Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 12, 1996 Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 13:47:33 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 12, 1996
Date: Fri, 12 Jul 1996 13:47:33 -0700
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
* House Says "No" To Gay Unions
* Dole Still Can't End Abortion Fight
* Democracy? Koran Forbids It, Says Cleric
* Idaho Combats "Fornication"
* 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
* 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
Nearly all GOP state organizations call for some level of restriction on
abortion, including schemes like parental notification or restricting late
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
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
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
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
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
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