(Apr. 19, 2012) Phoenix, Ariz.— In opposition to the recent flood of religiously-motivated legislation penned by policymakers in Arizona, Secular Coalition for Arizona, on behalf of its 12 nontheistic liaised organizations throughout the state, called on Governor Brewer to declare May 3, 2012 a Day of Reason. The Governor rejected Secular Coalition for Arizona’s request for a proclamation, but the group will nonetheless be collaborating with local nontheistic communities to organize events as part of a larger countrywide movement advocating a National Day of Reason.
“The purpose of the Day of Reason is simply to celebrate reason—a concept all Arizonans can support,” says Seráh Blain, Executive Director of Secular Coalition for Arizona. “We also hope the day will raise awareness about the ways religion is affecting legislation in our state. Everything from property tax exemptions for all religious associations even if they provide no charitable services, to reproductive healthcare laws based on religious assumptions about human development, to State resolutions about Israel’s sovereignty based on verses from Leviticus...these things really underscore the prevalence and perilousness of religion in government.”
The legislature in Arizona has been focused heavily this season on what religionists on the Right are calling “religious liberty.” Examples include refusal clauses that allow professionals or employers to withhold certain kinds of care or coverage because of religious conviction, as well as a whole host of abortion-related measures driven by religious morality; in all of these cases, policymakers in Arizona are attempting to invoke the right of “free exercise” in order to drive an agenda that threatens individual freedom of conscience.
“Many of our legislators, and certainly the Center for Arizona Policy, are conflating religious liberty with religious privilege,” says Blain. “Religious liberty absolutely does not mean that the religious ideology of those in power can dictate morality and public policy for everyone. Our Founders called that idea tyranny.”
The National Day of Reason is a project of the American Humanist Association (AHA) and originated in 2003 as an alternative to the National Day of Prayer. The AHA maintains that the National Day of Prayer is unconstitutional, advocating instead that secular Americans take the day to affirm a commitment to the Constitutional separation of religion and government and to celebrate Reason as the guiding principle of secular democracy.
“Religiously motivated policy can be divisive and oppressive because particular faiths are not universal. But human reason is,” Blain stresses. “When we insist that law is based on reason, we ensure religious minorities and nonbelievers are not marginalized; the National Day of Reason is both a celebration of human reason and a sober recommitment to that insistence.”
National Day of Reason Events in Arizona include the following:
Atheists in Phoenix will be participating in the National Day of Reason by spending the afternoon with friends and family at the Civic Science Park in downtown Phoenix, 424 N Central Avenue, from 3:30-6 PM. Individuals from nontheistic groups in the Valley including the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix and the Phoenix Atheists Meetup will be gathering to call for reason in government and society, and will write to elected officials about the need for reason-based policy. Details can be found here: Phoenix Celebrates Reason at Civic Science Park!
Secular Student Alliance at Northern Arizona University joins the Flagstaff Freethinkers in National Day of Reason celebrations beginning with an Ask-An-Atheist event in the afternoon at the Northern Arizona University Union from 2-4 PM, followed by a walk to the Flagstaff City Hall where the groups will show their support of reason and will encourage voter registration until 6 p.m. Details can be found here: Flagstaff Celebrates National Day of Reason!
The Prescott Freethinkers along with the Secular Student Alliance at Embry-Riddle and the Secular Student Alliance at Prescott College will precede their regularly scheduled Thursday night dinner out with a public walk around the Prescott Town Square (Gurley and Montezouma), drawing attention to the need for reason in our government and the value of reason in our society. The groups will then get together over dinner to write to elected officials about the importance of reason-based government. Details can be found here: Prescott Celebrates National Day of Reason!
The Sedona/Verde Valley Secular Freethinkers will be spending the afternoon with friends and family at Garrison Park (100 Brian Mickelson Parkway) in Cottonwood, Arizona from 3-6 PM. The group will be demonstrating for reason in government and society and will be writing to elected officials. Details can be found here: Verde Valley Celebrates the National Day of Reason!
Atheists in Tucson will be participating in a virtual, web-based event. Individuals from Freethought Arizona and the Tucson Atheists will collaborate through a Facebook Event page to write to elected officials on the need for reason-based policy. Details can be found here: Tucson National Day of Reason Virtual Event
For more information about the Day of Reason in Arizona, contact Brian Wallace, Community Outreach and Development Director of Secular Coalition for Arizona: brian@secularAZ.org; 928-699-2877.
For information about Secular Coalition for Arizona, contact Executive Director Seráh Blain: serah@secularAZ.org; 602-363-8018.