is often distributed immediately prior to election day. A number of candidates have complained that the "voters guides" are simplistic, inaccurate, and are handed-out so as to give those with unfavorable evaluations little time to respond to charges or misrepresentations. Today, the group Americans United for Separation of Church & State released a letter being sent to the Coalition, challenging it to "release their voter's guide early enough in the political season so candidates can respond to them." AU's Executive Director, Barry Lynn, urged Ralph Reed "to distribute to the press and the public all of your presidential and congressional voters' guides no less than 30 days before the November 5 election." We expect that with the Senate and House already "on the record" concerning issues such as the Defense of Marriage Act and Welfare Reform, the Coalition will do it all it can to insure that there is a floor vote on school prayer. We also expect a vote within the next several days in an attempt to overturn President Clinton's veto of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Both are key ingredients in the Coalition's social-religious agenda, and they will be equally important components in the disingenuous "voters guides" the group will be distributing. AANEWS will continue to monitor these events *** 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 info@atheists.org, and include your name and postal address. Or, check out our cool new site on the web at http://www.atheists.org. You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and the aanews. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send mail to aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org, and put "info aanews" (minus the quotation marks, please) in the message body. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER (cg@theists.org). Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait, irep@atheists.org.

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