A Message from the Interim Chair Re: Zenaido Quintana

During Executive Session of the January 9, 2021 Secular AZ Board Meeting, Zenaido Quintana tendered his resignation effective immediately.  Not all Board members were present at the time so the remaining members scheduled a meeting on January 10 so all members of the Board could participate in a discussion of next steps.  The Board met via Zoom and accepted Mr. Quintana’s resignation.  Given that the Vice Chair is on a leave of absence, the Board asked me to step in as Interim Chair while the Board considers how to structure the Organization for future success.

Zenaido has established a very impressive history of accomplishments, both in the leadership of the Coalition and with assembling and building the Liaised Organizations.  This was no more evident than when the Phoenix New Times recognized “The Secular Coalition for Arizona” as The Best Activist Group for 2020. 

The Board and I want to recognize and thank Zenaido for the tremendous work he contributed over so many years. 

During the coming days and weeks, I will be reaching out to our community to ensure that we understand your objectives and to keep you aware of and understanding what we are doing.  Thank you for your continuing support to our efforts to be the voice of secular voters.

Philip Lentz

Interim Chair

In Memoriam: Mark Nisski

Secular AZ mourns the loss of Board Member and friend Mark Nisski, who passed away this week from Covid-19.

Mark was a bright light in Arizona’s secular community. A true secular champion, Mark broke new ground when he founded the Kingman Freethinkers, a freethought group in Kingman, AZ.

Here, Mark put his boundless passion for secular values to work, creating a much-needed and very welcome sense of community in northwestern Arizona. 

Mark quickly realized the need for and potential of his group, and started building connections across the state. In 2019, he was honored as one of our “Secular Stars” for his work with the Kingman Freethinkers. Earlier this year, he joined the Secular AZ Board. 

We will sorely miss Mark’s enthusiasm, his intellectual curiosity, his energy, and — most of all — his kindness. He inspired those around him to look at the world differently and to take action to make things better. Our hearts and thoughts are with Mark’s family.

Phoenix New Times Names Secular AZ “Best Activist Group” for Best of Phoenix 2020

“If you see a state official promoting the Holy Ghost, who you gonna call? The Secular Coalition for Arizona, that’s who. This freethinking organization celebrated its 10th anniversary in the state this year, and many Arizonans are glad to have it. The group protects the rights not just of nonbelievers, but of all Arizonans who don’t think public money, resources, and messages should be spent pushing religious dogma.

Chaired and directed by Zenaido Quintana, and with high-powered hitters like lobbyist and spokesperson Tory Roberg and progressive attorney Dianne Post on the payroll, this is a group that regularly gets attention. Whether it’s slamming Governor Doug Ducey for posts about Jesus during Easter, denouncing Bible studies in public schools, or fighting for atheist lawmakers’ rights to give the invocation at the State Legislature, the Secular Coalition for Arizona has been the state’s voice of rational disbelief.”

 

Thank you, Phoenix New Times! We’re honored – and it’s all thanks to the Secular AZ Board, Members, Supporters, Donors and Staff who fight for the (constitutional) separation of church and state every day!

 

 

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.

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

 

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Click here to sign this petition.

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. 

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!

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.

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.

“Be the Curators of Inspiration”: Listen to Robert People’s Secular Invocation

Follow this link to watch Robert Peoples of the Affinis Humanity Coalition deliver a moving secular invocation before the AZ State Senate as a guest of Sen. Andrea Dalessandro and Secular AZ.

https://youtu.be/xHvVnrprETQ

For a transcript, visit Patheos Friendly Atheist Blog at: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/04/02/humanist-delivers-invocation-in-az-senate-be-the-curators-of-inspiration/?fbclid=IwAR07YMntqGvHQOcTk-1XdC-C8zfSEKJ7Z25YnXoTy3EVdwauaKG6ET5-2X0

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. 
 

2017 Legislative Wrap Up is Here

The Secular Coalition for Arizona (Secular AZ) ignited our 2017 legislative work in a charged political environment colored by the general election. We started strong, locking arms in solidarity with over 40 anti-discrimination groups during an Opening Day rally. We began lobbying immediately on January 12th against regressive bills aimed at education, science, and women’s reproductive rights. Despite the steep challenges, we remain excited by our steady gains in visibility and impact in recent years. Here’s a summary of key wins and obstacles. Read the 2017 Legislative Wrap Up here.

Step-by-step guide on Legislature’s “Request to Speak” System (RTS)

You’ve heard us ask you to sign into the “Request to Speak” system in support or opposition to bills we are following at the Arizona State Legislature.  Here is a step-by-step guide on how to use this system from the comfort of your own home.  A few reminders about the limitations of the system:
1. You may only comment on bills that are currently assigned to a committee agenda; once the bill is heard in the committee you may not add a comment
2. You must activate your account the first time you use it at the AZ State Capitol.  We can help you with this if you are not able to get to the Capitol or Tucson Legislative office.