Tuesday, March 13, 2007

introducing pete stark, the first openly atheist member of congress

Rep. Pete Stark, a progressive Democrat, has represented California's 13th congressional district in Congress for 33 years. A long-time Unitarian, Stark has finally made it clear that he does not believe in God.

In a statement to the Associated Press, Stark, often described as one of the most liberal members of Congress, said the following: "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."

The American Humanist Association, a network of secular humanists, has commended Stark's stance and has begun an ad campaign offering their support.

"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," said AHA Communications Director Fred Edwords. "Clearly, when it comes to American religious prejudice, we still have a lot to overcome."

The Jan./Feb. issue of Freethought Today, a publication of the Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation, notes that the 110th Congress is one of the most religiously diverse in history, including the first Muslim, two Buddhists, two Unitarians, five Christian Scientists, six with no religious affiliation, six members of the "highly-liberal" United Church of Christ (including Sen. Barack Obama), 15 Mormons and 43 Jews.

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