Dear Atheists In Congress:
I know you’re in there. We all do. Not that I needed confirmation, but the American Humanist Association says 24 of you have privately revealed to the organization that you don’t believe in god. And surely the number of you in Congress is higher still. Yet, not a single one of the 535 representatives and senators currently serving has publicly admitted to being an atheist. This means you’ve either explicitly lied about believing in god, or you haven’t been asked and haven’t said anything publicly.
Either way, this needs to stop.
In a country where 53% of the population says it would be less likely to vote for an atheist for president, it’s somewhat understandable why you haven’t come out. Some 83% of Americans are members of one religion or another, with Christianity being the most popular at 78%. And I know it certainly doesn’t help to have self-loathing atheists like S.E. Cupp ridiculously claiming that she wouldn’t vote for an atheist president.
So yes, it’s understandable that you’d be nervous about coming out, but let’s take a step back and analyze this situation objectively:
Basically, you are afraid to let it be known that you don’t believe in an invisible being in the sky. Or put another way, you are perfectly happy with, and maybe even dependent on, people thinking or assuming that you believe in something for which there is no empirical evidence.
I have to say, I’m quite troubled by your position, which is perpetuating the culture of intolerance toward atheists and secular Americans. The strange thing is that declaring your atheism is fundamentally less important than advocating for particular policies. That’s because atheists can be liberal, conservative, socialist, libertarian, and a myriad of other political persuasions. Non-belief in in a deity does not necessitate any particular ideology.
But if you and your heathen brethren stay in the closet, how are your constituents and their fellow Americans — your fellow Americans — supposed to know that atheists are entirely capable of being legislators? How are they supposed to know atheists can be upstanding citizens? How are they supposed to be disabused of the notion that atheists somehow warrant extra scrutiny at the polls?
If it’s backlash at the voting booth you fear, you are validating the worldview of the anti-atheist bigots who have had free reign to spread their hate since the inception of this country. Being a sitting member of Congress, you are in a unique position to show everyone that being an atheist is nothing to be ashamed of.
Being a member of Congress, however, is an entirely different story.