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7/11/01 Washington Times article on " The Day That Counts" press conference

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  • Shelly Hattan
    This article is about the press conference held at the National Press Club regarding the upcoming Day That Counts (www.thedaythatcounts.org) We will be writing
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 11 10:00 AM
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      This article is about the press conference held at the National Press Club
      regarding the upcoming Day That Counts (www.thedaythatcounts.org)

      We will be writing letters to our elected officials at this Sunday's
      meeting. Please bring the addresses of all Federal, State, and Local
      politicians you wish to write to.

      We'll also talk about the 2002 Atheist Alliance meeting being hosted by
      Metroplex Atheists.

      I also want to remind you that we will be meeting at the Heritage Park
      building this month.

      Looking forward to seeing everyone!

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      ATHEISTS BLAST FAITH-BASED INITIATIVE

      Emily Rahe
      THE WASHINGTON TIMES


      -----------------------------------------------------------

      Atheist and other secularist groups announced plans
      yesterday to flood Congress on July 17 with e-mail, letters
      and telephone calls against President Bush's faith-based
      initiative.

      "The Day That Counts" initiative, led by Madalyn Murray
      O'Hair's former group American Atheists, encourages
      nonreligious citizens to contact members of Congress to
      oppose what the groups deem to be a "religion tax" imposed
      on Americans.

      The groups have an array of complaints against the
      initiative, but collectively agree that it is unjust and a
      violation of the First Amendment clause barring the
      establishment of religion.

      "Justice and logic and history and religious freedom
      and our Constitution all make it clear that it is simply
      wrong to take money away from people with no religion and
      use it to pay for advancing any religion," Ed Buckner, the
      executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, said
      at a news conference yesterday at the National Press Club.
      "No tax support of religion can be justified. Not now, not
      ever."

      Added Jeff Dee of the Atheist Community of Austin: "It
      is wrong because it gives your tax dollars to groups whose
      stated goal is to convert your children, your friends, and
      your neighbors to religious viewpoints which may oppose your
      own.

      "Of course those groups are free to try and persuade
      others to agree with them, but the government is not free to
      give them your tax dollars to help them do it," Mr. Dee
      said.

      A spokeswoman for Rep. Tony P. Hall, Ohio Democrat and
      primary co-sponsor of the House version of Mr. Bush's plan,
      called such opposition to the proposal on church-state
      grounds unfounded.

      Rep. J.C. Watts, Oklahoma Republican and the principal
      author of the bill, "took great pains to ensure that this
      does not violate the Constitution in any way," said Deborah
      De Young, a special assistant to Mr. Hall. "The more people
      that start thinking this through on their own, the more
      likely they are to come to the conclusion that this proposal
      has a lot of promise and is not at all risky."

      A number of groups said the initiative inherently
      discriminates on the basis of religion by using a "religious
      litmus test" to distribute federal funds.

      David Silverman, the president of the Alliance of
      Lucent and AT&T Atheists and Secularists, said the plan
      promotes and practices bigotry, discriminating against
      groups that don't "believe in the right religion."

      Ron Barrier, the national spokesman for American
      Atheists, called the plan an "insidious conspiracy to rape
      both the Constitution and the American public."

      "Religion is a multibillion-dollar marketing and
      recruiting juggernaut with a singularity of purpose that
      would make the Borg envious," he said, referring to the
      hive-minded race depicted in some of the "Star Trek" series.

      The groups also said the initiative's administrators
      will not enforce regulations on the participating religious
      groups for fear of appearing to attack ministers.

      "Our leaders refuse to hold religious groups and
      leaders accountable," said Stuart Bechman of the Atheist
      Alliance International. "Before we open up our public purse
      to outside groups, we should expect our leaders to find
      strong evidence that potential recipients are deserving,
      willing and capable of the mission they are asked to
      deliver."

      The coalition has a Web site, www.thedaythatcounts.com,
      devoted to publicizing the campaign. The groups said
      yesterday that about 2,000 people have already signed an
      online "statement of personal endorsement" supporting their
      efforts. Group organizers say there are about 27 million
      atheists or other nonreligious people in the United States.


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      This article was mailed from The Washington Times
      (http://www.washtimes.com/national/20010711-3162328.htm)
      For more great articles, visit us at
      http://www.washtimes.com

      Copyright (c) 2001 News World Communications, Inc. All
      rights reserved.
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