Please read Secular AZ’s letter to the Camp Verde Unified School District re: proposed bible instruction at Camp Verde High School.
It is well-settled that public schools may not advance or promote religion; the government must not encroach on personal religious freedom, which necessarily includes both the right to choose a religion or no religion at all. The Supreme Court has held that “the preservation and transmission of religious beliefs and worship is a responsibility and a choice committed to the private sphere.” Further, school involvement in religious activity remains illegal even though the students’ attendance is “voluntary.”
(tl/dr: Allowing access to schoolchildren during school hours to proselytize and recruit for religious activities is a violation of the Establishment Clause)
Secular AZ’s letter to the Camp Verde Unified School District
Give yourselves a hand, Secular Supporters! You spoke out en masse, and your voices were heard.
Thanks in large parts to your activism, the AZ Board of Education voted 6-4 to adopt science standards that recognize evolution and climate change, rejecting Superintendent Diane Douglas’ suggested standards that privileged religious belief over fact-based information.
In the words of our Board Chair, Zenaido Quintana: “We’ve been very concerned about Diane Douglas’ efforts to push her religious views on more than a million kids in Arizona’s public schools. Our students deserve to be taught science in their science classes, and to be free from religious indoctrination at school. The State Board of Education made the right decision in adopting science standards approved by highly-qualified science teachers. We appreciate that the Board listened to the voices of science experts and secular allies in making their decision. We are grateful our community was heard.”
Nice job! We’re so glad that Arizona students will receive a science education based on facts, not dogma.
Read more: Phoenix New Times; AZ Central
Help us keep fighting for secular public policies! Make a donation to the Secular Coalition today.
Secular Supporters, your voices are being heard! At the Board of Education meeting, Superintendent Diane Douglas gave us her opinion. Take a look at this video to see her comments… and our response. (Here’s a hint: She’s not happy with us!)
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.
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.”
Read more in the Fountain Hills Times.
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.
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.
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:
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.