Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 9, 1996 nn nn AANE
Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 9, 1996
Reply-To: email@example.com, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
# 90 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/9/96
In This Edition...
* Is It Religion, Or Politics, Or Both?
* Effort Underway to Defeat Clinton Veto
* Turkish Politics May Work Against Fundamentalists
* About This List...
CHRISTIAN COALITION, CATHOLIC BISHOPS ~ TAX EXEMPT POLITICOS?
According to federal laws, two of the most powerful political
organizations in the country really aren't "political." One -- the Christian
Coalition -- insists that it is an educational group, and has not paid any
taxes since 1989 when it was founded. The other -- the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops -- is supposedly a religious group, but has become
increasingly strident in trying to mobilize Roman Catholic voters on pet
political issues. And critics charge that the two groups are becoming more
blatant as they become involved in partisan political activities. Should they
The Christian Coalition, which boasts 1.7 million members, has recently
been implicated in a scheme to use voters guides, phone banks and a so-called
"Christian voter database" to help mostly Republican candidates from Florida
to Virginia. ITN news service notes that Coalition Director Ralph Reed spoke
to a closed meeting of professional lobbyists, telling them: "In Virginia,
there was a state senator we did not care for. He was positioning himself to
run for attorney general. None of us could take a chance on him being
Reed then told how the Christian Coalition used its phone bank volunteers
and other political assets to help defeat Democratic state senator Moody
Stallings. Lists were sold by the Coalition to GOP challenger Ken Stolle,
who "won in an upset."
The Coaltion's tax exempt status has been under consideration by the
Internal Revenue Service since 1989. At question is whether or not the group
is devoting the bulk of its efforts to electioneering, especially on behalf
of partisan causes.
One tool in the CC arsenal has been the tens of millions of "voters
guides" which it has distributed to its network of churches throughout the
country. This year alone, Reed's group will hand out 64 million (that's
64,000,000) of them. But critics charge that the "guides" are far from
objective; ITN notes that the group "skews the guides by selecting questions
that favor a particular candidate." Notes Dr. Francis Hill, a University of
Miami expert on tax-exempt groups: "A showing of selectivity in a voter
guide...weighs toward it being political as opposed to just educational."
Political observers acknowledge that the Coalition has now become an
important player in Republican politics; Christian fundamentalists and
evangelicals -- the "religious right" -- now control outright, or have
considerable influence, in nearly 40 of the 50 state GOP organizations.
Christian Coalition supporters often control important party offices; Rep.
John Istook, for instance, is chairman of the Republican Party Platform
Committee where the current flap over abortion and tolerance is being
The Democratic Party has already complained to the Federal Election
Commission, insisting that the Coalition should register as a political
Catholic Officials On The Edge
The Roman Catholic Church is another tax exempt organization, although
critics have always attacked it's "dual status" as both a religion and a
political organization which mobilizes parishioners on behalf of social
issues and, at times, individual partisan candidates. Planned Parenthood
took the N.Y. Archdiocese to court in an unsuccessful attempt to have the
church declared in violation of its tax exempt status due to its activist
role in the anti-abortion movement. President Clinton's veto this past April
of the Partial Birth Abortion Ban (a key element in the Christian Coalition's
"Contract With the American Family") brought a stinging rebuke from church
officials in the form of an official letter from the National Conference of
Catholic Bishops. And now, the Church has launched an aggressive campaign to
push Congress to over-turn Clinton's veto, or force the President to alter
his own stance about the controversial bill.
AANEWS has monitored statements from church officials and reporting in the
national Catholic press about this effort. Stories in church newspapers
which deal with the abortion question increasingly refer to the partisan
political allegiance of Catholic voters -- although that may not be good news
for church officials.
* Over the last two weeks, the church has distributed 27,000,000
pre-printed post cards to parishioners which they can mail to congress,
urging their representatives to overturn Clinton's veto.
* Anti-abortion groups like the National Right to Life Committee receive
extensive publicity in the Catholic press. At the June 20-22 NRLC convention
in Alexandria, Fr. Michael Mannion of the Catholic University of America
addressed the convention on behalf of Cardinal James Hickey of Washington.
Manion reminded the organization of the church's activist role in the
anti-abortion rights fight. Hickey was at the U.S. bishop's meeting in
Portland, Oregon; it was out of that meeting that church officials issued
their unusual letter to Clinton condemning his veto the Partial Birth
* Church publications such as "Catholic N.Y." telegraph readers a
not-so-subtle message by running charts and graphs detailing Catholic voting
since 1980. Ironically, these show that church members are not voting in a
monolithic vote, or even for candidates who tow the line on key issues. For
instance, in 1992 Bill Clinton received the largest slice of the Catholic
vote (44%), well ahead of anti-choice President George Bush at 35%. 21% of
Catholic voters went for Perot and other tickets. While Catholics voted for
Ronald Reagan in 1980 and 1984 by 7% and 9% margins respectively, studies
confirm that the majority of American Catholics have differences of opinion
on issues like abortion rights and contraception.
* Church organizations, including the Catholic Daughters of America
(125,000 members) and the Knights of Columbus (1.2 million members) are once
again being enlisted by Bishops for the anti-abortion effort . Both groups
are active in the "postcard campaign" to pressure public officials. And the
church has declared this Thursday, July 11 as "National Day of Prayer and
Fasting for Life." The goal -- overturn the veto on the Partial Birth
Abortion Ban and pass the Human Life Amendment which would outlaw abortion
rights in the United States. Events are being coordinated by the National
Committee for a Human Life Amendment (a church-sponsored movement) and the
U.S. Bishop's Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities. The church has also
printed up special materials aimed at Hispanic areas, including sample
letters to be send to representatives, posters, and bulletins with
legislators' names and addresses.
EFFORT TO DEFEAT CLINTON VETO WILL PEAK THIS SUMMER
Can religious groups reverse President Clinton's veto of the Partial Birth
Abortion Ban? Last April, Clinton turned down the measure which outlawed a
rarely used abortion procedure known as "dilation and extraction," or D & X.
The operation is used about 10,000 times each year and constitutes a small
percentage of the total number of abortions performed annually; even so, it
has become a foot-in-the-door issue for those groups seeking to outlaw
abortion, or at least begin establishing legislative precedent for
restricting it. Critics charge that the very language of the legislation --
"Partial Birth" -- distorts the sensitive and highly emotional issues
Clinton, in defending his veto, said that the Ban did not take into
account using the procedure for defending the life of the mother.
Both sides agree that the D & X is sometimes highly emoitonal. "Catholic
N.Y." , in its coverage of the recent National Right to Life Convention in
Virginia, quoted a nurse who supposedly witnessed the procedure at an
abortion clinic in Dayton, Ohio.
"She said she had worked in emergency rooms, home care, (and) nursing
homes during 14 years as a nurse, but 'nothing prepared me' for the
experience...where she witnessed the death of a Down syndrome baby with 'the
most perfect angelic face I've ever seen'."
An attempted override vote of Clinton's veto is expected to take place
later this summer. The author of the original ban, Rep. Charles T. Canady
(R-Fla.) has been an outspoken ally of the Christian Coalition and other
religious groups on a variety of issues. He is head of the powerful House
Judiciary Committee; he also addressed the opening general session of the
NRLC convention, where he said that opposition to the Clinto veto is
"vociferous and growing" but "the outcome is still in doubt."
Controversy over the ban will also gain media coverage at the upcoming GOP
convention in San Diego. Despite calls for "tolerance" in the party platform
concerning abortion, surveys indicate that the bulk of convention delegates
are "hard line" on this issue, and will enthusiastically support passage of
the Human Life Amendment. Clinton's veto is sure to come under attack.
Lagging badly in the polls, presumed nominee Sen. Bob Dole may buckle under
to demands from the party's religious factions, and concentrate more on a
"morals agenda" if he hopes to win in November. The latest economic news
which shows record employment and steady growth makes Clinton even more of a
"teflon" candidate on that issue.
CAN TURKEY SURVIVE NEW ISLAMIST REGIME?
For the first time in over seven decades, an Islamic government took
control of Turkey yesterday, as Parliament gave a narrow confidence vote to
the new Prime Minister, Necmettin Erbakan and his shaky coalition. Most
observers agree that the political marriage of convenience between the
Islamist Refah, or Welfare Party, and the secularist True Parth Party of
Tansu Ciller, does not mean that Muslim fundamentalists can proceed to
establish an Islamic Republic along the lines of Iran. In fact, the
coalition government -- approved by a 278-264 vote -- may not last.
The Welfare Party emerged as the biggest single vote-getter in last
December's regional elections; under the leadership of Mr. Erbakan, 70, it
has seen its support grow from 8% to a record 20%. But in the world of
Turkish politics, that means forming endless coalitions -- often with one's
avowed political opponents. Ms. Ciller's True Path was formerly in a
coalition with the Motherland Party of former Prime Minister Mesut Yilmaz.
Both groups are committed to secularism; but economic stagnation and
dislocation, along with in-fighting and word of a scandal involving Ciller,
resulted in a no-confidence vote.
Corruption charges against Ciller will not be pursued as part of an
agreement for her True Path's support of the Welfare government. And Ms.
Ciller automatically becomes Prime Minister in two years. In addition,
Ciller's organization will control key ministries, including foreign affairs,
defense and the interior.
The major parties, and especially the Turkish military, are fiercely
supportive of the secularist principles of Kamal Ataturk (1881-1938) who
ended the reign of the Ottomon sultans and established the first secular
state for Turkey. He abolished the sultanate, closed down monasteries,
abolished ancient modes of religious dress, curtailed the power of the
Islamic clergy, put the country on the Gregorian calendar, substituted the
Roman alphabet, and began to industrialize the country.
Women were perhaps the biggest beneficiaries of Ataturk's legacy; their
rights were first addressed in the new civil and judicial codes he helped
enact. Britain's Electronic Telegraph notes in its current edition that
'Women fear that an Islamist-led government will seek to undermine the rights
given to them by Ataturk and feel deeply betrayed by Mrs. Ciller for clearing
the way for Mr. Erbakan's leadership."
How far the Welfare fundamentalists and Mr. Erbakan can get in instituting
their religious agenda remains to be seen. The coalition with Ciller may not
work: The New York Times notes that "the differences between the two are
immense." Economists suggest that if Erbakan attempts to "buy votes" with a
series of populist measures, that would simply threaten the Turkish economy.
And there is the army. So far, the generals have not hinted that they
would intervene to stop the nation from drifting into the Islamic camp.
Erbakan has promised officers a 70% wage hike, and he has toned down much of
his earlier anti-west rhetoric. At most, say observers, the Islamic
fundamentalists represent less than 25% of the nation's population.
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