A little-known moral concerns group was largely responsible for marshaling public opinion against a California bill that would have protected homosexuals from employment discrimination. Gov. George Deukmejian was swamped by nearly 100,000 phone calls and letters—thought to be the most ever received by a California governor on a single subject. An overwhelming number of those contacting the governor opposed the bill.

The Republican governor agonized for 13 days before vetoing the bill last month. Support for the veto was organized by the Sacramento-based Committee on Moral Concerns, headed by W. B. Timberlake, a retired Southern Baptist preacher and a former lawyer.

“Several Christian radio and television stations and a lot of people were alerted,” said Art Croney, the committee’s associate lobbyist.

Appeals to Christian groups and the 8,000 subscribers to the committee’s newsletter helped generate a flood of letters, telegrams, and calls to Deukmejian’s office.

Five days before the veto, Timberlake and several state legislators presented their case against the measure to the governor and his staff. They argued that in effect it would make homosexuals a legal minority group with employment privileges. Advocates of the bill, including state assemblyman Art Agnos, had met with the governor earlier that day.

With the measure still on Deukmejian’s desk, a coalition of pastors and the American Life Lobby held a prayer rally involving some 700 persons on the north steps of the state capitol. A much smaller group of gay-rights activists staged a rally at the same time on the south steps.

The governor’s veto message said that “a person’s sexual orientation should not be a basis for the establishment of a special protected class of individuals, especially in the absence of a compelling show of need.”

The measure had won narrow approval in the state’s senate and assembly. Emotional floor debates were punctuated by Bible quotations from speakers on both sides of the issue. The bill has been fought for during the last eight years by assemblyman Agnos, a Democrat from San Francisco.

Agnos said he thought Deukmejian was leaning toward signing the bill at first. But he added: “We were overwhelmed by opposition of what I call ‘the bigoted Bible thumpers.’ ”

Timberlake said his organization includes thousands of pastors and church members from more than 40 denominations. The committee lobbies on a number of issues such as pornography, family violence, gambling, and separation of church and state.

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After the veto, state Sen. H. L. Richardson called on ministers throughout the state to make the following Sunday a day of thanksgiving. Gays and their sympathizers staged protest rallies in several cities. In San Francisco, 300 gay-rights advocates marched for four miles shouting “Puke on Duke” and vowed political vengeance on him and others opposing them.

Agnos said he would reintroduce his bill on the first day of the next legislative session in December. Timberlake and his staff of eight will be ready.

“We’ll go for it again,” vowed lobbyist Croney. “But six other similar versions [of the bill] are also alive and could be passed if we don’t stay alert.”


Getting Drunk Isn’T As Popular As It Used To Be

Those who drink beer didn’t drink as much of it last year. And the trend has struck a note of fear among brewers.

But it is not just beer that is suffering from a decline in popularity. Consumption of distilled alcohol also dropped last year as it has every year since 1980.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that a movement some describe as “neo-Prohibitionist” has had a sobering effect on the alcohol industry. Researchers of social change say it is no longer considered unfashionable to turn down a drink at a party. The trend toward more moderate drinking habits could spell trouble for the alcoholic beverage industry. Only 15 percent of drinkers consume 50 percent of the alcohol, according to Allan Luks, the author of a book on alcohol consumption.

Social scientists have offered several explanations for the dry spell, according to the Wall Street Journal. One is increased interest in fitness and self-improvement. Another is a powerful and growing political campaign against drunken drivers. Responding to the lobbying efforts of such organizations as Mothers Against Drunk Driving, 40 states passed tougher drunk-driving laws last year. In addition, 25 national organizations have petitioned the Federal Trade Commission to ban alcohol advertising aimed at youths and heavy drinkers.

World Scene

The Spanish Parliament has passed a law that will reduce Catholic influence in the country’s schools. Private schools that receive state funds will have to meet government curriculum requirements. Religion classes will become optional. Some 3 million of Spain’s 8 million school children attend private schools, most of them church-run.

The Italian newspaper Il Tempo reports that the Vatican is preparing to cut diplomatic ties with Taiwan. The change would be part of an effort to open diplomatic relations between Rome and mainland China. In a speech to Taiwanese bishops, Pope John Paul II indicated that Taiwan and the Chinese mainland should be considered as one nation.

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Currency export restrictions in 26 countries are causing problems for Bible societies. The organizations ordinarily sell Bibles—often at reduced prices—and then transfer income overseas to have more Bibles printed. However, transfers of funds are being blocked in 26 countries in Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, and Europe.

The Nigerian army has been called in to stop riots by fundamentalist Muslims in the northeastern city of Yola. Police arrested 713 people in the violence that has claimed at least 137 lives. Officials blame the unrest on the followers of Mohammad Marwa Mitatsine, a sect leader who was killed in rioting three years ago.

More than 500,000 people rallied in France to protest the government’s plans to tighten control on church-run schools. A proposed law would give regional bodies control over school budgets, limit the number of private school teachers, and require all teachers to have civil servant status. The government pays the salaries of all teachers in private schools, most of them operated by the Catholic church.

The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano says the Inquisition court overstepped its authority when it convicted astronomer Galileo Galilei of heresy. An article by Mario D’Addio, a member of a special commission set up to review the 1633 conviction, stated that Galileo’s theories did not violate any article of faith. The seventeenth-century astronomer was condemned as a heretic after he said the earth revolves around the sun.

The European Parliament this month is scheduled to debate guidelines that would affect members of religious cults. The proposal includes guaranteed access to cult members by family and friends, and the right of members to seek independent advice and medical attention.


In an interview published in the March 16 issue of CHRISTIANITY TODAY, U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop used the term “fetus ex-utero” to refer to a newborn baby. The term should have been printed in quotation marks to show that it was not Koop’s own choice of words. Rather, it is a term used by those who deny the personhood of a fetus or a newborn. Koop himself does not accept the terminology.

Billy Graham Loses His Voice

Something happened to evangelist Billy Graham during his recent Alaska crusade that had never occurred before. He lost his voice while preaching the gospel.

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Just 10 minutes into a sermon about Samson and Delilah, Graham’s voice faltered. Song leader Cliff Barrows brought him a glass of hot honey water (center photo). Graham attempted to finish the sermon, but his voice failed again. He left the pulpit, and associate evangelist John Wesley White completed the message (bottom photo). The Alaska crusade was telecast to more than 90 percent of the state and broadcast by radio into Siberia.

Medical Groups Challenge Rules To Protect Disabled Infants

The American Medical Association (AMA) and five other medical groups are going to court to challenge a new federal regulation designed to protect handicapped infants. The medical groups say the federal government has no legitimate role in determining whether an impaired newborn should receive treatment.

The Reagan administration maintains that civil-rights laws assure equal treatment of every infant, regardless of its condition or presumed quality of life. Because of reports of infanticide, the government issued a rule to prevent federally funded hospitals from discriminating against handicapped infants.

That regulation was blocked in court last year, so a new version was crafted by U.S. Surgeon General C. Everett Koop (CT, Feb. 17, 1984, p. 44). It established patient-care review committees, a provision dear to the hearts of those in the medical establishment. The committees would be sponsored by hospitals to monitor decisions in difficult cases and to serve as sounding boards for doctors who are uncertain about available resources for handicapped children.

Koop gained the support of the American Academy of Pediatrics, a group that opposed the original rule. But the AMA would not accept any compromise measure. “Parents and physicians, not the government, should be responsible for making decisions about care,” an AMA position paper states. A spokesman says the AMA will oppose any federal decision-making role in medical treatment.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) plans to stand its ground as well. Before the matter goes to federal court, the department has several weeks to amend or drop the regulation. But spokesperson Claire del Real says HHS has no plans to change the regulation.

Joining the AMA in the suit against the regulation are the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the American Hospital Association, and the Hospital Association of New York State.

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They argue that civil rights law cited by HHS was never intended to “mandate treatment decisions or to require physicians or hospitals to override parental decisions” about medical care. In addition, they say Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements to hospitals—targeted to be witheld if a hospital violates the new regulation—do not count as “federal financial assistance.” Finally, the regulation would “violate a family’s right to privacy and set up an adversary relationship between the family and the physician and hospital,” according to the AMA.

“The AMA is the only organization that believes an impaired child’s future is only up to the parents and physician,” says Surgeon General Koop. “If that’s the case, why do 50 states have child-abuse laws on the books?”

Koop is distressed about the increasing emphasis placed on “quality-of-life” considerations in determining what treatment is appropriate. An AMA spokesperson affirms that the quality-of-life criterion is important. “At any age, decisions about the terminally ill have to be made on the basis of outcome,” the spokesperson says. “The goal by which we work is to alleviate pain and extend and improve the quality of life.”

The spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, says the AMA is unconvinced that handicapped newborns are being left untreated. “That generalization is killing us,” he says. “No doctor is going to turn down an opportunity to save a life if its quality is guaranteed.”

Says Koop, in response: “For anybody who is a spokesman for the AMA to deny that infanticide is being practiced in this country when it is reported in medical journals by doctors who do it is beyond my comprehension.”


Donors Are Told How To Identify Improper Fund-Raising Tactics

It may seem incongruous to tell Christian organizations that their fund-raising practices must be honest. But that task consumes considerable energy at the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA).

The issue of raising money has troubled growing numbers of donors and Christian leaders, not to mention the Internal Revenue Service and the Better Business Bureau. One year ago, ECFA’S board appointed a task force on fund raising. The task force has developed 16 guidelines that address a range of concerns: Is donated money being spent the way the donor intends? Have donor expectations been raised to unrealistic heights? Are gifts being offered that have nothing to do with an organization’s ministry? Are royalties being collected on books that are used for fund raising?

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The guidelines were approved by ECFA’S board in February. Its 257 members will be invited to comment on them before they are incorporated into the council’s standards for membership. As ECFA spreads the word to its members, it plans an outreach to donors as well. Executive director Arthur C. Borden believes teaching people how to guard their pocketbooks may be the most convincing way to get organizations to comply with the fundraising guidelines.

“This is changing the thrust of ECFA,” he says. “We will put major emphasis on telling the public what the standards are and asking the public to start asking some of the same questions we are asking.”

The organization plans to spend $150,000 on advertisements, television spots, and other means of raising public consciousness. It hopes the effort will result in ministries announcing that their fund-raising standards meet ECFA’S criteria. The guidelines spell out what donors should watch for:

• Overblown promises about what will be accomplished with a contribution. Emotional writing that leads a contributor to believe the forward movement of the gospel will halt without the donor’s help is common.

• Events described and illustrated in direct mail appeals should be accurate and complete. Frequently, “composite” stories blur the truth or exaggerate the urgency of an appeal.

• Funds raised for a specific project or purpose cannot be used to meet other needs. And organizations must report to donors upon request about the projects they promote.

• Donors may not be told their gifts are tax deductible when the fund-raising appeal includes a “free gift” that is unrelated to the purpose of the ministry. If fund raising depends heavily on the use of such incentives, the market value of the giveaway item must be subtracted from the tax-deductible portion of the donor’s gift.

The need for self-regulation became clear in 1977, when the U.S. House of Representatives debated a bill to allow sweeping government scrutiny of nonprofit fund-raising activities. The measure failed, and several evangelicals in Congress encouraged parachurch leaders to establish ethical ground rules for themselves. As a result, ECFA emerged in 1979.

“We certify standards, not programs,” Borden explains. “We’re in no position to say whether relief agency A is doing a better job than relief agency B. But we can say whether it has a legitimate, ethical program.”

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