We were teased last week about the possibility that a member of Congress would "come out" this week as an atheist. Turns out to be California Representative Pete Stark:
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 (www.secular.org ). Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.On a related note, I will direct you, as I so often do, to digby's blog, but not a post by digby. Poputonian notes Stark's announcement, and reminds us of the history behind the "no religious test" portion of the Constitution. It was put there deliberately, and the founders knew what they were doing when they added it. So the next time you hear a Mitt Romney demand that this country needs to be led by a "person of faith," ask him where, exactly, he thinks the authority for that comes from.
Although the Constitution prohibits religious tests for public office, the Coalition's research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. Recent polls show that Americans without a god-belief are, as a group, more distrusted than any other minority in America. Surveys show that the majority of Americans would not vote for an atheist for president even if he or she were the most qualified for the office.