Arizona Governor Drops "Bible Week" Proclamation, Prompting ACLU to Drop Lawsuit

March 1, 1999 12:00 am

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Monday, March 1, 1999

PHOENIX, AZ– Recognizing the diversity of beliefs among Arizonans, on Feb. 27 Governor Jane D. Hull dropped a “Bible Week” proclamation, saying that the issue was too divisive and offensive to many non-Christians as well as to many Christians.

As a result of the Governor’s announcement, Eleanor Eisenberg, Executive Director of the Arizona Civil Liberties Union, said that the ACLU’s lawsuit against the Governor would be dismissed without prejudice.

“The ACLU and its clients welcome the Governor’s action, which provides the relief we sought,” she said. “We are gratified that the Governor understands that it is not appropriate for the government to elevate one religion over another or to promote religion over non-religion.”

In November 1998, the Arizona Civil Liberties Union filed two separate suits in Federal Court against the Governor of Arizona and the Mayor and Town of Gilbert concerning their respective proclamations of Bible Week. The lawsuit, filed on behalf of both Christians and non-Christians, alleged that the proclamations were a government promotion of religion, in violation of the state and federal Constitutions.

A federal court in Phoenix restrained the Mayor of Gilbert from issuing her proclamation and the declared the Governor’s proclamation unconstitutional. The City of Tucson had issued a similar proclamation which was rescinded without litigation.

“We applaud the Governor for demonstrating her concern for the religious diversity of Arizonans,” Eisenberg said. “Governor Hull has saved the people of the Arizona from what could have been protracted litigation,” she added. “We can only hope that the Mayor and Town of Gilbert will do the same.”

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