House Republican Conference Committee Issue Brief June 29, 1994 The Clinton Democrats' Att

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

House Republican Conference Committee Issue Brief June 29, 1994 The Clinton Democrats' Attack on Religion "While this year it may be a Catholic against whom the finger of suspicion is pointed, in other years it has been, and may someday be again, a Jew or a Quaker or a Unitarian or a Baptist ... Today I may be the victim, but tomorrow it may be you." -- John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1960 Introduction Rep. Vic Fazio's (D-CA) recent tirade against religious conservatives has highlighted the Clinton Democrats' raw antipathy for Christian involvement in community and political discussions. Fazio, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, unleashed an attack on the "fire-breathing Christian radical right:" Democrat consultant Mark Mellman provided reinforcement, calling them, "card-carrying members of the flat earth society." On the surface, these comments seem to be part of a short-sighted political strategy to excite the hard core Democrat base and split the GOP. However, when you look beyond the surface of the ill- tempered remarks, you find a legislative and regulatory agenda that is indeed hostile to religion and Americans with religious beliefs. From Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' well-documented remarks to the EEOC's efforts to ban any and all religious symbols from the workplace, people of faith have been met with general hostility from the Clinton Administration and Democrat leadership. However, conservative people of faith -- who have fought the President's more radical proposals -- have drawn the Administration's most vitriolic language: one unidentified White House official characterized their involvement as "a cancer in the Republican Party." As Stephen L. Carter, a professor at Yale Law School, observed, "there is much depressing evidence that the religious voice is required to stay out of the public square only when it is pressed in a conservative cause." Yet, who are the targets of the Clinton Democrats' attacks? As we look at the Clinton Democrats' verbal assaults and their out-of-the- mainstream agenda, it's important to understand the role of religion and values in the everyday lives of the American people. This Issue Brief outlines: * Clinton Democrats' verbal assault on religious conservatives. * Poll results on religion in America -- who are the Clinton Democrats attacking? * The Clinton Democrats' legislative and regulatory assault on religion. Clinton Democrats' Verbal Assault Nursing wounds from a string of defeats at the federal, state, and local levels, the Clinton Democrats are grasping for an issue to divert attention from sagging polls and their out-of-the-mainstream agenda. That issue, they hope, is conservative Christians' participation in the political process. By demonizing religious conservatives, the Clinton Democrats aim to stifle their participation in the political process, while reinvigorating their own core of supporters. As Rep. Fazio said during his Christian bashing press conference, "But the bottom line here is we're going to be fighting very hard to hold our numbers, our losses, down...Whether we can do so or not, I think, will be in part determined by how energized our base is. And that's something we're going to have to work very hard to accomplish in the next several months." The Clinton Democrats are confident the media will bolster their efforts; as one Democrat political strategist noted recently, "reporters are instinctively opposed to these groups and by throwing a little fuel on this fire we are doing ourselves a world of good." The Clinton Democrats' intolerance harkens back to John F. Kennedy's presidential campaign when he was attacked for his religious beliefs. Although many believed that religious bigotry was put to rest when Kennedy was elected president, epithets such as "fire-breathing Christians" prove them wrong. As Sen. Bob Dole argued, "the essence of democracy is participation, and using terms such as `fire-breathing Christian radical right' to label Americans who go to church and go to the polls ... only cheapens our democracy." This assault is clearly a calculated one, over the past two weeks the same message has been delivered by various Administration spokespersons: "People come into the political system and they say that anybody that [sic] doesn't agree with them is godless, anyone who doesn't agree with them is not a good Christian, anyone who doesn't agree with them is fair game for any wild charge, no matter how false, for any kind of personal, demeaning attack...I do not believe that people should be criticized for their religious convictions, but neither do I believe that people can put on the mantle of religion and then justify anything they say or do." -- President Bill Clinton "There is a special place in hell waiting for Bob Winters." -- Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), referring to an opponent of the President's health care plan "We've got to be strong to take on those people [`the un- Christian religious right'] who are selling our children out in the name of religion." -- Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders "Ronald Reagan, who is a radical right Republican, did not go to church and his wife was trying to run the country through astrology." -- Paul Begala, White House consultant Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA), as we noted above, recently labeled all Christian conservatives as the "fire-breathing Christian radical right." Fazio's language is alarming in itself -- yet even more so in light of the fact that he voted against a House resolution condemning a hate-filled speech earlier this year. Nation of Islam's Khallid Abdul Mohammad, in a speech to a college audience, launched an ugly attack on women, Jews, and Catholics. For example, Mr. Mohammad ranted, "You see everybody always talk about Hitler exterminating 6 million Jews...But don't nobody ever ask what they did to Hitler...They went in there, in Germany, the way they do everywhere they go, and they supplanted, they usurped, they turned around, and a German, in his own country, would almost have to go to a Jew to get money. They undermine the very fabric of the society." Mohammad concluded the speech by saying, "Go to the Vatican in Rome, when the old, no-good Pope, you know that cracker. Somebody need to raise that dress up and see what's really under there." Yet, when Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA) offered a resolution condemning the racist, anti-Catholic, homophobic, and anti-Semitic speech, Rep. Vic Fazio (D-CA) voted `Present.' On "Good Morning America," Clinton's key advisor Paul Begala said, "Ronald Reagan, who is a radical right Republican, did not go to church and his wife was trying to run the country through astrology." If Begala says that Ronald Reagan is part of the radical right, he should also point out that 60 percent of Americans agreed with `the radical." Begala should also note that Reagan's agenda to win the Cold War and foster economic opportunity brought the United States the longest peacetime economic expansion in history. Debunking The "Fire-Breathing" Myth Just who are the Clinton Democrats attacking? Who are the people who consider religion important? According to a recent poll, the Clinton Democrats' attack is based on serious misconceptions. When they attack religion, they reveal just how out of step with mainstream America they are, because religion and values are important to the vast majority of Americans. The Tarrance Group conducted a nationwide poll of voter attitudes on religion on March 5-7. Here are some of the findings: A majority (62 percent) assert that religion is increasing its influence in their lives, and 90 percent identify themselves as being part of an organized religion. "Fully 90 percent of voters argue that "values in America have been seriously declining." Eighty-five percent of the American electorate agree that the "government would be better if it were more directed by moral values." A convincing 84 percent of voters believe "we need to return to traditional values," while only 10 percent disagree. Eighty-eight percent of the electorate say that religious values should play a role in everyday decisions. Fully 70 percent of the voters assert that prohibiting religious symbols, such as Nativity scenes or crucifixes, from being displayed on public property would be "bad" for the country, with a majority (50 percent) stating that it would be "one of the worst things that could happen." Similarly, over 70 percent of the voters maintain that banning prayers at school-related functions such as graduation, concerts and sports activities, would be a bad thing, and over half (51 percent) say it would be one of the worst things that could happen. More than three of every four (77 percent) say that the President should be a moral and spiritual leader for the country. More voters consider Bill Clinton hostile to their moral values (34 percent) than either neutral (30 percent) or reflective (32 percent) of them. Three-in-ten Americans assert that the country is hostile to their moral or spiritual values. The U.S. Congress (47 percent) and newspapers (46 percent) are also more likely to be considered hostile to their values. The Clinton Democrats' Legislative and Regulatory Assault Because the Democrats control both Congress and the White House, their attack isn't just name calling, they have the sticks and stones to back it up. The following sections outline the Clinton Democrats' attack both on religion itself and on those who value religion in their lives. The Clinton Administration is pushing for regulations to ban all religious expression in the workplace. Late last year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, led by Clinton's Chairman- designee Tony Gallegos, proposed guidelines covering workplace harassment based on race, religion, national origin, gender, age or disability. However, the guidelines for religious harassment were so broadly written that they could lead employers to ban employees from displaying even the simplest expressions of their religion -- such as wearing a cross or bringing a Bible to work. Indeed, an employer could conclude that the slightest religious reference or smallest religious symbol, is offensive to a single employee, and therefore must be eliminated from the workplace. Christian leaders joined the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Jewish Congress in protest of the EEOC's guidelines because the regulations infringe on workers' First Amendment rights of free speech and free expression of religion. The EEOC reports it has received more than 106,000 letters protesting the policy -- during the past few weeks alone. Similarly, House Members have received hundreds or even thousands of letters opposing the EEOC's policy. On June 28, the House rebuked the EEOC by voting (366-37) to forbid federal funds from being used to enforce the EEOC's policy on religious harassment. The EEOC is now adopting language to make sure that "the commission is not going to abridge religious expression in the workplace." At the same time the EEOC is promoting regulations to suppress religious expression, the Office of Personnel Management circulated a June 16 memo to all employees informing them that OPM will "observe Gay and Lesbian Pride Month during June 1994...Activities scheduled during the month focus on gay issues in the workplace and gays, lesbians and bisexuals in American and world history.." OPM employees were "encouraged to participate" in various activities, including viewing a screening of "homophobia in the Workplace" and a "pictorial display in the OPM lobby depicting gays and lesbians in American and World History." The memo concluded by noting, "Washington, D.C. area employees stationed outside the Theodore Roosevelt Building may be reimbursed by their offices for transportation to attend these events." HUD regulations ban religious symbols in advertisements. The Clinton Administration wants to ban any religious symbols used by housing providers in advertisements on the ground that the ads might discriminate against non-religious people. Roberta Achtenberg, Clinton's Assistant Secretary of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity at HUD, has pressured Yellow Pages producers to force nursing homes that advertise with religious symbols to drop those symbols in their Yellow Pages listings. For example, near St. Cloud, Minnesota, a Roman Catholic nursing home called St. Benedict's Center has a logo of a symbol with a cross. The home used the logo in its advertisement in the Yellow Pages, but was asked by the Yellow Pages producer -- US West -- to delete the logo from the ad. St. Benedict's was also forced to alter its motto, which had been "spiritual care for all faiths." Yellow Pages industry sources reported that HUD had investigated three publishers, including US West, and counseled them against allowing religious symbols in advertising. Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R- MD) wrote to HUD Secretary Cisneros, objecting to the policy, "Prohibiting religious groups from using religious symbols in advertising nursing home care would not prevent discrimination; it would arguably interfere with the free exercise of religion." The HUD initiative epitomizes Assistant Secretary Achtenberg's agenda, most of which is inimical to the beliefs of mainstream Americans. Clinton's health care plan mandates abortion coverage. President Clinton's health care plan mandates abortion coverage, meaning that people opposed to abortion as a matter of faith must subsidize abortion through their premiums and the government's subsidies. All employers, even the Catholic Conference and the Christian Coalition, will be required to pay premiums for health plans that include abortion services. Moreover, the President's "conscience clause" -- which exempts doctors and hospitals from performing an abortion if they are morally opposed to it -- does not apply to health plans. So, although a Catholic hospital may not have to perform abortions, it does have to buy health plans that cover abortions and pay for that coverage. (At the same time, treatment for children born with congenital birth defects such as spina bifida, cystic fibrosis, or cerebral palsy is limited to only 60 days.) The Clinton plan forces those who oppose abortion to subsidize a practice that they strongly oppose. Even Americans who are pro-choice tend to agree that people who oppose abortion shouldn't be forced to pay for them. Clinton endorses Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders' vitriolic statements. Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders has attacked religious conservatives and the Catholic Church, advocated sex education for elementary school children, promoted condom distribution in schools without parental notification, and supported tax-funded Norplant contraception for prostitutes. Yet despite her outrageous stances, President Clinton refuses to ask for her resignation. Rather, when asked earlier this month if there had been any "fallout" at the White House, the Surgeon General replied, "No. None. I saw [Clinton] recently and he congratulated me on what I've been doing. He said, `I keep up with you by everywhere you go and what you've been doing...I love it.'" As Rep. Chris Smith (R-NJ) noted, "the fact that she remains in office today speaks volumes about the ideology of the man who appointed her." A June 29 USA Today article reported that despite mounting criticism of the Surgeon General, she "enjoys Clinton's unstinting support." Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL), in a letter to the President asking for Elders' resignation, wrote, "This abuse of the office of Surgeon General must stop. The office should be used to fight sickness and disease, not parents and churches." The letter was signed by 78 Republican House Members. However, the call for Elder's resignation is also receiving bipartisan support: Reps. Scott Baesler (D-KY) and Tom Barlow (D-KY) became the first Democrats in Congress to call for Elders to go. Rep. Baesler criticized her "radical statements that infuriate and go against the sensibilities of the people." The following list outlines some of Surgeon General Elders' more outrageous statements. -- Dr. Elders attacked what she called the "un-Christian religious right" for its opposition to her proposals on sex and AIDS education for public schools. "We've got to be strong to take on those people who are selling our children out in the name of religion," she told an audience at the Lesbian and Gay Health Conference. -- In a December, 1993 Newsweek magazine, Elders, when asked whether it was wrong to have a child out of wedlock -- responded, "No. Everyone has different moral standards." Even liberal columnist Joe Klein was forced to admit, "It is difficult to imagine a more succinct statement of moral relativism." -- Clinton's Surgeon General has condemned those who oppose government funding of abortion on demand, saying that the 70 percent of Americans who share this view are trying to force "slave-like" conditions on poor women. She has also instructed those who morally oppose abortions to "get over their love affair with the fetus." -- The Surgeon General has suggested that one of the benefits of legalized abortion is that it has reduced the number of Down Syndrome children. Before the Senate Labor Committee on May 23, 1990, Dr. Elders said, "abortion has reduced the number of children afflicted with severe defects. The number of Down Syndrome infants in Washington state in 1976 was 64 percent lower than it would have been without legal abortion." -- Dr. Elders has stated that our public schools should provide condoms -- on request and without parental notification -- to our children, even elementary age school children. "We've taught them what to do in the front seat [of a car]. Now it's time to teach them what to do in the back seat." She has also made known her beliefs on casual sex, as she told 60 Minutes, "I tell every girl when she goes out on a date -- put a condom in her purse." -- On CNBC's "Talk Live" Program on June 19, 1993, Dr. Elders said, "I would hope that we would provide them [drug-abusing prostitutes] Norplant, so they could still use sex if they must to buy their drugs." -- Dr. Elders has repeatedly made attacks on the Catholic church; criticizing pro-lifers she said, "look who is fighting the pro- choice movement -- a celibate, male-dominated church." -- Dr. Elders has advocated a study of the legalization of illicit drugs. Speaking before the National Press Club on December 7, 1993, Elders said, "I do feel that we would markedly reduce our crime rate if drugs were legalized. But I don't know all of the ramifications of this. I do feel that we need to do some studies." Bill Current, director of the American Council on Drug Education, called the remarks, "socially irresponsible... Legalization would only increase the crime rate." Condoning the legalization of drugs outraged concerned parents and encouraged drug users. As The San Diego Union Tribune reported, "marijuana advocates are especially heartened by statements made by Dr. Joycelyn Elders." -- The Clinton Administration supports court case that declares tithes have "no value." A US Bankruptcy Trustee is suing the Crystal Evangelical Free (CEF) Church of New Hope, Minnesota to recoup tithe money that church members had given for 12 months prior to filing for bankruptcy. The 20-year church members, Mr. and Mrs. Young, found themselves in financial trouble after Mr. Young had a heart attack, but continued their eight-year practice of tithing (making a 10 percent monetary offering at church) on a weekly basis. Bankruptcy law allows an individual who is within 12 months of bankruptcy to spend money on nearly anything -- travel, liquor, casino gambling -- as long as there is "reasonable equivalent value" for the money. Yet in this case, the Bankruptcy Court ruled that the tithe was a "fraudulent" gift because the donors received nothing of value. However, Christians believe there is "reasonable equivalent value" for the tithe -- namely, spiritual growth and personal and community benefits that emanate from altruism. The Department of Justice, under Attorney General Janet Reno, filed a brief in the case, asking the US 8th Circuit Court, where the case is now under appeal, to uphold the lower court's ruling. In its 50-page brief, the Department compared Mr. and Mrs. Young's tithe to the ill-gotten gains of drug dealers -- asserting that they both effectively elude creditors. At issue is the Court's and the Justice Department's insistence that giving money to a church has no value to the people who contribute. Christians tithe -- as the Bible commands them to do -- in the belief that it will return additional rewards on earth and in heaven. The Bankruptcy Court in its summary judgment and the Department of Justice in its brief have both essentially judged that the Young's sincerely held religious belief regarding tithing is not valid. However, if the Youngs had spent their money on liquor or casinos, the Court would have considered the expenditures valid. The Court and the Clinton Administration place no value on the spiritual benefits of tithing, so the Church is forced to pay. Clinton Democrats' push to regulate home schools. Rep. George Miller (D-CA) offered an amendment to H.R. 6, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which would have exposed parents who teach their children at home to possible government licensing or control. Many parents choose home schooling for religious reasons and to avoid the radical curriculum taught in many public schools. Miller's amendment would have prevented schools from assigning teachers to subjects in which they have no training or certification. Rep. Dick Armey (R-TX) corrected the problem with an amendment banning federal control over private, religious or home schools, while allowing them to participate in federal aid programs. Protecting child pornographers. The Clinton Justice Department sought to weaken child pornography laws, thus making it easier for child pornographers to exploit children. The Department of Justice filed a brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in the case of Knox v. U.S., which severely narrowed the standard of what constitutes child pornography. The brief requires that nudity or "visibility" of body parts is required. The previous policy required "sexually explicit conduct" in recognition of the fact that children need not be naked to be sexually exploited. Attacks on traditional family lifestyles. From gays in the military to immigration policies that give preference to homosexuals, traditional family lifestyles are under attack by the Clinton Administration. The Administration seems bent on furthering its radical social agenda despite area experts' opposition. Military leaders denounced Clinton's decision to admit homosexuals in the armed services, fearing it could jeopardize the military's readiness. The Federation for American Immigration reform argues that the Justice Department's recent decision to give preference to homosexuals seeking entry into the U.S. will open the system to fraud and abuse. Nonetheless, Clinton continues his agenda. Gays in the military. After three days in office, President Clinton lifted the ban on homosexuals in the military. The President insisted on lifting the military's ban on homosexuals -- a policy opposed by 74 percent of enlistees -- despite the experts' united opposition. When President Clinton met with his Joint Chiefs for the first time in January, 1993, he made it clear that he was not interested in discussing the wisdom of the plan, only the details of how it should be carried out. "I intend to implement it," he said. As Sen. Dan Coats (R-IN) observed, "You would think that someone who has not served a single day in uniform would be particularly careful to consult his military experts." Reno's orders give gays preference for immigration. Furthering the Clintons' social agenda, Attorney General Janet Reno has decided to give political asylum to foreign homosexuals seeking to immigrate to the United States. U.S. immigration boards were instructed to adopt a 1990 case of a Cuban refugee as precedent in all proceedings involving homosexuals seeking asylum, thereby giving homosexuals special treatment. This is unprecedented -- sexual orientation has never been recognized as a social group. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) condemned the policy, saying it "opens wide a new field for fraud and abuse of our nation's immigration laws by those wishing to enter illegally." As an evidentiary matter, there is no way to prove a person's sexual preference. Attorney General Reno has also waived immigration law to allow foreigners with the AIDS virus into the United States to participate in the Gay Games. Her decision flouts the will of Congress and threatens the well-being of the American people. Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) and Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) denounced the Justice Department's actions as a "unilateral circumvention of a policy that Congress approved, ...the American people overwhelmingly support, ...and in complete disregard...of public health." Waivers were intended only for exceptional circumstances -- a standard hardly met by a sporting event. Conclusion The Clinton Democrats' attack on religion, while it appears to be a political move to gin up their depressed base, is much more than that. It is an extensive legislative and regulatory agenda, which many Americans see as hostile to their moral and spiritual values. The Democrat strategy: draw attention from Clinton's decline in the polls, Whitewater, the sexual harassment lawsuit, the Democrats 0-for-9 record in major elections, chaotic foreign policy, and Clinton's languishing health care bill. As Charles Black notes, "This president is on the defensive on every issue, including his pet health care, and they're trying to change the subject." The atmosphere of religious intolerance is most disturbing, even more so in light of the fact that it is advanced by the President and Democrat leadership. The President's stance on conservative people of faith, as it is with most issues, runs the gamut. In a National Journal article, the President announced, "I've been advocating for nearly a decade now that there ought to be a set of civic values that everybody can agree with that ought to be taught in our schools. You just can't have a value-free society. You can't do it." However, it is difficult to swallow the rhetoric when the Administration has been pushing extremely liberal policies. Many people see the Clinton Administration trying to appease pro-family forces with reassuring rhetoric while actively promoting a radical social agenda. It is also interesting to note the unmistakable strain of elitism running through the Clinton Democrats' rhetoric. One liberal commentator betrayed this sentiment when he referred to these Christian conservatives as "Wal- Mart Republicans." When asked to address Rep. Fazio's comments, the President refused to repudiate the comments, and said, "people come into the political system and they say that anybody that [sic] doesn't agree with them is godless, anyone who doesn't agree with them is not a good Christian, anyone who doesn't agree with them is fair game for any wild charge, no matter how false, for any kind of personal, demeaning attack." President Clinton may want to talk to Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), who has said that there is a "special place in hell" reserved for one opponent of the President's plan. *********************************************************************** * * * 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. * * * ***********************************************************************

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank