What a great day we had at the Capitol! Tory Roberg, our Secular Coalition for Arizona lobbyist put on the best secular day ever. The Secular Coalition for Arizona was created in 2010 so this celebration represented 10 years of effort. We have a small budget but energetic volunteers and have been able to “slow the roll” of the religious groups such as the Center for Arizona Policy and the Alliance Defending Freedom as they try and eliminate the separation of church and state. In fact, we got to march around the capitol saying “Separate: Church and State!” while carrying signs. I don’t know if we changed any minds, but I felt good doing it.
We had speakers and we had many groups that share our desire for a secular Arizona government free of undue religious influence. I represented the American Atheists and got to say a few words about how our missions overlap in keeping religion and religious based laws from affecting all Arizona citizens.
Quite a few of the members of the Secular Coalition got a chance to meet with their representatives. In the past, I got a chance to meet with one of my lawmakers. Her name is Becky Nutt. She met us at the door holding her Bible. During our discussion, I invited her to our “Secular Studies” meetings that provided free lunch to those that attend. She said she couldn’t attend because she attended Bible study. I asked her, “When do the Bible study sessions meet?” She said, “Wednesdays at noon.” I said, “Well Becky, that’s an entirely different day. You can do both.” I also reminded her that she doesn’t have to believe the way that we do in the Secular Coalition but she should be aware that it is her job to represent ALL of her constituents, and the best way to do that is to learn about the things that we have concerns about.” While she accepted that it was a valid point, and she promised to give it some thought, she never attended a single Secular Studies sessions. Who passes up free tacos?
If you’re in Arizona Legislature District fourteen we could use a refresh. I haven’t had a chance to meet with Gail Griffin or David Gowan yet. However, I did see State Senator’s rude performance during a secular invocation last year. All three need to find other ways to spend their time and we should help them out by not voting for them during the next election.
Not everything went smoothly during our “Day at the Capitol.” The Senate president, Karen Fann, ignored a coordinated agreement to have our favorite Arizona Senator to give a Secular invocation to open the session. Instead she called upon another senator that gave a very sectarian prayer calling on Jesus Christ. He was obviously prepared which made Senator Fann’s “apology” ring hollow as if it was a coordinated action to disrespect the many citizens that travelled to the Arizona Capitol for their “Secular Day.” She apologized multiple times. So what? Instead of an apology, I have a better idea and I think my Secular friends would go for it. Why doesn’t Senator Fann recognize her error and her inability to manage the scheduling of her invocations by having and entire week with NO INVOCATIONS AT ALL.