At what point can we say a politician is using his office to promote religion? There are times when that may be ambiguous, but what Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey did before Easter wasn’t one of those times.
He posted this straight-up ad for Christianity on his official Facebook account:
The caption says “He is risen! Have a happy and blessed Easter!” while the image itself displays a Bible verse from John 11:25: “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die, he shall live.'”
The American Humanist Association has already sent him a warning letter, noting the problem and laying the groundwork for a possible lawsuit down the line.
“Easter is not an excuse for elected officials to disregard their responsibilities to all of their constituents,” noted [Legal Director David] Niose. “Today’s warning joins a number of others we’ve sent this week as our attorneys work to remind politicians of their constitutional oaths.”
The notice reminds the governor that “such blatantly religious statements on a government-run page, unambiguously promoting Christian beliefs, are seen as problematic by many in your community,” as reinforced by comments on the post reflecting concerns about a potential violation of the wall of separation between church and state and the concerned citizens who brought the post to the AHA’s attention.
The notice points out that failure by the governor to correct this behavior “in the future could only be seen as a brazen disregard for church-state separation, thus inviting litigation.”
If you are going to recognize Christians, you have to recognize Wiccans and the Satanic Temple too. Under the Arizona Constitution, you cannot treat the non-religious differently, so you’ll have to recognize them as well, I suppose on Darwin Day? The best course for government is to stay out of it completely and leave it to the personal realm.
Elected officials should not use their government position and government property to promote their religious views. The governor’s office is to represent and protect the rights of all residents of Arizona, including those who do not believe in a monotheistic god or any gods at all. Therefore, it is inappropriate for government entities to erect or sponsor religious symbols or displays on government property.
This shouldn’t be that complicated. Ducey can say all this same stuff on a personal page. No one’s stopping him from Jesusing all day long when he’s off the clock. But as the state’s leader, he has an obligation to represent all of his constituents without endorsing his favorite brand of mythology using state resources.
Would a court find him guilty of a crime? Not a chance. But when there are more egregious violations, this is the sort of evidence that goes a long way to showing that Ducey has a history of using his office to promote Christianity. The cheap political points he gains by doing this could hurt him in the long run.
(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Brian for the link)