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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  06:41:52  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
http://www.secular.org/

quote:
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.

Our research reveals that Rep. Stark is the first open nontheist in the history of the Congress. He holds the highest level office of the four contest nominees who agreed to self-identify with our community.

This announcement concludes the Secular Coalition's "Find an Atheist, Humanist, Freethinker Elected Official" Contest, launched to explore visibility and respectability challenges for nontheists in public office.





From the Washington Post March 13:

quote:
Congress Has First Non-Theist



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


It is a year of religious firsts in Congress: the first Muslim, the first Buddhist (two of them, actually) and, as of yesterday, the first lawmaker to say publicly that he does not believe in any supreme being.

The Secular Coalition for America, an association of eight atheist and humanist groups, held a contest in December to identify the highest elected "non-theist" in the land. Yesterday, it announced the winner: Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.). Stark, 75, in his 18th term representing San Francisco's East Bay, issued a brief statement confirming that "I am a Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being."

A number of other Unitarians, including John Adams and Adlai Stevenson, have served in Congress, and Thomas Brackett Reed, speaker of the House in the 1890s, called himself a freethinker. But they all claimed some belief in God, according to Fred Beuttler, deputy historian of the House of Representatives.

"As far as I know, Representative Stark is the first self-proclaimed non-theist," Beuttler said.


I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  08:24:05   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Yeah, big whoop - the guy represents parts of San Francisco. This country will continue to be divided by the extreme differences between areas with high concentration of political red and blueness.

I refrain from saying "red and blue states" since the differences are really more between urban and rural areas more than anything else. Check out some awesome graphics about the red and blueness of America from Robert J. Vanderbei at Princeton: http://www.princeton.edu/~rvdb/JAVA/election2004/

Social issues, such as whether a public official is religious or not, should be non-issues in a country where freedom is a supreme value. In a society that prizes freedom above all, people don't worry about who their neighbor is sleeping or living with or whether or not their representative believes in God, so long as it doesn't harm others or the property of others. People who love freedom care about actions - particularly they support actions which preserve everybody's freedom, and that's enough to deal with by itself without all these other distractions.

I find it depressing that we skeptics would even feel compelled to cheer about one Congressman coming out as an atheist. Sorry, maybe I'm just in a cynical mood.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  09:20:50   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Well, I'm not cheering very loud, but I do think it's brave in any part of the country for a politician to mention that they identify as something that is not only unpopular, but hated in this country. This is the country where Repub's and Demo's alike rushed out onto the
Capitol lawn to scream the religious pledge of idiocy.

Things are completely ass-backwards as far as I'm concerned on that note. If you want to talk about what we should be doing, we should be talking about the lone Congressman that admits he believes in nonsense like gods and angels and is still working. We should be talking about how crazy it was that people used to vote for Democrats and Republicans, criminals that support things like NAFTA, and the IMF, and imperialist wars, and the jailing of millions of American citizens.

So, I did thank Stark for that, and that alone, and that is not much to cheer about, but I think it's worth acknowledging.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



Edited by - Gorgo on 03/14/2007 09:22:00
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  10:13:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote

I'm cheering pretty loud. Even here in the Bay Area, a lifelong, career politician suddenly announcing he's an atheist is a pretty big deal. Especially Pete Stark, who's been in politics forever. Frankly, I can't recall this ever happening before in the USA.

I suspect this coming out by Pete Stark, which my daughter told me about last night, is a result of the "new atheism's" aggressive response to a world being torn apart by theisms. Thanks, Osama, thanks, George Bush, thanks, Richard Dawkins.

Of course, with Stark, a pol who is so popular that the Republicans usually don't even try to oppose his election, perhaps he simply made a calculation that he could afford the risk of being honest about his nontheism. But I do imagine the GOP will now oppose him with a candidate, if only due to his atheism.

I think Stark coming out of the closet is a really big deal, as it is a confirmation of the growing power of the new atheist pride movement.

Woop-woop!


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
Edited by - HalfMooner on 03/14/2007 10:43:52
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Vegeta
Skeptic Friend

United Kingdom
238 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  13:06:13   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Vegeta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Good news, wish something like this would happen in Britain. The trouble I think is that the church is so laid back here (Cake or death!?) I don't think there's much backlash against it.

What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen a pink shirt before?

"I was asked if I would do a similar sketch but focusing on the shortcomings of Islam rather than Christianity. I said, 'No, no I wouldn't. I may be an atheist but I'm not stupid.'" - Steward Lee
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  21:54:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
"Cake or death"? I bet this is going to be funny.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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Vegeta
Skeptic Friend

United Kingdom
238 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  23:08:18   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Vegeta a Private Message  Reply with Quote
its an eddie izzard joke. Its what the spanish inquisition would have been like if the church of england were responsible

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNjcuZ-LiSY

What are you looking at? Haven't you ever seen a pink shirt before?

"I was asked if I would do a similar sketch but focusing on the shortcomings of Islam rather than Christianity. I said, 'No, no I wouldn't. I may be an atheist but I'm not stupid.'" - Steward Lee
Edited by - Vegeta on 03/14/2007 23:13:01
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/14/2007 :  23:11:17   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Oh, that's good, thank you! So they still keep the good old death option, but its a personal choice.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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beskeptigal
SFN Die Hard

USA
3834 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  00:49:15   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send beskeptigal a Private Message  Reply with Quote
I'm cheering too. Someone had to be the first to call nonsense on the god beliefs. Maybe now more will follow. The Republican base wasn't going to vote for these guys anyway!





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Ghost_Skeptic
SFN Regular

Canada
510 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  01:29:42   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Ghost_Skeptic a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Here is what Sam Harris has to say about Stark

Is this making a fuss over elected politicians religous beliefs or lack thereof a recent phenomonon? - it seems to be that way here in Canada. When the guy his now head of the Alberta Muslim Association was a provincial cabinet minsiter in the 1980s no one made any issue of his beliefs, but now it's first Sikh member of parliament, fist Muslim women elected to parliament etc.

"You can lead a horse to water but you can't make him drink. / You can send a kid to college but you can't make him think." - B.B. King

History is made by stupid people - The Arrogant Worms

"The greater the ignorance the greater the dogmatism." - William Osler

"Religion is the natural home of the psychopath" - Pat Condell

"The day will come when the mystical generation of Jesus, by the supreme being as his father in the womb of a virgin, will be classed with the fable of the generation of Minerva in the brain of Jupiter" - Thomas Jefferson
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HalfMooner
Dingaling

Philippines
15831 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  05:44:54   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send HalfMooner a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Fine article by Sam Harris. Thanks for the link!

I hope you'll understand, G_S, that the conventional wisdom in the US has always been that an open atheist cannot be elected. Hell, the Democratic Party itself probably would not have backed any open atheist in the past, if only because it would have been wasted effort and political suicide. Now that's just beginning to change. Just beginning. And that's big news here, due to our advocacy and that of other secular or tolerant religious people.

But this one case is far from the same thing as meaning that atheism is already not a barrier to politics. It's just a door cracking open the least bit, letting a slender beam of sunlight in. Maybe a few more closet atheists will announce themselves.


Biology is just physics that has begun to smell bad.” —HalfMooner
Here's a link to Moonscape News, and one to its Archive.
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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  07:45:35   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
A usual, I find Harris to be an arrogant and hate-filled fuckhead who spews falsehoods about non-fundamentalist believers because he fails to even try to understand their points of view. But I've gone over this subject enough in other threads.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  07:48:19   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Frankly, I'm giving less and less of a flying fuck about this whole atheist Congressman thing because I find it repulsive when Christians made such a big deal out of a politician's personal religious beliefs, and so I cringe to think of atheists doing the same thing.

Who cares what the politicians believe about the meaning of life? Especially considering that they can lie easily enough about it. The only thing voters should care about is what a politician believes and will do about public policy.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  08:22:40   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
Who cares what the politicians believe about the meaning of life? Especially considering that they can lie easily enough about it. The only thing voters should care about is what a politician believes and will do about public policy.



I care, because I would want the people who represent me to at least care about reality. Religion makes the hatred of reality sacred.

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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Gorgo
SFN Die Hard

USA
5310 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  08:36:36   [Permalink]  Show Profile Send Gorgo a Private Message  Reply with Quote
quote:
But I've gone over this subject enough in other threads.



I always find it interesting that people who support the hatred of reality, think that people who want to stop self-hatred, and the hatred of reality to be the ones that are hateful. Much like the Rabbi who asked why atheists are angry. Why would you be so angry at reality to create a separate one that doesn't do anyone any good?

I know the rent is in arrears
The dog has not been fed in years
It's even worse than it appears
But it's alright-
Jerry Garcia
Robert Hunter



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marfknox
SFN Die Hard

USA
3739 Posts

Posted - 03/15/2007 :  08:42:34   [Permalink]  Show Profile  Visit marfknox's Homepage  Send marfknox an AOL message Send marfknox a Private Message  Reply with Quote
Gorgo wrote:
quote:
I care, because I would want the people who represent me to at least care about reality. Religion makes the hatred of reality sacred.
This reminds me of an article in the Humanist that disturbed me. It was a columnist explaining why he would not vote for Mitt Romney because he is a Mormon. That columnist (Jacob Weisberg, in the March-April 07 edition of "The Humanist) writes:
quote:
Objecting to someone because of his or her religious beliefs isn't the same thing as prejudice based on religious heritage, race, or gender. Not applying a religious test for public office means that people of all faiths are allowed to run -- not that views about God, creation, and the moral order are inadmissible for political debate.
I sorely disagree with this reasoning, and think it is a huge mistake for voters to take religious labels into consideration when deciding whether to vote for a candidate or not.

To quote JFK when he ran for President:
quote:
Whatever issue may come before me as President, if I should be elected on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling, or any other subject I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be in the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressure or dictate. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.
Today Mitt Romney is making similar statements, emphasizing that when he is in the role of a public servant, his religion takes a back seat. And one can argue that Mitt Romney's stance on abortion and other socially conservative views are because of his Mormonism, but I think that's a poor predictor in politics. I've met atheists who were racist (Larry Darby of Alabama) or pro-life. Most of my family is Catholic or Mormon, but all are pro-choice and pro-gay-rights. John Kerry was pro-choice even though he was Catholic, and Dick Cheney won't support gay marriage even though he clearly doesn't have a huge issue with his daughter being a lesbian. I think politicians are far and away more pressured by their party affiliations and public opinion than by their churches, so religious labels such as "Mormon", "Catholic" or "Atheist" are practically meaningless when it comes to public servants. Past actions, and words on public policy, speak much louder than labels.

"Too much certainty and clarity could lead to cruel intolerance" -Karen Armstrong

Check out my art store: http://www.marfknox.etsy.com

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