Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 9, 1996 nn nn AANE

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Date: Tue, 9 Jul 1996 12:25:24 -0700 from: Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 9, 1996 Reply-To:, nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn 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 remain tax-exempt? 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 elected." 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 hammered out. The Democratic Party has already complained to the Federal Election Commission, insisting that the Coalition should register as a political action committee. 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 Abortion Act. * 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 involved. 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. **************************** 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 American Atheists and the AANEWS. 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