From firstname.lastname@example.org Thu Sep 7 06:44:49 2000
from: AMERICAN ATHEISTS
"Contact Joe," Remind Lieberman and other pols that we have separation, the right to freedom from religion
AANews, #813, 6 September 2000
Sen. Joseph Lieberman's office is getting an earful over Lieberman's remarks this past week that Americans do not enjoy "freedom from religion." In response to an American Atheists Action Alert, several hundred e-mails have already been sent to Lieberman's Washington, D.C. offices; and this does include phone calls, faxes and "snail mails" which have been sent. Below, we reproduce the latest letter directed to Sen. Lieberman Cliff Walker, Editor of Positive Atheism Magazine (http://www.positiveatheism.org)
AN OPEN LETTER TO SENATOR LIEBERMAN
Dear Senator Lieberman,
I was distressed by the comments you made recently during a speech at a Detroit, Michigan church where you called upon Americans to "reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purposes."
How would it sound if a politician had urged Americans to "reaffirm whiteness and renew the dedication of our nation to the principles of the supremacy of white males"?
If this makes you shudder, then you have an idea what it's like to be nonreligous American and to hear remarks by yourself, Vice President Gore, Governor Bush and his running mate.
To favor one group (in your case, religious people) is sheer bigotry. The only difference is that it is still popular to discriminate against nonreligious people. Being so diverse and so accustomed to enduring the most brutal persecution and discrimination for centuries, most of us haven't the nerve to speak out and stop this bigotry like women, Jews, African Americans, and lately homosexuals have been able to do.
You also suggested that the Constitution of the United States "guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion."
Excuse me? Which constitution have you been reading? And which cases have set *this* as the precedent? I cite Grand Rapids School District v. Ball (1985):
"The solution to this problem adopted by the Framers and consistently recognized by this Court is jealously to guard the right of every individual to worship according to the dictates of conscience while requiring the government to maintain a course of neutrality among religions, and between religion and nonreligion.-- Justice William. J. Brennan
These remarks of yours are inaccurate and inappropriate in an American election campaign. You are seeking the nation's second-highest elected office where you may have the responsibility of representing all Americans -- not just those of religious belief. Tens of millions of us describe ourselves as Atheists, agnostics, skeptics -- people of no religious faith. We pay taxes, "play by the rules" as Bill Clinton likes to say, and many of us vote. We find it offensive that major political figures preach at us, commanding us to worship, and then suggest that our nation does not enjoy the constitutional protections of the First Amendment's establishment clause.
Many who would traditionally vote the Democratic ticket are now going to send the Democratic Party a message by voting for Independent candidates. I am one of those voters.
Nonreligion -- atheism -- has been the "faith of my fathers" for at least four solid generations, probably longer. Not one of my parents, grandparents, or great-grandparents was a Christian, and most were not even theists. One was a Unitarian, and that's as religious as we get in our family tree.
We look forward to hearing from you on this matter, and will publish any responses you may have to what I have written here. Our next issue will complete five years in publication (60 issues). Ours is not a tax-exempt organ, so we can and will speak our minds on the candidates who seek to trash the right to lack religion, or who seek to relegate atheists back to second-class citizenship, or who seek to funnel even more of our tax dollars into the treasuries of the already tax-exempt religions, or who seek to revise history and paint the United States as a "Christian Nation."
Cliff Walker, Publisher
Had enough preaching from the campaign podium?
LET SENATOR JOE LIEBERMAN KNOW THAT YOU, AND MILLIONS OF OTHER AMERICAN NONBELIEVERS, SUPPORT THE SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE -- AND YOU VOTE!
Last Sunday, Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman -- an Orthodox Jew -- told a church audience that it was time for Americans to "reaffirm our faith and renew the dedication of our nation and ourselves to God and God's purpose." He also suggested, "the constitution guarantees freedom of religion, not freedom from religion." (http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/elec16.htm)
Someone needs to give Senator Lieberman a lesson in American history.
The year 2000 election campaign is awash with religious rhetoric. Candidates of both major parties are calling for what amounts to a "religious tax," an aggressive program to use public money in order to facilitate so-called "faith-based partnerships" and involve sectarian groups in the administration of social welfare programs. The separation of church and state is the orphan child in this campaign, spoken of as an inconvenience or antiquated constitutional principle to be circumvented by any means necessary. With their preaching, candidates are catering to religious block-votes, and ignoring the tens of millions of Americans who are atheists, skeptics, nonbelievers of some kind.
It's time the political candidates, starting with Sen. Joseph Lieberman, heard from the people-of-no-faith now! American Atheists is urging all Atheists and others to contact his office.
* Sign our special on-line e-mail which will be sent directly to Sen. Lieberman! Visit http://www.atheists.org/action/lieberman.html and follow the links.
* Phone, fax or snail-mail the senator and voice your opinion! Check out our special web page for details.
* Circulate this Action Alert to other organizations and newsgroups!
AANEWS is a free service from 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.
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