Tom Vilsack’s Wife

The meeting of atheist leaders is tomorrow, and I’ll be back late Monday night with all the fun news.

Until then…

A couple friends and I were sent by a benefactor to a fundraising event for the Young Democrats of America tonight.

Forget the whole part about how it was utterly chaotic, how people were rude while the speakers were at the podium, and how everyone there gave off a vibe of “I want to be a politician when I grow up and that is the only reason I am talking to you.”

Here’s the amusing part.

Christie Vilsack, the wife of former Iowa Governor (and current presidential candidate) Tom Vilsack, was the main speaker. She gave her speech (while many others in the room continued their own conversations) and then she was gracious enough to stay on the main floor and speak to anyone who came up to her.

This was our chance! It went something like this:

Us: We’re atheists.

Mrs. Vilsack: [Blank stare.]

Us: How does Governor Vilsack feel about church-state separation?

Mrs. Vilsack: “I’ve never had that conversation with him!”

Us: Interesting… Here are our business cards. [They say "Secular Student Alliance" on them.]

Mrs. Vilsack: [Reads the cards] “They have groups for everything, don’t they!?”

Us: *sigh*

Clearly, we atheists don’t exist.

Actually, from what I’ve heard, Tom Vilsack is pretty good regarding church-state separation. His wife just seemed unaware of this.

We put some brochures for the Secular Student Alliance on the table in the back when no one was looking and left the party.

And I’m now officially turned off by all Democrats under 30.

[tags]atheist, Young Democrats of America, Christie Vilsack, Iowa, Tom Vilsack, atheism, Roman Catholic, church-state separation, Secular Student Alliance[/tags]

  • txatheist

    Wow, that surprises me that a politician isn’t more concerned about the atheist vote. Sarcasm.

  • Maria

    I laughed and laughed until I cried…. *sigh*

  • Ebonmuse

    I know I shouldn’t hold Vilsack’s wife’s views against him, but I can’t help wondering if he shares her oblivious attitude. Then again, if we progressive atheists refused to vote for candidates who didn’t share our views on religion, I fear the field would be pretty thin.

  • Krystalline Apostate

    Hey, Hermant:
    Tag, you’re it

  • Richard Wade

    Hemant, the brief exchange between you and Mrs. Vilsack could be explained by a misunderstanding caused by the noise of a large room filled with hundreds of people talking at once. The word “athiests” might have sounded like something else:

    You Guys: “We’re atheists.”

    What Mrs. Vilsack thought you said: “We’re aliens.”

    What Mrs. Vilsack thought while staring at you blankly: “Aliens?” What does he mean by aliens? Does he mean like space aliens? Are they crackpots or smart asses? Probably college brats. Maybe he means they’re not citizens. One is kinda dark. Is he Mexican? Cute though, whatever he is. What do they want? Amnesty? Okay, I’m ready for that one. Tom and I rehearsed the talking points… wait, he’s talking again.

    You guys: How does Governor Vilsack feel about church-state separation?

    What Mrs. Vilsack thought: Huh? Where the hell is that coming from? What do aliens care about church-state separation? These guys are definitely crackpots and smart asses. Dammit, I give that speech trying to help Tom, but nobody listens, then I hang around here on this noisy floor pretending I’m not pissed off, and who button-holes me but these goofballs. I gotta get out of this. Just deny knowledge.

    Mrs. Vilsack: “I’ve never had that conversation with him!”

    You guys: “Interesting… Here are our business cards.”

    What Mrs Vilsack thought as she read the cards: What’s that say? Where are my glasses? Is that “Peculiar Student Alliance?” No, that’s “Secular.” Huh? What the hell does that have to do with aliens? Oh god, my head is killing me. I really hate these fundraisers. I wish I could talk to my therapist. Maybe I should have stayed in her group after all. It probably wouldn’t have been an embarrassment for Tom. Maybe I can find a group for the wives of politicians. “They have groups for everything, don’t they?” Oh no, oh god, did I just say that out loud?!!

    You guys: *sigh*

    So you see, it could have been just a misunderstanding.

  • Mike Wagner

    I would almost settle for finding a Democrat that would simply not do anything to harm us, let alone help us. I recently changed my voter registration from Democrat to Independent. The next change will be to Socialist.

  • txatheist

    Richard Wade,
    It’s possible that a misunderstanding took place. I can’t speak for what Hemant reported but this I can speak to.

    I asked candidate Mary Beth Harrell and Matt McAdoo who ran for office in Texas this question at a run-off discussion for all area voters held at the local library the following question.

    “If you win this election will you support a bill that supports the US Constitution and that would change the TX Constitution to remove the words that require a politician believe in a Supreme Being to hold office in Texas? ”

    Mary Beth Harrell who has been a lawyer for 20 years “I was unaware that people who didn’t believe in a divine power couldn’t hold office.”

    Matt McAdoo ” I support a states right to govern ourself and not allow atheists to hold office if the majority supports this view”. He did say he didn’t think it was right on a personal level later.

  • Krystalline Apostate


    Mary Beth Harrell who has been a lawyer for 20 years “I was unaware that people who didn’t believe in a divine power couldn’t hold office.”

    As I understand it, Texas requires that you take a religious oath upon entry into office, doesn’t it?

  • Richard Wade

    txatheist and Krystalline Apostate,
    Apparently no less than 8 states have clauses in their constitutions limiting or prohibiting non-believers from holding office or other civil rights afforded to believers, some requiring oaths or statements affirming belief in God. Not to worry however, as a supreme court case in 1961 determined all such parts of state constitutions to be unconstitutional. You can read all about it in an excellent article here:

    These ugly relics of the past remain in the various state constitutions because it would require the difficult process of amending the state constitutions to get rid of them. Besides, most politicians wouldn’t want to touch that issue with a ten foot pole, risking accusations of being anti-religious. So they are like old, ignored laws that we find quaint, like men can’t wear certain kinds of beards, or women must keep their skirts to their ankles. I find their continued presence an annoyance, but I don’t think they’re a threat, because the U.S. Constitution trumps the state ones, and it has been tested in the Supreme Court.

    I was just having fun with what Mrs. Vilsack could have been thinking; I think it was probably exactly as it seems, a curt, negative dismissal. Oh well, persevere.

  • C. L. Hanson

    I’m 35, and since, say 2001, converted to being a Democrat. Just sayin’… ;-)

  • King Aardvark

    I mistrust all people of a political bent. Anyone who wants to be a politician is up to no good.

    At a conference for an engineering research network under which my masters research fell, we had a meeting to decide on the grad student president (roll is basically a liason with the profs who run the research network). Only one guy threw his hat into the running. He was obviously very political and ambitious. After much prodding, eventually someone else volunteered to run against him. The first guy got up and gave a well prepared speech with also sorts of political hogwash. The other person got up, introduced herself, said she would listen if we had any complaints or concerns, and sat down. She won in a landslide.

    That just means that engineers hate politicians.

  • Helen

    Hmm. That’s useful… place a bunch of brochures on a back table and take off. What about maybe (just maybe) trying to educate people at the event about what it really means to be an atheist?

    Just a sugegstion.

  • FriendlyAtheist

    Helen– We brought the brochures to use for education purposes… but like I said, no one we met really seemed interested in having a serious conversation about the topic. So we left the brochures in the hope someone might pick it up and read it at a later time.

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  • August

    Ah, behold the power of disappointing the atheist lobby!

    Vilsack blames the “crowded field” for his inability to get any traction with his campaign–but I think we all know that if you don’t the atheists in your pocket, you’re going no where fast in American politics.

    (oh… wait…)