Legislative Prayer in Arizona

by Beth Houck, Secular AZ Legal Committee volunteer attorney

This summer, Secular AZ’s Legal Committee has been reviewing the invocation policies and practices in every county’s board of supervisors’ meetings, and in the city council meetings of the cities that are county seats. It’s a big project, requiring many public records requests and listening to hundreds of hundreds of recordings going back to the beginning of 2020. Continue reading

Secular AZ is Seeking an Executive Director

Secular AZ is seeking candidates for an Executive Director position.

Since 2010, Secular AZ has been working to ensure that Arizonans have a secular state government by educating lawmakers and the public about the importance of secular issues.  We advocate on behalf of all individuals, including the nontheistic community, 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. Continue reading

The Religious Freedom Restoration Act as a Gun

By Matthew Adler, Secular AZ legal intern

In a recent unanimous decision, the Supreme Court held that government officials may be sued in a personal capacity for money damages when they violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA). This decision was a step towards providing much needed justice to a group of Muslim men who had been victimized by the FBI following 9/11, but it also served to strengthen a highly dubious piece of legislation that is routinely used to circumvent the law. Continue reading

Urgent: final votes imminent on dangerous religious exemptions bill

On short notice, religious exemptions bill HB2648 has been fast-tracked for final votes at the State Legislature today.

Proponents of HB2648 claim that the bill merely protects the right to worship during public emergencies. But the bill is much more extreme.

As written, HB2648 would essentially give any self-proclaimed religious organization — including extremist and fringe organizations — a “get out of jail free” card for nearly any violation of any law at any time. This would particularly jeopardize children, as it would diminish Arizona’s ability to enforce laws shielding them from abuse and other harms within the walls of such organizations.

HB2648 is not only dangerous. It is unnecessary. Current Arizona law  already protects religious freedom, even in times of crisis.

The bill could receive final votes in the Senate any minute. From there, it would go to quickly to the House and then the Governor.

Please join us in contacting our State Senators (again) ASAP.

52 years after Stonewall, a new call to action

We believe that Pride — observed this month to mark the Stonewall Uprising of June 28th, 1969 — is both a celebration and a call to action. We delight in the size and diversity of the LGBTQ+ community while coalescing around the struggle for justice.

52 years ago, this meant rapidly organizing to protect LGBTQ+ communities against violence at the hands of authorities. Continue reading

State budget set to reflect Christian nationalist priorities

Voting resumed at the State Capitol this week after a long deadlock over the state budget.

This was an intense week. The majority party pushed through a budget that was neither discussed with nor vetted with the rest of the Legislature. This included several pieces of contentious Christian nationalist legislation that had previously failed as individual bills. Continue reading

Christian Nationalism is Coming for You

“[Christian Nationalists’] 20-year court packing scheme has resulted in decisions that imprint Christianity in society as privileged, and they use the court system to create exceptions for them. The recent decisions allowing churches to violate public safety standards and continue spreading Covid is a clear example.  Now our state legislators want to enshrine that favoritism in law with HB2648.  The bill passed the House 38-22 with seven Democrats voting with the Republican majority. Exemptions from the law for “sincerely held religious beliefs” are simply code to be able to discriminate. Religious doctrine said that it was permissible for one people to enslave another, that the races could not intermarry, and that a certain race could not join the church. The court has declined to question these so those called “beliefs.”  Religious freedom to the Christian nationalists means privilege for those with the “right” religion.  To claim they want neutrality is a farce when one sect already has a leg up….

…America is special not because we are a chosen people, but because we did not organize a government based on religion. The countries that are based on religion – Iran, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan – are notorious for their violations of human rights, violence toward women, and silencing of those who disagree. Christian nationalism fueled the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021.  We must not underestimate its danger to our democracy.”

Read the entire op-ed by Secular AZ Legal Director Dianne Post in the March 2, 2021 Arizona Capitol Times.