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August 2003           Issue #101



Religious Right Agenda In Congress

  • The House approved the Head Start reauthorization bill (H.R.2210) with a provision allowing religious organizations that receive Head Start funds to consider religion in employment decisions.  An amendment to remove the clause allowing discrimination was defeated 199 to 231.  Bell, Green, Jackson-Lee, and Lampson voted to remove the clause; Brady, Carter, Culberson, DeLay, and Paul voted to keep it.


  • The House removed from the State Department authorization bill (H.R. 1950) all aid slated for the United Nations Family Planning Agency.


  • The House voted to deny the use of funds to enforce judgments in Newdow v. U.S. Congress, which held that requiring public school students to say the Pledge of Allegiance violates the First Amendment, and Glassroth v. Moore, which held that a Ten Commandments monument put in Alabama’s state judicial building by its chief justice is unconstitutionalThe votes were on amendments to the Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary appropriations bill (H R 2799).  The Newdow amendment passed by 307–119, the other by 260–161.  Brady, Carter, Culberson, DeLay, Green, and Paul voted for both, Bell and Jackson-Lee voted against both, and Lampson voted for the Newdow one and against the Moore one.  In March, the House passed a resolution (H. Res. 132) expressing its sense that the Newdow decision is inconsistent with the First Amendment and should be overturned.



Montgomery County Moderates Take On Religious Right

Montgomery County moderates mobilized to defeat another effort by the religious right to change the county’s public library policy.  In May, Mark Cadwallader, on behalf of Citizen’s Task Force for Family-Friendly Libraries, wrote County Judge Alan Sadler and two commissioners urging them to adopt a new materials selection and review policy that “stands up for community values, and decency and protection of minors, etc.”  He had honored Sadler’s request to keep work on the new policy quiet, he wrote, because “quiet change dictated from the top down…would be more effective and less messy.  Once voted into place by the commissioners, it would be done, and opposition reaction should be short-lived.”


Cadwallader is with the Republican Leadership Coucil, a local religious right group.  The RLC led an unsuccessful effort last fall to remove some books from library shelves. 


On July 14, at Sadler’s invitation, a minister and some congregants packed a Commissioners' Court hearing to support the new policy.  Most of them condemned homosexuality and demanded removal of any book that mentions homosexuality without disapproval.  They also wanted to terminate the county’s membership in the American Library Association and Texas Library Association, the librarians’ professional associations.  They charged that the ALA is atheistic and supports pornography and homosexuality and they criticized its opposition to Internet filters in public libraries.


Mainstream Montgomery County responded with a petition supporting ALA membership, the current library policy, and the library director, and objecting to the proposal that would give the Court the final say on library materials.  The group asserted that the new policy would result in censorship, with libraries reflecting only certain religious and political beliefs.  It also pointed out that the county would lose access to hundred of thousands of dollars in grants for which ALA members are eligible.  Volunteers and an online petition collected 1500 signatures.


On July 28, after two hours of citizens’ comments on both sides, Commissioners Court voted 3 to 2 to retain the current library policy and review procedures with the citizen/librarian advisory board and retain affiliations in the ALA and TLA.


The RLC has now embarked on a petition drive to try to persuade the six Montgomery County school boards to require science teachers to teach “intelligent design” theory along with evolution.  It plans to present the petitions to school boards by Sept. 18.  For more information about these issues or Mainstream Montgomery County, see



Religious Right Judicial Nominee Goes To Senate


Pres. Bush has nominated Alabama Attorney General Bill Pryor, a religious right star, to the 11th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.  After a contentious hearing, the Senate Judiciary Committee sent the nomination to the floor by a 10-9 party-line vote.  Sen. Arlen Specter, who voted with the majority, would not promise to vote for Pryor on the Senate floor.  The first attempt to bring the nomination for a vote by the full Senate was blocked by a filibuster. 


Pryor’s supporters, including some Senators, accuse opponents of his nomination of anti-Catholic bias because he is anti-choice.  He called Roe v. Wade the “worst abomination of constitutional law in our history.”  Pryor’s critics, including some Catholic Senators, heatedly deny the accusation and contend that he is too ideologically extreme for the bench. 


Pryor has used his office as attorney general to oppose what he has called “the so-called wall of separation between church and state.” He has staunchly supported Alabama judge Roy Moore’s display of the Ten Commandments first in his courtroom and then in the State Judicial Building rotunda.  He filed a lawsuit asking that Moore’s courtroom display and practice of inviting Christian clergy to say prayers before jury sessions be declared constitutional.  At a rally for Moore sponsored by religious right groups, he declared, “God has chosen …this place for all Christians…to save our country and save our courts.”  In two cases arising in other states, his office filed amicus briefs urging the Supreme Court to hear appeals of decisions barring public entities from maintaining religious displays of the Ten Commandments.  He has criticized U.S. Supreme Court rulings barring mandatory prayer in public schools and championed student-led prayer before captive audiences.  His official web site has speeches that he has given in favor of Moore and student-led prayer in public schools.  He appointed Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice (founded by Pat Robertson), to represent Alabama in its appeal of a ruling barring school organized or officially sanctioned religious activity.


Pryor has repeatedly asserted Christianity’s preeminence in our nation.  In a 1997 speech, he said, “The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States are rooted in a Christian perspective of the nature of government and the nature of man.  The challenge of the next millennium will be to preserve the American experiment by restoring its Christian perspective.”


The New York Times editorialized, “If he is confirmed, his rulings on civil rights, abortion, gay rights and the separation of church and state would probably do substantial harm to the rights of all Americans.”  The Atlanta Journal-Constitution opined, “Southerners who care about the separation of church and state should hope…Pryor never sits on the 11th Circuit appellate bench….Pryor's record is sufficient to disqualify him from any judgeship….He was also the only attorney general in the nation to argue that the Violence Against Women Act is unconstitutional.”


For more information about Pryor, see,, and




What Can I Do?


Let Senators Hutchison and Cornyn know that you oppose Pryor’s nomination.  Cornyn, a Judiciary Committee member, voted to send Pryor’s nomination to the floor but he should be made aware of how many Texans oppose this nomination.  Hutchison’s phone number is 202-224-5922.  Cornyn’s is 202-224-2934.




Quote of the Month


"I had a nephew who took books out of the library. He became a homosexual. Now he is dead from AIDS. Our president is now in Africa to clean up that country from AIDS." 


Citizen speaking at Montgomery Co. Commissioners’ Court, July 14, 2003.


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