Americans United for Separation of Church and State

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Church State Issues

Should legislative prayers be open to atheists?

May 23, 2013

Arizona Republic

What part of the Arizona and US Constitution don't these government tyrants understand???

Both the First Amendment and the Arizona Constitution clearly forbid mixing religion and government!!!!

Praying on the taxpayers dime is clearly forbidden and a violation of both the Arizona and US Constitutions.

First Amendment - Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ...

Article 2 Section 12 of the Arizona Constitution - No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise, or instruction, or to the support of any religious establishment. No religious qualification shall be required for any public office or employment, nor shall any person be incompetent as a witness or juror in consequence of his opinion on matters of religion, nor be questioned touching his religious belief in any court of justice to affect the weight of his testimony ...

Should legislative prayers be open to atheists?

The Republic | Wed May 22, 2013 5:15 PM

When lawmakers pray at the Capitol, it's often a Christian prayer.

But is that how it should be?

Some are upset with state Rep. Juan Mendez, D-Tempe, an atheist who in lieu of praying asked his colleagues to look around and "celebrate our shared humanness." Lawmakers often rotate the traditional invocation; on Tuesday, it was Mendez's turn.

State Rep. Steve Smith, R-Maricopa, spoke against Mendez's actions Wednesday and led a second prayer in "repentance."

Opinions editor Robert Leger and digital opinions editor Joanna Allhands discuss the controversy in the video above.

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Should prayers kick off government proceedings? And if so, should people of different faiths -- or no faiths -- be allowed to participate?