Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 11, 1996 n n AAN
Date: Thu, 11 Apr 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for April 11, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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