IFAS | Freedom Writer | March/April 1997 | update.html

Religious Right update

Ashcroft aids religious groups

Washington, DC During the last days of the 104th (1996) Congress, the most committed right wing fundamentalist senator, John Ashcroft of Missouri, in a sneaky maneuver unworthy of any genuinely religious person, attached without notice an amendment to the welfare act which was intended to gut the First Amendment's Establishment Clause. President Clinton signed it into law.

Ashcroft's amendment, known as "a charitable choice" provision, permits government social services to be administered inside a church or house of worship; grants a right to religious contractors to display any kind of religious symbols where government funded services are provided, and allows religious contractors to discriminate in hiring employees, who are paid with taxpayer funds. It also grants all religious organizations a statutory right to be eligible to contract with a state to administer social services. This right can be enforced with a lawsuit against the state. Furthermore, this federal legislation prevents states from requiring that religious social service providers deliver services in an environment free from proselyting symbols and expressions.

These provisions will allow religious organizations to require that employees paid with taxpayer dollars adhere to the "religious tenets and teachings" of the religious institutions. The legislation also mandates that employees follow rules regarding off-the-job behavior, including consumption of alcoholic beverages.

In other words, this amendment will not only exclude non-believers from government-funded employment, but will allow groups to advance religious doctrines with taxpayer money. (From: Facts for Action, edited by John Swomley)

Holy cow

Canton, Mississippi In preparation for the end of the age and the return of Jesus, a Pentecostal preacher has prepared the ultimate sacrifice a holy cow to be slain on the altar of the third Temple in Jerusalem. Clyde Lott, a minister in the Assemblies of Jesus Christ, bred a red heifer according to the Orthodox Jewish interpretation of the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Numbers.

Lott, like many conservative Christians, believes that a third Temple must be built in Jerusalem before Jesus can return. The last Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by Titus in 70 C.E. Ever since, prophecy buffs have eagerly awaited the construction of a new Temple. The 1967 takeover of East Jerusalem by Israel offered encouragement. But, even before the Temple is built, some maintain, the ashes of a sacrificed red heifer must be used to cleanse the Temple site.

Lott contacted Rabbi Chaim Richman, affiliated with the Temple Institute in Jerusalem. Richman flew to Mississippi to inspect the heifer named Dixie, and said it met the biblical requirements. However, Dixie is now beyond the age for sacrificial animals, but her offspring would be suitable.

Many Christians believe that the rebuilding of the Temple and associated events will trigger a Third World War called Armageddon, and ultimately the return of Jesus. These zealots attempt to manipulate political events in order to bring about the fulfillment of biblical prophecies.

"This is God's project," Lott told Charisma magazine. "We want to keep it out of man's hands. We're just trying to walk a line of faith."

Rev. Lott admits his red heifer project has a secondary purpose, to make money. Over the next three to seven years he plans to ship thousands of red heifers to Israel. His $100 million project has been in the works for eight years.

Save the Commandments

Montgomery, Alabama Conservative Christians are using the actions of a local judge to further their goal of a "Christian nation." Judge Roy Moore's refusal to eliminate Christian prayers and the Ten Commandments from his courtroom has received national attention since his practices were banned as unconstitutional by a higher state court. After Moore was ordered to remove a plaque of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom wall, Alabama's governor, Fob James, said he would use the National Guard and state police to prevent their removal.

In response, the American Family Association (AFA) is sponsoring a "Save the Commandments Rally" scheduled for Saturday, April 12th at the steps of the state capitol. "We will be joining Governor Fob James in his support of Judge Roy Moore's right to display the Ten Commandments on the wall of his courtroom and begin each session with prayer," said Tom Blackerby, who heads the AFA of Alabama.

"The ACLU," Blackerby said, "and other enemies of God in this country, want to remove all mention of God from the public arena. If we allow them to succeed in their efforts, their next assault will be the mention of God in our own churches which is their ultimate goal but I would like to remind them that this nation enjoys more freedoms than any nation in history, and this is because we are a Christian nation."

Among some of the groups joining the AFA rally are the Alabama Family Alliance (an affiliate of Focus on the Family), Eagle Forum, Christian Coalition, Concerned Women for America, American Center for Law & Justice, Rutherford Institute, as well as dozens of churches.

Christian alternative to AARP

Washington, DC Offering a "Christian alternative" to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), the Christian Association of PrimeTimers (CAP) hopes to counter the alleged liberal political agenda of its well-established rival group.

CAP, like AARP, offers homeowner's insurance, health insurance, a pharmacy service, travel services, and a number of other benefits. However, their main intent appears to be political. "CAP is mobilizing America's Christian PrimeTimers to ensure moral leadership in government and moral policies for our nation," according to the group's literature.

Dr. Billy A. Melvin, the group's chairman, said CAP will "show America's political leaders that there are millions of Christian Americans who do not share AARP's liberal political agenda for America. We are a Christian organization working to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ and return our great nation to righteousness."

Founded three years ago, CAP, with 55,000 members, faces a David and Goliath situation against AARP's 32 million members. Until recently, membership has grown strictly by word of mouth. Now, using direct mail, CAP hopes to garner one million members by the end of 1997.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.