Religious litmus test applied in Arizona
Posted by faithandthelaw on December 16, 2010
In Arizona, a candidate for a panel to redraw congressional districts has been barred for his faith.
The Arizona Commission on Appellate Court Appointments is charged with qualifying people for the state commission that will decide redistricting. Cathi Herrod, president of the Center for Arizona Policy, picks up the story from last week involving nominees for the Independent Redistricting Commission.
“At that meeting, a commissioner disqualified an applicant simply because of the applicant’s religious faith,” she explains. “Commissioner Louis Araneta spoke out against Christopher Gleason’s application because he thought that it had ‘strong religious overtones’ and even said that ‘there should be a separation of church and state.'”
Herrod stresses that a person’s religion has nothing to do with the redistricting effort — but that it is a matter of doing the math and understanding the geography.
“We’ve called on Commissioner Araneta to resign his position,” notes Herrod. “And we also have been concerned because out of the 13 other members of the commission, no one challenged Commissioner Araneta’s use of religion as a disqualifier.” (See update from AP below)
Herrod admits she finds such “religion bias” troubling. “…The Commission is the same group that nominates judges for Arizona’s appellate courts,” she says in a press release. “It’s deeply disturbing that those individuals charged with selecting judges would say that faith in Jesus Christ is a disqualification for public service.”
Gleason, from Pima County, is on the board of 4-Tucson, a Christian community service organization. Herrod tells OneNewsNow that should make it clear Gleason is not associated with a dangerous cult.
Panel member quits
PHOENIX (AP) – A member of a state panel has resigned amid controversy over whether an applicant for Arizona’s redistricting commission was rejected because of his involvement in a religious group.
Louis Araneta had voiced concern during a December 8 nominating commission meeting about separation of church and state while discussing Tucson businessman Christopher Gleason’s application. The application included references to Gleason’s involvement with a Christian community service organization.
Critics said Araneta and possibly other commission members seemed to have blackballed Gleason because of his religious activities. Araneta denied that in his resignation letter, and said he quit because he didn’t want his comments to be a distraction for the commission, whose main job is screening applicants for appellate court openings.