Congressional Freethought Caucus Co-founder Rep. Jamie Raskin called it a “historic” move.
On Monday, the first Congressional Freethought Caucus was formed by four Democratic Congressmen in collaboration with The Center for Freethought Equality and the American Humanist Association (AHA). The caucus aims to promote secular representation through encouraging “public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values.”
The four founding representatives include Jared Huffman, (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Dan Kildee (D-MI) and Jerry McNerney (D-CA). Huffman himself is openly nontheistic and is the only Congress member to be so, making him a fitting co-founder. Last year, the Freethought Equality Fund Political Action Committee even endorsed him after he publicly announced he is a humanist.
Apart from their mission to promote reason and science-based public policies, the Congressional Freethought Caucus also aims to “protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state,” and “to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, religious and nonreligious persons, and to champion the freedom of thought and conscience worldwide” and “to provide a forum for members of the Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.”
Many believe this is a significant milestone for the secularism of the nation. AHA executive director, Roy Speckhardt says this is a “new beginning” for America as it enables leaders of the country, whether religious or nonreligious, to work towards betterment.
Co-founder Raskin calls the formation of the Congressional Freethought Caucus a “historic” move. He also says in a statement that it is a tremendous honor for him to be a founding member of such an organization as it allows him to actively defend the separation of church and state as intended by the Founding Fathers, especially in a time when these values are facing severe attack.
Even though America has a considerable percentage of the population that identifies as “religiously unaffiliated,” they remain largely underrepresented in Congress, until now. In fact, according to the findings of Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), 24 percent of Americans are “religiously unaffiliated” as of 2016. The number is even more staggering when you take into consideration that it was just 16 percent in 2014.
With the establishment of the Congressional Freethought Caucus, all the people who fall under this category will have an opportunity to actively participate in America’s democracy.
— Matt Marshall (@MattMarshall5) May 1, 2018