A photo of Judy Schwiebert labeled secularist of the week and a photo of Anthony Kern labeled theocrat of the week

Ariz. 10 Commandments showdown between FFRF Action Fund ‘theocrat’ and ‘secularist’  

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FFRF Action Fund welcomes an Arizona state representative as its “Secularist of the Week” for her pushback against an unconstitutional bill that would allow Ten Commandments displays in public schools. The primary sponsor of that bill is our “Theocrat of Week.”

Arizona state Sen. Anthony Kern, representing the 27th District, introduced Senate Bill 1151 in mid-January, which would add the Ten Commandments to the list of American history items that teachers can read aloud, teach and display in classrooms. Kern’s bill, unfortunately, passed Arizona’s Senate in late February and the House Education Committee last week with Republican-only support. 

Kern, a member of Arizona’s alt-right Freedom Caucus, made reckless, Christian nationalist statements to the House Education Committee while aiming to have every school classroom display the Ten Commandments, such as saying, “Our history is the Ten Commandments, our history is the Judeo-Christian values.” Kern ignorantly insisted that the Puritans came to this continent to worship Jesus Christ freely and that, consequently, our entire system of government, including the Legislature, is supposedly based on the Ten Commandments. Kern posted an article about his fight for the bill on X, with the caption, “Since 1962, there has been a strong push by the marxist left to get rid of God from the public square! It’s time to bring Him back!!” 

Kern advanced the peculiar assertion that “the Christian religion and its foundation in this nation is the very reason we have other religions in this nation” but it’s clear he doesn’t care about diversity or freedom of religion. Kern dismissively said that if anyone wanted to allow teachers to talk about the Islamic holy book “they can run that bill.” He added, “If I go to the Middle East and promote Christianity, I’m going to get my head chopped off.” 

Our “Secularist of the Week,” Arizona state Rep. Judy Schwiebert, representing the 2nd District, has a very different perspective. She asked Kern during the bill’s House Education Committee hearing where exactly he found references to the Ten Commandments in our nation’s founding documents. Kern, of course, could not name any. Schwiebert furthered her point by saying, “This bill represents another example of using religion for political gain and purposes. … This is exactly the type of behavior that the drafters of the U.S. Constitution’s Establishment Clause tried to prevent. As a Christian myself, I find this bill to be both arrogant and defensive, and I vote no.”

We thank our “Secularist for the Week” for her defense of true religious liberty and the U.S. Constitution’s protection against the kind of governmental promotion of religion our “Theocrat of the Week” hopes to achieve. 

Meanwhile, FFRF Action Fund has contacted its hundreds of advocates in Arizona urging them to demand that their House members defeat this patently unconstitutional bill.

FFRF Action Fund is a 501(c)(4) organization that develops and advocates for legislation, regulations and government programs to preserve the constitutional principle of separation between state and church. It also advocates for the rights and views of nonbelievers, endorses candidates for political office, and publicizes the views of elected officials concerning religious liberty issues.