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American Community Renewal Act

Tuesday, May 19, 1998 WASHINGTON --

The House Committee on Small Business today considered legislation that would, if adopted, severely alter current law by allowing religiously affiliated organizations to deliver social services in an overtly religious manner. Introduced last week by Representatives J.C. Watts, R-OK, and James Talent, R-MO, the new measure represents one of the top legislative priorities of religious conservatives. One major section of the bill --which is called the American Community Renewal Act -- would explicitly require religious agencies seeking government-funded substance abuse treatment "to actively participate in religious practice, worship, and instruction.

"In testimony submitted to the committee today, the American Civil Liberties Union said the section of the Watts-Talent legislation that deals with substance abuse "would violate the religious liberty rights of those seeking drug treatment." In addition, the ACLU said that by providing government funding for overtly religious treatment, the billwould violate the separation of church and state.

ACLU Legislative Analyst Terri Schroeder said the Watts-Talent legislation would threaten the independence of houses of worship and other religious institutions. "All Americans should be deeply concerned about a law that would allow the federal government the power to rifle through the receipts of our houses of worship," Schroeder said. "This bill calls for mandatory and unprecedented audits of the financial records of religious institutions. "Schroeder said that the Watts-Talent proposal would strip constitutional rights not just from the communities the bill seeks to empower, but for all Americans. "Financial rewards for a community cannot come at the price of waiving First Amendment rights," she said.

HOW TO TAKE ACTION: Send a FAX from the ACLU Website


1. Istook "Religious Freedom Amendment" - This amendment includes the reinstallment of School Prayer. Also includes federal sponsorship of religious organizations. HJ Res. 78 is scheduled for a floor vote on Thursday, June 4. With the short time until the vote we are urging you to:

A. Send a FAX from the ACLU Website


B. Call the Capitol Switchboard at 202/225-3121 during the first week of June.


C. Call your member's Congress Members district offices.

The Association of Trial Lawyers of America opposse this amendment. In our eyes, this amendment would pave the way for a major war between religions. Also, we must ask, if we go back to State sponsored school prayer ... What denomination shall it be? Will we be able to say a prayer for the Goddess as oppossed to the God ? Can we call our Animal Guides during this prayer? In our eyes, this amendment just will not work. The LAST thing that we need is 1 religion becoming the "religion of the US".


Go to Congressional Email Site. At this site you can find out who your representatives are by typing in your Zip code. The site also provides pre-formatted forms for you to write your Congress person with an option of printing the form with the address for delivery by Snail mail or you can request that your letter be sent by Email directly from the site.

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