Vol. 21 No. 10 - Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. -
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In The News
Fawell Threatens "Revolution"
In November, Rev. Jerry Falwell chillingly announced he plans a "21st century resurrection of the Moral Majority," the notorious group he founded in 1979.
He announced the Faith and Values Coalition will guide an "evangelical revolution." Falwell appointed himself national chair. Matthew Staver, founder of the anti-Establishment Clause Liberty Counsel in Orlando, Fla., will be vice chair. Son Jonathan Falwell will be executive director and fundamentalist Tim LaHaye board chair.
Falwell announced the group will lobby for antiabortionists to fill court vacancies, for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and for the election of another "George Bush-type" in 2008.
Apparently, it doesn't bother Falwell that lobbying groups are not permitted to endorse politicians. As head of a tax-exempt ministry, Falwell endorsed George Bush for president in a July 1 email. His website also posted a call for "every political conservative, every evangelical Christian, every pro-life Catholic, every traditional Jew, every Reagan Democrat, and everyone in between to get serious about reelecting President Bush."
Scalia Slams Separation
U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia attacked the separation between church and state before an audience at a Jewish Orthodox synagogue on Nov. 22.
Scalia claimed that official examples of religion in government date to America's founding fathers, citing the word "God" on U.S. currency; chaplains in the military and legislature; real estate tax-exemption for houses of worship, and the phrase "under god" in the Pledge of Allegiance.
"None of this is compatible with what we say when we express the so-called principle of neutrality," Scalia said.
"God" did not get into the pledge until the Knights of Columbus lobbied for its inclusion in 1954, more than 60 years after its creation.
"God" was not any U.S. coin until late in the Civil War, and gradually began appearing on most coins but was not on U.S. currency until 1957. Congress, in 1955, passed a law requiring that "In God We Trust" appear on all money. "In God We Trust" was not adopted as the nation's motto until 1956.
Tax exemption for churches was not fully codified until the late 1800s. Although volunteer chaplains were on hand from the start at the U.S. Congress, James Madison, main architect of the U.S. Constitution, later argued that this violated the First Amendment.
Apparently ignoring the Holocaust, Scalia asked his Jewish audience: "Did it turn out that, by reason of the separation of church and state, the Jews were safer in Europe than they were in the United States of America? I don't think so."
The Roman Catholic justice, in line to possibly be named chief justice, is the father of nine children, including one priest. (Source of Scalia quote, Associated Press, Nov. 22, 2004)
Bible Belt Breeds Divorce
Divorce rates are highest where more conservative Christians live. News articles have pointed to the irony that divorce rates are lowest in the "blue" states, despite the vaunted "morals" vote affecting the outcome of the Nov. 2 election.
The state with the lowest divorce rate is Massachusetts--home of losing Democrat candidate John Kerry and a court decision permitting same-sex marriage, The New York Times (Nov. 14, 2004) points out.
Arkansas, Kentucky and Mississippi, where voters overwhelmingly adopted constitutional amendments to ban gay marriage, have the three highest divorce rates in 2003, according to figures from the Census Bureau and National Center for Health Statistics.
The rate of divorce in Massachusetts was 5.7 per 1,000 people, compared with 10.8 in Kentucky, 11.1 in Mississippi and 12.7 in Arkansas.
Religious researcher George Barna has previously published polls finding that the nonreligious have lower divorce rates than born-agains. Higher educational backgrounds--which freethinkers tend to have--are associated with fewer divorces.
December 2004 Excerpts