24 Members of Congress Are 'Secret' Atheists, Humanist Group Claims

There are at least 24 members of Congress who do not believe in God but they are not willing to come out openly, claims Maggie Ardiente, the director of development and communications at the American Humanist Association.

"We already know of 24 members of Congress who have told us privately that they don't believe in God, but they won't come out, of course, and if we tried to out them they would deny it," Ardiente, who is also senior editor of TheHumanist.com, tells Religion News Service.

This is not the first time that such a claim is being made. In 2011, Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition of America, said at least 28 members of Congress do not believe in God, but only one of them has come out openly.

"Privately, we know that there are 27 other members of Congress that have no belief in God. But we don't 'out' people," he told The Guardian.

Silverman was referring to California Democrat Pete Stark as the only openly atheist member of Congress.

In contrast, the U.K.'s All Party Parliamentary Humanist Group claims the membership of over 100 Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords. But the politics in the United States is different.

Ardiente's group seeks to "bring about a progressive society where being good without a god is an accepted and respected way to live life," according to its website. "We are accomplishing this through our defense of civil liberties and secular governance, by our outreach to the growing number of people without traditional religious faith, and through a continued refinement and advancement of the humanist worldview."

Last July, AHA held a congressional briefing regarding the need for humanist chaplains in the U.S. military.

"Nonbelievers outnumber all non-Christian faiths in the military, and nontheist military members can benefit from the confidential guidance and comfort provided by humanist chaplains as they endure the stresses of combat and separation from their families," the group said at the time.