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They are Rep. Judy Chu (D-Calif.) Senator Michael Bennet (D-Colo.); Reps. John W. Olver and John F. Tierney (both D-Mass.); Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); and Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.)
Are any of them atheists, agnostics, or secular humanists? Are they spiritual seekers temporarily between churches? Were their aides simply too busy to check a box under the religion question? I don’t know. If any would like to speak to the public on this issue, I’ll open space for them in the next issue.
Of course, six is not enough. Let’s see: there are 435 representatives and 100 senators—16 percent of that is roughly eighty-five members of Congress. That’s what real representation would look like.
Does that seem too blue-sky? Then consider that of that 16 percent of Americans without religious affiliation, about a third are self-identified atheists and agnostics. Another third are what the demographers call “hard seculars”—folks who don’t check the box for atheist or agnostic but whose answers to lifestyle questions reveal that they live notably post-religious lives. Only a third of the unaffiliated are spiritual seekers, between churches, and the like. So a Senate and a House of Representatives in which Americans who live without religion were fairly represented might have fifty-six members who are atheist, agnostic, or hard secular.
We have six. And all we know about them is that they’re “unspecified.”
The lesson I draw from this is simple. More nonreligious Americans need to run for elective office—probably locally at first to build their political bona fides. Running for Congress can follow.
Whether courageously or quixotically, Eddie Tabash has run for state office in California as an open atheist. (I won’t keep you in suspense: he lost, though he made a solid showing.) More atheists, agnostics, secular humanists, and other freethinkers need to follow in his footsteps. Even more of us need to run and campaign, perhaps not as “atheistcandidates” but as candidates who make no effort to conceal their unbelief. Campaigning alongside them, I hope, will be a strong field of spiritual seekers, church-shoppers, and other religious nonaffiliated. Let’s all be represented. READ MORE