Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 19, 1996 A M E
Date: Sat, 19 Oct 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for October 19, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#179 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 10/19/96
In This Issue...
* Coalition "Off The Dole-Man?"
* AFS Says Treaty Of Tripoli Is "Day To Remember"
* TheistWatch: More Sleaze From Morris, Big Mac Taboo In Israel
* About This List...
COALITION ''WRITING OFF'' DOLE: SHIFTING TO CONGRESSIONAL RACES ?
There is growing evidence that the Christian Coalition is conceding the
presidential election to incumbent Bill Clinton, and re-directing its efforts
instead to congressional and local races in hopes of keeping its friends in
office, and the GOP in control of at least the House or Senate.
The strategy reflects disappointment within the organization's leadership
that Republican candidate Dole has failed to sufficiently emphasize the
"character issue" and what Coalition Director Ralph Reed terms the "moral
crisis" facing the nation.
Friday's edition of USA TODAY said that the powerful religious political
group "has all but written off Bob Dole." The paper also quoted Democratic
pollster Alan Secrest, who opined that the Coalition is maintaining a lower
profile in the presidential race "to avoid blame" for any Dole debacle on
* The Coalition is targeting a number of open Democratic seats in the
Senate, including races in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia. Also
look for a CC push in the North Carolina Senate race where Coalition friend
and incumbent Sen. Jesse Helms is facing a tough challenge again from Harvey
Gantt in his fifth re-election bid.
* There are conflicting reports about the distribution of the Coalition's
"voters guides." In some states, guides have already been circulated along
with "scorecards" which are a more abbreviated version and concentrate on
specific races. USA TODAY reports that the Coalition will distribute "46
million of its voter guides in 120,000 churches on the Sunday before the
election," although other estimates of the number of guides have run as high
as 65 million.
* Last week the Coalition blasted the Clinton campaign's ad campaign
running on religious radio stations throughout the country. Ralph Reed said
"It is the height of hypocrisy for a sitting president to accept
contributions from pro-abortion and gay lobby groups at the very moment that
he is telling Christians in targeted radio ads that he opposes the radical
agenda of the same special interest groups to whom he is beholden."
The ads boast that Clinton favors a ban on late-term abortions, although
the President vetoed the so-called Partial Birth Abortion Bill in April since
it did not make exceptions for cases where the health or life of the mother
ATLANTA FREETHINKERS CALL FOR CELEBRATION: TREATY OF TRIPOLI
November 4, 1796 Should Be A Day To Remember...
Well, it's not as popular as the Fourth of July. But the Atlanta
Freethought Society is urging Atheists and state-church separationists
everywhere to do what they can in building public awareness of an important
anniversary, namely, the signing of the Treaty of Tripoli which was signed on
November 4, 1796. The group would also like to see more awareness as well
about June 10 -- on that day in 1797, the Treaty was ratified by the U.S.
Senate, then signed and proclaimed by President John Adams.
You won't find the Treaty of Tripoli mentioned in many popularized
histories; and it is not directly related to the Tripolitan War, a conflict
which spanned the years between 1801 and 1805, and finally ended the payment
of booty tribute to the Muslim Pasha of Tripoli whose corsairs raided ships
of foreign nations along the North Africa coast.
But the Treaty is important in documenting the legacy of state-church
separation in American history: Article II begins with the words: "The
Government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian
religion." And that phrase is now used widely by separationists in refuting
the contention of fundamentalist christians that "America is a religious
nation," or is "founded upon Christian (or biblical) principles."
The Treaty was signed on November 4, 1796 when George Washington was
nearing the end of his second and final term as President, although again, it
is mostly a footnote or passing mention in various biographies and accounts,
and has not attracted the interest -- until lately -- evinced byemore
prominant documents and international agreements such as Jay's Treaty with
Great Britain. It was ratified by the U.S. Senate the next spring, and
proclaimed law by President John Adamns on June 10, 1797.
Despite its relative lack of notoriety, though, the Treaty of Tripoli is
an important document in the history of state-church separation, and remains
a vital source in refuting the distortions and historical revisionism of Pat
Robertson, David Barton and others who insist that "separation is a myth."
Robertson has declared that "separation of church and state is a lie of the
left and the liberals," and even U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice William
Rhenquist, in a series of chilling revelations, has expressed that the "wall
of separation" referred to by Thomas Jefferson, likewise has no basis in
In a statement released on the internet to various Atheist and First
Amendment organization, Ed Buckner of the Atlanta Freethough Society is
urging us to "push for celebrating either or both of these bicentennials,
with press releases, letters to the editor, requests, requests for officials
to make proclamations," and more.
Mr. Buckner has also done some exhaustive research in refuting the doubts
and objections raised by certain religious fundamentalist writers and
Buckner notes "Since most of those objections have some grain of truth to
them but are nevertheless misleadingly used, they need to be considered one
at a time:
* "The words, 'As the government of the United States is not in any
sense founded on the Christian religion...' were almost certainly written by
an obscure poet known to keep company with men attacked as having the
reputation of being atheists." The author, who wanted very much to be
remembered primarily as an epic poet rather than an "obscure" one, was Joel
Barlow, the U.S. diplomatic representative assigned the task of reaching
peace with the pirates of the Barbary coast. He wrote the words as a part of
Article II of a Treaty with Tripoli agreed to on November 4, 1796. Barlow
was a good friend of Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe. When
the French radicals arrested Thomas Paine, it was Barlow that Paine hurriedly
entrusted with the manuscript of the first part of The Age of Reason. Barlow
may have been an atheist himself, or, more likely, a deist -- and that may
have somehow had something to do with the great controversy and mystery
surrounding the existence of the famous Aritlce II.
* "It's just a widely circulated but discredited myth that President
George Washington ever wrote the famous words." According to Paul Boller, in
GEORGE WASHINGTON AND RELIGION (1963), "Very likely Washington shared
Barlow's view, though there is no record of his opinion about the treaty."
Unfortunately, someone, perhaps an overzealous freethinker, circulated the
words as a Washington quote, no doubt because the words were composed during
the end of Washington's second administration. Some of the true
circumstances surrounding the treaty text make the quote a more effective
weapon against Christian-nation mythologists than if it had been a mere
* "Only four years after the Treaty of Tripoli we're discussing was
proclaimed, Tripoli declared war on the U.S. (so it was not really much of a
success as a treaty) -- and the treaty was suprerceded by a second treaty
with Tripoli a few years after that, so it no longer has any leagal force.
Subsequent treaties did not contain these words and in fact one or two even
contained allusions to the 'Trinity'." These points are all accurate, but
all of them miss the mark nevertheless. Later treaties with Russia or Great
Britain, which were then Christian nations, had the ceremonial allusions to
the Trinity that such nations would want, but these had no treaty
declarations of any kind of Christian status for the U.S. The significance
of the words in Article II of the 1796-97 treaty is not that those words
created a non-Christian nation or gave us a godless government -- it was the
U.S. Constitution and First Amendment that did that. The significance lies in
the fact that these words were used, apparently to reassure a Muslim power,
and broadly accepted in the U.S., less than a decade after the Constitution
was adopted and only five or six years after the First Amendment was
approved. It is a strong reinforcement of the plain original intention of
the framers and founders that is significant.
* "The Treaty was in Arabic, and few if any Senators read Arabic."
The original was in Arabic, but the English version, written by Joel Barlow,
is the version voted on by the Senate, signed and approved by the President
(by then John Adams) and proclaimed to the nation on June 10, 1797. It is
the English translation that was reprinted in newspapers of the day and has
always been treated as the official treaty in all U.S. records and reprints
* "Only 23 Senators in all voted for the treaty. And only one of
Georegia's Senators voted for the treaty, and he left the Senate after that
term, never to return." These points are also technically accurate, but very
misleading. All Senators present (the Senate had far fewer members in thos
days) voted, in a rare recorded vote, in favor of the treaty. One of
Georgia's Senators was absent because of his alleged involvement in the Yazoo
land fraud scandal; Georgia's other Senator, Josiah Tattnall, chose not to
run for re-election, but was thereafter elected as Governor of Georgia.
Though a young man -- one of Georgia's youngest governors -- he died shortly
after that. Tattnal County was named after him, as were various streets and
squares in Georgia."
Mr. Buckner adds that "We have checked these details carefully and assure
everyone that they are defensible." He adds that "The Atlanta Freethough
Society is NOT suggesting that this treaty (or the Constitution that
preceeded it makes the U.S. government anti-Christian nor tha it should be.
For the sake of everyone's liberty, the government is -- and must remain --
neutral regarding religion."
Hopefully, the efforts of the Atlanta Freethough Society concerning the
bicentennials of this Treaty will be echoed by other individuals and groups
throughout the country. You can reach the AFS by writing to PO Box 813392,
Smyrna, GA 30081, or via phone at 770-641-2903.
AANEWS will carry more information about the Treaty, including additional
research by Ed Buckner which was included in his original e-mail/press
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
One of the more amusing aspects of this year's Presidential race is the
contest between the major parties to see which side can outdo the other when
it comes to invoking "god," motherhood and apple-pie in the vote-begging.
The Christian Coalition remains convinced that the will of an almighty
deity is best reflected in its own voters guides and scorecards, which
presumable reflect the "God's Office-Keeping Seal of Approval" for all public
officials be they inhabitants of the White House of the local tax assessors
office. For the sake of argument, I can see where a hypothetical Supreme
Being MIGHT be interested in those weighty developments concerning the fate
of entire nations; but is there such a thing as "god's will" when it comes to
a local zoning matter? Indeed, is there a "Christian way" of deciding the
routing of, say, sewer pipes and gas lines? Does "god" have a land use plan
for every township and block in the nation?
Worse yet is the fact that it's just not religious right fundamentalists
who claim to speak on behalf of "god's" political proclivities. In a classic
case of "monkey-see-monkey-do," liberal religionists are now copying the
Coalition's ruse of disseminating "voters guides" and other materials, albeit
with a political slant of their own. The Interfaith Alliance, championed as
an "alternative" to the Christian Coalition, now has 109 chapters in 36
states and will be pimping ITS voters guides in over 40 U.S. House and Senate
races. According to USA TODAY, the Interfaith Alliance hopes "to show that
the (Christian) Coalition does not speak for all Christians on issues such as
abortion, gay rights, immigration and welfare reform..."
Perhaps not; but Atheists can only smile while religionists squabble
amongst themselves and try to divide the "word of god" as some kind of
prophetic pie. What good is religion if it says a) there exists an
all-powerful entity which created the universe and intervenes in the course
of human affairs and b) this being's intentions, wishes and commands are
revealed to humanity through organized religion and various "sacred" texts,
and yet there is so much disagreement over how all of this is to be
While these Interfaith Alliances and community-based Interfaith Coalitions
may appear more benign than the Coalition and its crankier, fundamentalist
allies, remember that they too use the religious stamp to legitimize their
own social and political agenda -- the very thing so so righteously condemn
the Christian Coalition for doing. And in tracking the activities of these
groups across the country, aanews has seen no evidence that they support
putting the churches on the taxrolls and doing away with other sanctified
privilege for organized religion -- despite calls for expensive social
programs and financial obligations by others. Is this right?
It is said that sex sells everything from cars to ab busters. Then
surely, religion is still a good sales pitch when it comes to peddling a
political agenda, left, right or middle of the road.
Remember sleazebag televangelist Morris Cerullo who we have had occasion
to profile in past issues of AANEWS? Cerullo is one of the "prayer warrior"
proselytizers buying huge chunks of television air time and conducting
"healing crusades" around the world; in July, he took his "Billion Soul
Crusade' to England, where in full-page newspapers ads he warned of that
nation's "rapid moral and spiritual decline," although in somewhat starker
terms than those used by the more staid Archbishop of Canterbury, whom
Cerullo accused of being one of England's "confused spiritual leaders."
Cerullo runs a San Diego, California based company called Morris Cerullo
World Evangelism which has estimated annual earnings of nearly $70,000,000.
His romp through England last summer was just one in a continued string of
such foraging expedition (he's made over two dozen) in search of money and
followers; and he mixed his usual recipe of fire-and-brimstone theatrics
with an announcement that contributors could earn "bonus miles" and fly along
with Morris in his global jaunts.
Last week, it was announced that Cerullo had resigned from the Evangelical
Alliance, which represents more than 5,000 churches and monitors their
activities for financial impropriety. According to Britain's Electronic
Telegraphy, the organization disapproved of Cerullo's "methods of boosting
donations to his multi-million-pound crusade, including an air miles
initiative..." The Alliance also objected to Cerullo's offer to supporters
of a seven step program to "break Satan's hold on your life" which involved
sending more money.
It seems that just about wherever one looks, there is evidence of
fundamentalist reaction against the pitfalls and joys of modernity. Take the
penchant in some Christian and Moslem circles, for instance, to ban or even
burn certain musical recordings or videos, prohibit the wearing of certain
kinds of clothing (usually on women!), and demand other forms of social
conformity. At times, it is puzzling to divine who is doing the banning and
burning -- are the cassette tapes in the blazing fire the victims of a
Christian fundamentalist church or a Taliban Muslim militia? Is the
neighborhood "modesty patrol" under the direction of a mullah or a rabbi?
Hmmm. It appears that hardly any country is immune from these
fundamentalist ravishings of civil liberties, common sense, and free choice.
While mullahs in Iran and Afghanistan are scouring the streets in search of
provocative women, though, orthodox rabbis in Israel have mobilized their
followers against the latest target of religious righteousness -- the Big
Recall than in support for helping to elect the Likud Party and Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's fundamentalists have won themselves
unprecedented powers and a number of influential ministry posts. Indeed,
religious fundamentalists are now trying to enact mandatory observance of old
sabbath laws, have disrupted archeological sites, battled secularists in
efforts to shut down traffic arteries, and now want to ban advertising of
non-kosher foods on Israel's Channel 2.
One ad depicts a "virtual" hamburger complete with layers of bread, meat
and vegetables -- and the one offending ingredient, a slice of cheese. See,
the injunction found in Exodus 23:19 -- "Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his
mother's milk" -- is interpreted by some to constitute a dietary
prohibitition against consuming meat and dairy products together. Thirty or
so centuries later, this biblical ranting now means that the Big Mac is a
The spokesperson for McDonald's told reporters: "This is a political. The
religious parties want to prove they have the power to enforce their beliefs
on other people's behavior." He also termed the prohibition "ridiculous,"
and said that the burgermeisters were ready to go to Israel's High Court if
necessary to protest the invasive religious dietary restriction and
Channel 2 is a government network which is overseen by the Israeli
Ministry of Education; that department is now controlled by the National
Religious Party, one of the beneficiaries of the Netanyahu victory.
Britain's Telegraph newspaper notes that McDonald's outlets are regularly
picketed by orthodox Jews, not just because of the offending cheese, but
because they have become symbols of cosmopolitanism and secularism.
Strangely, the Golden Arches which have become the company's trademark, were
used in TV ads by the defeated Labor Party as symbols of economic prosperity
and foreign investment. But religious fundamentalists like the United Torah
Judaisim Party and the National Religious Party, also used the arches to
symbolize secular corruption of religious belief.
The burger war might end up in the Israeli Supreme Court, where
fundamentalists have also been calling for the ouster of the Chief Justice
and other jurists who would not approve demands to close major transportation
arteries in Jerusalem during the sabbath.
About This List...
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