Privileging Religion

Phoenix New Times: Whose Higher Power?

The Phoenix New Times published an article on Republican House members' overreach after Rep. Athena Salman offered a secular invocation on the House Floor earlier this week. 

As Salman noted, "The Arizona House of Representatives is the people's house," she said, her voice cracking. "Opening prayers in the House should represent Arizonans of every faith's perspective. This includes the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who, like myself, who do not believe in a supernatural god, but do believe in the power of humanity to do good in the world."

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Religious Preference in the House: Rep. Salman and Secular AZ in "The Nation"

Secular Coalition for Arizona was featured in The Nation magazine this week. The article — entitled An Arizona Legislator Gave an Invocation that Didn't Mention God. You Won't Believe What Happened Next — detailed the controversy that erupted after Representative Athena Salman offered an invocation that didn't mention a "higher power" on the House floor this week.

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Legislative Update

The religious-right wing of the Arizona legislature like to quietly push bills through that will benefit their agenda in several ways.  What we've found is that when we are LOUD about these bills, sometimes the bill dies.  

Check out what happened this week in what we're calling the "Trinity of Religious Handouts":

 

Handout #1-   HB2281: Expanding Religious Privilege in Tax Law 

 

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TAKE EMERGENCY ACTION: Don't Let Free Religious Exercise become Dangerous Religious Oppression!

URGENT action needed. We are up against the worst, most damaging piece of legislation we’ve seen yet this year—and we need all hands on deck to stop it! TOMORROW, Thursday, May 2nd, the House will be voting on SB1178, which dramatically expands the ability of individuals in our state to discriminate against people they don’t agree with in the name of religious belief--resulting in increased vulnerability for nonbelievers, the LGBT community, and others on the target list of religionists.

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Center for Arizona Policy and the Arizona State Legislature

by Karen Cook

When you see the initials 'CAP,’  do you automatically think of the Central Arizona Project? Think again!

Center for Arizona Policy
(CAP) is a conservative nonprofit organization that has muscled more than 100 of its supported bills into law. Its goals? Among them is to ‘protect human life from conception to the end of natural life.’ To do this, CAP has championed legislative efforts aimed toward outlawing abortion, blocking aid-in-dying policy, banning human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, as well as suppressing science-based sex education. In addition, CAP wants to maintain laws that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman; stop all gambling (including the Arizona State Lottery); and limit government involvement in education.

How is it that CAP has been so successful in its endeavors? Through commentaries on radio stations throughout Arizona; its network of supportive churches; staff members who make personal appearances at community functions and, perhaps most importantly, The Truth Project.

From the CAP website:

The Truth Project is a revolutionary DVD-based small group curriculum produced by Focus on the Family. It is designed to build a systematic and comprehensive biblical worldview in the lives of believers.

The Truth Project is unique because it doesn’t tell Christians what to think – it teaches them how to think – to evaluate every aspect of life through a biblical perspective. 

We have already seen what a 'biblical perspective' can do to Arizona!

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Atheist Organization Calls on IRS to Investigate Tax Status of Center for Arizona Policy

(May 21, 2012) Phoenix, Ariz.—Secular Coalition for Arizona (SC Arizona) filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service this week asking for an investigation into Center for Arizona Policy’s 501(c)3 public charity tax-exempt status. SC Arizona has been looking into Center for Arizona Policy’s tax status as part of the secularist organization’s commitment to ensure that religious organizations do not receive special privilege under the law, including tax law.

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Brewer Rejects Reason, Atheists in Arizona Respond

(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.

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Hijacked Arizona State Legislature Bends to Religionists

Narrow Religious Ideology Wins Big...
Everyone Else Loses

April 17, 2012 -- Last week was a disappointing one in Arizona politics, with secularism taking a major hit and real Arizonans facing damaging new laws as a result. As the legislative season comes to a close, we anticipate a continuous onslaught of anti-secular bills coming up for last-minute votes or for the Governor's signature. Secular Coalition for Arizona will be working hard to make sure you get up-to-date information and opportunities to voice your concerns to your legislators about specific bills. We appreciate how hard you have all been working to respond to the Religious Right's eleventh-hour sneak-attacks on our rights; please continue to help us get our secular message to elected officials through these last critical days.

The State of Secularism in Arizona

Bills Still Requiring Action

SB1359 - The Wrongful Birth bill allowing doctors to lie to pregnant patients was transmitted to the Governor on April 12; we must continue to pressure her for a veto: 602-542-4331

HB2563 - This Bible Curriculum bill was transmitted to the Governor on April 12; we must continue to pressure her for a veto: 602-542-4331

SB1365 - Free Exercise of Religion, a refusal and discrimination clause, has passed both houses, but in different versions. The two versions must be reconciled and before a final vote.

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Executive Director Seráh Blain Speaks Out Against Privileging the Christian Bible in Public Schools

Secular Coalition for Arizona submits comments to Arizona Supreme Court regarding state bar ethical rule change

Recently, the State Bar of Arizona petitioned the Arizona Supreme Court, which oversees the Bar, to reopen for public comment a proposed rule change to the Ethical Rules of the Bar. The proposed change would include “gender identity” as a protected class within the Bar rules and regulations. Attorneys are required to abide by Bar rules in their professional conduct, so this change would ensure that attorneys not be permitted to discriminate against transgender people.  In no way does this change require an attorney to represent a transgender individual if they choose not to.

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