The Secular Coalition for Arizona (Secular AZ) hosted its first annual Arizona Secular Summit on December 5, 2015 at the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix. This special members-only event attracted more than 50 individuals who heard from Secular AZ leadership, state legislators, and experts from Secular AZ partner organizations including ACLU Arizona and Equality Arizona. The agenda was developed to inform and engage members of Secular AZ on a variety of vital topics, including:
- the rising number of nonreligious citizens in Arizona and across the U.S., and how this trend affects efforts to both protect and erode separation of church and state at all levels of government
- the history of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA), and how the Act is used to promote laws that enable discrimination against LGBTQ and other minority communities
- how to successfully influence secular legislation, despite a hostile political environment
- the current state of secular government in Arizona, anticipated challenges by the extreme religious right, and opportunities for citizens to raise their collective voice in support of government that protects freedom of conscience for citizens of all faiths and of none.
Arizona Legislators and Candidates Discuss Secular Challenges, Progress, Opportunities
As part of the Summit, Secular AZ hosted a legislative panel that included Representative Juan Mendez (LD 26) and Representative Bruce Wheeler (LD 10) in addition to our Tory Anderson, Secular AZ Director of Government Affairs. Moderated by Secular AZ’s founder Matt Schoenley, panel members discussed the political climate in Arizona and potential opportunities for gains in secular success during the coming year.
Representative Mendez, the only openly non-religious member of the AZ House of Representatives remarked how far Secular AZ has come in five years. “I may be the only non-religious person at the Capitol, but I know that I represent a solid constituency including many of you folks at the Secular Summit today. I’m no longer part of a fringe.”
The day concluded with training by Secular AZ’s Tory Anderson on how to translate personal experiences into activism that can change communities for the better. After members were dismissed, representatives of 15 Secular AZ coalition partner organizations participated in a strategic planning session to identify legislative goals for Secular AZ in 2016.
The invitation to the Arizona Secular Summit is a unique benefit of membership with Secular AZ. We encourage you to become a member of Secular AZ today!