SC AZ Endorses Six Candidates in General Election

Endorsements Open to All, Regardless of Political or Religious Affiliation
 
PHOENIX (October 6, 2014) –Secular Coalition for Arizona (SC Arizona) is pleased to endorse the following candidates running for state and federal office during the upcoming Arizona General Election.

James Woods, U.S. House of Representatives, 5th District
Lela Alston, Arizona House candidate, LD24
Lanny Morrison, Arizona House candidate, LD6
Cara Prior, Arizona House candidate, LD16
Scott Prior,Arizona Senate candidate, LD16
Bruce Wheeler, Arizona House candidate, LD10

The SC Arizona Board of Directors grants endorsements. Any candidate may apply, regardless of political or religious affiliation, or their stance on issues other than support for a secular government.

“Our goal is to ensure that Arizona’s public policy making is free of religious intrusion –an aim shared by each of these candidates,”said Zenaido Quintana, Board Chairman, SC Arizona.  “We thank these individuals for publicly supporting secular government, and are pleased to endorse each as a Secular Candidate for legislative office.”

For more information on these candidates, please visit their respective campaign websites.

Endorsement Criteria and Process

Secular Coalition Official Position on the Arizona Office of Faith and Community Partnerships

Send a message to Governor Brewer using our "Action Alert System".  Click here.

Full Text of Executive Order 2014-06 Here

Background
On August 29, 2014, Governor Jan Brewer signed Executive Order 2014-06, establishing the Office of Faith and Community Partnerships and the Arizona Council on Faith and Community Partnerships.

This new Office and Council replace the Arizona SERVES taskforce and website, established by Executive Order 2010-07 and 2010-16.  The current board of the Arizona SERVES taskforce includes:
-          Five Christian Pastors
-          Seven Leaders of Christian-based non-profit organizations (including the lobbying group “Center for Arizona Policy”, an organization which is well-known for its extremist religious agenda)
-          Three State Employees
-          Two Undefined “Public Advocates”
-          Two Leaders from secular non-profit organizations

ArizonaSERVES was tasked with five goals:

  1. Encourage foster care
  2. Facilitate free/reduced child care services
  3. Provide supervised CPS visits
  4. Promote elder independence/assist grandparents raising grandchildren
  5. Provide transportation to underserved

2014 Legislative Session Wrap-Up

The Session Wrap-Up is your definitive 'inside guide' to SC Arizona's increasingly effective secular-minded legislative activities.  Click here to get the inside scoop.

The 2014 Secular Scorecard is Here!

Click here to see how your legislator scored on our 2014 Secular Scorecard.  

Don't know your legislative district?  Click here to find out.

Our organization has a clear objective – to actively oppose bills and legislative activities that privilege religion over no religion, or that use law to force the entire state to conform to one religion’s concept of morality.  We are dedicated to ending religious intrusion in civil government, particularly where this intrusion marginalizes religious minorities or nonbelievers, or results in discrimination against politically vulnerable groups of people. 

Conversely, we support bills that safeguard, strengthen and rebuild the wall of protection between church and state. 
 

Sine Die

Our legislature ended the legislative session late last week.  We had some very big wins this session, and we are so proud to be your voice at the Arizona legislature.

 

We're developing our "Secular Scorecard" and Session Wrap-Up, which will contain more detailed information on each bill we worked on this session, plus we'll let you know how your legislator scored on Secular issues. 

Religious Privilege Bill Vetoed!

HB2281: Expanding Religious Privilege

We did not give up on this bill, and neither did you! Over 430 emails were sent to Governor Brewer, asking her to veto the bill using our action alert system.  For every message that was sent, and for every phone call that was made - we thank you.

On Tuesday, April 22, Governor Brewer vetoed HB2281, the bill which would've raised property taxes on hardworking Arizonans in order to give a $2.1M property tax exemption to churches.

 

Governor Brewer: VETO HB2281 - Don't Raise Our Property Taxes!

Click here to send a message to Governor Brewer

The Arizona State Senate and House of Representatives voted to raise your property taxes statewide by $2.1M in order to give a tax handout to religious groups who lease property.  

Groups including the Faithful Word Baptist Church of Tempe, a hate group that has earned "church" status for tax exemptions.

House Bill 2281, currently on the Governor's desk, is not the kind of legislation that will galvanize opposition the way the virulently regressive SB 1062 did.  But make no mistake: HB 2281 is yet another way for far-right lawmakers to curry favor with Cathi Herrod’s Center for Arizona Policy and the narrow, fundamentalist interests it represents. 
 
The CAP-written bill is little more than taxpayer-funded giveaway to religious institutions – groups that are already free from most taxes – in the guise of a banal revision to Arizona’s property tax laws.  If passed, HB 2281 would re-classify properties leased to religious organizations in a way that would cost the state $2.1 million. 
 
That $2.1 million could be used to fund our malnourished public education programs, provide job training in a state that suffers an 8.2 percent unemployment rate, or support frustratingly anemic solar programs in the sunniest state in the US.
 
But none of those options – small investments that will pay huge dividends – would mollify zealots like CAP.  So the legislature will continue bowing to special interests that represent a tiny sliver of the state’s otherwise moderate population.
 

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 

 

You've heard us talk about it and we're not giving up until this bill dies.  What this Center for Arizona Policy bill does is pick winners and losers in property tax code.   

The winners: Churches.  

 

The losers: Everyone else.  To the tune of $2.1M.  That's the amount that JLBC estimates of property tax revenue that will be shifted to other property owners if this bill passes.  Read the fiscal note here.

 

While this bill is not currently moving, it could easily move next week.  Keep up the pressure and stay loud on this bill (see our "Action Alert" section below to take action).

 

Handout #2: SB1303: Giving a Property Tax Break to Grand Canyon University, a Christian-based Private College

 

Thanks to the LOUD attention to this bill, it died in Rules committee on Wednesday!

 

Media attention:

HB2565: Statement by Secular Coalition for Arizona

Secular Coalition for Arizona
Testimony of Zenaido Quintana, Chair
Before Senate Judiciary Committee
On HB 2565, Manslaughter Definition Expansion

Thank you. Mr. Chairman and distinguished Committee members
I am Zenaido Quintana, and I am here in the capacity of Chair of the Secular Coalition for Arizona.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak in opposition to HB 2565, the proposed change to Section 13-1103 A.3.

This provision that extends the penalties of manslaughter to individuals who knowingly provide the physical means of committing suicide to another will add an additional cruel burden to those who seek to end the suffering of a loved one facing a tortuous death.

One hallmark of an ethical society is the option to choose a compassionate and dignified end to one’s own suffering.
If your parent, spouse, child or dear friend were in the throes of a painful and agonizing certain death, such as is common with any number of terminal diseases or physical injuries, how many of you could resist their anguished pleas to help them put an end to their torment?  Unfortunately, it isn’t until one is faced with this situation personally that the inhumanity of this provision becomes apparent.

It would be far better to craft legislation that would permit citizens of Arizona to get relief from an agonizing end through their licensed physician than to continue to try to criminalize every avenue for a caring loved one to provide relief.

The abuses that were predicted for permitting terminally ill individuals from receiving help in dying have simply not materialized in the 20 years that people have been permitted to choose this option in Oregon, three other states have wisely chosen to follow Oregon’s lead.

Action Alerts! Please Act Now!

This is the last week where House bills will be heard in Senate committees, and Senate bills heard in House committees.  As such, we have several bills that will be heard this week.  

Thank you for taking action on all of the ACTION ALERTS listed here. 

Using Public Funds to Subsidize Religious Education

While running from their religious motivations, and similar to the disingenuous double-speak calling SB1062 "religious freedom", the Religious Right continue to attempt to expand Empowerment Scholarships, all while using the talking point of "school choice." As with the voucher scheme used in some other states, the vast majority of empowerment accounts are used to send students to expensive private religious schools that they otherwise would not be able to afford, effectively offering the "choice" to bridge the personal financial gap.  And you guessed it, these bills have their genesis at the Center for Arizona Policy. Additionally, private schools have little oversight so your tax dollars are not accountable for as well as potentially put science-based education and other secular subjects that rile the faithful at risk.

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