Extremists chase court ruling on school board prayer

Christian nationalist political actors think school board members should be legally allowed to proselytize during meetings—and they're seeking to make taxpayers in Peoria Unified School District (PUSD) pay in their quest for a court ruling to that effect.

Board Member Heather Rooks’ has filed a lawsuit against PUSD claiming it improperly ordered her to stop quoting Bible verses. Her counsel is a former AZ Supreme Court Justice who infamously ruled that Christian business owners have a legal right to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.  

Courts have continually ruled that prayer is not permissible at school board meetings because of the importance of maintaining secularism in schools and the risk of pressuring impressionable students, who often attend meetings. Rooks’ lawsuit is another in a long string of bullying behaviors aimed intimidating the Board, usurping legitimate authority, and enforcing Christian nationalists’ dogma.

Read our full statement.

When is it okay to start a public meeting with a prayer?

School boards may not open their meetings with prayer. Over 50 years of Supreme Court precedent has firmly ruled that prayer at school events is unconstitutional. School board meetings are more like school-sponsored events than legislative meetings, and public schools must not advance or endorse religion.

So when you see a school board meeting open with a prayer, is it a violation of the Establishment Clause? Well, to use every lawyer’s favorite phrase, “It depends.”


Other school board updates

Peoria Unified USD

Heather Rooks quoted Matthew 6:5-6. Public comments included several displays of theatrics over the issue of transgender students and bathrooms. Read more.

Paradise Valley Unified

The district held its first meeting after moving public comments to the end of the meeting, leading to a significant reduction in political comments unrelated to school board business. Read more.

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Have you thought about running for school board?These trainings are for you. We'll review what it means to run, the role of a school board member, and best practices for starting your journey. There’s no pressure — just a safe space to ask questions and seek information. 

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Volunteers needed to collect signatures for abortion amendment

Arizona for Abortion Access has launched the petition gathering effort to put abortion on the ballot in 2024. The “Arizona Abortion Access Act” would enshrine the fundamental right to abortion in Arizona’s constitution for generations to come. The amendment is critical to ensure abortion access in the state.

The campaign must collect 383,923 valid signatures from Arizona voters by July 3, 2024 in order to qualify on the ballot. Sign up to be a volunteer here.


Secular AZ
PO Box 47756  | Phoenix, Arizona 85068
6023804810 | info@secularaz.org

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