Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 20:07:25 -0500 Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 19, 1996

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Date: Thu, 19 Dec 1996 20:07:25 -0500 Subject: [Atheist] re: AANEWS for December 19, 1996 (Nightowl Edition) Reply-To: 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 nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #217 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 12/9/96 (Nightowl Edition) e-mail: PREACHER THREATENS BOYCOTT: MERRY ''CHRISTMAS'' -- OR ELSE! Is "Christmas" going to be the next litmus test of theopolitical correctness? 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 "merry Christmas." 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 specific policy. Colonization, Attack 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: Mr. President: 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 culture. -- Cliff Walker. Mary Graham of New Jersey didn't mince words with Clinton either. She wrote: 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. ** **** Announcement... 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 yet?) 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 and principles. 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 Amendment rights! -- More details coming soon in the American Atheist Newsletter -- ** 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. For information about American Atheists, send mail to and include your name and postal address. 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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