Separation of Church & State

High court: Employers can force religious beliefs on employees

PHOENIX – The Secular Coalition for Arizona, the voice of non-theists at the Arizona State Legislature, has strongly condemned the United States Supreme Court’s regressive decision today in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.
 
The court’s 5-4 decision gives overzealous employers the green light to cite their personal religious beliefs when denying female employees reproductive health coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
 
“Today’s decision marks a tragic move back to the politics of the pre-Civil Rights era,” said Tory Anderson, public policy advocate for the Secular Coalition for Arizona.  “The rights women have fought for and earned have been dealt a devastating blow.
 
“The inalienable right for a woman to keep her private healthcare decisions between herself and he doctor was at stake, and the Supreme Court ruled against upholding that right.”
 
Large employers are required to provide employees basic preventive care, approved by the Food and Drug Administration, under conditions of the ACA.  The law already exempted religious, non-profit organizations from having to provide contraceptive services.
 
“There are myriad Supreme Court precedents that have made it clear that for-profit companies are not religious organizations,” said Zenaido Quintana, director of the Secular Coalition for Arizona.  “That’s why they are not afforded the same protections as a church or religious nonprofits.”
 
Hobby Lobby argued their position based on a 1993 law that states governments “shall not substantially burden a person’s exercise of religion even if the burden results from a rule of general applicability.”
 
But Quintana pointed out that accepting such an argument is nonsensical.
 

News Type: 

Legislative Update

The religious-right wing of the Arizona legislature like to quietly push bills through that will benefit their agenda in several ways.  What we've found is that when we are LOUD about these bills, sometimes the bill dies.  

Check out what happened this week in what we're calling the "Trinity of Religious Handouts":

 

Handout #1-   HB2281: Expanding Religious Privilege in Tax Law 

 

News Type: 

Secular Coalition for Arizona Official Request for Gov. Brewer to Veto SB1062

View the original veto request here.

 
The Honorable Janice Brewer
Arizona Governor
Executive Tower
1700 West Washington St
Phoenix, AZ 85007

News Type: 

SC Arizona Engages Legislators on New Bills, Constitutional Oath

It has been an incredibly exciting week at the Arizona State Capitol! With the glamorous ceremony of last week’s Opening Day at the legislature fading into the background, Secular Coalition for Arizona is getting to the nitty gritty work of sifting through all of the new bills as they are introduced, meeting with legislators on both sides of the aisle, collaborating with other policy groups, and advocating reason and compassion in our political process. Several of the bills that have been introduced already have piqued our concern—and we have been contacting bill sponsors and working on solutions accordingly. One such piece of legislation has already drawn quite a bit of media attention, and secularists from around the country have been reaching out to SC Arizona to make sure we know about it—and indeed, we do!

News Type: 

Secular Coalition for Arizona's 2012 Legislature Scorecard is Here!

This past legislative season, the theocratic super-majority in the Arizona State Legislature showed no regard for the kind of separation between church and state that is necessary to safeguard from religious oppression the rights of nontheists, women, LGBT people, and other politically vulnerable groups of people. It’s time to put a stop to this religious tyranny in Arizona!

News Type: 

Focus on the Swing Districts: LD 18

by Karen Cook

The upcoming election will be a crucial one for secularists in Arizona. Fifteen of the 30 legislative districts are highly likely to be won by Republicans with strong ties to the religious lobby organization, Center for Arizona Policy, and only 10 by Democrats, so the 5 remaining swing districts— if won by Democrats— could give our legislature a new and rare status: parity. Having a balance between the parties would have many possible outcomes, the most positive being a decrease in religiously motivated legislation.

News Type: 

Center for Arizona Policy and the Arizona State Legislature

by Karen Cook

When you see the initials 'CAP,’  do you automatically think of the Central Arizona Project? Think again!

Center for Arizona Policy
(CAP) is a conservative nonprofit organization that has muscled more than 100 of its supported bills into law. Its goals? Among them is to ‘protect human life from conception to the end of natural life.’ To do this, CAP has championed legislative efforts aimed toward outlawing abortion, blocking aid-in-dying policy, banning human cloning and embryonic stem cell research, as well as suppressing science-based sex education. In addition, CAP wants to maintain laws that define marriage as the union between one man and one woman; stop all gambling (including the Arizona State Lottery); and limit government involvement in education.

How is it that CAP has been so successful in its endeavors? Through commentaries on radio stations throughout Arizona; its network of supportive churches; staff members who make personal appearances at community functions and, perhaps most importantly, The Truth Project.

From the CAP website:

The Truth Project is a revolutionary DVD-based small group curriculum produced by Focus on the Family. It is designed to build a systematic and comprehensive biblical worldview in the lives of believers.

The Truth Project is unique because it doesn’t tell Christians what to think – it teaches them how to think – to evaluate every aspect of life through a biblical perspective. 

We have already seen what a 'biblical perspective' can do to Arizona!

News Type: 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Atheist Organization Calls on IRS to Investigate Tax Status of Center for Arizona Policy

(May 21, 2012) Phoenix, Ariz.—Secular Coalition for Arizona (SC Arizona) filed a complaint with the Internal Revenue Service this week asking for an investigation into Center for Arizona Policy’s 501(c)3 public charity tax-exempt status. SC Arizona has been looking into Center for Arizona Policy’s tax status as part of the secularist organization’s commitment to ensure that religious organizations do not receive special privilege under the law, including tax law.

News Type: 

Brewer Rejects Reason, Atheists in Arizona Respond

(Apr. 19, 2012) Phoenix, Ariz.— In opposition to the recent flood of religiously-motivated legislation penned by policymakers in Arizona, Secular Coalition for Arizona, on behalf of its 12 nontheistic liaised organizations throughout the state, called on Governor Brewer to declare May 3, 2012 a Day of Reason. The Governor rejected Secular Coalition for Arizona’s request for a proclamation, but the group will nonetheless be collaborating with local nontheistic communities to organize events as part of a larger countrywide movement advocating a National Day of Reason.

News Type: 

Hijacked Arizona State Legislature Bends to Religionists

Narrow Religious Ideology Wins Big...
Everyone Else Loses

April 17, 2012 -- Last week was a disappointing one in Arizona politics, with secularism taking a major hit and real Arizonans facing damaging new laws as a result. As the legislative season comes to a close, we anticipate a continuous onslaught of anti-secular bills coming up for last-minute votes or for the Governor's signature. Secular Coalition for Arizona will be working hard to make sure you get up-to-date information and opportunities to voice your concerns to your legislators about specific bills. We appreciate how hard you have all been working to respond to the Religious Right's eleventh-hour sneak-attacks on our rights; please continue to help us get our secular message to elected officials through these last critical days.

The State of Secularism in Arizona

Bills Still Requiring Action

SB1359 - The Wrongful Birth bill allowing doctors to lie to pregnant patients was transmitted to the Governor on April 12; we must continue to pressure her for a veto: 602-542-4331

HB2563 - This Bible Curriculum bill was transmitted to the Governor on April 12; we must continue to pressure her for a veto: 602-542-4331

SB1365 - Free Exercise of Religion, a refusal and discrimination clause, has passed both houses, but in different versions. The two versions must be reconciled and before a final vote.

News Type: 

Pages

Subscribe to RSS - Separation of Church & State