Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 6, 1996 n nn AANEWS
Date: Mon, 6 May 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for May 6, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#32 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 5/6/96
CHRISTIAN COALITION, ALLIES TAKE HARD-LINE IN GOP ABORTION DEBATE
Republican leaders like Haley Barbour didn't exactly have a Michael
Jordan-style weekend. While the Bull's superstar was have another round of
near-perfect shooting, GOP officials, including the party chairman, were
caught in the middle of the perennial abortion issue debate. The latest flap
began last week, when Pat Buchanan turned up the heat on nomination shoe-in
Sen. Bob Dole. The message was pretty clear: there was to be no backing down
on the support for a total ban on abortion and passage of the so-called Human
Life Amendment in the Republican Party Platform. Religious right leaders
have spent that last couple of weeks agonizing over who Dole might select as
his running mate to round out the GOP ticket. Everyone from Christian
Coalition Director Ralph Reed to Focus on the Family honcho James Dobson had
sent the word that only a pro-life true believer was acceptable if the
Republican nominee wanted the support of the religious evangelicals and
On Saturday, though, the New York Times quoted Ralph Reed as saying that
"he would accept changes in the party platform" -- presumably on the abortion
issue -- "without specifying what those changes might be." The Times added
that Reed "also said in the interview that he would accept a compromise on a
law banning abortion."
At first, the only qualification to the abortion ban was " if the mother's
life was endangered." Then, Reed supposedly declared that he would
"reluctantly" accept exceptions in cases of incest and rape "if that were the
only way to get an anti-abortion law passed."
By Sunday, the story had taken another twist, though; Reed declared that
he had been misquoted, saying curiously that he had been referring "only to
laws, not to a constitutional amendment." A new round of media speculation
begun. Was there a kinder 'n gentler Christian Coalition?
The timing of this flap was remarkable in its own right. Last week,
California Governor Pete Wilson joined fellow Republican governors George
Pataki of New York and Christine Whitman of New Jersey, in urging that the
abortion "litmus test" be dropped from the Republican Platform. That could
well have been political balm for Chairman Barbour, the constant object of
attention from Coalition Director Reed, who gently reminds the GOP about the
price of religious right support.
On Sunday, the controversy was front page news on the New York Times. And
Governor Whitman graced the pages of the Time's Magazine, with the legend:
"Christine Whitman of New Jersey wants to make Bob Dole HER kind of
Republican. Move Over, Pat Buchanan...It's My Party Too."
Pat Buchanan's campaign organization -- definitely down, but not out --
began beating its own drums. Buchanan echoed last week's refrain that "If
Bob Dole won't lead the GOP, I will," and called again for the full support
of an abortion ban.
A Party Beholden?
The tug-o'war between GOP governors and the religious right is testament
to the years of hard work, patience and organizational savvy that groups
such as the Coalition have devoted to capturing the Republican
infrastructure. Over half of the GOP state organizations are thoroughly
controlled by religious fundamentalists and evangelicals, and they exercise
"considerable control" according to some studies in another dozen states.
Even their opponents grudgingly admit that they are the hard-working "foot
soldiers" laboring in the precincts and districts throughout the land that
helped win both houses of Congress for the GOP in the 1994 elections, for
the first time in four decades. No mean feat, indeed.
But while the economic portions of the Republican "Contract With America"
have been fulfilled to varying degrees, the social agenda so dear to the
religious conservatives has languished in a forgotten holding-pattern well
outside of the D.C. beltway. House Speaker Gingrich failed to deliver on a
Religious Equality Amendment as promised by July 4, 1995; two versions of
that legislation wallow in Congress while Republicans and the White House
trade volleys over gas taxes and Medicare. A ban on abortion seems unlikely
for now, and Bill Clinton even has the religious right on the ropes with his
veto of the "Partial Birth" Abortion Ban.
A Split In Religious Right Ranks?
Ralph Reed, who once compared Christian right victories in local school
board elections to stuffing political enemies into "body bags", seems
determined to remain within the ranks of the Republican Party. His brethren
a bit further to the right on the religious spectrum, however, are less
committed to that strategy. James Dobson of Focus on the Family is estimated
to have a precinct-level army of over 500,000 dedicated followers, and ten
times that number on his various mailing lists. He speaks openly of
supporting a third party effort if the Republicans don't stay
theo-politically correct, and start delivering on the religious-social agenda
with school prayer and abortion ban amendments.
While Reed publicly likes Pat Buchanan, he knows what everyone else in the
GOP does -- Buchanan can't win against Clinton. But the feisty commentator
can take sufficient votes with him to build enough of a religious right
third party movement. That would lessen the influence of religious
conservatives inside the GOP; but it might also remove from the party ranks
large numbers of hard-working, precinct walking volunteers to cause trouble
for Bob Dole.
AND THE FIGHT GOES ON...
Can Republicans "agree to disagree" over issues like abortion? Party
Chair Harley Barbour says "yes," and compares the GOP to a "big tent" with
different views and philosophies. Religious conservatives, though, aren't so
sure -- or, they insist that on issues like abortion and prayer in schools,
there is only ONE Republican answer.
It seems that Republicans can't even agree on disagreement...
* On Saturday, NY Republican Senator Alfonse D'Amato, speaking to the party's
Northeast Leadership Conference, accused Pat Buchanan of being a divisive
element in the GOP ranks. "We have a guy running around who wants to exclude
this one, that one, the other one, who beats up on women, beats up on gays,
beats up on immigrants," charged D'Amato. He branded Buchanan a
"philosophical ayatollah. Left out of D'Amato's list, though, were the
Atheists, who Buchanan compared to smut peddlers and murderers early in his
* Bay Buchanan, the candidate's sister and campaign manager, lashed back.
"It would be my recommendation to Bob Dole to muzzle Senator D'Amato for the
sake of the Republican Party." She then suggested "a long vacation in a
quiet place" for the outspoken New Yorker.
* While Christian Coalition chair Ralph Reed was reportedly talking
compromise on the GOP abortion fight, Bay Buchanan charged the religious
right leader with "sending up the white flag of surrender."
*Frontrunner Bob Dole announced that he would NOT select N.J. Governor
Whitman as a running mate; Whitman, of course, has joined the growing chorus
within the GOP of those who want compromise on the abortion issue.
HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS SLAM CATHOLIC "APOLOGY''
An apology given last weekend by the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina
for its role in supporting years of military dictatorship received a chilly
reception from human rights groups, including the famous "Mothers of Plaza de
Mayo." The organization, started by mothers whose children had been
victimized by government death squads, said that the lame Vatican apology
"came 20 years too late and we don't believe them." Hebe de Bonafini, head
of the Mothers human rights organization, referred to a 39-point document
released by church authorities begging for public forgiveness in the clergy's
role in supporting the Argentine government dictatorship from 1976-1983.
The document "admitted that the church did not speak out enough against the
dictatorship," according to Reuters news service.
Bonafini added that "Those who should be asking for pardon are still
presiding Mass and taking confessions."
Meanwhile, 1980 Nobel Peace Prize recipient and human rights advocate
Adolfo Perez Esquivel, denounced the church apology as "a laundered document,
with evasive phrases and without courage."
The much-touted, Vatican- ordered apology comes after over a year of
internal wrangling within ecclesiastical cirlces. It whines for forgiveness
for Church officials and members involved in the dictatorial repression, and
even takes a slap at some of the guerrillas who waged an armed fight against
"We implore pardon to God our Lord for the crimes then committed,
especially by those involving sons of the Church, whether they be enlisted
with the revolutionary guerrillas working for the state or members of the
Even the staid Reuters observed that "The Church's declaration added to to
a wave of mea culpas last year by the heads of the armed forces and their
former guerrilla foes."
THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS
TW has always thought that when it came to the real world with its
bread-and-butter issues, all of the preachin' about sin, hellfire and
damnation was just so much bunk.
Karma? Fate? Retribution? You'll have to decide on this one, though.
Last Thursday, a disgruntled construction worker who claimed to have been
injured on the job at the offices of Focus on the Family, walked into the
Colorado Springs headquarters of the group and grabbed four hostages. Kerry
Dore, 42, reportedly pulled out a gun and fired at least one shot into the
air. Seems that back in the fall of 1992, Dore fell 65-feet and was impaled
on a iron rebar while working on the Focus headquarters. The bar narrowly
missed his spine, but Dore spent weeks in the hospital and eventually
required four major surgical procedures.
Reports say that he was "very distraught" over a settlement which, after
attorney's fees, left him with a little more than $1,000 per month for only
four years. He was reportedly in constant pain.
After walking into the Focus headquarters, Dore allegedly claimed to be
carrying explosives ; a security guard activated an alarm, sending over 500
employees of the religious group out of the main administration building.
Ironically, one of the organization's main outreaches is a staff of phone
bank counselors who offer advice on everything from divorce to teen
But what about a "Christian" workmens comp settlement?
We're told that new age guru Shirley MacLaine is not amused by remarks
recently made on the David Letterman show. Dave was interviewing talk show
gossip gal Ricki Lake, who co-stars with MacLaine in the film "Mrs.
"Shirley is nuts, isn't she?", Letterman supposedly remarked.
MacLaine told newspapers that the remark "says more about David than it
does me," and described Letterman as "a negative man."
You'd think, though, that having lived through all of those past lives,
and being so plugged-in to the "universe," that MacLaine could at least have
told us exactly what Dave said that was wrong.
Christian Republicans are the only ones slugging it out in the ideology
wars. Recently, the question over publishing rights for a biography of Rabbi
Menachem Schneerson, the late founder of the Lubavitcher sect, landed in a
New York federal court. Seems that an uncensored version of Scheerson's life
by fellow Rabbi Shaul Deutsch has been outlawed by a rabbinical court;
fortunately, that decision affects only Judaic bookstores. The fact that a
sanitized version titled "The Rebbe: A Biography" is kosher-approved angers
the author, who became annoyed when "controversial" parts were excluded.
Anyway, the company which published the un-censored version says "Our book
has irked many people because the truth hurts. The rebbe may have been
superhuman in regards to his accomplishments but he was by no means
No kidding. Schneerson, who died a year-and-a-half ago, proclaimed
himself a messiah and told his followers that "Our generation is the final
generation of Galus (exile) and the first generation of the Geulah
Some Lubavitchers are still waiting for Schneerson to rise from the dead.
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