Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 20:07:25 -0500 Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 19, 1996
Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 20:07:25 -0500
Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 19, 1996 (Nightowl Edition)
from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
subject: AANEWS for December 19, 1996 (Nightowl Edition)
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#217 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 12/9/96 (Nightowl Edition)
PREACHER THREATENS BOYCOTT: MERRY ''CHRISTMAS'' -- OR ELSE!
Is "Christmas" going to be the next litmus test of theopolitical
It may become just that if Pastor Jim Hagan of Colorado Springs, Co. has
his way. The Assembly of God minister is threatening to begin organizing a
boycott of merchants who don't openly acknowledge Christmas through store
decorations and signage, or who wish customers a "Happy Holiday" instead of
the more sectarian, religious message he considers appropriate.
Last year, Hagan placed an ad in a local daily paper declaring that he was
building a list of retailers who refused to comply.
"There will be monitoring," Hagan has warned. "Should we, who consider
ourselves Christians, spend our money at places that feel 'Christmas' is
offensive? Aren't those retail stores offending us -- the majority -- by
promoting Christmas spending but denying the origin and reason for
Christmas... Christ? After 2,000 years, have we still not found room for him
at the inn?"
Hagan warns that the Colorado boycott will mushroom into a nationwide
movement; the preacher told The Denver Post yesterday that he is currently
compiling a list of offending merchants who do not wish holiday shoppers a
But in Colorado, a state already polarized thanks to an influx of giant,
religious right organizations which have established huge operations there,
Hagan's black listing is encountering skepticism and concern. An assistant
Rabbi in Denver told The Post that while it is "certainly appropriate" for
Christians to wish each other a "merry Christmas," Jews often offer a
salutation of "happy Hanukkah." Rabbi Sandra Cohen added that she would
"love to see stores back off of sacred celebrations altogether."
Hagan claims that many merchants have ordered their employees to wish the
public a "happy holiday" ostensibly because it is what the minister described
as "politically correct." But a spokesperson for the Ross department store
told The Post that company policy is for employees to wish everyone a "happy
holiday" because the greeting "covers all the bases." Other retailers
expressed puzzlement about the entire issue, saying that they do not have a
The President of the Colorado Springs Association of Evangelicals declared
that while he appreciated Pastor Hagan's concerns, "with all the culture wars
to fight about, that (the greeting controversy) would probably be one I would
probably be a conscientious objector to. Rev.Stephen Todd described the
issue as one laden with "semantic land mines."
But Hagan's campaign may resonate with the growing segment of
fundamentalists and evangelicals who see Christianity -- and religion in
general -- "under attack" by a wider and pluralistic secular culture.
Boycotting merchants who do not pass muster on a religious litmus test like
a holiday greeting is really not much different from the "Christian yellow
pages" one finds in many communities, or the use of a fish logo on
advertising to signify that the merchant is Christian. And there is Rev.
Hagan's reference to "us -- the majority" (i.e. Christians), a telling remark
in a wider debate about whether the United States is a secular nation, or one
based up religious and specifically Christian beliefs.
WHITE HOUSE CLINTON MESSAGE DRAWS ATHEIST RESPONSES
President Clinton's annual Christmas message to the nation, released
through the White House Office of the Press and carried in yesterday's
aanews, evoked a number of letters from readers throughout the nation.
Cliff Walker of the Center for Rational Thought in Portland, Oregon wrote:
I almost had to vomit when I read the release (Christmas greeting.ed.)
from your office; are you our President or did i vote for you so you could
exploit your office to be a Christian preacher?
No. My decision to vote for you was made entirely on your able handling of
Minister Ron Kite's question to Robert Dole at the San Diego debate. Please
re-read the transcript of that debate.
Please consider that many, many Americans have ancestors who were
slaughtered and whose estates were confiscated because they refused to bow
down to this imaginary "King of Kings."
It is in everyone's best interest to keep your personal religious beliefs
to yourself when making official pronouncements regarding your job.
The Christian churches still have the money that rightly belongs to me and
other like me, and they can use that money to spread their arrogant message
to those people gullible enough to listen. The Christian churches do not
need the support of the United States Government in order to do damage to our
-- Cliff Walker.
Mary Graham of New Jersey didn't mince words with Clinton either. She
Dear Mr. President,
I and my family have been strong supporters of your administration since
voting for you in your first term. Additionally, my husband and I were
largely instrumental in several Republican family members crossing over and
voting for you and Vice President Al Gore in the '96 contest. The extremism
of the Republicans themselves was the Coup de Grace in converting many
previously staunch Republican supporters over to the Democratic side.
This is why your ''holiday'' message, obviously in support of the
Judeo-Christian world view, is so upsetting to other American citizens such
as myself. I and my family are atheists, and frequently find ourselves
discriminated against simply because we do not believe in, nor do we see
evidence for god, fairies, angels, aliens and other such superstitions.
Our nation was founded on the principals of separation between church and
state, and as such our government shall not endorse any one religion over
another. Thomas Jefferson himself foresaw the danger of citizen oppression
that could occur should one specific religion be allowed to set the religious
law for our land. As your "holiday" message neither mentions any other
religion's "holiday" celebration, nor wishes nonbelievers such as myself
peace and good wishes for a new year, it would seem your message supports the
Christian religion in violation of our constitution...
I hope, Mr. President that you will consider how the rest of your fellow
citizens feel during this time of year. Christians, being the dominant group
in our country already have plenty of privileges and outlets for their
religious expression. Compare in any phone book across the country the
number of Christian places of worship verses any other religious group of
atheist community centers. It is difficult enough trying to teach my
children important critical thinking skills and accurate science, when those
with an oppressive religious agenda would put pseudo-science in our public
schools. Now I must explain why our President excludes the non-Christian
citizenry in his "holiday" message to the country.
I do, Mr. President, wish you and your family a very merry Christmas and
support your rights to celebrate as you wish. Please support my right and
those of other nonbelievers to keep the wall of separation strong and ensure
the equal protection of all United States citizens to worship or not worship
as they please.
-- Mary Jeanne Graham.
In the fall of 1997, the Promise Keepers Movement will try to bring
1,000,000 men for a religious "March on Washington."
In the fall of 1997, American Atheists will launch its biggest public
street action as we confront the Promise Keepers, and demonstrate for
state-church separation, individual rights, an end to sexist-gender
oppression of women and gays, and civil liberties!
(Have we gotten your attention
Then join American Atheists for two days of street demonstrations,
comraderie and a stimulating symposium on FREEDOM FROM RELIGION followed by a
workshop in Atheist-Separationist activism!
That's right. The Promise Keepers, a fast-growing religious
fundamentalist group which recruits men and organizes expensive, glitzy
events in athletic stadiums, plans to mobilize followers for its equivalent
of the Million Man March in the fall of 1997. Promise Keepers has emerged as
a multimillion dollar evangelical machine, known best for its defense of
patriarchal religion. It calls upon men to "reassert leadership" as "heads
of household," families and government. It is a homophobic movement as well,
one that preaches gender bigotry and calls for a "return" to Bible-based law
In a diverse, pluralistic America founded upon the Bill of Rights and the
Constitution, Promise Keepers represents a backlash against the rights of
women, gays and other segments of society who don't conform to fundamentalist
dictates and stereotypes.
And the Promise Keepers threaten the cherished principles of First
Amendment based state-church separation, and the liberties of Atheists and
other nonbelievers -- male or female, gay or straight.
That's why American Atheists is already preparing to confront the bigoted,
religion-based agenda of the Promise Keepers next fall in our nation's
capitol. This won't be the first time American Atheists has "taken it to the
streets!" We've picketed and demonstrated at state capitols, political
events, and the publicity-stunt visits to America staged by the pope. We
also organized the first Atheist Pride March in history!
Now, American Atheists is planning our biggest and most ambitious public
demonstration, as we confront the Promise Keepers. If you missed the pope
picket in '95, you now have another chance to strike a blow for Atheism and
the First Amendment! Don't miss it! The day before the demonstration,
American Atheists will host a stimulating symposium featuring a panel
discussion and a workshop in Atheist-Separationist activism. So be part of
the action! Plan on joining us in Washington, D.C. as we stand up for First
-- More details coming soon in the American Atheist
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