Monday, March 12, 2007

Rep. Stark...representin'. ;)

This new information has been making the rounds of the atheist blogs since yesterday. Russ suggested I post it here.

"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."

I think this is cool. However, I have to wonder why Stark never made his beliefs public before now? I mean... how, if he's a public atheist, did he fly under the radar? I would think that the lack of invocation or prayer during his innaugurational ceremonies would've caused some media stir. But, maybe not!! I hope that this "outing" doesn't spell political ruin for him. Though, at his age, and with 34 years of service, he might be coming to a natural end of his career. Maybe that's why he's confident about coming out?

"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.""

I completely agree!!
"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."

So...are there more of "us" out there?


WayBeyondSoccerMom said...

Brian Flemming (of "The God Who Wasn't There") did some research on Pete Stark, at his blog.

Stark is a Unitarian.

Anonymous said...

Stark is a Unitarian.

It is my understanding that the Unitarian church actually has atheist members. My friend attends a UU "church" and she said that it's more like a lodge meeting than a prayer service. There's rarely any reference to a God and there's no prayers.
But,...maybe someone will weigh in with more info?

I once had a UU friend tell me that her "belief" was that the human condition was the "greater power" or motivator. I can groove with that. There's nothing supernatural about it.

Virginia aka Ginny said...

We looked at joining a UU church at one point for the social connections and still might. From what I understand there are lots of atheists that go for that same reason. The folks I talked to who work at the church told me so and said we would be very welcome.

Kathryn said...

There are a lot out there, culturally identifying with the religion of their parents, but never participating on their own.

When I recently told one of my sisters (the least religious one) that I was, at least, agnostic, I wasn't sure how she'd react. She wrote back, "I think like you do."

Wow. So yeah, they're out there, just not saying much.

Nance said...



Carlie said...

I think that there are more out there than people realize, because so many atheists feel they have to be quiet. I was talking to one of my friends, someone I've known literally since I was an infant, who grew up in the same church I did. The conversation turned to that whole "god" thing, and we realized we were both atheists but didn't know the other was.

David W. said...

I've heard some religious people refer to Unitarians as "the atheist denomination." My mother is Unitarian, despite being a pantheist.

I wrote a cynical post last week on why I thought that there was a small chance of there being [many] more nontheists in Congress. But I'd love to be wrong.

Eamon Knight said...

My parents -- agnostics all their adult lives -- joined a local congregation after retirement (a fact of which I was very glad when their health started to fail, and I was living 400km away -- some of the folks there made it their mission to look out for the older members). UUs vary -- some congregations are almost indistinguishable from a liberal Christian church; others are more secular humanist (my parents' bunch was among the latter). The membership is a mixed bag of non-orthodox Christians, non-specific theists, deists, agnostics, atheists, neo-pagans and what-not.

UUs also have a sense of humour.

Anonymous said...

I know several Unitarians. They are great!

Here is another atheist joke:

What do you call an atheist with children?

A Unitarian Universalist!