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From: Cgastbook@aol.com Subject: AAFWD: Theistwatch for 3/1 (THEISTWATCH is a service of 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. It is distributed on the AAFWD list to members and supporters; our thanks to Rich Daniels for operating this list. Written and edited by Conrad F. Goeringer.) ***** SOUTH CAROLINA PRIMARY TO SEE RE-ALIGNMENT OF RELIGIOUS CONSERVATIVE SUPPORT? Splits appear to be developing throughout the religious right over the current slate of GOP Presidential contenders; and tomorrow's primary in South Carolina could be a litmus test of just how far Pat Buchanan can go without the backing of groups like the Christian Coalition. The problem stems from the fact that Buchanan is a Catholic; and while religious fundamentalist groups agree with his stands on issues like abortion, their own roots in the Protestant tradition may make them uneasy backing a "papist." The Christian Coalition, for instance, was backing Texas Senator Phil Gramm until he dropped out two weeks ago from the GOP race. In South Carolina, Bob Dole has the backing of the CC state chairman; and religious support for Dole may well be stemming from a historic wariness of Catholicism which has existed in the deep south for generations. Even so, Buchanan is scoring bigs points. Yesterday, he supported flying the Confederate flag over the state capitol, and keeping The Citadel an all-male military academy. He said that he considered the stars-and-bars a "symbol of defiance", and insisted that there should be "room enough in America for Martin Luther King's 'We Shall Overcome' and 'Dixie'." Meanwhile, Steve Forbes and Lamar Alexander have attracted fire from the anti-abortion groups because neither supports a constitutional amendment banning abortion. Forbes wants a "change of heart", and agree with Alexander that it may not be an appropriate role for the Federal government to get involved in the abortion issue. Another Split? For weeks, THEISTWATCH has predicted that Alan Keyes may hold the key to possible Buchanan victories in some of the close races. Keyes, former UN Ambassador and a black, religious conservative, has been getting between 1% and 5% of the votes in some of the primary races. This could translate into a greater support base for Buchanan, should Keyes decide to throw his efforts behind the GOP leader. That may not happen; Keyes has begun criticizing Buchanan for his extreme style, and may be splitting on the issue of free trade and protectionism. Look for Keyes to support someone else in this race, if he decides to fold his own campaign. Lamar Alexander has picked up support from Bill Bennett, a "leading conservative thinker on family values." But even Bennett is now under attack; the Philadelphia Inquirer has reported that he has "alienated some religious conservatives by talking less about abortion and more about what he calls community-based solutions to social problems..." All of the major GOP players , with the exception of Pat Buchanan, seem to continue their ambiguous relationship with the far right religious conservatives who control so much of the state-level party apparatus. They fear they cannot win WITHOUT the support of groups like the Christian Coalition or Focus on the Family, which field tens of thousands of committed, hard-working and well heeled volunteers in precincts throughout the country; but this comes at the cost of alienating moderate and even secular-conservatives who agree with the traditional GOP stands on economic issues, but who aren't caught up in the hysteria over abortion and "family values." Those voters can easilly hop over to a moderate Democrat, like Bill Clinton. **************** Vouchers and other forms of government aid to private and religious schools is back in the news. The Senate is expected to vote soon on a scheme which would subsidize tuitions for some low-income school children in Washington, D.C.; that legislation has already made it through the House. In Wisconsin, the Supreme Court there will be hearing arguments on proposals to increase Milwaukee's private school tuition voucher program. In St. Paul, Minn. the public school board is fighting back Gov. Arne Carlson's private school voucher scheme, with a plan for "choice" among competing public schools. Meanwhile, Congressional Republicans have announced their "Community Renewal Project" that includes a school voucher system for low-income students (similar to the D.C. proposal) in 100 "blighted" urban areas. Vouchers have been a major goal of many religious groups. In states like Pennsylvania, the Roman Catholic Church (which operates the largest non-public school system in the country) openly campaign for Governor Tom Ridge's plans which would have poured tens of millions of dollars into private and religious schools. That scheme drew fierce opposition from public school administrators, parents and lawmakers, who pointed out that the public schools were already underfunded. First Amendment state-church separationists point out that the voucher scheme amounts to abandoning the sectarian, public school system, and creating a government subsidy for religious institutions. ************ BARING IT ALL FOR THE SAKE OF GOD.. We've done a lot of exposes on THEISTWATCH, but this is surely the most basic, or bare-bones, if you will. In Longwood, North Carolina, the first Christian Nudist Conference has just ended; the media described the event as a "coming out party for this tiny but growing movement of religious naturists." About forty showed up for the event, and "stood naked and unashamed before their God at the conference." The gathering featured Christian karaoke, discussions, group sporting activities, and even a service where "ministers, both robed and unrobed, distributed Holy Communion to the nude and nearly nude outdoors underneath a wooden cross." The editor of a publication called the Fig Leaf Forum, a newletter for Christian nudists, said "The Bible does say God created man in his image, and I think his image reflects the physical aspect of life...I think as Christians, the redeemed, the new creation, (we) should be able to recapture some of the original goodness." Many of the participants were described as "Bible-believing folk" and religious fundamentalists. *********************************************************************** * * * 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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