Letter to Bullhead City, AZ Mayor & City Council from the Kingman Freethinkers

The Honorable Tom Brady, Mayor Bullhead City, and Council Members,

Secular people, including atheists, agnostics, deists, humanists, skeptics, freethinkers, and other nonreligious people, are everywhere. They are your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and loved ones. But they often cannot be open about who they are.

Recently a member of Kingman Freethinkers and a resident of Bullhead City brought to our attention that the City Council voted to post “In God We Trust” in chamber, he went on to ask “Is there any action that can be taken on this?”

We ask the Honorable Tom Brady, Vice Mayor and City Council members not to display the motto, and, if displayed, to remove it.

Study after study demonstrates growth in the secular segment of society. We are now the second largest “religious” group in North America and most of Europe. In the United States, we make up somewhere between 23% and 28% of American adults. We concede that in Bullhead City that percentage may be lower, but make no mistake, we are here and a significant portion of the population.

Lawmakers can no longer ignore this community. Recent studies show that 94.7% of the religiously unaffiliated are registered to vote and 86.5% always or nearly always vote. This rate is significantly higher than the general population.

We are all American, but some of us are not part of the “We” in “In God We Trust.” Millions of good, moral, patriotic citizens do not believe in a god. We pay taxes, vote, sit on juries, and serve in the military, but every time we look at a dollar bill we are told that Congress considers us outsiders. To be accurate, the motto should say, “In God Some Of Us Trust,” and wouldn’t that be silly? This is just one of the reasons why it is divisive. Most people would consider “In Jesus We Trust” to be exclusionary and inappropriate. Why is it okay to exclude atheists and agnostics or any other group that does not accept the concept of “God”?

What happened to “E Pluribus Unum”?

In 1956 Congress adopted the phrase as our national motto, replacing the historic and more accurate “E Pluribus Unum” (“From Many, One”) chosen by Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams. In 1957 Congress put “IN GOD WE TRUST” on all currency. Before then, it had appeared only sporadically, since the Civil War, on some coins.

The 1950s was a time of intense Cold War hysteria. “Under God” was inserted into the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. During the McCarthy era, no congressperson wanted to be seen voting against “God.” When Rep. Bennett introduced the bill to put “In God We Trust” on our money, he gave the threat of “materialistic communism” as a justification.

“In God We Trust” on money is a Cold War anachronism. If there ever were any truly “unAmerican” activities, then defacing our secular currency with religious graffiti was one of them.

The American way is to ensure liberty, to let people decide for themselves what to believe. The Supreme Court has ruled that the government is restricted to secular actions alone, that it must neither advance nor hinder religion. “In God We Trust” is a religious phrase. It does not belong on the legal tender of our secular nation, or on the walls of our institutions.

Let’s reclaim our traditional, inclusive, American motto: “E Pluribus Unum”.

In God We Trust is not our founding motto and cannot even be found in the Bible but can be found in the Quran.

The literal phrase “In God We Trust” does not appear in any Christian Bible or Jewish Tanakh.  The phrase is literally found in two places of the Quran, in Surah 10 Yunus 10:85, as well as Surah 7, Al-A’raf 7:89.  It first appeared in the U.S. in 1864 on a two-cent piece but not on paper money until 1957.  It was first suggested by a pastor in Pennsylvania in 1861 to make it clear that God was on the side of the Union in the Civil War.  In 1863, it began to be put on coins, but legislation was necessary and that was passed in 1864.

Objections to its use have been ongoing.  The first case was brought in 1967, then again in 1978, and the latest in 2018.  One court said the “primary purpose of the slogan was secular.” Another said it is patriotic or ceremonial and has lost all religious content. One court said the motto had no theological or ritualistic impact – so god has no theology? It is amazing that religious people do not object to the courts calling their god secular – a stance that trivializes their entire belief system.

President Theodore Roosevelt objected to the irreverence caused by putting it on coins:

“… My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good, but does positive harm, and is in effect irreverence, which comes dangerously close to sacrilege. … Any use which tends to cheapen it, and, above all, any use which tends to secure its being treated in a spirit of levity, is from every standpoint profoundly to be regretted. … it seems to me eminently unwise to cheapen such a motto by use on coins … In all my life I have never heard any human being speak reverently of this motto on the coins or show any signs of its having appealed to any high emotion in him, but I have literally, hundreds of times, heard it used as an occasion of and incitement to … sneering … Every one must remember the innumerable cartoons and articles based on phrases like ‘In God we trust for the 8 cents,’ … Surely, I am well within bounds when I say that a use of the phrase which invites constant levity of this type is most undesirable. …” – Theodore Roosevelt, November 1907

The unifying theme chosen by the founders has been discarded in favor of a phrase that creates levity and irreverence toward religion. Nevertheless, it has been ruled by the courts to be secular and of no theological importance.  Ironically, it seems that those yelling the loudest for religion in the public square are doing the most to diminish that very concept.

While some politicians and advocates claim that these laws are intended to showcase the national motto or inspire patriotism, it is clear that their true purpose is to peddle religiosity to a captive audience. The motto “In God We Trust” is inaccurate, exclusionary, and unnecessarily entangles church and state. It is an unvarnished attack on American secularism and civil liberties — those things we cherish greatly about our democracy and which we tirelessly defend.

Politicians work for ALL of their constituents, not just those who share their faith. The controversy that surrounds the taxpayer funded public display of theistic messages and prayer and the petty theatrics it seems to attract testify to the fact that Arizona can do better. We could all get along a lot better if we cut out the theistic theatrics and got down to the business of governance instead.

We ask the Honorable Tom Brady, Vice Mayor and City Council members not to display the motto, and, if displayed, to remove it.

Kingman Freethinkers are a secular social group serving Mohave County.

Sincerely,

Mark Nisski
KingmanFreethinkers.org

Kingman Freethinkers are an Affiliate of American Atheists and Secular Coalition for Arizona. We are also closely aligned with American Humanist Association and Freedom From Religion Foundation.

Secular AZ Speaker Series

Please join us for our series of virtual presentations.

Members of Secular AZ and members of our liaised organizations around the state may attend live via Zoom.

Not a member?  Become one today!

UPCOMING PRESENTATIONS:

  • Thursday, May 28, 7p: Town Hall with AZ Secular Elected Officials; register and submit questions here
  • Saturday, June 6, 2p: Alessandra Navidad, ACLU of Arizona; register here
  • Sunday, June 7, 10am: Aishin Leonard: Transforming Overwhelm and Trauma into Flourishing and Well-Being; HSGP Sunday Speaker
  • Saturday, June 20, 2p: Dr. Dwight Moore, Arizona End of Life Options
  • Saturday, July 18, 2p: Senator Juan Mendez

RECORDINGS OF PAST PRESENTATIONS:

Coronavirus/COVID-19 Announcement

In light of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 situation, we wanted to let you know that Secular AZ is following the guidelines issued by the CDC and echoed by the Arizona Department of Health. We have suspended Secular AZ meetings and events until further notice, and advised our liaised organizations around Arizona do the same.

By now, most of you are probably aware of the urgency of practicing social distancing and good hygiene to minimize spread of the Coronavirus.

Unfortunately, at this point, some leaders continue to advise their constituents to continue in their normal course of life. This will put many more people at risk and will have disastrous consequences, as clearly illustrated by the following articles:

As a secular organization, we believe that we should use all the tools of modern medicine and science to minimize the risk of infection to all residents of our state and country in this looming crisis.

Science makes it clear that just one case of COVID-19 could lead to thousands more if we all don’t limit social contact right now. Please do all you can to stop the spread through social distancing and limiting non-essential activities.

Stay well,

Secular AZ Board and Staff

Christians Only: Nonbelievers Need Not Apply?

The AZ Legislature has a long history of discrimination against atheist legislators, who have been repeatedly hazed, harassed, and belittled for opening legislative sessions with secular invocations.

It happened again this week, at our annual Secular Day at the Capitol. Senate President Karen Fann’s Office confirmed that Sen Juan Mendez would give the opening invocation that day, in order to represent the growing number of Arizonans who don’t believe in God. She broke her word and gave the invocation to Senator Mesnard, who gave a (conveniently ready-to-go) Christian prayer.

This action symbolically slapped Sen Mendez and AZ atheists, dozens of whom were in the gallery that day, in the face.

We’re tired of this disrespect toward nonbelieving Arizonans. We’re also tired of the controversy that surrounds public prayer and the petty theatrics it seems to attract.

Arizona can do better.

We’re calling upon Senate President Fann to stop the religious bigotry and end invocations in the Arizona Senate.

Please sign our petition to end invocations in the AZ Senate.

**********************

Tell Senate President Karen Fann: Stop Religious Discrimination at the AZ Capitol

 

*******************

Click here to sign this petition.

Tucson Presentation: David Tamayo

Hey Tucson! Join Freethought Arizona and Secular AZ on Saturday, February 22, at the Murphy-Wilmot Library, for a presentation with David Tamayo, founder of Hispanic American Freethinkers, the first and only national Latinx 501(c)(3) educational organization of its kind.

– This free event starts at 2pm
– 530 N Wilmot Road, Tucson

Tamayo will present “Artificial Intelligence, Secular Humanism, and Other Scary Thoughts.” This talk will touch on topics located at the intersection of secular humanism, philosophy, consciousness, science, and free will.

 

 

Sunday Speaker at HSGP: David Tamayo

SUNDAY SPEAKER DAVID TAMAYO: ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE, SECULAR HUMANISM, AND OTHER SCARY THOUGHTS

This talk connects A.I. to Humanism, especially about the near future for humanity.

David Tamayo is president and founder of Hispanic American Freethinkers, (HAFree) which is the first and only national Latino non-profit educational organization of its kind. He is also Chief Information Officer for a large aerospace engineering firm in D.C. David is the organizer of the HAFree High School Outreach Mentor Program to Latino and immigrant students teaching Critical Thinking Skills and Career Planning.

David sponsors and assists 10 cybersecurity teams at Langley High School competing in the U.S Air Force National CyberPatriot Competition. He is Vice President and founder of the Hispanic Business and Technology Council, a non-profit that educates young Hispanics to become IT leaders.​

The meeting is free and open to the public. Doors open at 9:00 am for socializing with an optional Continental breakfast available for a $5 donation. The meeting begins at 10:00 am.

For more info, visit the HSGP website.

February 23rd, 2020 10:00 AM   through   11:30 AM
627 W RIO SALADO PKWY
HUMANIST CENTER
MESAAZ 85201-4009

Secular Day at the Capitol: February 24, 2020

Secular Day at Capitol Map and Short Agenda Final

Save the date: Secular Day at the Capitol is February 24, 2020.

Calling ALL who support separation of church and state to join us on February 24, 2020, for our 7th Annual Secular Day at the Capitol. Here’s what you can expect:

– Learn about current threats to secular government

– Advocacy training

– Meetings with your lawmakers

– Group introductions from the House and Senate

– SPECIAL GUEST SPEAKER: DAVID TAMAYO, Founder and President of Hispanic Freethinkers

– Lunch & shirt included!

Registration closes February 17, 2020, so don’t delay!

RSVP for this FREE event by February 7  to qualify for your Secular AZ bracelet. 

Sunday Speaker at HSGP: Mandisa Thomas of Black Nonbelievers

Join our friends at the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix on Sunday, December 8, for Sunday Speaker Mandisa Thomas: “How Religion Has Crippled the Black Community.”

While the Black community in the United States makes up approximately 12 percent of the population, 79 percent still identify as religious, which makes the subject of atheism challenging, and open identification very stigmatizing.

Mandisa Thomas will discuss the institutional reasons for the high religiosity in the Black community, how her organization Black Nonbelievers is building community and increasing visibility for those who need support, and how the secular community can improve on its understanding and help for people of color in the movement.

Black Nonbelievers’ merchandise will be available for purchase at the meeting.

Doors open at 9:00 am for optional buffet breakfast ($5 donation) and socializing. Presentation begins at 10:00 am.

Please RSVP on the HSGP website.

 

 

Secular Summit 2019 Tickets Available

Join us on December 7 for the 5th annual Secular Summit!

This members-only event is a day of secular networking, education, advocacy and action, including updates from our legal team and our Director of Government Affairs. (Not a member yet? Become one today!)

Our keynote speaker this year is Mandisa Thomas, founder of Black Nonbelievers. More speakers to be announced!

Tickets are just $15, lunch included. Become a host, super host, or event sponsor and help support the fight to keep Arizona secular!

RSVP now to save your seat. Tickets on sale until 12/5, so don’t wait!

See you at the Summit!

Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix Presents An Evening with Matt Dillahunty & Seth Andrews

Seth Andrews and Matt Dillahunty team up for a one-night event hosted by the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix.

Join us for a fun evening of conversation and plenty of interaction with Seth and Matt, with the option of a VIP Dinner with Matt and Seth before the show!

HSGP is inviting secular-friendly organizations to set up tables for networking in the reception area all evening, where Seth and Matt will be tabling and signing books as well.

You have the opportunity to buy a ticket for Seth and Matt fans who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend. Sponsor some tickets and we will make sure they get to the people who want them.

Cash Bars in the Reception/Networking Area.

THIS IS A TICKETED EVENT.

Visit the HSGP website for more information and to purchase tickets. 

 

AZ Supreme Court Upholds Bigotry in the Name of Religious Freedom

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Secular government supporters decry Supreme Court decision upholding religious discrimination against LGBTQ customers

(Wed., Sept 17, 2019) Phoenix, Ariz. — The Arizona Supreme Court decided 4-3 yesterday that business owners who cite a conflict of religious belief can be permitted to refuse to serve certain customers. Specifically, the case ruled that the city of Phoenix could not enforce an ordinance which prohibits discrimination in providing products or services at places of public accommodation based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, or disability.

The court ruled in favor of two self-described Christian artists at Brush and Nib Studio, saying the City cannot force them to create custom wedding invitations for same-sex couples. The women argued that the ordinance violates their First Amendment and Arizona constitutional rights to religion and free speech. 

The women were represented by Scottsdale-based Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a legal group which challenges similar laws nationwide, and which is identified as an anti-LGBTQ hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Per attorney and Secular Coalition for Arizona board member Dianne Post: “As the court said in Washington v. Arlene’s Flowers, it’s not about cakes or flowers—or in this case, invitations— any more than the sit-ins in the south in the 1960s were about sandwiches and soda. This is about equality and fairness. Movements toward theocracy betray American values and the Constitution.

“How do we know a person is actually motivated by a sincere religious belief rather than ignorance or bigotry? What’s really happening here is an effort to give special privileges to a narrow segment of Christians while stigmatizing other groups and refusing them the constitutional protection of the 14th Amendment— that all citizens shall not be denied equal rights under the law. This is clearly a political decision based on Christian nationalism, accomplished by the court-packing plan of Governor Ducey. Rather than engage the issue, the court has chosen to see, hear, and speak no evil in the face of evil standing in front of them.”

Legal experts have anticipated a challenge like this returning to the U.S. Supreme Court since the ADF represented a Colorado baker facing penalty under that state’s anti-discrimination law in 2018.

Happy Hour with the Secular Stars – RSVP Today!

Join us in Phoenix/Tempe or Tucson (or both!) for our annual Happy Hours with the Secular Stars

Enjoy drinks and appetizers as you learn about Secular AZ’s successes, meet our Secular Star lawmakers, and mingle with other Arizonans who want church and state to remain separate.

Come support the fight against religious influence in our state’s public policy. Please purchase tickets by September 15. See you at Happy Hour!

Tucson Happy Hour

When: Tuesday, September 24 from 5-7pm

Where: Dante’s Fire  2526 E Grant Road, Tucson

 

Phoenix Happy Hour

When: Thursday, September 26 from 5-7pm

Where: Boulders on Broadway 530 W. Broadway, Tempe

 

Get your tickets here!