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Coalition pushes against religion-based legislation

PHOENIX — When Arizona lawmakers return to the capitol on Jan. 14, one group will be watching closely.

“Our political agenda is pretty straightforward,” said Serah Blain, executive director of the Secular Coalition of Arizona. “We just believe that civil rights and statutes should not be based on religious beliefs of people in power.”

Blain said the coalition formed after several secular groups became concerned over what they see as powerful groups pushing religious-focused legislation.

“We have a disproportionate number of conservative Christian legislators in a state where we have a pretty high level of non-theistic people so they’ve just had a disproportionate level of influence that we’d like to counter.”

Blain said her lobbying group will be paying attention to any bills involving reproductive healthcare, abortion or birth control.

Blain said they’d like to see legislation supporting more science-based sex education in public schools and an Oregon-style “Death with Dignity Act,” which makes physician-assisted suicide legal in some cases.