It was another late night on Wednesday, but I snuck away to my office for a couple of minutes to do a video in the daylight.
It’s about this time in the session when the Democrats start to get ornery because one bad bill after another is passed on a party line vote. If something fails, one of the good old boys or good old girls brings it back up for reconsideration, and all of the Republicans march in a line and revive the Zombie Bill, as directed. Occasionally, bills die a second time like the rodeo license plate that would have benefited the Spirit of the West Museum in Scottsdale.￼ That died for the second time yesterday– thanks to Reps. Shawnna Bolick and Michelle Udall joining the ranks of representatives who are fed up with license plates. (I did a previous update on this topic.)
Governor Doug Ducey and Republican Legislators often pontificate about reducing bureaucracy and regulation. They then turn around and create more bureaucracy and regulations surrounding issues and services that they don’t like–for example, women’s reproductive rights, Clean Elections, voter rights, independent redistricting, the Citizens Initiative, marijuana… you get the idea. Today’s video is about three Republican bills that create new, unnecessary and redundant bureaucracy, regulations, and structure in the government.
One of the big stories of the 2017 session of the 53rd Legislature was #PrayerGate. On April 18, 2017, Rep. Athena Salman, who is an atheist, read a secular meditation on the Floor of the Arizona House. This is against the rules. According to the Majority Party (who makes the rules), the daily prayer on the Floor of the House must include seeking guidance from a higher power.
After Salman read her inspirational statement, Rep. Mark Finchem jumped out of his seat to protest her “prayer” as “inappropriate” because it didn’t mention God or Jesus. Finchem was allowed to offer a replacement prayer with God in it. A debate about “appropriate” prayer ensued, with atheists, Native Americans and others defending traditions that have been deemed “inappropriate” by the Republicans who control the Legislature. This is not the first time that Godless prayer in the Arizona Legislature has made international news.
A few days after #PrayerGate, the Secular Coalition of Arizona held a press conference in support of religious freedom– even for the nonreligious. I was glad to stand with Salman, the Native Americans, the Secular Coalition, other Unitarian Universalists, and those who practice Christian or non-Christian religions or no religion.
At the press conference we jointly read the secular meditation that Athena read on the floor of the House.
I stand with the Secular Coalition on this issue because I believe in the separation of church and state and because I am a Unitarian Universalist. We’re the “It’s Complicated” religion because we accept refugees and outcasts from many other religions, and we accept nonbelievers. We are guided by our seven principles which include honoring the inherent self-worth of others, the interconnectedness of life, democracy and fairness, the search for truth (even if it means believing in science!), and more.