DIAL A GAY ATHEIST
06 March 1994
POLITICAL MEDDLING & THE CHURCH
This is Dial A Gay Atheist, a communications service of
American Gay & Lesbian Atheists. American Gay Atheists, Inc. is
a non-profit, educational foundation dedicated to keeping state and
church separate and promoting it as the lesbian and gay community's
most important constitutional ally. Please address all inquiries,
in writing, to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. Contents of
this message are protected under the copyright laws of the United
States and may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, without
permission from American Gay Atheists, Inc. This is Don Sanders
for Dial A Gay Atheist.
The week was a busy one for AGLA. Texans are in the midst of
the primary elections. The churches, particularly the black
churches, are also busy in the political processes. On a tip from
a member who happens to be running for a position in local
politics, AGLA has set about trying to document as many cases of
abuses of religious political meddling as possible. Because of our
member's open lifestyle and notoriety, she has met with tremendous
discrimination at the various and sizable events either conducted
in churches or sponsored by ministerial groups, whose sole purposes
are to use their positions of power within the community in order
to influence their respective flocks in the political arena.
Because I refuse to enter the doors of a church, for any
reason, I took my trusty 35mm camera and set about photographing
direct political meddling by local area churches. Yes,
photographing! What I found were several churches with the
campaign signs of their favorite candidates sitting on the front
lawns, next to the church's sign, at the driveway entrances, etc.
Perhaps not coincidentally, each church where I found such blatant
abuse is headed by a minister who is also a member of one of the
numerous ministers' associations in this city.
Direct political involvement on the part of churches and other
non-profit entities is strictly prohibited by the codes of the
Internal Revenue Service. This is what the IRS handbook has to say
about some of the activity in which the churches in this area seem
to be so involved:
"Any attempt to influence any legislation through a move to
affect the opinions of the general public or any segment
thereof; and any attempt to influence any legislation through
communication with any member or employee of a legislative
body, or with any government official or employee who may
participate in the formulation of the legislation," is
considered to fall under the definition of lobbying to
We know that many churches have, for years, been up to their
ears in direct political involvement. It is our stratagem this
time around to demonstrate, with actual, clear photographs, the
degree to which many churches are stooping to involve themselves
in the political process. Such activity affects everyone,
religious or not. But it especially affects those groups and
communities who are vilified, for one reason or another, by
churches. In our particular area, many churches, and I regret to
note, black churches, have been especially vocal against gays and
lesbians seeking equality of treatment under the law. We will keep
you informed should our efforts prove positive.
In the meantime, you callers have left some interesting
messages this go 'round. Since it's been a while since we played
your messages, let's go about that now.
Our first caller sarcastically wonders why he has heard the
same Dial A Gay Atheist message. Actually we were only a day late
in changing it last week, due to our task of checking up on the
meddling churches. Since I announced over this line, some time
back, that I am HIV-positive, a number of Christians call in every
week to see whether or not I have died from the disease. Here's
one of them.
Sorry to disappoint you, caller, but I'm not dead yet. And
I'll guarantee you that this is one Atheist who will not have a so-
called "death bed" conversion.
Our next caller gets right to the point:
Continue with MESSAGES. Interject comment after caller's
The organization to which the caller is referring is
not chartered as a non-profit organization as are churches. And
the Houston Gay & Lesbian Political Caucus is specifically chartered
to look after the overall political interests of the community it
serves. In so doing, it does not violate the laws of the U.S.
Department of the Treasury as do churches whenever they instruct
followers for whom to vote and how to vote.
Freedom of religion is guaranteed under the First Amendment
of the Constitution of the United States. At the same time, that
same Constitution also prohibits the establishment of a sectarian
state. Make no mistake. Every time a church engages in lobbying
activities and instructing its members for whom to vote, it is
trying to incorporate its own sectarian views into law.
Political activity on the part of Christians is unprecedented.
And it is at the grassroots level where most of this activity is
taking place. It is projected that by the end of this decade, the
Christian Coalition, founded by televangelist Pat Robertson, will
be the most powerful and influential political organization in the
entire nation. Its projected budget by that time is expected to
reach over a quarter billion dollars.
The Christian Coalition currently has over 860 local chapters
in all 50 states. It is the purpose of the Christian Coalition and
its affiliates to take control of America from the bottom up.
Presently, positions on school boards, city councils and state
legislatures are filling up with those who have one goal in mind:
to turn America into a religious state. History should have taught
us a clear lesson as to what happens whenever religion rules the
state. A thousand years of Dark Ages, repression, the stifling of
knowledge, the brutalizing of people, should have taught us
something. The cultural war is waging and its plans of action are
being formulated in many churches.
We at AGLA are doing what we can, but the enemy (and they are
an enemy) is tremendous. We must have your support, financially
and otherwise. Donations are tax-deductible and unlike churches,
we do not meddle in politics. We go about our stated business of
educating a populace which is steeped in religious hypocrisy,
tradition and so-called "family values." Help how you can by
sending a donation to AGLA, PO Box 66711, Houston, TX 77266. We'll
send you a copy of our newsletter which is just chock full of
In Houston, tune in to the American Atheist TV Forum on
Wednesday, March 9 at 7:30 PM on your community access cable
channel. At the tone, let us hear from you. Tell us from where
you're calling and what's on your mind. And, call this American
GAY Atheist again, anytime.
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