Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 19, 1996 Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:46:26 -0700 nn nn AA
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for July 19, 1996
Date: Fri, 19 Jul 1996 15:46:26 -0700
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
# 98 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 7/19/96
In This Issue...
* "Prayer Warriors" Descend on Atlanta
* Voucher Scheme "Sneak Attack" Launched in Congress
* One Man's Opinion ~ Hypocrites Behind the Collar
* About This List...
RELIGIONISTS READY TO PROSELYTIZE AT OLYMPIC GAMES
Is Atlanta A Sports Venue, or Tent Revival Meeting ?
What's bigger than the army of security agents and police guarding the
Olympic games in Atlanta? What has some five million pieces of literature,
including some one million "hospitality packets" ready to hand out to the
millions of American and foreign guests who will be pouring into the sports
complexes, restaurants and hotels eager for a glimpse at the international
games? And what segment of society sees the Olympics in Atlanta as an
If you guessed the Chamber of Commerce, or the numerous corporate sponsors
of the games, or even political candidates, you'd be wrong.
Along with athletes, cops, vendors and spectators, there are over 100,000
volunteers in and around Atlanta who are working on one of the largest
religious proselytizing efforts in recent history coordinated by an
interfaith group called "Quest Atlanta '96." The expected 2,000,000 tourists
flocking to the Olympics will be deluged, pamphleted, approached, prayed
for, proselytized, even entertained. Here's a survey of the events based on
site-reports, news accounts and other sources:
* Atlanta's 1800 churches representing 29 denominations are concentrating
on efforts to pamphlet all 2,000,000 Olympics visitors under a so-called
"Games Outreach." Part of the plan includes an innocent-sounding program
called "Hospitality/Atlanta Host," which would offer bed and breakfast
accomodations for families of atheltes. The churches will also be erecting
"air-conditioned santuaries" for visitors who battle the Atlanta humidity and
heat, including "Christian-based" entertainment and refreshments.
* The Southern Baptist Convention has established Atlanta International
Ministries with a budget of $2,000,000 and 5,000 volunteers. The church's
Woman's Missionary Union will be distributing religious literature at
interstate rest stops outside of Atlanta. The literature uses sports as a
"hook" for religion, and creates the impression of being some "official
guide" to the events; the so-called "interactive pocket guides" list games,
records and even a space to use in recording the results from the current
athletic contests. There is also a four-page "plan of salvation."
Christianity Today reports that "millions" of the booklets have been
SBC will also be distributing one million "hospitality bags" with their
own "interactive guide" to the events, along with a six-page religious tract,
a container of sunscreen, wet wipes and snacks. The Baptists will also have
"hospitality centers" for tourists at all game sites and along highways in
Alabama and South Carolina leading toward Atlanta.
* Youth With A Mission (YWAM) intends to field its 5,000 or so volunteers
for "street evangelism" (usually shouting on street corners) and "prayer
intercession" (?). CT notes that "About 1,000 of the YWAM volunteers will be
official greeters at the Olympic Village." USA TODAY notes that 1,000 YWAM
members will also "help with Olympic security and translating."
* American Bible Society has printed up more than 5 million different
items, including a "More Than Gold" pamphlet.
* USA TODAY notes that Pat Robertson's American Center for Law and Justice
(ACLJ) has "made several objections with Olympics organizers to make sure
that religious freedom is not inhibited during the games."
* The official Olympic Village is staffed with 37 chaplains, including
representatives of Christian, Buddhist, Jewish, Hindu and Moslem cults, all
of whom will work out of a Religious Services Center. An official of the
Interfaith Advisory Group to the games told the news media that efforts to
convert athletes will be "off-limits," but that chaplains will become
"friends, and in a sense, surrogate parents" to Olympic competitors.
* Despite the "off limits" on conversion, USA TODAY identified one of the
official chaplains as Madelina Manning Mims who won a gold medial in the 1968
games, and a silver medal in 1972. But Manning Mims is linked to the
International Bible Society, which uses her in their "More Than Gold" tract.
"Following Jesus is the highest calling in life and the most rewarding," she
* Salvation Army and the SportsNet youth ministry have printed up a
32-page bookled with the sporty title of "Time Out" which includes testimony
of Olympic champions and a religious "game plan" for one's life.
* At least four rallies are planned in Atlanta to coincide with the games,
under the "More Than Gold" banner. Christianity Today quotes Leroy Burrel
who won the gold in 1992 in Barcelona: "We're more than athletes; we're
Christians. We believe that Jesus Christ died for us, and he is our
While Quest Atlanta '96 is serving as the umbrella organization for the
proselytizing effort, a representative told the media that it is trying to
steer the various missionary groups away from issues like politics, abortion
and homosexuality. Quest specifically recommends that "prayer warriors"
avoid these subjects, but admitted that the organization "can't stop the
Already, mass media is picking up on the religious dimension surrounding
the athletic games. Cable News has begun coverage of "Christian athletes."
In addition, NBA players on the Olympic Dream Team have announced that part
of their expected earnings from a medal will be donated to rebuild black
churches destroyed by fire.
VOUCHER SCHEME BURIED IN ''COMMUNITY RENEWAL'' ACT
While public attention in the coming weeks is expected to focus on
proposals to legalize prayer in public schools, religious groups are busy
promoting another part of their political agenda. Despite the repeated
failure of school voucher schemes at the state level. church groups are
mobilize to support the "American Community Renewal Act" (H.R.3467)
introduced by Representative J.C.Watts (R-Oklahoma) and Rep. James Talent
(R-Missouri), which would create a voucher program to give parents financial
aid in order to send their children to prive schools. Critics charge that
programs like the Renewal Act threaten the integrity of public education, and
constitute government aid to private, often religious schools.
Like voucher proposals which have been introduced at the state level,
H.R.3467 starts off relatively small, appropriating $200,000,000 for voucher
credits. But Barry Lynn, Executive Director of Americans United, warns that
it could -- within seven years -- end up with a price tag of as much as $5
Catholic Conference -- "Pressure From Below"
This timing of this latest voucher scheme is significant, especially in
lieu of two developments.
* Like the proposed Religious Equality Amendment, a voucher plan -- if
rushed to the floor of Congress for a vote -- could be included in "voters
guide" planned for distribution by the Christian Coalition. As reported in
yesterday's AANEWS, an estimated 45,000,000 copies of the guide highlighting
candidates' voting records on abortion, gay rights, school prayer and other
issues, is scheduled for distribution through the Christian Coalition's
network of some 100,000 churches in October.
* The biggest beneficiary of voucher schemes would be the Roman Catholic
Church, which in states throughout the country has organized pro-voucher
campaigns complete with ads, letter-writing and lobbying. But while the
church is beating the drums for vouchers, it is putting more pressure on a
financially-strapped public school system. Yesterday, the United States
Catholic Conference urged President Clinton to veto a bill which permits
individual states to remove children of undocumented immigrants from public
school classes. Ironically, the church is "pro-state's rights" in opposing
any federal recognition of homosexual marriage, but insists that states which
are deep in debt may not attempt to cut expenses (see commentary below - ed.)
Newark Archbishop Theodore McCarrick called the bill "harmful legislation,"
and while Clinton is expected to veto the measure, it will be difficult in
Congress this year to generate more funding for the public school system.
One Man's Opinion...
HYPOCRITES BEHIND THE COLLAR
It's time for the churches to pay up or shut up.
I'm not sure which is worse -- religious groups who want to use the
government to invade our bedrooms and personal lives in the form of "family
values" legislation, or those churches which are constantly whining about
re-distribution of wealth and the need for more social programs. The latest
action of the U.S. Catholic Conference is a case in point; the Conference
doesn't like the idea of states removing the children of undocumented
immigrants from public schools.
On this issue, I happen to agree with them -- but not for their reasons.
The legislation DOES have the effect of punishing children for whatever
their parents have done. Atheists are not all of one mind on this issue, or
the wider question of immigration; but I think we should focus on the
hypocrisy of the Bishops and their church, at least on this one particular
Throughout the country, public schools are badly in need of funds and
support. That problem won't be alleviated by expelling children whose
parents happen to be in this country illegally. But what does the Catholic
Church -- and many fundamentalist and evangelical Protestant groups --
demand? Whatever their dfferences on social issues may be, groups like the
Catholic Conference and the Christian Coalition certain concur on the
desirability of government aid to private, religious schools. "Parochaid", a
controversial issue during the 1950's and 1960's, has now attracted the
support of non-Catholic religious groups , including the "home schooling"
movement. "Parochaid" lives on through the voucher schemes which have been
presented throughout the nation.
It is hypocritical for the Catholic bishops -- indeed any religious groups
-- to demand that taxpayers subsidize their private religious schools. It is
also hypocrisy when religious groups demand that individuals and businesses
support the social platform of churches, especially when religions are
If the bishops are indeed concerned over the quality of education children
(of both American citizen's and non-citizen's) happen to be receiving, the
first thing they should do is place their own property on the tax rolls.
They should also be willing to have their secondary-earnings taxed at a rate
equal to, say, private individuals, businesses and corporations; church
wealth generated through stock dividends, business schemes and other
financial instruments should be taxed. Perhaps some of this money can be
used to alleviate the crisis condition which exists in many public school
Several years ago, I wrote a guest editorial in my local newspaper similar
to one you're reading now. It was in response to the political activity of a
group known as the County Interfaith Council. Supposedly representing most
of the different churches in the area, along with a handful of synagogues,
the Council "invited" local government officials to attend their meetings.
Often, the mayor, or county supervisors, or government department heads
would sit on a raised dais, while the hundreds of people in the audience
resembled the delegates to a full-blown political convention. Signs were
everywhere, identifying the member-congregation: "St. Cyril's RCC Church," or
"Shepherd of the Hills." Representatives would march up to a microphone, and
identify themselves, noting the number of congregation members in that
particular church. It was no secret around town in either political circles,
or in the news media, that the phrase "I represent the 250 members of St.
John's Church" really meant:"We've got 250 votes to deliver, so you had
better do as we say -- or else!" The politically astute and ambitious
learned to tow the line.
What was remarkable about the County Interfaith Coalition was that it was
not only a political machine, but that it demanded huge expenditures of money
on numerous social projects -- homeless shelters, summer youth jobs,
drug-and-alcohol rehab centers. Many of the goals were well-intended and
admirable, even if they were enunciated in the tone of a political ward-boss.
My editorial about the Interfaith Coalition, though, raised the issue of
hypocrisy. Wasn't there a bit of a double standard here with the Interfaith
honchos promoting their social agenda at the expense of individual taxpayers
and businesses, while tens of millions of dollars of their property was tax
exempt? Was't it hypocritical for the Coalition to demand, say, a 1% hike in
the local sales tax, when their own earnings from stocks, businesses and
other sources of income went untouched? Weren't the clerical ward-bosses,in
effect, demanding that others fund their pet programs?
I suggested that Interfaith Council leaders immediately head down to the
County Assessor's office, and volunteer to place their properties on the tax
rolls, and do something to ameliorate the burden which exists on private
It didn't happen.
Now, the hypocrites behind the collar want a federal program to fund
private religious schools, at a time when public schools are desperately
strapped for cash. While fundamentalists howl that public schools promote a
"religion of secular humanism," they want taxpayer funds to build and expand
religious schools of their own choosing.
The "American Community Renewal Act," if passed, would be a financial
windfall for religious groups across the country. Enrollment at religious
schools would soar; millions of students would be subject to a academic
curriculum which included not religious history but religious indoctrination.
And who would pay? We would.
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