AZ Legislators: Working Hard to Tear Down the Wall Between Church and State
On April 18, Rep. Athena Salman (D-Tempe) opened the Arizona House’s floor session with a secular invocation that did not reference a Christian god. Predictably, Republicans reacted by becoming “offended,” telling Salman she was “out of line,” (see AZ Central) and immediately offered up a new prayer of their own… to Jesus. House Majority Leader John Allen then reminded lawmakers that his prayer guidance, issued earlier this year, included the provision that they must “invoke a higher power.”
Guess what? We don’t all believe in a “higher power.” I fully support Rep. Salman’s actions, as her secular invocation represented me and the other 22.8% of Americans that don’t identify as religious (per Pew Research Center). Are we not also taxpayers and constituents? Should our voice not be heard in the halls of our state government?
For those that DO believe in a higher power, which one shall we reference? The knee-jerk reaction seems to be to simply placate the majority of Christians by praying to Jesus or Jehovah… but there are many iterations of Christianity, as well. Which shall we place first? The Catholic’s God? The Mormon’s God? The Westboro Baptist Church’s God?
Then there are all those pesky other religions. Should we at least give lip service to them? Perhaps we should pray to Mohammad, Kali, Thor, Krishna or Shango? What about Satan or the Flying Spaghetti Monster? They’re going to feel left out.
There’s actually an easy solution: it’s called separation of church and state. Our state legislature should try it, especially given that the Arizona Constitution Article XX §1 requires “perfect toleration …and no inhabitant of this state shall ever be molested in person or property on account of his or her mode of religious worship, or lack of the same.” In other words, leave ALL religion out of government, and then no one has to either 1. be offended or 2. feel excluded.
It’s hard to believe it’s 2017 and this is still a thing.
Guest blog by Linsay E.