Member of Congress Holds No God-Belief

Shaggy Shinobi
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Member of Congress Holds No God-Belief

I just got this e-mail from http://secular.org and thought all the atheists here would like to know. As I believe I do recall Sapient looking for the highest political atheist and it seems one is revealing themselves March 12th.

 

secular.org wrote:
Dear Secular Coalition activist, This coming Monday, March 12 the Secular Coalition for America will make a historic announcement: a member of Congress has agreed to be identified with our community. This ground-breaking release is the much-anticipated outcome of a recent contest we initiated to seek the identity of the highest level openly nontheistic elected official. The purpose of the contest was to explore visibility problems for nontheists in public service.


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That's awesome! Hope it

That's awesome! Hope it doesn't cost them their seat, though.


zarathustra
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I also hope it doesn't shock

I also hope it doesn't prompt a voter backlash in the presidential election (as the gay marriage issue seemed to do last time around).

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It's such a HUGE shame that

It's such a HUGE shame that there's a possibility of either this person losing his seat or a backlash.  I guess that's kind of obvious, but it still makes me mad that admitting you're an atheist can cause such a negative reaction.

What would happen if this person does lose their seat or suffers because of this?  Will this give the religious right more leverage? 

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The consequences of being

The consequences of being an openly non-theist as an elected official largely depend on the nature of one's electoral district. A non-theist member of Congress from rural Georgia is in a much different spot than one from San Francisco, Berkeley, or Ann Arbor.

It also depends on to what extent one's opponents wish to make it an issue. If one's opponent in the next election is someone who isn't strongly religious, then it might not be a big deal at all. Whereas if the opponent is propped up by the fundamentalist religious conservative culture, then it might be an issue. 


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pariahjane wrote: It's

pariahjane wrote:

It's such a HUGE shame that there's a possibility of either this person losing his seat or a backlash. I guess that's kind of obvious, but it still makes me mad that admitting you're an atheist can cause such a negative reaction.

What would happen if this person does lose their seat or suffers because of this? Will this give the religious right more leverage?

There's a way to soften the blow, and that is to call out the theistic response before they even make it. If we predict that there will be a voter backlash, we should send out the message "Look at how oppressed atheists are in the US. Even a qualified person who happens to be atheist will get attacked and threatened if he comes out and openly expresses his atheism." Then when theists do exactly as we predicted, we can say, "See, just as we predicted, here we have exhibit A, congressman so-and-so...."

Takes a bit of preparation, but it can be extremely effective. I hope the secular.org people are going to handle it well when they make the announcement. Maybe the RRS would want to coordinate with them to ensure that the theistic response is well-prepared for.

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Conn_in_Brooklyn
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pariahjane wrote:It's such

pariahjane wrote:
It's such a HUGE shame that there's a possibility of either this person losing his seat or a backlash.

or HER seat ... though, if I were betting man, I'd put my money on Bernie Sanders (Independent/Socialist Senator from VT).  Any thoughts about who else it could be?

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We'll be supporting this

We'll be supporting this congressperson when www.secular.org makes the announcement, I spoke with them today.

 

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What are the odds this

What are the odds this person is a Republican? Smile

 

I think once we find out who it is we all need to email them and let them know how many of us support them.


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Conn_in_Brooklyn wrote:

Conn_in_Brooklyn wrote:

I'd put my money on Bernie Sanders (Independent/Socialist Senator from VT). Any thoughts about who else it could be?

That's who I'd put my money on too, if I were a betting woman.Laughing

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mindspread wrote: What are

mindspread wrote:

What are the odds this person is a Republican?

I'd laugh my ass off if it were. Imagine the irony of that. Especially with all the closet cases coming out of the Republican party... Next an atheist coming out of it? Haha!

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It is sad that the person

It is sad that the person will most likely get backlash, but this is an important step and they most likely realize it. I really hope they realize what they are doing by doing this and they are prepared for the backlash.

I could see the person doing if they know they aren't going to run for office again as image doesn't really matter as much then. The only down side is Ann Cunt Coulter will probably jump all over it if the person is a Dem.

I'll have to look up the person's history once released, might have a new hero.


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I think this might is a

I think this might is a double edged sword. I think it's best to do this after the 2008 elections. We dont need another fundy in the White House!


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It could be John Olver

It could be John Olver (D-MA), as well - he's one of the few politicians I know who says that he doesn't attend church.  As he's the Representative for my home District, I can tell you that he's run unopposed the last two terms.

Mmm....central MA - where people aren't fucking insane Republican theists that bash gays and bomb abortion clinics.

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A congressman with more

A congressman with more balls than I. Never figured I'd see the day. Granted I have no problem expressing my atheism, but then I'm not a politician either.

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I hope it's someone who has

I hope it's someone who has been reelected time and time again.  Someone who is popular with the voters and has no trouble winning an election.

It would be great if it's a much-loved person.  Maybe then folks will start to realize that atheists aren't something to be feared.

However, I'll bet it's someone that isn't running for relection and has already planned to leave Washington in at the end of this term.

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Last year, we invaded

Last year, we invaded bookstores and Youtube. This year, we take Congress. We're mad as hell, and we're not going to take it anymore.


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Let's hope this person is a

Let's hope this person is a good has a good track record. That way, if/when theists start to complain, they obviously couldn't criticize his/her political inadequacies. So it would be clear that they would only have a problem with them not believing in god. If they try to do exactly that. what’s the bet that theists will try to equate their non-belief with political issues i.e. “if he/she believed in Christian values, X would have been better/not happened."

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Movements take time and

Movements take time and change doesnt happen over night. Yes, there might be a backlash. I too hope it doesnt cost them their seat.

This will be a great day for all Americans weither they realize it or not. It is a win for free speech and a reminder of E-Pluribus Unum. This is one of the rare moments under the Bush administration where I can honestly say I am proud to be an American.

To all the brave open skeptics past and present you helped set the stage for this monumental day. Jefferson, Ingersoll, O'hair, Johnson, Finley, Sapient, and all the vocal non-Christians of all labels who understand the importance of "Jefferson's wall" in maintaining the freedom of every citizen.

If anything, this anouncement will put the bigotry on the front page where it cannot be ignored or swept under the rug. It will help further expose the right wing revisionist propaganda lies that only Christians are suited for our government's highest offices.

This is a great day for freedom. My thoughts and support go out to this brave person. Thank you for giving a voice to those who are marginalized and demonized. You are building a better future for all citizens by living up to the constitutional standard that every citizen has an oportunity to serve.

Once again, this day could not have happened if it were not for the tireless efforts of prior secularists and atheists. Every voice counts, every post counts.

I can remember back in 01 the limited number of atheist websites. I can remember the Atheist Network and Infidel Guy being off the radar screen and obscure broadcasting as far back as 97. But in 6 short years our voices have exploded and today allows people like Sapient and Hillbilly Atheist and authors like Dawkings and Harris bigger and brighter oportunities to help spread reason.

Thank you all, each and every one for creating websites like this. Thank you all for posting and getting the word out. Thanks to those who write their ellected officials and send opinions to local and national media. Each and every one of you have made a differance.

There are still rough waters ahead. Lets continue to grow. Lets continue to raise our voices. Our future can get better with every voice that is heard.

"Question with boldness even the existance of God, for if there be one, surely he would pay more homage to reason than to that of blindfolded fear" Thomas Jefferson

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Brain, I woke this morning,

Brain,

I woke this morning, staggered over to the computer and read this post. I too have witnessed the rise in the skeptic voice over the last 7 years, and I agree that we atheists do owe a huge gratitude to the people who work hard everyday to help make the atheist voice heard.

Brian Sapient
Rook Hawkins
Kelly
The rest of the rrs team
Reggie (ig)
Jake
Richard Carrier
Robert Price
Sam Harris
Davis Mills
Richard Dawkins
Greydon Square
Hillbilly Atheist
Dan Barker
(I know I’m forgetting many , so feel free to add others)

These atheists from all walks of life have been instrumental in exposing the myths regarding atheism, and are helping educate an ignorant public regarding the absurdities of religion.

Thank -you all so much for your hard work.

I am anxious to see which member of congress steps forward.

Truman

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Will clips of media

Will clips of media coverage be available to watch here?

What time today will the anouncement be made? 

"We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and nonbelievers."Obama
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From

From www.secular.org:

 
Rep. PeteStark(D-Calif.),a member ofCongress 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.

Our research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. He holds the highest level office of the four contest nominees who agreed to self-identify with our community.

This announcement concludes the Secular Coalition's "Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official" Contest, launched to explore visibility and respectability challenges for nontheists in public office.

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Thank-You Mr.

Thank-You Mr. Stark!

Wikipedia entry on Stark:

 

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pete_Stark


mindspread
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I just sent him a email of

I just sent him a email of support. I hope he gets more positive feedback then negative.


Conn_in_Brooklyn
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I was a little disappointed

I was a little disappointed that they didn't get a quote from the Congressman, or explain exactly what kind of "non-theist" he is ...

... but besides that, I'm psyched!  We should all get on the phone or on the email and let him know that we all support him !!!

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Oh, and it seems that Ned

Oh, and it seems that Ned Lamont, the insurgent Damocrat from my home state of Connecticut (who lost a tough race to Joe Lieberman (ugh) last year), is speaking at the New Humanist Conference at Harvard in April.  Any info on that?

(I still proudly display my Ned Lamont bumper-sticker on my car!)

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 From

 From http://www.secular.org/news/pete_stark_070312.html:

Quote:

Congressman Holds No God-Belief

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 (www.secular.org ). Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.

Although the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, the Coalition's research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. Recent polls show that Americans without a god-belief are, as a group, more distrusted than any other minority in America. Surveys show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.

Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America, attributes these attitudes to the demonization of people who don't believe in God. "The truth is," says Silverman, "the vast majority of us follow the Golden Rule and are as likely to be good citizens, just like Rep. Stark with over 30 years of exemplary public service. The only way to counter the prejudice against nontheists is for more people to publicly identify as nontheists. Rep. Stark shows remarkable courage in being the first member of Congress to do so."

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.

Surveys vary in the percentage of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists in the U.S, with about 10% (30 million people) a fair middle point. "If the number of nontheists in Congress reflected the percentage of nontheists in the population," Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition, observes, "there would be 53-54 nontheistic Congress members instead of one."

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rab
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A biography of him at Wiki

A biography of him at Wiki also stated that he was one of the first vocal opponants to the Iraqi invasion.

Nice! Meanwhile, his god-fearing colleagues rallied around Bush and his illegal war.   

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Ig
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It hasnt gotten any TV

It hasnt gotten any TV coverage that I am aware of but AP and some of the major newspapers picked it up pretty quick.

http://news.google.com/news?q=Pete+Stark&hl=en&um=1&sa=X&oi=news&ct=title

Cant wait to see how Fox "news" handles this. 


rab
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I really like this guy!

I really like this guy!

Stark confirmed his belief in a statement to The Associated Press late Monday. He said he was "a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being."

 

"I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social services," he wrote.

http://www.newsmax.com/archives/ic/2007/3/13/85516.shtml?s=po 

 

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thingy
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I've made a (most likely

I've made a (most likely vain) attempt to spread this around a few newspapers here in Australia.  Should try some current affairs shows actually, they're always saying they're after public-submitted stories.

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http://www.issues2000.org/CA/

http://www.issues2000.org/CA/Pete_Stark.htm  I like this guy too. He voted for net neutrality Smiling


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I was thrilled to find this

I was thrilled to find this out I mean Pete Stark my congressmen an ATHEIST I mean shit! Its not every day you wake up you have a congressmen who actually represents you Smiling I did send my leter of support and I am gonna go to a meet and greet this weekend me thinks.