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From owner-aanews@atheists.org Sun Sep 17 21:19:48 2000
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subject: AANEWS for September 17, 2000

Bush underscores need for faith; Gore again hits Hollywood, supports Lieberman on religion-in-politics

AANews, #817, 17 September 2000

Despite Appeals To Religion By Demos, Bush Leads With Born Again Crowd

Just when you thought the candidates of the two major political parties could not add to the volume of religious rhetoric in the election campaign, both Texas Gov. George W. Bush and Democrat Presidential hopeful Al Gore continued talking about the importance of faith, and a role for sectarian groups in the public square.

* Baptist Press on Friday released the transcript of an intervie [...] Bush, who said that he welcomed "the discussion about religion and politics," and the remarks of Sen. Joseph Lieberman regarding his personal beliefs. "I think his testimony of faith is good and important," declared Bush.

Bush told the religious news service that in his campaign, he talks "about lifting this country's spirits. I talk about character. I talk about faith-based programs..." He denied that such programs would allow the government "to take over the church, or ... the church ... to take over government."

The GOP candidate, who has seen his standing in the polls flip over the past 2-3 weeks, underscored his spiritual belief and said that he described himself "as a man who was raised a Christian, who sought redemption and found it in Jesus Christ ..." Echoing the public-confessional style of former President Jimmy Carter who admitted that he had lustful visions, Bush confessed, "I admit I'm a lowly sinner. It's that admission that led me to redemption and led me to Christ."

Few issues of substance were discussed during the interview. Bush did say that he would sign a ban on partial birth abortion and support parental notification laws.

When queried on the "type of relationship" a Bush-Cheney administration might have with organized religion, he gushed, "I'm mindful of telling people that when asked about my religion that I'm mindful of walking that walk. That's the best thing I can do as president. And when you walk the walk, people of faith will walk right with you..."

* Riding the latest wave of cultural populism and Hollywood bashing, Vice President Al Gore used a breakfast with a student group yesterday to emphasize the importance of religious faith in politics, and launch a fresh salvo over the marketing of "violent" games and movies to youngsters.

"There has been a big debate this year about the role of faith in politics," Gore told a gathering of the National Student Leadership Forum. "I really support what Joe Lieberman has been saying about that. I think he is right."

Gore also suggested that the two students linked to the April, 1999 shootings at Columbine High School had been influenced by the video game "Doom." Repeating themes promoted by wife Tipper Gore when she crusaded against musical lyrics and video game content, Gore declared, "If we broadcast ... throughout our society material which children are simply incapable of processing and dealing with, we should not be surprised if some of them respond to it in ways that are unhealthy."

* Retreating to spin-contol mode, the wife of Democratic vice presidential hopeful Joe Lieberman defended her husband's statements regarding the role of religion in the public square. Despite Lieberman's support of faith-based partnerships and flirtations with government censorship over movies, television and musical lyrics, wife Hadassah Lieberman told a Delaware audience that her husband has always been "a firm advocate of First Amendment rights" who supports the separation of church and state.

"Joe's not talking about legislating faith," Mrs. Lieberman stated. "He's talking about values."

* George W. Bush leads Al Gore by a hefty 2-1 margin among those voters who describe themselves as "Born Again Christians." A Barna Research survey released last week suggests that the country's fundamentalist and evangelical community will likely be an important factor in November.

"Among the evangelicals who are likely to vote and are certain whom they will vote for," notes the Barna group, "Bush led Gore by more than a 6-to-1 margin." This segments represents less than 8% of the population, though, and will constitute about 10% of voters turning out in November. The result: religious conservatives remain an important constituency within the GOP, and could be a swing-vote tilting the race slightly to Bush.

The race is tighter, though, among Roman Catholics. Many support Bush's call for a ban on partial birth abortion and proposals to expand "charitable choice" and create "faith-based partnerships" between religious groups and government. Gore, too, supports these aid-to-religion schemes, and Barna suggests that Catholics are evenly divided between the two candidates.

Bush leads Gore by 64% to 35% with Protestant voters, though.

Barna results show that despite the Gore-Lieberman appeal to religion and "values," it is George W. Bush who seems to have solidified his standing among those born-again Christians likely to vote in November.

For further information:

http://www.atheists.org/flash.line/eleclob.htm (Archives of articles on election campaign 2000)

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.

You may forward, post or quote from this dispatch, provided that appropriate credit is given to AANEWS and American Atheists. Please do not post complete editions of this newsletter indiscriminately to newsgroups, boards or other outlets. Edited by Conrad Goeringer, cg@atheists.org. Internet Representative for American Atheists is Margie Wait, irep@atheists.org.

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