State Capitol News
10:13 am
Wed December 15, 2010

Spat Over Religious Beliefs of Commission Member Debated

Phoenix, AZ – The fight surrounds a bid by Christopher Gleason to become a
commission member. On his resume, Gleason listed his membership
in a Christian service organization. After Gleason was
interviewed last week, screening panel member Louis Araneta
questioned whether he could separate issues of church and state.
Ultimately, Gleason was one of five finalists not nominated,
creating a firestorm among Republican legislators. On Tuesday,
Araneta quit, writing in his resignation letter that his comments
-- quote -- were misinterpreted to infer that I was not in
support of Mr. Gleason's application because of his religious
beliefs. Hours later, Gleason and GOP leaders demanded the
screening panel meet again. Gleason said his concern is that this
panel is the same one that nominates judges for the state supreme
court and court of appeals.

(As a citizen I am far more concerned that a belief-based litmus
test is possible in the commission on appellate court
appointments. This certainly is not the meaning of the concept of
church and state. In fact, it's hard to imagine anything that
entangles government more in the matters of faith than using
religious belief to stop an applicant for office.)

Even if the panel meets again, Senate President Russell Pearce
said he remains suspicious of anything it does now, even without
Araneta, because of what was said at the earlier meeting. For
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.