Monday, March 12, 2007

First Openly Nontheistic Congressperson in U.S. History

Blacks, women, gays, and finally a nontheist. (What's a non-theist?)
Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) is first Congress member in history to acknowledge his nontheism

For Immediate Release
Contact: Lori Lipman Brown, (202) 299-1091
March 12, 2007

There is only one member of Congress who is on record as not holding a god-belief.

Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), a member of Congress since 1973, acknowledged his nontheism in response to an inquiry by the Secular Coalition for America ( ). Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.

In October, 2006 the Secular Coalition for America, a national lobby representing the interests of atheists, humanists, freethinkers, and other nontheists, announced a contest. At the time, few if any elected officials, even at the lowest level, would self-identify as a nontheist. So the Coalition offered $1,000 to the person who could identify the highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist currently holding elected public office in the United States.

In addition to Rep. Stark only three other elected officials agreed to do so: Terry S. Doran, president of the School Board in Berkeley, Calif.; Nancy Glista on the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone, a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Mass.

It's a start, I guess. I'd like to see audio, video, or at least a text confirmation on his website.


JDHURF said...

That’s encouraging news. I had heard about this yesterday and was eager to find out who the politician was. I was wondering if it may be Bernie Sanders, a great politician who is now the Vermont Senator, but, his stating publicly that he was a non-theist would most likely jeopardize his newly established political standing. Pete Stark is a great politician also, his views on the Iraq war and healthcare come to mind.

dbackdad said...

There's obviously a lot of others. But it's some indication of the screwed-up country we live in that most people are afraid to admit they are atheists/humanists/agnostics because of fear of retribution.

Ezzie said...

I think it's a good thing as well - simply because it's always good to have any group that has a nice percentage of people in this country represented. You've quoted stats about this in the past, but IIRC, a few percent at least should fall under this.

asher said...

Can't imagine what type of book he took his oath of office on. Might be something to find out....couldn't have been a Bible could it?

Sadie Lou said...

I'm with ezzie. It's good to have balance.

jewish philosopher said...

"It's a start, I guess."

Hopefully, it's the end too. As I point out on my blog, atheism is basically undemocratic, elitist and anti-humanist.

Anyone interested in an atheistic government has the option of moving to North Korea.

dbackdad said...

" ... couldn't have been a Bible could it? -- actually, it may have been. This following quote was used in a little different context, but it's still fitting:

"People place their hand on the Bible and swear to uphold the Constitution. They don't put their hand on the Constitution and swear to uphold the Bible." -- Jamie Raskin

I believe that most non-theists recognize that the document (the bible) as important to a lot of people and by swearing on it, it represents a significant oath. At least personally, I don't believe that you would have to be a Christian to use the bible to swear on. That's not saying that people should feel required to do so. I'm just saying that I wouldn't take it as meaning anything other than the person is swearing to uphold the constitution.