We believe that the science education in Arizona schools should be based on scientific fact, not religious dogma… and science teachers from around the world agree! That’s why we’re concerned about Superintendent Diane Douglas’ attempt to cast doubt on evolution, thus undermining AZ students’ scientific literacy. Read our letter to the AZ State Board of Public Education here.
Share your thoughts on this attack on evolution with the AZ Ed Dept; this survey on the science standards is open for public comment until May 28.
The AZ House voted to allow the phrase “God Enriches” – an English translation of the state motto that references the Biblical book of Genesis – to be posted in Arizona’s public schools. Secular AZ’s Tory Roberg has some thoughts on why this violation of the Establishment Clause matters… read them in this article from the Daily Miner.
The Friendly Atheist can’t understand why the AZ Senate passed SB1289, allowing teachers and administrators to post a translation of the AZ state motto, Ditat Deus, in classrooms…. and Secular AZ agrees.
Historically, the motto has always been in Latin; the Englsh translation is “God Enriches,” which refers to a passage in the Christian bible. Not only is the English translation ahistoric, it’s needlessly divisive given that 30% of Arizonans do not identify as Christian, and violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and our state contitution. Posting this translation will likely result in wasteful lawsuits school districts can ill afford, as we’ve seen in past court cases that have ruled against religious signage in the classroom.
Read more about this harmful attempt to insert religious preference into public schools, and Secular AZ’s opposition to it, at the Patheos blog.
Secular Day at the Capitol Featured in Jewish News
Secular AZ”s annual Secular Day at the Capitol event was featured in Jewish News, including interviews with BOD Chair Zenaido Quintana, Director of Government Affairs Tory Roberg, and Kent Barrabee Vice President of our affiliate, the Secular Humanist Jewish Circle of Tucson.
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.
A September, 2017 study from the Public Religion Research Institute found that those identifying as non-religious are the largest demographic in 20 states, including Arizona. (Here in AZ, “nones” make up 26% of the population.) Of these, six in 10 identify as “secular” while just over 25% identify as “atheist” or agnostic. These numbers illustrate a significant generational shift, and highlight the importance of ensuring that our state’s policies are secular… and equitable for all!
Find the report here: https://www.prri.org/research/american-religious-landscape-christian-religiously-unaffiliated/
Secular AZ Board member and attorney Dianne Post joined concerned Fountain Hills residents to bring attention to the town’s improper and unconstitutional use of taxpaper money to promote a religious event.
At a June 1 Town Council meeting, FH resident Susan Fallon objected to Mayor Linda Kavanaugh’s proclamation supporting a “National Day of Prayer” event, noting that the Mayor’s endoresement and the town’s use of taxpayer dollars to support the prayer event represent an unconsitutional endorsement of religion.
Fallon told the town council that “It is not acceptable for the government to insert itself into the religious arena, thereby excluding the growing number of agnostics, atheists and those who simply hold to no specific religion.”
Post agrees, noting in a letter to the town and the town council that:
“The town has communicated the message that the government endorses prayer and encourages its citizens to engage in it. That is taking sides on a matter of religious belief.
“We request that you take immediate action to rectify past violations and to prevent future violations. The city must withdraw support from the prayer event, issue no more proclamation, and spend no taxpayer dollars on prayer events.”
The Phoenix New Times published an article on Republican House members’ overreach after Rep. Athena Salman offered a secular invocation on the House Floor earlier this week.
As Salman noted, “The Arizona House of Representatives is the people’s house,” she said, her voice cracking. “Opening prayers in the House should represent Arizonans of every faith’s perspective. This includes the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who, like myself, who do not believe in a supernatural god, but do believe in the power of humanity to do good in the world.”
Secular AZ agrees. Read the article in the Phoenix New Times here.
On April 18th, 2017, State Representative Athena Salman offered a humanist invocation written by a member of her community, the Humanist Society of Greater Phoenix. House leadership then ruled that, despite Salman’s assertion that her higher power is “the goodness in humanity,” Salman broke house rules by not praying to a higher power.
112 prayers have been recorded in the AZ House and Senate floors this year, 91% of them theistic and 80% specifically Christian or Judeo-Christian. Only six overtly secular invocations have been given this year, and three—including Rep Salman’s—prompted immediate reprovals or calls to order at the time they were delivered.
“The Arizona House of Representatives is the people’s house,” Salman said at a recent press conference. “Opening prayers in the House should represent Arizonans of every faith perspective. This includes the hundreds of thousands of Arizonans who, like myself, do not believe in a supernatural God but do believe in the power of humanity to do good in the world.”
We agree: Legislative prayers—if they are to be held—must be open to Arizonans of every faith’s perspective, even those who do not subscribe to a supernatural power.
If you live in Arizona: call your legislators and tell them that lawmakers must be treated equally regardless of faith, and this includes expressing their beliefs during the opening prayer. Encourage them to seek better understanding of their nontheist colleagues’ viewpoints, to find common ground.
Secular Coalition for Arizona was featured in The Nation magazine this week. The article — entitled An Arizona Legislator Gave an Invocation that Didn’t Mention God. You Won’t Believe What Happened Next — detailed the controversy that erupted after Representative Athena Salman offered an invocation that didn’t mention a “higher power” on the House floor this week.
Secular AZ is proud to support Rep. Salman’s constitutionally protected right to offer a secular invocation rather than a religiously based prayer. As our Board Chair, Zenaido Quintana, noted at yesterday’s Standing for Our First Freedom interfaith event, “By requiring these ‘prayers’ to recognize a ‘higher power,’ the House rules silence secular lawmakers and prejudicially deny them a platform to speak that is available to their religious colleagues.”
Read the article in The Nation here:
Speak up for End-of-Life Choices- DEADLINE: MARCH 8 @ 2PM – SIGN INTO THE LEGISLATURE’S “REQUEST TO SPEAK” SYSTEM IN OPPOSITION TO SB1439
We invite you to join us on March 8 at 2pm at the Arizona House of Representatives, Judiciary and Public Safety Committee, Hearing Room 4 to share your stories and your views on end-of-life choices. You must sign into the legislature’s “Request to Speak” system if you wish to speak in Committee. If you can’t be at the Capitol, or you just don’t want to speak, you can still sign into the “Request to Speak” system and make your coments without physically being at the Capitol.
This bill allows heath care providers to opt out of end-of-life care without consequence. Having this bill in committee is a rare opportunity for advocates of end-of-life choices to be heard at Legislature. Come and speak to the importance of honoring end-of-life choices, including the very popular Advanced Directives.