In Memoriam of Mike Steiner

Secular AZ mourns the loss of our dear friend Michael Steiner, who passed away last week. Mike was a constant presence in the Arizona secular community, serving on the Boards of Secular AZ, Freedom from Religion Foundation – Valley of the Sun Chapter, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State – Greater Phoenix Chapter. He was also an active member/volunteer in the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix. 

Mike was deeply committed to separation of church and state and worked tirelessly to make the world a better place. He was always willing to help by sharing his knowledge, ideas and time. We all knew that we could count on Mike to be there when we needed something done… and especially when we needed it done right. His attention to detail was legendary!

Most of all, we will miss Mike’s smile and quirky sense of humor. As one of our Board members said, Mike was so often the spark that lit a smile. 

A memorial service for Mike will be held at the Humanist Community Center in Mesa at a date and time to be announced.

This is a great loss for our community. His absence will affect us all.

We Did It!! Bill Funneling Taxpayer $ to Fake “Women’s Health Clinics” Defeated

GOOD NEWS! Late night, the AZ Senate voted down a terrible bill that would have funneled taxpayer money into fake “women’s health” clinics that were, in reality, fronts for pro-life groups that seek to thwart access to safe, legal abortion.

 

HB 2759 got just 15 votes, one short of what’s needed -thanks in large part to secular supporters like you who raised their voices loudly in opposition to this bill.

As Secular AZ’s Tory Roberg says, “We are strong, but we are mighty!”

We want to thank those who spoke out, attended the rally at the State Capitol, and contacted their lawmakers to voice their opposition to this clear violation of separation of church and state.

Secular AZ took your voices to the House and Senate, where Tory stood up and testified in front of both appropriations committees. Secular AZ was alone in providing public testimony… and these efforts made the difference!

But this is just one of many such battles. Did you know that Secular AZ is the only group with a paid lobbyist, full legal team, and active board of volunteers that fight tirelessly for separation of church and state at the Capitol?

We don’t receive funding from any national groups. Instead, we rely solely on the generosity of Arizonans like you who understand the value of this work.

When the lines between church and state blur, we see attempts to:
  • limit access to reproductive health care
  • restrict women’s right to choose
  • install policies that discriminate against LGTBQ individuals
  • pass bills that harm sound science and medicine
  • decrease funding for public schools

With more than 4,000 supporters around the state, we amplify the voice of reason at the Arizona State Capitol as we fight for secular public policies that benefit allArizonans.

Help us keep fighting! Now, more than ever, we need your support. Please donate today to help keep religious influence out of Arizona’s public policy.

TAKE ACTION NOW Against Bills That Funnel Taxpayer $ to Anti-Choice Fake Health Centers

Mirror bills HB2759 and S1547  just passed committee and will likely be heard on the floor this evening. We need your voice to stop them on the floor.
Please contact your own legislators as well as targeted Republicans Rep. Steve Pierce (LD-1) [602-926-5584 | spierce@azleg.gov] and Sen. Kate Brophy McGee (LD-28) [602-926-4486 | kbrophymcgee@azleg.gov] before the bill is heard on the floor this evening.
You may use Phone2Action here or call your lawmakers directly.
What are these bills? They appropriate $2.5M for three years (total $7.5M) to anti-abortion organizations providing services to pregnant women and women with young children. Read for yourself: apps.azleg.gov/BillStatus/GetDocumentPdf/471431
We oppose the bills on these grounds:
  • They give away $7.5 million in taxpayer funds to unlicensed fake pregnancy centers— faux healthcare facilities designed only to convince women not to have abortions, often with misleading or inaccurate information.
  • The bills are only a few paragraphs long. They do not require the state to provide any oversight of how the money it is being spent, or how effective the programs are (even in stopping abortions).
  • The bills do not require the facilities to be licensed. (Most fake pregnancy centers are not.)
  • Similar programs have already proven extremely wasteful and ineffective, even from a pro-life standpoint. A similar Texas program providing millions to an anti-abortion organization known a Heidi Group was shut down last year and faces investigation into questionable billing after the group only served 5% of the number of women it promised.

Please make sure to indicate in your message any areas of expertise you may have. Keep in mind lawmakers are already familiar with anti-abortion rhetoric; our most effective messages this time will be about the bills’ extreme fiscal irresponsibility.

10 Ways Fake Women’s Health Centers Cause Harm:

  1. LYING ABOUT MEDICAL FACTS: Fake women’s health centers give women false, incomplete, or inaccurate medical information, including claiming that abortions pose health risks such as infertility, breast cancer, and birth defects in future pregnancies. As the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has repeatedly stated, there is no evidence whatsoever to support these medically inaccurate and deliberately misleading claims.
  2. SETTING UP SHOP NEAR REAL HEALTH CARE FACILITIES: Many fake women’s health centers set-up near comprehensive clinics that offer abortions, and choose similar names for themselves to confuse women and their families.
  3. PUSHING WOMEN PAST IMPORTANT DEADLINES: Decisions about a pregnancy are time-sensitive. Fake women’s health centers postpone appointments or give women inaccurate due dates, hoping to push people past the legal limit for abortion. They also tell women that they may not even need an abortion because 1 in 4 pregnancies ends in miscarriage, suggesting they wait it out.
  4. DECEPTIVE INTERIORS: After fake women’s health centers have successfully lured pregnant women to their facilities, they disguise their interiors to further deceive women that they will receive comprehensive care. Anti-choice leader Johnson also advised centers: “that waiting rooms should feel like ‘professional environments’ instead of ‘grandma’s house,’ and discouraged crucifixes, fake flowers, and mauve paint before showing slides of Planned Parenthood waiting rooms and encouraging staff to make their centers look just as ‘beautiful and up-to-date,’ especially if they have a ‘medical model,’ meaning they offer sonograms and other medical services. Johnson also said pregnancy center staff should mirror Planned Parenthood’s language.”
  5. DECEPTIVE WEBSITES: ​Fake women’s health centers use deceptive websites to trick women into believing they are comprehensive health care clinics, and particularly target
    women seeking out abortion services. Lauren Chenoweth, a former media specialist at Heartbeat International said, “[Women are] going to Google ‘abortion,’ or they’re going to Google ‘abortion services’ or ‘pregnancy help,’ and that’s why we want to focus on our websites…We want to be strategic in getting them to our centers​.”
  6. DECEPTIVE ADVERTISING: Fake women’s health centers use aggressive advertising tricks including geo-targeting and search optimization to lure women into their clinics. Anti-choice movement leader, Abby Johnson, said at a training for fake women’s health centers: “Women seeking abortions, women that are pregnant, that are vulnerable, they are going into Google and they are typing ‘pregnancy symptoms.’ There’s a way in Google where you can basically set that search to your website… We want to look professional… business-like. And, yeah, we do kind of want to look medical. The best client you ever get is one that thinks they’re walking into an abortion clinic.”
  7. HIDING AVAILABLE SERVICES: Even when directly asked, fake women’s health centers do not disclose that they do not offer abortion services. Instead, fake women’s health centers staff are trained to deflect the question. Some fake women’s health centers even market pre-abortion appointments, offering free ultrasounds to draw people to their clinics. However, in many states the pre-abortion ultrasound must take place at the abortion provider. Many also advertise that they provide “abortion counseling,” leading women to believe that they may be an abortion provider or refer women for abortion care.
  8. UNNECESSARY AND INVASIVE ULTRASOUNDS: Even the “licensed” fake women’s health centers provide minimal medical care – just pregnancy tests and invasive ultrasounds that are used to manipulate women by showing the fetus or detecting a heartbeat. Though the FDA warns that there are risks associated with ultrasounds and they should only be performed for medical purposes, fake women’s health centers ignore those risks and commonly subject women to unnecessary or duplicative ultrasounds, just for show. Some fake women’s health centers consider higher-energy Doppler or trans-vaginal ultrasounds — which provide audio or clearer imaging — their “Hail Mary” tool, even though these procedures are not routinely done by real doctors except when medically necessary. During the ultrasound, fake women’s health centers misrepresent how far along a pregnancy is as a way to mislead the patient on their options. The farther along you are the harder it is to get an abortion.
  9. SHIRK MEDICAL LIABILITY: Fake women’s health center clinics specifically avoid taking responsibility for women’s health outcomes after their initial appointments. In fact, fake women’s health centers are careful not to set up a formal “patient-physician relationship” in order to avoid liability. Heartbeat International, one of the largest Fake Women’s Health Center networks, advises its affiliates to avoid giving women the “expectation of continued services” and “clearly state that no follow-up care will be provided, and that the patient-physician relationship is terminated.” Other fake women’s health centers have required women to sign waivers that release them from any responsibility to provide accurate medical diagnoses.
  10. FOLLOW-UP HARASSMENT: After deceiving and scaring women and their families, some fake women’s health centers make women promise to not get an abortion. And, fake women’s health centers have been known to harass women who express an interest in abortion. “The woman from the [Fake Women’s Health Center] began calling her almost daily and telling her aggressively that she would die, or end up in hell, or get very sick, if she were to go through with the abortion. This woman would hide under the guise of ‘checking up on her.’”

#StopTheBans National Day of Action

Georgia. Ohio. Kentucky. Missouri. Alabama. ALL of these states’ Republican majorities have voted to effectively ban abortion in their states. And there are other states lining up to the be next state to “nearly or effectively ban abortion.”

Abortion bans impact everyone: women, transgender patients, people of color, LGBTQ people, undocumented folks, men, people with disabilities – the list goes on!

 JOIN US TO ON A NATIONAL DAY OF ACTION to #StopTheBans

 

TUESDAY, MAY 21, 2019 – 9:30 am

Arizona State Capitol

1700 W. Washington Street

Phoenix, AZ

 

Show up in PINK or your favorite vibrant Tuesday color and fight with us!

Secular Summit: RSVP Today!

Keep Gods Out of Government Secular Summit 2018Join secular public policy supporters from around the state for the 4th annual Secular Summit!

Get inspired and engaged during this day of networking, advocacy training and education as we prepare for the 2019 Legislative Session.
 

  • When: Saturday, December 8, 9a-3:30p
  • Where: Humanist Society for Greater Phoenix, 627 W. Rio Salado Pkwy, Mesa AZ

Our keynote speaker this year is Freedom from Religion Foundation’s Andrew Seidel, a constitutional and civil rights attorney, activist, atheist and author. 

Ticket price includes full day admission to the Summit, coffee & pastries, lunch and materials. Additional donations are always appreciated! You can also become a host for $100 and receive recognition at the event. 

Limited seats are available, so RSVP soon and save your spot.

See you at the Summit!
 

YOU DID IT! AZ Science Standards to be Based on Actual Science

Diane Douglas' standards rejectedGive yourselves a hand, Secular Supporters! You spoke out en masse, and your voices were heard. 

Thanks in large parts to your activism, the AZ Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt science standards that recognize evolution and climate change, rejecting Superintendent Diane Douglas’ suggested standards that privileged religious belief over fact-based information. 

In the words of our Board Chair, Zenaido Quintana: “We’ve been very concerned about Diane Douglas’ efforts to push her religious views on more than a million kids in Arizona’s public schools. Our students deserve to be taught science in their science classes, and to be free from religious indoctrination at school. The State Board of Education made the right decision in adopting science standards approved by highly-qualified science teachers. We appreciate that the Board listened to the voices of science experts and secular allies in making their decision. We are grateful our community was heard.”

Nice job! We’re so glad that Arizona students will receive a science education based on facts, not dogma.

Read more: Phoenix New Times; AZ Central

Help us keep fighting for secular public policies! Make a donation to the Secular Coalition today

 

2018 AZ Legislative Voter Guide

Want to know where the candidates stand on the issues?

Before you vote, peruse our 2018 Arizona Legislative Voter Guide.

Candidates running for Arizona State Senate and State House of Representatives  received the Secular Coalition for Arizona’s “Candidate Questionnaire.”

The questionnaire consisted of 12 policy positions addressing subjects important to secular voters, from science education to anti-discrimination, access to reproductive health care to medical aid in dying, and much more.

This November, it’s more important than ever to know where candidates for Arizona House and Senate seats stand on these important issues that affect all Arizonans.

 

Candidate Surveys for November, 2018 Election

We want you to be informed before November’s election!

The Secular Coalition for Arizona offered each candidate the opportunity to respond to a survey about their views on secular-related issues. We’ll publish each survey as we receive it. 
 

Secular AZ Lauds Decision Limiting School Board Prayer

Secular Coalition for Arizona
www.secularaz.org
Contact: Tory Roberg, Director of Government Affairs – tory@secularaz.org – 623-570-6396

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Secular AZ lauds decision limiting school board prayer

(Thurs., July 26, 2018) Phoenix, Ariz. — In a unanimous decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, judges ruled that California’s Chino Valley Unified School District Board was in violation of the Establishment Clause by promoting Christianity with prayers and Bible readings at meetings. Secular Coalition for Arizona calls the ruling a major victory for the separation of religion from government, and warns Arizona school boards to heed the decision.

“It’s wrong for elected officials to use their position as a way to push their religious beliefs during government proceedings,” said Zenaido Quintana, President of the Secular Coalition for Arizona. “Secular AZ is committed to ensuring this doesn’t happen at any government meetings in our state, especially at the school board level where kids might be subjected to evangelizing. The Ninth Circuit validated that our position is on the right side of the law.”

The Court specified that religious activity at school board meetings is not within the legislative prayer tradition that allows certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions. “Unlike a session of Congress or a state legislature, or a meeting of a town board, the Chino Valley Board meetings function as extensions of the educational experience of the district’s public schools,” the Court wrote in its decision. “The presence of large numbers of children and adolescents, in a setting under the control of public school authorities, is inconsonant with the legislative-prayer tradition.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of two parents of students in the district and twenty Doe plaintiffs (including students, parents, district employees, a former district employee, and attendees of school board meetings).

Quintana says Secular AZ will continue monitoring local government meetings to make sure the religious freedom of students is not being violated by elected officials’ evangelizing.

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The Secular Coalition for Arizona is a nonprofit advocacy organization that works to ensure a secular state government. We lobby on behalf of all individuals who believe that public policy free of religious preference is the best way to ensure freedom of conscience for Arizonans of all faiths and of none. Secular AZ is the local affiliate of the Secular Coalition for America.

Reverend Speaks Out Against Removing Evolution from Science Standards

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is attempting to limit the use of the word “evolution” in Arizona high schools’ science curriculum, in spite of more than a year of work by 100 educators, parents and community members who drafted new science education standards. The Secular Coalition for Arizona strongly opposes this attempt to supplant fact-based learning with religious dogma. Many agree, including Reverend David Felten of The Fountains United Methodist Church in Fountain Hills. 

In an interview on KJZZ, Dr, Felten explains why he believes evolution should remain part of the science standards for public high schools. Listen to the interview here.