A Decision to Pass Over an Applicant for a State Commission is Raising Questions About Religious Discrimination

Phoenix, AZ – Christopher Gleason wants to be one of five members of a
commission that draws the lines for legislative and congressional
districts. A panel which screens applicants did not put him on
the list of finalists from which state officials have to choose.
House Speaker Kirk Adams said it appears the only objection came
from one panelist who pointed to Gleason's involvement with a
Christian organization and questioned whether he could separate
issues of church and state. Adams said that's wrong.

(People of faith have just as much right to the public arena as
people without faith, or without a specific faith. And I think
that is fundamental to our system. We should not be sending a
message to people of faith that we don't want you in the public
arena because you simply can't handle the separation of church
and state.)

But Dewey Schade who sits on the screening panel, said the
decision not to nominate Gleason had nothing to do with religion.
He said the panel had to narrow the list.

(Given that pool, he was not in the top 10 candidates, no more
and no less than that. It's no reflection of the person's
religion or beliefs.)

Supreme Court Chief Justice Rebecca Berch, who chairs the
screening panel, did not return calls seeking comment. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.