Group Claims 28 Atheists in Congress; 27 Closeted

Are there really 28 atheists in Congress? The Secular Coalition of America, an atheist group based in Washington, D.C., says there are.

Only one lawmaker on Capitol Hill, Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.), publicly acknowledges that he does not believe in God. But, said SCA President Herb Silverman, in remarks published this week in the Guardian UK newspaper, “Privately, we know there are 27 other members of Congress” who are atheists.

SCA guards the identities of those 27, Silverman added, because “we don’t ‘out’ people.”

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The Freedom From Religion Foundation, a Madison, Wis., group that describes itself as the nation’s largest association of “freethinkers,” including atheists, agnostics and skeptics, believes that the day is fast approaching when elected officials need no longer worry about revealing their disbelief in God.

“Politicians have not yet caught up with the changing demographics of our society,” FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor told the Guardian. She added, “It has never been better to be a freethinker or an agnostic in America.”

Gaylor and others point to surveys suggesting that the nation is becoming increasingly nonreligious. That includes a study by the Pew Research Center indicating that atheists make up 12 percent of the U.S. population.

Another study, by the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., estimates that nonbelievers account for some 20 percent of the population.

The Institute’s location may have something to do with the fact that FFRF and its freethinking members are holding their national convention in Harford beginning Friday.

Gaylor’s organization has not managed to persuade one of the purported 27 closeted atheists in Congress to appear at its convention, before what almost certainly would be a friendly audience, but it has announced that Joseph “Ojo” Taylor will speak about his “de-conversion” from Christian music producer to non-believing college music professor.

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