“Be the Curators of Inspiration”: Listen to Robert People‘s Secular Invocation

Follow this link to watch Robert Peoples of the Affinis Humanity Coalition deliver a moving secular invocation before the AZ State Senate as a guest of Sen. Andrea Dalessandro and Secular AZ.

https://youtu.be/xHvVnrprETQ

For a transcript, visit Patheos Friendly Atheist Blog at: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/04/02/humanist-delivers-invocation-in-az-senate-be-the-curators-of-inspiration/?fbclid=IwAR07YMntqGvHQOcTk-1XdC-C8zfSEKJ7Z25YnXoTy3EVdwauaKG6ET5-2X0

“Be the Curators of Inspiration”: Listen to Robert People’s Secular Invocation

Follow this link to watch Robert Peoples of the Affinis Humanity Coalition deliver a moving secular invocation before the AZ State Senate as a guest of Sen. Andrea Dalessandro and Secular AZ.

https://youtu.be/xHvVnrprETQ

For a transcript, visit Patheos Friendly Atheist Blog at: https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2019/04/02/humanist-delivers-invocation-in-az-senate-be-the-curators-of-inspiration/?fbclid=IwAR07YMntqGvHQOcTk-1XdC-C8zfSEKJ7Z25YnXoTy3EVdwauaKG6ET5-2X0

Secular AZ Lauds Decision Limiting School Board Prayer

Secular Coalition for Arizona
www.secularaz.org
Contact: Tory Roberg, Director of Government Affairs – tory@secularaz.org – 623-570-6396

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Secular AZ lauds decision limiting school board prayer

(Thurs., July 26, 2018) Phoenix, Ariz. — In a unanimous decision from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday, judges ruled that California’s Chino Valley Unified School District Board was in violation of the Establishment Clause by promoting Christianity with prayers and Bible readings at meetings. Secular Coalition for Arizona calls the ruling a major victory for the separation of religion from government, and warns Arizona school boards to heed the decision.

“It’s wrong for elected officials to use their position as a way to push their religious beliefs during government proceedings,” said Zenaido Quintana, President of the Secular Coalition for Arizona. “Secular AZ is committed to ensuring this doesn’t happen at any government meetings in our state, especially at the school board level where kids might be subjected to evangelizing. The Ninth Circuit validated that our position is on the right side of the law.”

The Court specified that religious activity at school board meetings is not within the legislative prayer tradition that allows certain types of prayer to open legislative sessions. “Unlike a session of Congress or a state legislature, or a meeting of a town board, the Chino Valley Board meetings function as extensions of the educational experience of the district’s public schools,” the Court wrote in its decision. “The presence of large numbers of children and adolescents, in a setting under the control of public school authorities, is inconsonant with the legislative-prayer tradition.”

The lawsuit was brought by the Freedom From Religion Foundation on behalf of two parents of students in the district and twenty Doe plaintiffs (including students, parents, district employees, a former district employee, and attendees of school board meetings).

Quintana says Secular AZ will continue monitoring local government meetings to make sure the religious freedom of students is not being violated by elected officials’ evangelizing.

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The Secular Coalition for Arizona is a nonprofit advocacy organization that works to ensure a secular state government. We lobby on behalf of all individuals who believe that public policy free of religious preference is the best way to ensure freedom of conscience for Arizonans of all faiths and of none. Secular AZ is the local affiliate of the Secular Coalition for America.

Phoenix New Times: Whose Higher Power?

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.

Phoenix New Times

Will you support the Secular Coaliation for Arizona as we fight religious preference in our state government? Please consider becoming a member or donating today
 

Regarding official government prayer

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.

Religious Preference in the House: Rep. Salman and Secular AZ in “The Nation”

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:

The Nation Secular AZ article

Will you stand with us as we support the separation of church and state in Arizona’s government? Please become a member of Secular AZ or donate today to help us continue to fight. 
 

Secular AZ to Corporation Commission: All or nothing when it comes to prayer

In a January 10, 2017 press release, the Corporation Commission announced that it will start a new practice: starting meetings with a prayer. Contrary to the statements of Chairman Tom Forese, prayer in any form does not encompass all faiths and beliefs. In fact, prayer before government meetings is a divisive act that only serves to set people apart. That was immediately evident by the comment of Forese to a reporter that if the Satanists requested to do a prayer, “Satan has no place at the commission.” This is exactly the kind of discrimination that is prohibited under the First Amendment.

Read the full text of our letter to the Corporation Commission in response to their January 10, 2017 press release in the attached file.