Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 12:33:43 -0700 Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for November 6, 1996 A M E
Date: Wed, 6 Nov 1996 12:33:43 -0700
Subject: [Atheist] AANEWS for November 6, 1996
Reply-To: firstname.lastname@example.org, AMERICAN.ATHEISTS@listserv.direct.net
A M E R I C A N A T H E I S T S
nnnnnnnnnn AANEWS nnnnnnnnnn
#193 uuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu 11/6/96
In This Issue...
* "Dr. Ralph The SpinDoctor"
* Winners, losers
* Helping Out
* About This List...
ELECTION A MIXED VERDICT FOR COALITION, RELIGIOUS ALLIES
Colorado "God Tax" Fails, But So Does "Parental Rights"
Yesterday's election resulted in a victory for President Clinton, a win
for Republicans in their efforts to maintain control of the House and
Senate, and a mixed verdict for the efforts of the Christian Coalition in its
attempt to prevent a GOP "meltdown" and remain a viable player inside the
* In Colorado, the so-called "God Tax" (Amendment II) which would have
placed churches and other non-profits onto the tax rolls, was rejected by an
83% - 17% margin. Organized by Colorado Springs attorney and talk-show host
John Patrick Murphy, the proposal was one of the nation's most
closely-watched initiatives, and was the first time a state's voters had a
say in whether or not non-profits should pay taxes. Opponents raised an
estimated warchest of nearly $2,000,000; Colorado religious groups kicked in
another $500,000 and mobilized parishioners and volunteers to fight Amendment
II. Last night, Murphy told supporters "We're here to stay, kid" and
promised to "fine tune" the legislation, and carry the fight to other states.
The idea behind Amendment II could spread and appear on ballots throughout
the nation in 1998 and 2000.
* "Parental Rights" (Amendment 17) supporters were shocked as the evening
dragged on, and their Colorado proposal ended up being turned down by more
than a 2-1 margin. That legislation would have declared that parents were
responsible for the financial, educational and moral upbringing of their
children; but opponents pointed out that the proposal was a ruse for
attacking public school curriculums, and could thwart efforts to prevent
child abuse The Rocky Mountain News reported that many observers saw the
voting as a defeat for the Christian Coalition, which along with other
religious interests had made the Parental Rights Amendment a major focus of
its efforts in Colorado. Amendment 17 was opposed by a wide range of groups,
from the American Civil Liberties Union to law enforcement organizations
which feared that it would make it more difficult to prevent and prosecute
abuse crimes against youngsters.
* The polls were still open when major news organizations called the
presidential race in favor of Mr. Clinton, and the pundits began their
autopsy on the election and the future of the Republican Party. While the
GOP maintained control of both the House and Senate, it was the second
back-to-back presidential election defeat they have suffered in half a
century. Newsday observed that "Party leaders and strategists will confront
a host of tricky problems as they seek to reconstruct the coalition that
lifted them to victory in five out of six presidential contests between 1968
and 1988, but deserted them in the last two elections." Columnist Ken Fireman
also noted the "split" within party ranks "between social conservatives, who
believe the party must stress opposition to abortion, support for school
prayer and other social issues, and economic conservatives, who believe that
lower taxes and smaller government are the keys to success."
* One area religious right groups can be expected to concentrate is the
issue of legalized gaming. Across the nation, voters rejected ballot
measures in seven of ten states which would have legalized some form of
gambling. Gaming industry experts were philosophic about the setbacks; David
Wolfe, an analyst for the stock firm of Oppenheimer & Co. attributed the
negative votes a positive economy where governments and voters did not see
the need to use gambling in order to create new tax ratables. In Ohio,
Governor George Voinovich who supports much of the Christian Coalition
agenda, echoed the group's sentiments when he called legalized casinos "the
crack cocaine of gambling," and called for the defeat of a measure that would
have allowed riverfront gaming. Legalized gambling was also turned down in
Michigan, where gamers take their money across the border to Windsor,
Reed In Spin Doctor Mode
Throughout last evening and into today, Christian Coalition Director Ralph
Reed was busy giving his take of the election outcome to the national media.
He charged that Dole "did poorly...because he ran on the single-issue
campaign of tax cuts and didn't speak more broadly to moral and social
issues." Reed told USA TODAY that "Bob Dole represents what the party was
and we (the Christian Coalition) represent what it is becoming."
The CC Director also kept up the refrain that the distribution of 45
million "voters guides", phone banks and other efforts by the religious
activist group prevented a "meltdown" at the polls and a total debacle for
the GOP. CC backed initiatives which focused on a number of issues often
failed at the polls. In Washington state, for instance, a proposal that
would have established a voucher program for use in private and religious
schools was rejected by a 2-1 margin. The defeat of Amendment 17 in Colorado
(Parental Rights) was a major setback. And the Coalition experienced some
surprising defeats in states where it had committed major resources. In
Louisiana, for instance, Democrat Mary Landrieu became the first woman from
that state to be elected to the U.S. Senate. She defeated Republican Woody
Jenkins in a narrow race, and overcame a verbal salvo from retired Archbishop
Philip Hannan of New Orleans, who declared that it would be a sin to vote for
Landrieu because of her support of abortion rights. Along with a squad of
Christian Coalition volunteers, Jenkins even brought in former Vice President
Today, the Coalition was releasing more of its exit polling from
yesterday's voting which was conducted by the Wirthlin Worldwide firm. Reed
maintained that "abortion is a positive issue for Republicans," ostensibly
picking up 5% more votes for candidates running on a pro-life ticket; he also
insisted that approximately 56% of fundamentalists and evangelicals supported
the Dole ticket (while about 35% went for Mr. Clinton).
WHO -- AND WHAT -- TO WATCH NOW THAT THE HOOPLA IS OVER
* BILL CLINTON ~~ Expect Pat Robertson, the Christian Coalition, and the
rest of the religious right to push for continued investigation into Clinton
and his administration. Their demands for a religion and morals-based agenda
in Washington, though, may collide with the political realities of Clinton's
second term. Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) predicts that
Clinton will govern from the "dead center" on most issues, and that caution,
compromise and where possible a bi-partisanship will have to be the order of
the day, at least for the next two years.
* RALPH REED ~~ The Christian Coalition Director has already hit the
political turf running; sensing a Dole defeat as early as September, Reed has
tried to re-position the Christian Coalition as a kind of "firewall." Last
night, he again criticized Bob Dole and his campaign handlers for failing to
capitalize on a religious-morals based agenda
This morning, much of the media establishment was suggesting that the
Coalition's agenda may end up taking a back seat when the new Congress
convenes in January. USA TODAY noted that "Now, possibly headed for a more
tenuous balance, Republicans are more likely to concentrate on fiscal
Reed can be expected to resurrect at least one piece of CC legislation --
the Partial Birth Abortion Ban. Clinton's veto of the legislation back in
April earned him an official letter of reprimand from the National Conference
of Catholic Bishop's, but that didn't hurt his standings in the polls, or his
popularity with Roman Catholic voters, a majority of whom appear to have
supported Clinton yesterday in the voting booths. And Clinton may defuse the
Christian Coalition's thunder on this issue in the same way he has managed to
steal many Republican themes; he could end up signing a compromise ban which
would still allow for the abortion procedure in extraordinary circumstances,
such as where the life of the mother is in danger.
* HOWARD PHILLIPS and the US TAXPAYERS PARTY.
Many of those religious activists who didn't follow Reed and the Coalition
into the San Diego GOP Convention split ranks and flocked to Howard Phillips
and the US Taxpayers Party. Phillips, a former GOP operative, has become
increasingly militant on issues such as homosexuality, school prayer and
abortion, and is now a Christian Reconstructionist. The US Taxpayers Party
reflects the Reconstructionist agenda; while it echoes much of the free
market philosophy found in groups like the Libertarian Party, the USTP
advocates a strict, Calvinist social order which recognized "that god, not
man or reason, is sovereign." Reconstructionist theology defines men as
"head of household," and support the death penalty for a number of crimes
including blasphemy, sodomy, adultery and disrespect to one's parents.
With 99% of the yesterday's returns tabulated, Phillips garnered nearly
180,000 votes -- twice that of John Hagelin of the Natural Law Party, and far
ahead of various independent and socialist groups. In the "minor party"
category, the USTP was surpassed only by Ross Perot, Ralph Nader (Green
Party) and Harry Browne of the Libertarian Party.
Phillips and the USTP could be the beneficiary if the Pat Robertson-Ralph
Reed strategy of trying to stay within Republican ranks fails, or continues
to meet with limited success.
AMERICAN ATHEISTS CHALLENGES COALITION ''SPINDOCTOR''
(The following statement was released this afternoon to the national news
AMERICAN ATHEISTS today criticized the attempts of Christian Coalition
Director Ralph Reed to "spindoctor" the results of the yesterday's national
election, and the role played by extreme religious groups. Ellen Johnson,
President of American Atheists, charged that claims based on the Coalition's
"exit polls" were "disingenuous and designed to exaggerate the role of Mr.
Reed's organization both inside the Republican Party and in the electoral
Johnson noted that the Coalition claims between 1.6 and 1.8 million
members; buts its publication "The Christian American" has a circulation of
only about 350,000 according to filings with the postal service. She added:
"No sooner had President Clinton been declared the winner, than Reed was
claiming credit in preventing a Republican 'meltdown.' But the Coalition's
exit polls are like their so-called voters guides. They're designed to skew
facts and simplify issues."
Johnson noted that the exit polling (conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide)
foicused on a narrow group of evangelical Christians who emphasized
"pro-life" issues. But even Reed's own statistics suggest that this segment
did not vote as a monolithic block -- over 35% voted for President Clinton.
"There are too many factors behind why people voted as they did to suggest
that Bob Dole lost this presidential race because he didn't emphasize the
Christian Coalition's social agenda, or attack President Clinton on
''character' issues," Johnson said. "Ralph Reed was ready last night to
claim credit for ANYTHING that happened. If there had been a Dole upset, he
would have attributed that surprise to the 45 million 'voters guides' the
Coalition pumped-out in churches at the last minute. But instead, he's using
selective thinking and bias -- he's claiming credit for the GOP victories in
the House and Senate, but wants to wash his hands of Senator Dole's defeat.
He's trying to have it both ways."
Ron Barrier, National Media Coordinator for American Atheists noted that
the Coalition's polling focused on a narrow segment of voters, and was
designed to exaggerate the group's influence. "Ralph Reed is always talking
about the 'people of faith,' but the facts show that this is not some
monolithic block that the Christian Coalition can deliver on."
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