Banning Political Use of Religion: A Clear and Simple Approach

By Adriana Lujan-Flores, Secular AZ Legal Intern

On January 31, 2019, British-Iraqi journalist Salam Sarhan wrote an opinion piece for The Independent calling for a new, international approach to prevent countries from using religion for political purposes. According to Sarhan, previous attempts to combat the political use of religion were too divisive and confrontational, enabling religious extremists to rally support by claiming their faith was being attacked. The article received significant support, leading to the launch of the International Treaty to Ban the Political Use of Religion, or BPUR for short. Continue reading

Children cannot be required to recite the Pledge of Allegiance

State lawmakers worked hard this session to figure out ways to impose groupthink on students. Representative Fillmore from the far east valley and Pinal county introduced HB2060, requiring school children in grades 1-4 to recite the Pledge every morning. Under current law, they may if they like; under Fillmore’s bill — which thankfully died in committee — they would have been required to do so unless their parents wrote an excuse. 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.

8th Annual Secular Day at the Capitol

Curious about what happens at the legislature? Want to meet your lawmaker and connect with other people who care about secular government? Tired of religious intrusions into state statute? Then we have the virtual event for you!

Join us Monday, March 15th for our 8th Annual Secular Day at the Capitol.

COVID-19 has restricted us to an online forum but we are still here and we are still asking lawmakers to SEPARATE CHURCH AND STATE!

We are contemplating hosting an in-person, outdoor ,covid-safe SECULAR AZ visibility event at the Capitol to coincide with our virtual day. Please let us know in the registration form if this is something you’d like to do. If we have enough interest we will move forward. If we don’t, we don’t. What can we say – the weather is lovely, Secular AZ folks wear masks properly, and we value science!

Monday, March 15, 10AM – 2:00PM (flexibility and breaks built in so you can participate while tending to children, working, etc)

(Tentative) Schedule:
Welcome & Issue Overview & Meeting Practice
Breakout Rooms: 15 minute meetings with lawmakers; guest speakers in breakout rooms
Lunch Panel & Q&A
Secular Invocations and Introductions from the House and Senate
Closing/ end of day / call to action

REGISTER HERE FOR SECULAR DAY AT THE CAPITOL 2021

We are offering a legislative pre-training before Secular Day starts at 10am. Please sign up for this training in addition to the Day at the Capitol. Registration is separate for this meeting; click here to register for this free training.

SPONSOR SECULAR DAY AT THE CAPITOL!

Help us raise ALL of our voices at the Capitol! Sponsor Secular Day… and support our advocacy and activism at the Arizona State Legislature. Sponsors will be recognized on our website, in our newsletters, and at the event.

Since we can’t do in-person tabling this year, organizations that sponsor Secular Day will get time to speak at the event to provide updates on group activities. Click here to become a sponsor!

A HUGE “THANK YOU” TO OUR SECULAR DAY SPONSORS!

  • AARON CONNOR
  • ARIZONA END-OF-LIFE OPTIONS
  • BOBBIE HOWARD
  • BOBBIE MORGENSTERN REAL ESTATE
  • BOBBIE VANDEGRIFF
  • DIANNE POST
  • DON AND NANCY LACEY
  • DONNA GRATEHOUSE
  • ELLEN GITTLEMAN
  • FREEDOM FROM RELIGION FOUNDATION – VALLEY OF THE SUN
  • FREETHOUGHT ARIZONA **SUPER SPONSOR**
  • HOWARD JOHNSON
  • MARK MANOIL
  • MARTHA O’CONNOR
  • PHILIP AND SHERRON LENTZ **SUPER SPONSORS**
  • RON RUSSELL
  • SECULAR HUMANIST JEWISH CIRCLE
  • WHIT JOHNSON