Petestark

Petestark

Humanists Praise Pete Stark for "Coming Out" as a Nontheist

March 12, 2007 

(Washington, D.C., March 12, 2007) The American Humanist Association today applauded Representative Pete Stark (D-CA) for his historic decision to come out as the first openly nontheistic member of Congress. "Pete Stark joins the company of millions of other nontheistic Americans, including humanists, many of whom have long kept their views secret for fear of discrimination in their communities," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association. "With Stark's courageous public announcement of his nontheism, it is our hope that he will become an inspiration for others who have hidden their conclusions for far too long." 

Stark affirmed his nontheism in a response to an inquiry from the Secular Coalition for America, of which the American Humanist Association is a member organization. The inquiry was part of a unique and original campaign by the Secular Coalition for America to locate politicians who were open about their nontheism. In response, the American Humanist Association has launched an advertising campaign congratulating Stark. The first of the ads will appear tomorrow in the Washington Post. (See ad) 

"Nontheistic Americans, including humanists, are the group most likely to be discriminated against for their convictions," said Fred Edwords, director of communications for the American Humanist Association. "Recent polls show that fewer than 50 percent of Americans would vote for an atheist presidential candidate, even if that candidate is well qualified. The fact that Pete Stark's public avowal of nontheism is controversial reinforces this point. Americans still feel it's acceptable to discriminate against atheists in ways considered beyond the pale for other groups." 

"By contrast, such an announcement by a politician wouldn't be news in Europe, where the public has embraced secularism to a degree not seen in the United States," Edwords continued. "Clearly, when it comes to American religious prejudice, we still have a lot to overcome." 

Few politicians have openly acknowledged holding nontheistic worldviews, and no president or member of Congress has been among them. This is because the public isn't bound by Article VI, section 3, of the U.S. Constitution, which states, "no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States." Unfortunately, when voting, the people often have exercised this prejudice that is not granted to public office holders. 

"A candidate's theological viewpoint should have no bearing on her or his perceived fitness for public office," said Speckhardt. "Candidates should instead be judged on their political attitudes and their character. Moreover, there's no necessary connection between nontheism and politics, any more than there is between theism and politics. Disagreement exists within both groups on the best way to run the country." 

Pete Stark has been the representative of the 13th district of California since 1973. He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee and chair of the Health Subcommittee. He is outspoken on issues of healthcare, the economy, and the environment, and was one of the most vocal opponents of the war in Iraq. He is also a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. Most humanists will now regard him as one of their own. 

To learn more about nontheists in public life click here. 



# # #


The American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org) is the oldest and largest Humanist organization in the nation. The AHA is dedicated to ensuring a voice for those with a positive outlook, based on reason and experience, which embraces all of humanity.

American Humanist Association

Do you shop on Amazon? Father's Day is right around the corner. Remember to shop...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Looking to relocate? It seems Seattle is the best place for non-believers to liv...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

How do you feel about the expansion projects like tourist attractions and shoppi...

1 days ago

American Humanist Association

Use our action alert system to email your member of Congress: http://bit.ly/1LMlJBo

2 days ago

American Humanist Association

After a Missouri public school sends kids on a field trip to a Christian sports...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

With so many people in America earning minimum wage, it is important that humani...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

Congratulations to Jorhat College for becoming the first college in India to acc...

3 days ago

American Humanist Association

AHA's Legislative Associate, Matthew Bulger, covers last week's congressional br...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

In case you missed Lawrence M. Krauss at AHA's 74th Annual Conference in Denver...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

Is it a sign!? Move over Jesus toast, there's a new symbol in town. A happy huma...

4 days ago

American Humanist Association

#MemorialDay

5 days ago

American Humanist Association

Christian numbers are declining, "Nones" are on the rise. Is this just a reactio...

7 days ago

American Humanist Association

Happy Friday Everyone!

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Do you think the face of a prominent female historical figure will ever appear o...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

According to Pew Research's latest study, America's religious landscape is chang...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

Evangelist Franklin Graham calls on supporters to pray that Ruth Bader Ginsburg...

8 days ago

American Humanist Association

George W. Bush gets something right?

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

We're happy to welcome a new chapter, Montgomery Humanists, to the American Huma...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

This week on the Humanist Hour Podcast, Bo Bennett and Kim Ellington speak with...

9 days ago

American Humanist Association

As we have seen by the recent murders of three nonreligious bloggers—Ananta Bijo...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Jennifer Bardi, editor-in-chief of the Humanist magazine, recaps the AHA's 74th...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Prospective Student Webinar this Thursday! Considering the next class of The Hum...

10 days ago

American Humanist Association

Help the Louisville Atheists and Freethinkers represent humanists at this year's...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

Humanist Pioneer Awardee Isaiah Smith, stands up for separation of church and st...

11 days ago

American Humanist Association

A South Carolina court has ruled that prayer in public school graduations doesn'...

11 days ago