Arizona Religious and Political Leaders Speak About Religious Freedom and Human Dignity
Religious, political and legal leaders from Arizona and beyond gathered in downtown Phoenix on Monday to discuss how to work together to protect the freedoms of people of all faiths and those who are non-religious. .
- The Coalition for Human Dignity and Religious Freedom hosted the event at ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor Law School.
- Arizona Supreme Court Justice Clint Bolick, House Speaker Rusty Bowers and Reverend Katie Sexton-Wood of the Arizona Faith Network were among the panelists.
State of play: Religion is the source of many conflicts, which have only worsened in the current divisive nature of society, the panelists said.
- There are conflicts within and between religions and there are tensions between the protection of religious freedoms and other First Amendment rights.
How we stack: Bolick said Arizona has even greater religious freedom protection than the national protection listed in the US Constitution.
- Yes, but: He also said that the current Supreme Court of the United States has the broadest view of the free exercise of religion of any court in the modern era.
1 bass drum: The Supreme Court of Arizona governed in 2019 that a Phoenix ordinance that protects LGBTQ people from discrimination cannot be used to force calligraphers to create personalized wedding invitations for same-sex couples.
- The ruling was hailed as a victory for religious freedom advocates, but was deeply unpopular among others who saw it as a green light to discrimination.
- This created even more tension between religion and civil rights.
1 warning: Panelists from various faiths encouraged people to avoid weaponizing religion and pitting it against other freedoms, religions or sects of the same religion.
What they say : “I believe there’s a moral obligation for religious leaders to kind of have this role of being in the middle,” said Imam Omar Tawil of the Islamic Community Center in Tempe.
- “The most effective representation of religious liberty is one that stands up for believers and non-believers,” said elder Michael Dunn of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Become smarter: The LDS Church and LGBTQ rights organizations have worked together over the past year to make a non-discrimination order in Mesa which prohibited discrimination based on both religion and sexual orientation.
- “Most people assume that we would be enemies, that we would be in opposition,” said Michael Soto of the LQBTQ+ Equality Arizona organization. “But we don’t have to choose that. We can choose to come together based on shared values as Americans.”