November 2002 Issue #92
The religious right (RR) and their opponents agree that the election outcome
will increase the RR’s influence on officials in Congress and in
legislatures across the country. They disagree, as do elected officials,
about whether the election should be construed as a mandate to enact the
In Texas, David Dewhurst, as lieutenant governor and presiding officer in
the Senate, and Tom Craddick, as the next speaker of the House of
Representatives, will control the agenda of the two chambers. Both have been
associated with the RR. Some RR issues could move to the top of the
legislative agenda but more pressing issues, like the budget shortfall and
insurance rates, may crowd those issues out. The day after the election,
Texas Republican Party chair Susan Weddington predicted that legislators
will consider school vouchers, requiring parental consent to abortions for
minors, and barring same-sex unions. Dewhurst, a vouchers advocate, said he
does not think the legislature will have time to look at vouchers next year,
while Craddick asserted that the House, not the GOP, will determine the
Nationally, RR groups are hailing the election as a significant victory for
the “pro-life and pro-family” agenda. The Family Research Council noted that
the GOP's get-out-the-vote effort focused heavily on churches. RR groups
claim that “pro-life” issues and voters made the difference in many races,
such as in key Senate races in Georgia, Missouri, and Minnesota. Several RR
groups cited Fox News exit polls showing that the percent of conservative
religious voters increased, reversing a 10-year decline.
Ken Connor, president of the Family Research Council, said:
We can expect the GOP to advance the social issues agenda: a
partial-birth abortion ban, the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, the
Child Custody Protection Act, a ban on human cloning, the faith-based
initiative, President Bush's marriage strengthening component of welfare
reform renewal, and judicial nominations. Conservatives should, however,
manage their expectations. Obstacles remain. Passing anything in the
Senate is difficult, requiring 60 votes and not just a simple majority.
Yet President Bush, having achieved a historic victory, is in a very
strong position to advance his conservative agenda.
Sandy Rios, president of Concerned Women for
The pro-life stand was a decisive factor in the Republican takeover of
the Senate…Surely this must put an end to the notion by establishment
Republicans that people who uphold moral values cannot win. Surely the
defeat of one of their favorite pro-choice incumbents, Connie Morella in
the liberal state of Maryland, should say that if the Grand Old Party is
to prevail it must re-embrace its platform and stop dividing its members
in the guise of uniting them. … Big-Tent Republicans would do well to go
back to the teepee.
Americans United for Separation of Church and
State found that candidates who had emphasized RR themes or received
significant backing by the RR won 11 of 17 races for U.S. Senate or governor
and 16 of 25 races for U.S. House. AU contends, though, that there is no
evidence that the RR was the key factor in deciding any key races. Exit
polls, it says, suggest that voters backing GOP candidates did so to support
Pres. Bush, not the RR. AU noted that candidates w/RR support who campaigned
as moderates were more successful than those who overtly aligned themselves
with the RR. Also, the RR tended to focus its resources on campaigns in
which its candidates were likely to win.
The RR faction on the State Board of Education will stay at 6. Three RR
incumbents were re-elected (Bradley, McLeroy, Miller), two new RR candidates
won seats (Leo, Bauer), and moderates won 2 of 3 seats vacated by retiring
RR members (Neill, Watson, and Strickland). All 15 members were on the
ballot this year due to redistricting.
What Can I Do?
Groups that defend church-state separation,
individual liberty, and freedom of expression & oppose the religious
right will need your support more than ever in the coming months.
Please help them stand up to the religious right by giving your
time, voice, and money. We must show our elected officials that the
election was not a referendum on the religious right’s agenda.
Ten Commandments On Texas
Capitol Grounds Held Not Unconstitutional
A federal judge has ruled that a stone monument of the Ten Commandments on
the Texas Capitol grounds does not violate the constitutional separation of
church and state. The Austin judge, rejecting the petitioner’s claim that it
is an endorsement of Judeo-Christian beliefs by the state government, ruled
that no reasonable person would consider the display a religious
endorsement. The monument was donated to Texas in 1961 by the Fraternal
Order of Eagles, ostensibly to promote youth morality to curb juvenile
delinquency. The judge said documents show that Texas accepted it for
secular, not religious, purposes. He also noted the absence of other
complaints and its out-of-the-way location. Courts in other states have
reached the opposite conclusion about such monuments on state capitol
Studies Textbooks Changed
To Appease Religious Right
In the wake of public hearings on social studies textbooks being considered
by the State Board of Education, publishers made numerous changes. Some
books that had said events happened millions of years ago changed the
wording to “the distant past” to address complaints that the time frame did
not fit the biblical view of creation. Passages stating that Islam and the
Quran teach values such as peacefulness were removed after criticism that
the passages were too positive. Sections on slavery and global warming that
had been called un-American and anti-Christian were deleted, according to
the Texas Freedom Network. The Board votes this month on whether to approve
or reject the books.
Federal Funds Go To Faith-Based Groups,
A group led by Pat Robertson is one of 21 faith- and community-based
organizations to be awarded grants from the Department of Health & Human
Services. The $25 million grants, the first from the “Compassion Capital
Fund,” are part of Pres. Bush’s initiative to “help level the playing field”
for groups seeking federal funds. The money is to be used to provide
technical assistance to and support programs of other faith-based and
community groups. HHS is also awarding four grants totaling more than
$850,000 to support research regarding how faith- and community-based
organizations provide social services and the role they play in communities
and in their clients’ lives. Ironically, Robertson was initially a vocal
critic of Bush’s faith-based plan.
coordinator of the Texas Coalition for Public Schools, and Samantha Smoot,
executive director of the Texas Freedom Network, will speak on "Upcoming
Texas Legislative Issues".
Event will be held at: Bayland
Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet (west of Hillcroft)
Event will be held on: Thursday November
21, 7:00 P.M.
Sponsor: The Greater Houston Area Chapter of Americans United for
Separation of Church and State.
Quote of the Month
few liberals out. If you don't do it, it ain't going to be done…You
will be doing the Lord's work, and he will richly bless you for it."
Sen. James James Inhofe (R-OK) to Christian Coalition’s 2002 annual
conference, Oct. 2002.
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