Although few admit it publicly, as many as 24 members of the US Congress have privately confessed to being Atheists.
It is not uncommon for a politician to have some form of secret they are keeping from the public. Whether it be pictures from wild college days or the sources of their campaign dollars, come consider it their personal pastime to uncover the skeletons in someone else’s closet. However, according to a woman from a Humanist group, there are 24 members of Congress who have self-identified as Atheist.
The American Humanist Movement
The American Humanist Association, the group behind this accusation, recently gave a statement to Religion News Service. A director of the organization, Maggie Ardiente, has said specifically that there are 24 members of Congress who have come forward to her group to identify as Atheist. When asked why she believes the Atheists are keeping quiet, she noted that the American public expected the government to believe in God, and the constituents are not ready for atheists in office.
Keeping Congress’ Secret
One of the reasons atheists are so likely to keep their non-belief a secret is that it could impact their standing in the government. Specifically, many people believe atheists are viewed negatively throughout the country despite overcoming hurdles in the last decade. According to one poll used to help find positive warm feelings and negative cold feelings towards certain beliefs, the only religion that scored lower than atheism in the American mindset was Islam.
The problem most people have when it comes to atheism is not their lack of belief, but the closeness between religion and moral righteousness in the American mindset. This has led to yet another moral quandary: Do politicians who are capable of working towards the betterment of society simply allow people think what they want, or do they take a strong pro-atheism stance?
Some individuals have said that lying about their faith may have an even greater impact if they are found out. If a politician lies about one thing to the constituents, then there may be other things that they would not rather discuss.
It would seem that these 24 individuals believe they are better off putting on a façade before going in front of their constituents. Some are concerned that it could result in a political witch hunt; with accusations flying that distract from the task set before them.
But might the U.S. actually be ready for an openly Atheist congressman? James Woods is challenging the norms by becoming the first publicly Atheist American to run for congress this fall.