Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 12, 1996 Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 13:47:33 -0700 nn nn AA

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Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 12, 1996 Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 13:47:33 -0700 From: AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net Reply-To: aanews@listserv.atheists.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net nnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn #91 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu7/12/96 * House Says "No" To Gay Unions * Dole Still Can't End Abortion Fight * Democracy? Koran Forbids It, Says Cleric * Idaho Combats "Fornication" * TheistWatch * A Note to Readers... (Don't Strike Us Dead, Please!) * About This List RELIGIOUS RIGHT FLEXES MUSCLE OVER GAY MARRIAGE BILL The House of Representatives today approved the controversial "Defense of Marriage Act" which has become a lightning rod for religious-right groups. The proposed legislation would declare that marriage is an "institution involving one man and one woman," and give states the authority to reject the validity of gay unions made in other states and jurisdictions. Yesterday during heated debate, members of the House traded insults and accused each other of being soft on "family values." Opponents of the measure said that the legislation was designed to whip up anti-gay passions only months before elections; Rep. Patricia Schroeder (D-Col.) called the bill "an outrage," adding: "If you think there isn't enough hate and polarization in America, you're going to love this bill." Religious groups led by the Family Research Council flooded Congressional offices with e-mail, faxes and letters supporting the act. Gary Bauer, president of the group, denied charges that the Act was bigoted in its intent, then cryptically added that "It is not hatred to support normalacy." DOLE NOT DEFUSING ABORTION TIME BOMB? Despite calls for tolerance and compromise within Republican Party ranks, presumed nominee Bob Dole has still not succeeded in bringing both sides of the controversy under the "one big tent" in time for next month's San Diego convention. * Pat Buchanan, keeping his options open, turned down a Dole invitation to a unity luncheon slated for next Tuesday. In a letter, the feisty anti-abortion candidate told Dole: "I made a commitment to the three million people who voted for me in the Republican primaries to stay in this race until the convention and to represent their interests in San Diego." In addition to retaining the GOP platform's support for a proposed Human Life Amendment which would ban all abortion, Buchanan and his allies also insist that any Dole running mate be a staunch anti-abortion advocate. * Behind the scenes, Dole forces continue to search for a viable Vice Presidential running mate; mentioned so far have been Texas Senator Phil Gramm (who had the support of the Christian Coalition in the primaries), Indiana Senator Dick Lugar, former governor Lamar Alexander, Senator Arlen Spector of Pennsylvania, Rep. Robert Dornan of California, businessman Morry Taylor and conservative talk show host Alan Keyes. Not being mentioned -- General Colin Powell who seems determined to avoid the political spotlight, at least for the time being, and New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman, a pro-choice Republican who has already been attacked by party anti-abortion activists, including Pat Buchanan. * Within the party ranks, abortion continues to be the most divisive issue. Analysis of ten recent GOP state conventions showed that none passed a pro-choice declaration, although there was varying enthusiasm for an outright ban on abortion. In South Carolina, anti-abortion forces were so prevelent that they argued among themselves on how far to go on the issue, and a handful of pro-choice delegates complained that the Christian Coalition exerted too much influence within the national delegate selection process. In Virginia, state delegates approved support for the Human Life Amendment, and passed a resolution calling for the selection of "a Vice Presidential candidate who fully supports the pro-life plank." And in Washington, that state's GOP chairman couldn't even win a delegate seat in the national convention after he angered abortion opponents by barring Pat Buchanan from speaking. Nearly all GOP state organizations call for some level of restriction on abortion, including schemes like parental notification or restricting late term abortions. None of this bodes well for Dole, who continues to trail President Clinton in polls by a substantial amount. The nominee could be hurt if Pat Buchanan accepts a draft from the Christian Reconstruction US Taxpayers Party, and possibly lose more votes to Ross Perot or Richard Lamm, both of whom are seeking the Reform Party nomination. ***** SAUDI CLERIC DECLARES DEMOCRACY IS AGAINST KORAN Religion and politics in the middle east increasingly means trying to choose between competing brands of authoritarian government. That is especially the case in Saudi Arabia where Islamic fundamentalists, campaigning against the "corruption" of the ruling House of Saud, advocate the establishment of an Islamic Republic modeled after that in Iran. Now a Saudi cleric is assuring militant Muslims that any hint of social reform, including demands for a democratic society, is clearly against the teachings of the Koran. Speaking to reporters in London yesterday, the President of the Consultative Council declared that competing for votes and criticizing political opponents violates religious stricture. Sheikh Mohammed bin Ibrahim bin Jubeir also said that under a candidacy system, "A lot of religious people would not wish to put themselves forward, and that would go against the precept of the Prophet that we should not give office to those who seek it." Instead, he defended the appointment system used in Saudi Arabia where the king names all of the members of the Council, which many insist is simply a rubber stamp. Deliberations are held in secret and women are not permitted. When asked about the status of women in Saudi society, the Sheik replied that "Women are already serving in government, particularly in the fields of health and education. They are already being consulted." *********** ''YOUR OWN PRIVATE IDAHO'' ~~ WHERE UNDERAGE SEX MEANS JAIL! If you happened to have your first sexual experience before you were of legal age, well, be greatful you weren't caught -- and living in Idaho. The township of Emmett, Idaho, a "deeply religious" community according to some news reports, is using a 75-year old law against fornication and imposing prison sentences on people who engage in underage sex. So far, the resurrected law has resulted in three cases of "criminal fornication." It all began in 1921 with a state law that declared: "Any unmarried person who shall have sex with an unmarried person of the opposite sex shall be found guilty." While it doesn't stipulate an age limit, the law is thus far being used only against minors. So when Amanda Smisek approached a state social agency for help with her pregnancy, the 15-year old was charged with criminal fornication. Prosecutor Douglas Varie instituted the new campaign insisting that it was a good tool in preventing "criminal behavior"; and he called Ms. Smisek "a disgruntled, irresponsible teenager who brings something (sic) into the world that is going to cost taxpayers a lot of money." Ironically, pregnancy rates in the area are about one-third lower than the national average. There's a sordid side to this whole -- affair. According to the editor of the town newspaper, Mr. Varie and his wife lived together "in sin" before they were married, which under the 1921 law could carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison and a $100 fine. In related developments, Dr. Henry Foster, the President's special advisor on teen pregnancy, said yesterday that sex education which stresses abstinence won't work. During an impromptu appearance before a Senate appropriations subscommittee on health, Foster declared: "You have to accept the fact that being sexually active cannot be ignored." ********** THEISTWATCH SHORT SHOTS Hey, what WERE we fighting for when hundreds of thousands of American troops risked their lives to throw Saddham Hussein and his Iraqi Republican Guards out of Kuwait? We heard a good deal of talk about defending "freedom," but that term seems to have little meaning in the middle east.Take the case of a fellow named Robert Hussein -- no relation to the psycho in Baghdad. It seems that Robert Hussein, a Kuwaiti citizens, decided to convert from Islam to Christianity. By our account, that's simply going from bad to worse (or is it the other way around?), but as Atheists we support freedom of and freedom from religion. Anyway, following his conversion, Mr. Hussein was promptly condemned as an apostate by an Islamic court in Kuwait which also said that he should be killed for his transgressions against the Koran. His house was then vandalize and his identity papers and passport stolen. Meanwhile, the story of Mr. Hussein was picked up by the international press, including The Times of London. That edition was promptly banned by the Kuwaiti government, which nevertheless professes to guarantee freedom of the press in its constitution. Then came news that a British citizen, Ian Beaumont, was being held in a Kuwaiti prison without charges for three months "in suffocating heat in an overcrowded cell which has no bed." And more: Kuwaiti agents arrested a British pilot employed by Kuwait Airlines who was caught putting up posters about the Hussein case. This has a lot of people, especially in Britain, wondering why so many foreign "apostate" types from the vile and decadent west came charging to the rescue when the Iraqui army went on the rampage. We should have no illusions that often the regimes we fight -- and support -- are at times difficult to tell apart. ******* Hey, Afghanistan is another country where the U.S. and many of its allies worked overtime to throw out "godless communists," even if it meant putting Islamic lunatics in power. Remember that movie "Rambo V?" Or was it VI? Now, with the commies gone, there is a government which may be arguably worse -- a Muslim regime headed by Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who two weeks ago took office under a peace pact with President Burhanuddin Rabbani. On Wednesday, the new Prime Minister vowed to enforce a strict Islamic code, adding that he would fire any government employee found abstaining from the Muslim prayer ritual. Hekmatyar also lived up to our expectations that fundamentalist religion is inevitably a "guy thing," saying that while women would be permitted to work in office jobs, they would be required to wear "decent and dignified dress." There would also be no "illegal mixing" of the sexes. If this sounds bad for the cause of freedom and reason, remember that it could be worse. Hekmatyar only control 6 of the country's 33 provinces. The rest of the country is firmly in the hands of competing Islamic warlords like Abdul Rahid Dostum, who feel that Hekmatyar is "selling out" and is soft (!) on religious and ethnic tribal issues. There is also the Taleban, a Muslim group which controls much of the western and far-eastern portions of Afghanistan. That group likes to set up impromptu road-blocks, stopping motorists and confiscating western music CD's and tapes which, it says, are specifically prohibited in the Koran. ***** A Note To Our Readers... As weighty and important as many of the issues covered in AANEWS may be, and as serious at times as this publication might sound, we've never lost the ability to laugh at ourselves. Consider the stereotypical Atheist orator who, in trying to demonstrate the non-existence of that elusive being "god," challenges the presumed Almighty to "strike me dead right now with a bolt of lightning." We have never confirmed that any freethinker actually engaged in some rhetorical theatrics (although some attribute it to Robert Ingersoll, "The Great Agnostic") , but just think: What would happen if lightning DID suddenly strike? Who would have the last laugh? Even if such an unlikely event were to occur, it would mean very little, other than perhaps one should not give rousing addresses during thunder storms. So imagine our chagrin earlier this week when repeated efforts to mail out AANEWS failed, and we discovered from our internet provider that the server had been struck by lightning. Fried, Blasted, Ka-put! We draw no ontological or eschatological conclusions from this tragedy, other than to apologize to readers for delays in receiving the last AANEWS, which some of you may have received twice. Post-lightning jitters? Anyway, the new server appears to be functioning well; but as Atheists, we will trust not in prayer, but in well designed surge protectors and other safety devices. *** 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 on American Atheists, send e-mail to: info@atheists.org, and include your name and postal address. You may post, forward or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to American Atheists and AANEWS. For subscribe/unsubscribe information, send e-mail to: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org, and put "info aanews" in the message body, minus the quotation marks. Edited and written by Conrad F. Goeringer, The LISTMASTER. *********************************************************************** * * * American Atheists website: http://www.atheists.org * * PO Box 140195 FTP: ftp://ftp.atheists.org * * Austin, TX 78714-0195 * * Voice: (512) 458-1244 Dial-THE-ATHEIST: * * FAX: (512) 467-9525 (512) 458-5731 * * * * Atheist Viewpoint TV: avtv@atheists.org * * Info on American Atheists: info@atheists.org, * * & American Atheist Press include your name and mailing address * * AANEWS -Free subscription: aanews-request@listserv.atheists.org * * and put "info aanews" in message body * * * * This text may be freely downloaded, reprinted, and/other * * otherwise redistributed, provided appropriate point of * * origin credit is given to American Atheists. * * * ***********************************************************************

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