Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 11, 1996 n n AAN

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Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 11, 1996 Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu #10 4/11/96 CHRISTIAN COALITION, CATHOLIC ALLIANCE BLAST CLINTON ON ABORTION BAN VETO The Christian Coalition and its "fully-owned subsidiary", the Catholic Alliance, cranked up their political machines over the past 24-hours, blasting President Clinton for his decision to veto the so-called "partial birth" abortion ban. The bill was a major plank in the Coalition's "Contract With the American Family" presented last year to mirror the Republican "Contract With America." It bans a rarely-used procedure some doctors call "intact dilation and evacuation." The fetus is removed in parts. Abortion rights activists point out that the Coalition and its allies have been trying to confuse the issue by referring to the procedure as a "partial birth" abortion in a cynical attempt to play on public emotion. The procedure is rarely used; also known as "D & X" (Dilation and Extraction), it is used in extreme cases where the fetus is known to be severely deformed or non-viable, or constitutes a danger to the health of the mother. Passage of the bill marks the first time a specific abortion procedure has been banned since the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case which gave women the right to safe, legal abortion services. Speaking for the Christian Coalition, Director Ralph Reed compared the President's decision to "taking his veto pen and pointing it like a dagger at the hearts of the innocent unborn." Reed also charged that Clinton's action was "an insult to millions of people of faith who consider abortion to be the taking of innocent human life." Meanwhile, the Coaltion's front-group for Roman Catholics issued a statement by Maureen Roselli. The Catholic Alliance Director said that Clinton's action "sent a clear message from the White House to American Catholic voters everywhere; no matter what stage of pregnancy, no matter how gruesome or extreme the procedure, Bill Clinton says any abortion is acceptable..." Last week, Roman Catholic Bishops converged on Washington to organize candlelight vigils in front of the White House supporting the ban. Despite Clinton's opposition, the President wrote a letter to Roman Catholic Cardinal Joseph Bernardin of Chicago trying to soften the blow from his veto, insisting "This is a difficult and disturbing issue, one which I have studied and prayed about for many months." As usual, it appears that there is disagreement over which god is answering prayers on different sides of the political fence. ***** TERRORISM CHARGE FOCUSES ATTENTION ON SLAVERY, FARRAKHAN The decision by the United States to expel a Sudanese diplomat from its U.N. Mission has once again thrust charges of slavery, religious fundamentalism, and the activities of Black Muslim leader Louis Farrakhan back into the news. The incident dates back to June 26 of last year, when Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visited Ethiopia to attend a summit of the Organization of African Unity. His convoy was attacked by an assasination squad linked to the Sudanese regime. Meanwhile, some U.S. officials claims that the Sudan is aiding various Muslim fundamentalist terrorist cells throughout the world. There have also been charges of slavery and religious terrorism against the Sudanese regime led by Lieut. General Omar Ahmed al-Bashir. A civil war betwen the Muslim north and the Christian/animist south has killed tens of thousands; and reports by human rights groups and the United Nations accuse the Islamic Government of running a slave trade. Intelligence reports and investigations by human rights activists indicate that members of the Sudanese army and "free lance" Muslim militias tied to the government transport captured blacks to the north, using them as "household slaves." Jemera Rone, a field representative of Human Rights Watch/Africa, told the New York Times that while the Sudanese government officially denies such activities, the slave trade operates as a "free license" by the state, and that slaves are considered "war booty." Two weeks ago, in a speech to the National Newspaper Publishers Association, a black American trade group, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan scoffed at such reports, asking "Where's the proof?" Farrakhan also defended his decision to visit Sudan as part of his African tour which included a number of oppressive, theocratic regimes including that country and Iran. Claiming to speak for "40 million American Muslims" (a figure which observers find a bit inflated), Farrakhan declared his support for General al-Bashir. Meanwhile, the American Anti-Slavery Group, an organization combatting the slave trade in Sudan, Mauritania and the rest of the continent, has been faxing documents and other materials to black newspapers throughout the country documenting such abuses. But the leader of the organization, Charles Jacobs, happens to be Jewish; the Nation of Islam, therefore, is branding its evidence as "part of a Zionist conspiracy to discredit an Islamic state and the Nation of Islam," notes the Times. Sudan gained independence in 1956. With the onset of the Civil war, however, slavery has apparently developed as a widespread institution. Human rights activists also implicate the National Islamic Front of Dr. Hassan al-Turabi. Meanwhile, there seems to be slight movement in the effort to end the conflict. . Yesterday, two rebel groups signed a political agreement with the government to join in peace talks. The main rebel faction, though, the Sudan People's Liberation Army, was not a signatory. And in neighboring Uganda, the army charges that Christian fundamentalist guerillas killed 10 people during a raid on a northern village. The attack was staged by about 30 members of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) against the town of Aburu, about 280 miles north of the capital at Kampala. Uganda charges that neighbouring Sudan supports these rebels (even though they represent a Christian tendency). Reuters described the group as wanting "to rule Uganda on the lines of the Bible's 10 commandments." *************** VOUCHER SCHEMES QUESTIONED A major goal of religious organizations lately has been the passage of school voucher legislation. Under this scheme, parents would receive tax credits or direct funding to send their children to private, and often religious schools. Critics charge that such programs would simply undermine an already financially-strapped public school system. In Pennsylvania, considered a "bellweather" state for voucher programs, legislation was defeated last year despite intensive lobbying efforts by the Archdiocese in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Busloads of demonstrators were transported to the state capitol when the voucher bill came up for a vote; and Sunday church-goers found themselves being handed pro-voucher literature as they filed into the pews. Protestant fundamentalists have been active in the voucher fight as well; the Christian Coalition included voucher schemes in its "Contract With the American Family." Opponents point out that such plans constitute the use of government funding for religious schools and would be unconstitutional. Texas, Connecticut and Illinois have joined with Pennsylvania in turning down voucher proposals. But in cities which have implemented the voucher program, there is mixed evidence as to the effect and success of the such a move. A study discussed in the current USA TODAY reports that "school choice may exacerbate race and class inequalities" and "did not produce solid evidence of academic improvement." Another survey found that parents who participated in such programs were generally satisified. But critics maintain that test scores and other criteria, including parental involvement, do not constitute a fair comparison. Private schools can reject applicants, or more easilly turn out students who do not obey rules or achieve academically. That is more difficult to do in a public school situation. The biggest voucher scheme to date is being proposed by Gov. Pete Wilson in California, where up to $2 billion dollars in state monies are to be funneled into private, often religious schools. That is nearly four times the amount which was to have been earmarked in Pennsylvania. Public school supporters claim that money is desperately needed in their own school systems, especially with threatened cuts to education. An important constitutional question still remains; while some support vouchers for competing public schools, or devise programs to include secular private institutions, the big beneficiary may be religious schools. Does this constitute a violation of state-church separation? Critics charge that it does. They also worry that voucher schemes are a "one-size-fits-all" solution to complex social problems which public schools are forced to deal with. Even if voucher schemes pass at the State or Federal level, look for years of litigation and debate on these controversial proposals. ****************** THEISTWATCH SHORT-SHOTS Are domestic terrorists winning in the war to end abortion? While the conservative congress probably doesn't have the votes to overturn President Clinton's veto of the phoney "partial birth abortion ban," another force is stalking the land making it harder for women to obtain this procedure. Thank abortion-clinic terrorists like John Salvi, and the small but active "Army of God" types who blow up facilities, even murder doctors, nurses and clinic staff. The fact is that even without a legislative ban on abortion, terrorism may be working to achieve the same goal. Consider this -- 84% of all counties in the U.S. do not have an abortion services provider. And only 12% of hospital residency programs in obstetrics-gynecology teach abortion procedures to physicians, down from 26% in 1976. Rising insurance costs, fears of harassment, even threats of violence pare down the ranks of doctors courageous enough to perform abortions. The real winners in this gloomy situation are the religious fanatics who want to end abortion "by any means necessary," and the sleazoids who will surely rush in to fill the supply-demand vacuum when it is all but impossible to obtain a legal abortion -- the "back alley" abortion butcher. But a recent column by Carole Joffe, author of "Doctors of Conscience:The Struggle to Provide Abortion Before and After Roe vs. Wade" says there is a positive development. A group known as Medical Students for Choice which, writes Joffe "came into being shortly after the first murder of an abortion-providing physician in 1993," has more than 100 chapters in schools throughout the nation. That's good news. Bad laws -- like ones which would outlaw abortion -- need to be opposed. And so do bad acts, like bombing a clinic, or shooting doctors and nurses. ******** It has been nearly a year since a major scandal rocked the religious and philanthropic community. Several months ago, THEISTWATCH reported on the collapse of Foundation for New Era Philanthropy, a multi-million dollar pyramid investment scheme that involved major religious organizations throughout the country. New Era President John G. Bennet claimed that he represented a number of secret donors who would "match" funds placed by schools, missions and other religious cause organizations. There was a scattering of secular non-profits in the arts field, but most of the participants were religious institutions. The collapse of New Era threatened to create over $130,000,000 in losses for the institutional investors; some wondered where they got that kind of money in the first place. The trustee listed the philanthropy's assets at $33 million. Now, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and the United Response to New Era are attempting to "spread out the pain" by involving institutions which profited from their relationship to the philanthropy. Those who gained money through various investment schemes would give funds to those who lost their original "front load." URNE represents 185 christian groups, according to Christianity Today magazine. While there is talk of having the money turned over "voluntarily in a fashion that is biblically and morally correct," there are threats of possible litigation. And naturally, those groups which fall into the "net negative" category enthusiastically support the redistributionist scheme. In all of the accounting, though, the identities of the "anonymous donors" which New Era President Bennett claimed to represent -- if they exist -- have been protected. One link to the collapse of New Era, though, involves the wealthy Sir John Templeton of Templeton Religion Prize fame); there were claims that he was ready to funnel up to $1 billion into the coffers of various religious cause groups in the United States, some of which were reportedly based in Colorado Springs, Co. ************* Well, here's one way to control burgeoning population; but we suggest condoms and other birth control measures instead. A recent rally by an abstinence organization called True Love Waits attracted thousands of particpants to the Georgia Dome in Atlanta. 350,000 signed commitment cards were stacked up and put on display. Signatories pledged to remain virgins until they tied the knot with that "true love." ******** Speaking of the Templeton Prize, that award is actually the largest in the world, giving the winner over $1,000,000. Sir John Templeton grants that sun to "a living person who has shown extraordinary originality in advancing humankind's understanding of God and/or spirituality." The 1996 winner turns out to be a fellow we've been tracking for some time -- Bill Bright, the 74-year old founder of the Campus Crusade for Christ. That's the outfit which targets jocks, frat and sorority members, student government honchos and "campus leaders" who project that squeeky-clean-behind-the-ears look. Campus Crusade does its thing on more than 650 campuses in the U.S. and 450 more overseas. The group is based in Orlando, Florida and has nearly 13,000 full-time drones with another 100,000 volunteers busy spreading the word o'Jesus. The annual budget is a whopping $270 million, which makes it the top income-generating evangelical ministry in the land. But despite the clean-cut image, the Crusade has managed to offend a number of people. During the 1995 school year, for instance, the group ran ads in 50 college-university newspapers dealing with issues like homosexuality, racism and safe sex. Like the Promise Keeper's movement (CC founder Bright is on that group's Board of Directors), the Crusade pays a good deal of attention to the evils of racism and the notion of "brotherhood." But it's a different tune, perhaps, when talking about gays, or people who have sex outside of marriage. The "Every Student's Choice" ad campaign produced a wave of opposition, especially with the statement about homosexuality that "There is another way out." And not all students took to the Crusade's "chastity campaign" ads which portrayed a newly married couple in wedding outfits and the caption "What to wear when you're planning on safe sex." The Crusade has been adroit at taking contemporary slogans, trends and themes, and then permeating them with a trendy religious slant. "Safe sex", a warning against HIV and other sexually-transmitted diseases, becomes linked with "abstinence", sexual denial and, of course, sin. But is the Campus Crusade really just a front for an authoritarian religious agenda? Founder Bill Bright's association with religious conservatives goes back nearly three decades. In the early 1970's, for instance, evangelicals and fundamentalists established the Third Century Publishers during a series of secret meetings involving Bright, Amway President Richard deVos, and insurance tycoon Arthur De Moss. The DeMoss Foundation today runs sappy "chastity" ads on television, including even MTV. (We'd bet that Dr. Dre has a good laught at that!). One objective of Third Century was outlined in "The Spirit of '76" and "One Nation Under God", both documents which discussed the need for christians to win elections. But Bright had been busy since 1951 when he established what he later called his "revolutionary cells" at UCLA and other campuses through the Campus Crusade for Christ. According to Sara Diamond's book "Spiritual Warfare," (1989, South End Press, Boston), Bright combined his marketing skills he had learned as a fancy foods salesman with religious kitsch, and came up with the "Four Spiritual Laws." By 1967, Bright and his group were trying to co-opt the spirit of 60's radicalism and protest; the organization's "Revolution Now" became a mouthpiece for political policies dear to Bright, including support for an un-popular war in Vietnam against ":godless communism." Bright is a cross between Billy Graham and P.T. Barnum with his flare for the dramatic and stageworthy. Like Promise Keepers founder and associate "Coach" Bill McCartney, Bright loves big events in stadiums and other mass-venues with names like "Explo '74" (a week-long evangelical campaign in South Korea. He also helped to establish a bizarre group known as Christian Embassy in Washington, D.C. Marathon prayer sessions at the "embassy" implore god to accelerate the Second Coming and re-building of the Temple in Jerusalem as a prelude to Final Judgment. It is estimated that betwen 1976 and 1980, Campus Crusade had spent a total of $1 billion, with the biggest chunk coming from right-wing fat cat Nelson Bunker Hunt. The son of food products mogus H.L. Hunt, Bunker organized meetings of millionaires on Bright's behalf; in at least one session, over $20,000,000 was raised when it came time to "pass the hat." Another Bright project is "New Life 2000", which combines millennialist apocalyptic dread with the goal of having 10,000,000 bible study groups in place by the year 2000. And there are plans for organized fasting and prayer conferences which, says the Templeton Prize winner, produces a "spiritual nuclear power." Bright claims that he will be giving the $1 million in cash from the prize to a four-member committee which in turn will dole it out to worthy projects. And Bright makes, he says, only $43,402 from his job at Campus Crusade. For Bill Bright, though, the real reward is having an army of young faces and impressionable minds, foot soldiers for Jesus in his war against sin and secularism. ******** AANEWS is distributed by 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 more information on American Atheists, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org . Include your name, mailing address and zip code in the message. Additional background on this list may be obtained by mailing to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org , and putting "info aanews" in the body. You may forward this dispatch; material may be quoted or reproduced, provided credit is given to American Atheists and aanews. Written and edited by Conrad Goeringer, LISTMASTER. ************************

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