Secular AZ is continuing to work against numerous bills granting harmful religious exemptions, attacks on minorities, and more. Here’s a breakdown of what happened last week, and what’s coming up: Continue reading
HB2507, titled “religious services; essential services,” goes way beyond declaring religion an essential service in a pandemic (see the previous article in this series). It makes the practice of one’s religion an allowable defense in any civil or criminal case.
We already have a law that does this, ARS 41-1493 through ARS 41-1494 (FERA). The existing law prevents the government from burdening a person’s free exercise of religion unless there is a compelling government interest and the restriction is as narrow as possible. “Person” is defined to include organizations, so FERA already protects religious organizations as well. Continue reading
Secular AZ is continuing to testify against numerous bills seeking to undermine democracy and advance the interests of Christian nationalism. Here’s a breakdown of what happened last week, and what’s coming up: Continue reading
The intersection of law, medicine and so-called “morality” in the U.S. healthcare system poses a serious threat to patients’ access to healthcare and information. That’s the overarching message sent by a panel of experts in medicine and law we convened in December of 2021. As part of our annual Secular Summit event, Secular AZ organized a discussion on refusals of service based on religious beliefs, featuring the following experts and moderated by Secular AZ Legal Director Dianne Post:
- Atsuko Koyama, MD, MPH, Clinical Asst Professor University of AZ, COM, Creighton University; Dpt of Child Health and Emergency Medicine, Valleywise Health Medical Center
- Professor Elizabeth Sepper, Professor of Law at the University of Texas at Austin
- Dr. DeShawn Taylor, MD, MSc, FACOG, board-certified OB/GYN, clinical professor, and owner of Desert Star Family Planning in Phoenix
You can see the full video here. Let’s summarize what these experts working in the fields of medicine and law have to say about how refusals of service based on religious beliefs affect patients.
We’re continuing to watch several dozen bills of interest moving through Legislative committees. Here’s the full list of what’s on our radar next week: Continue reading
On Wednesday Feb 2nd, the State House of Representatives will begin hearing HB2507 which states that “during a state of emergency, religious services are declared essential services and are deemed necessary and vital to the health and welfare of the public,” and that religious organizations can continue to operate to the same or greater extent than any other organizations or businesses providing essential services are allowed to operate. The state government may require religious organizations to comply with neutral health, safety, and occupancy regulations that apply to all providers of essential services. Continue reading
Secular AZ testified in committee about the below bills last week, each of which sought to advance the interests of Christian nationalism. Here’s what each bill did and what happened:
During the first week of the legislative session, Secular AZ learned that a Christian nationalist Appeal to Heaven flag is being hanged in a public area of the State House building. The Pine Tree Flag dates back to the American Revolution. Colonists disobeyed orders disallowing the cultivation of pine trees, which Britain wanted for the construction of their navy fleet. The tensions exploded into what is known as the Pine Tree Riot, in which 20 men tortured a British official and maimed his horse. The flag became a symbol of independence.
As we enter the fourth week of Legislative session, we’re looking at a barrage of bills looking to kill public education in Arizona; oppress minority groups; suppress critical thought in schools; and politically entrench the extreme religious right. Continue reading
Eight years ago, we were told that legislative leadership and members thought that our advocacy group for people who believe in separation of church and state was “just a few people sitting in a room” and not to be taken seriously. We decided it was time to organize “Secular Day at the Capitol” to show that support for secular government is more than just a few people sitting in a room, it’s a movement!
On Monday, Governor Ducey delivered his final State of the State speech, and Secular AZ Board Member Sami Al-Asady and I were able to attend as guests of Representative Andrea Dalessandro. This was not the first SOTS I’ve attended, and it wasn’t much different than speeches given in years past. Continue reading