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Author who took on religious right will speak tonight

A woman who has never been afraid to rock the boat will talk about church, state, women and the elections.

By WAVENEY ANN MOORE
Published October 18, 2006


Feminist Robin Morgan says that many Americans don't  know of their country's secular heritage and how to counter the propaganda of the extreme religious right.

The former editor-in-chief of Ms. Magazine is setting out to change that with her latest book, Fighting Words, A Toolkit for Combating the Religious Right. She says she has purposely packed the small paperback with sound bites, making it a cheat sheet of sorts for quoting the framers of the Constitution, debating family members or even offering opinions on talk shows. "This book is a tool kit for arguing," she writes.

During a telephone interview Monday, she added:  "It's to equip ordinary, good, decent citizens, both secular and people of faith, with our own heritage as Americans and why the importance of separating church and state is central to our democracy and what the framers intended."

The bestselling author will be in St. Petersburg tonight to give a talk, "Women, the Elections and Fighting Words," at Eckerd College.Morgan, 65, said women are concerned about "the basic economic reality" of such things as rising food costs and gas prices. They are, she said, "tired of mourning our kids" dying in Iraq and those returning home severely wounded. “Women care about these realities. Cindy Sheehan is not alone."

Morgan's activism stretches back several decades. In 1968, she initiated and organized the first feminist protest against the Miss America Pageant. Two years later she organized the first feminist anti-pornography demonstration in New York. She is on the boards of numerous women's organizations in the United States and overseas.

She founded the Sisterhood Is Global Institute and co-founded, with Gloria Steinem and Jane Fonda, the Women’s Media Center. She relaunched Ms. Magazine in 1990 as an international, award-winning, ad-free bimonthly and resigned in 1993 to become its consulting global editor.

Morgan, a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts Prize for poetry, has produced more than 20 fiction and nonfiction books, including the anthologies Sisterhood Is Powerful, Sisterhood Is Global and Sisterhood Is Forever: The Women's Anthology for a New Millennium. Fighting Words is her latest work.

"It's a short little book," says the author, who was born in Lake Worth.  "I wanted it to be accessible and not be intimidating and to be inexpensive. "Like Quotations From Chairman Jefferson," she said, jokingly referring to Mao Tse-Tung's famous little red book.

In Fighting Words, Morgan quotes Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, James Madison and other American leaders such as John Kennedy, Gerald Ford and Bill Clinton to bolster her case for separation of church and state and against assertions that the United States was founded on Christian principles.

The founders, she writes, were "free thinkers, agnostics, atheists, Christians, Freemasons and Deists." The Constitution, she adds, contains "not one reference to a deity -- on purpose."

If You Go

Feminist Robin Morgan will give a talk, at 7:30 Wednesday night in Fox Hall at Eckerd College, 4200 54th Ave. S, St. Petersburg.

The lecture is part of the Presidential Events Series, "The Ethics of Economic Globalization," and the College Program Series.

Free.

Call (727) 864-7979 or e-mail events@eckerd.edu.