Secular AZ Asks AZ Congressional Delegates to Support Do No Harm Act of 2019

The Secular Coalition for Arizona requests that Arizona’s Congressional Delegates sponsor and support the Do No Harm Act of 2019, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Kamala Harris (S. 593) and in the House by Representative Joseph Kennedy (H.R. 1450).

What is the Do No Harm Act? Since our nation’s founding, the freedom to practice faith or non-faith as one desires has been a fundamental American value that provides a vital shield from discrimination and persecution, particularly for persons of minority faiths and non-believers. Unfortunately, employers, businesses and the courts are increasingly interpreting the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993 (RFRA) in opposition to our shared values and using RFRA as a license to discriminate and impose their personal religious views on others.

The Do No Harm Act restores the original intent of RFRA, protecting personal religious freedom from undue government influence, while also ensuring RFRA cannot be used by private entities to discriminate against or harm others. The Do No Harm Act makes clear that we do not need to sanction discrimination to protect the faith community.

We ask that all Congressional Delegates from Arizona join with their colleagues to sponsor and support this key piece of legislation.

Click here to read our letter.

 

Your Donations Doubled & a Grant Competition

Right now, you have two unique opportunities to support Secular AZ! 

  1. Thanks to a generous Secular Supporter, all gifts will be matched up to $40,000

    and

  2. We’re participating in the “A Community Thrives” grant competition. Each week until April 12, non-profits compete to raise the most funds; winners receive additional grants!

Please help us by donating today; simply visit crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/secular-communities-for-arizona/secular-communities-for-arizona-inc.

Each week brings a different competition, so check back to see what’s going on until the competition ends on April 12th! Funds will go to support our new program, bringing civics education to AZ schools.

Remember, each gift you give will be doubled by a generous supporter. THANK YOU for supporting Secular AZ!

 

Secular AZ Responds to Camp Verde H.S. Bible Instruction

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

Why is AZ Taxpayer Money Funding a Hate Group?

Hey Arizonans… Ever seen those “In God We Trust” license plates? Did you know that $17 for each plate sold goes to the Alliance Defending Freedom, an anti-LGBTQ, anti-reproductive rights organization designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center? Over the years, almost $1million in taxpayer money has been funneled to ADF!

Why are taxpayer dollars going to a hate group?

According to the SPLC, ADF:

  • supports the recriminalization of homosexuality in the U.S. & criminalization abroad
  • defends state-sanctioned sterilization of trans people abroad
  • links homosexuality to pedophilia
  • claims that a “homosexual agenda” will destroy Christianity & society
  • works to develop “religious liberty” legislation & case law to allow the denial of goods & services to LGBT people on the basis of religion

Arizona taxpayer money should not be funding hate and we are working to stop it. Together with the American Atheists, we’ve erected billboards in Phoenix and Tucson to raise awareness of this issue. 

Will you help us spread the word?

Your gift will help us spread the word accross the state! Together, we can end this despicable practice.

Read more:

Newsweek: License Plates In AZ Saying “In God We Trust” Found to Fund and Support Anti LGBTQ Group

Huffpost: Arizona’s ‘In God We Trust’ License Plates Found to Fund Anti-LGBTQ Group

Phoenix New Times: Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group Claimes it’s the Victim of Atheist Arizona Lawmaker

The Hill: Arizona Dem Introduces Bill to Stop License Plates from Funding Anti-LGBTQ Hate Group

 

Reverend Speaks Out Against Removing Evolution from Science Standards

Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas is attempting to limit the use of the word “evolution” in Arizona high schools’ science curriculum, in spite of more than a year of work by 100 educators, parents and community members who drafted new science education standards. The Secular Coalition for Arizona strongly opposes this attempt to supplant fact-based learning with religious dogma. Many agree, including Reverend David Felten of The Fountains United Methodist Church in Fountain Hills. 

In an interview on KJZZ, Dr, Felten explains why he believes evolution should remain part of the science standards for public high schools. Listen to the interview here. 

 

Evolution Under Attack in AZ Science Standards

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. 

 

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
 

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. 
 

Weekly Update from the AZ Capitol

First: we’re continuing to fight two subjective morality bills that just passed the Senate.

The CAP-written S1367 forces doctors to perform life-saving procedures on aborted and preterm births, even when it is clear resuscitation is futile and no matter the gestational age.  

Our professional allies from the OB/GYN community testified that in cases of hopeless miscarriages, “comfort care” is critical: allowing the mother to cradle the dying life in its final moments alleviates intense psychological trauma. This same trauma can be exacerbated by forcing the mother to witness pointless mechanical revival attempts. Read the entire powerful testimony in the attachment, below.

This is a crucial argument we are hoping to emphasize as the bill moves to the House. 

If you or anyone you know has a personal story about this and can share it with lawmakers (in private or on the floor), we need you. 

Please contact Tory Roberg if you can help: tory@secularaz.org. 

MeanwhileS1439 affects the other end of the life cycle: creating legal escape hatches for health care providers who refuse end-of-life care. 

This is a subversive attack on Advance Directives, fueled by religious morality. Organizations like Death With Dignity and Compassion & Choices are already in our corner, but we need your suggestions for other potential allies as well as your personal stories.

Again, please contact Tory above if you can be of any assistance.  

Momentum on the ESA bills is temporarily halted as they lack the critical votes to go further. They’re not dead yet, though, so don’t let your guard down. Call your Representatives to urge them to vote no on SB1431 and HB2394.

Finally, our science education license plates bill (H2354) is in committee in the Senate next week. We support this bill because we support science.  The Science Education Fund is largely expected to benefit the Arizona Science Center.