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. Rep. Stark is a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee and is Chair of the Health Subcommittee.Only three other elected officeholders in the nation besides Stark responded to SCA's challenge to nontheists to come out of the closet: Terry S. Doran, president of the School Board in Berkeley, Calif.; Nancy Glista on the School Committee in Franklin, Maine; and Michael Cerone, a Town Meeting Member from Arlington, Mass.
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.Thanks for representing, Congressman Stark!
…Surveys vary in the percentage of atheists, humanists, freethinkers and other nontheists in the U.S, with about 10% (30 million people) a fair middle point. "If the number of nontheists in Congress reflected the percentage of nontheists in the population," Lori Lipman Brown, director of the Secular Coalition, observes, "there would be 53-54 nontheistic Congress members instead of one."