Last week, Secular AZ constituent Deborah Broome let us know she had a letter to the editor published in the Casa Grande Dispatch. The topic: prayer at government meetings. We’re proud to reprint below Deborah’s dissection of the issue in full below.
Since its widespread adoption, conservative Christians have used the slogan “In God We Trust” to justify opposing abortion rights, same-sex marriage, and even expansions of voter rights by suggesting that they violate the principles represented by those words. Continue reading
In 2016, MergerWatch reported an alarming growth in Catholic-dictated health care. The number of hospital mergers went from 66 in 2010 to 112 in 2015 and the pace is increasing. In 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union reported that 1 in 6 hospital beds in the United States is a Catholic Hospital. In some states such as Washington, over 40% of all hospital beds were in Catholic hospitals in 2016. Continue reading
The Supreme Court — sequestered in its shadow docket after midnight on Sept. 1st — made several things clear with Whole Women’s Health v. Austin Reeve Jackson.
First: the court has zero credibility. They no longer decide legal cases based on the Constitution, the law, precedent, science, or facts. They decide solely on politics. Continue reading
Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn v. Cuomo.
Fulton v. Philadelphia.
Tandon v. Newsom.
Whole Woman’s Health v. Jackson
Throughout the pandemic, the highest court of the land has favored religious adherents to the detriment of public health, LGBTQ+ people, and the Constitution’s Establishment Clause. I felt nauseous as I read majority opinions from the 2020-2021 term; arch-conservative Supreme Court Justices had institutionalized a complete disregard for the separation of state and church. Christian nationalism has taken hold of our democracy. Continue reading
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
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
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.
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
Last week, the US Supreme Court once again ruled in favor of forcing Americans to fund religious organizations — and handed those organizations another special license to discriminate. Continue reading
Secular Coalition for Arizona – www.secularaz.org
Contact: Tory Roberg, Director of Government Affairs – firstname.lastname@example.org – 623-570-6396
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Extreme legal immunity for religious groups decried by community organizations
“[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.