One More Elected Atheist Comes Out in Public

Chambers

Last month, Congressman Pete Stark (D-California) made history when he came out publicly as the first non-theistic, elected official. He did this at the prompting of the Secular Coalition for America, which had run a contest asking people to nominate the highest-ranking such official.

At the time, the “second place” winner was a school board president.

Well, after the positive press given to Stark, other elected officials are slowly following in Stark’s footsteps! (That’s right– officials. Plural!) But we’ll take these one at a time.

Congratulations are in order for Nebraska State Senator Ernie Chambers, your most recent non-theistic, elected public official!

Chambers, also a Democrat, recently checked off the box on the SCA’s questionnaire that stated he “was a nontheist who would allow the SCA to announce this fact.”

Is he an atheist? I’m not sure. He left the “I identify as _________ ” line blank on the SCA’s questionnaire. Still, whatever he wants to be called, he does not believe in a Supreme Being.

Senator Chambers is the longest-serving state senator in Nebraska’s history, having first been elected in 1970.

The fact that he is the only African-American in Nebraska’s legislature– a secular African-American at all!– will also be an important piece of information as this word spreads.

To read more about this announcement, go here.


[tags]atheist, atheism, Pete Stark, California, non-theist, Secular Coalition for America, Nebraska, State Senator, Ernie Chambers, Democrat, God, Supreme Being, African-American[/tags]

  • Paul T.

    Yay!

  • http://evolte.org/blog Zach A

    Funny, the last person I talked to from Nebraska referred to it as “God’s country”…

  • Paul T.

    Wasn’t Jesus Camp filmed in Nebraska?

  • Will

    Wasn’t Jesus Camp filmed in Nebraska?

    No, it was filmed in North Dakota

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    Nebraska is still a pretty Red state though, and African Americans in particular tend to be very religious. Chambers is taking a much bigger risk “coming out” in a state like his than Stark was as a representative of San Francisco.

  • http://www.daylightatheism.org/ Ebonmuse

    No great surprise here, as Sen. Chambers has made his nontheistic views known many times in the past – he’s spoken at conventions of the Freedom from Religion Foundation, for example. Still, this is good news! The more atheists we can show off in the public square, the better. Every story like this is a chance to get ordinary people thinking that we might not be such bad guys after all.

  • Jen

    This is awesome for atheists! I am excited about this; the more people we have to combat the nasty stereotypes (did you know Hitler was an atheist? Also a painter. Atheist painters are always killing the Jews) the better

  • anti-nonsense

    Yay! More good news for us! We will have to watch the reaction over the next little while.

  • http://atheisthussy.blogspot.com/ Intergalactic Hussy

    I concur with “Yay!”.

    This is awesome for atheists! I am excited about this; the more people we have to combat the nasty stereotypes (did you know Hitler was an atheist? Also a painter. Atheist painters are always killing the Jews) the better

    What about us Atheist Jews? LOL I am also very excited… hoping this will encourage more and more.

  • Darryl

    There are no doubt quite a number of closeted atheists out there. Perhaps what we need is a militant ‘outing’ group like gays have had to shake things up a bit in the halls of power.

  • http://www.thehonestdoubter.blogspot.com The Alpha

    While I think it takes a lot of courage for a public official to come out of the closet and state their lack of belief. Sen. Chambers has little to worry about (provided wikipedia is correct.)

    “A constitutional amendment passed in 2000 limits Nebraska state legislators to two four-year terms. Because of this, Chambers will not be allowed to seek reelection in 2008.”

    But it’s still awesome!

  • Nick

    Yeah, hooray.

    I’m from Omaha, and its great that Chambers could admit this, but I believe its a political ploy. He’s a batshit hack who turns EVERY issue in local politics into a Racial Issue.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    I find it funny how you use ”when he came out publicly” like someone who is “in the closet” like homosexuals because it is something to be ashamed of. I agree you should keep atheism on the down low because after all God considers atheist as fools as in Psalm 14:1

    For Him,
    Dan

  • Siamang

    Oh goody.

    Dan Marvin calls us fools. Or rather he has his invisible friend do it for him.

    Passive aggressive tendencies, Dan?

    I have half a mind to sic my invisible rabbit friend Harvey on you.

    But he’s more likely to buy you a drink instead.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    God created the universe and if he predicted in the end days that people would act like fools then who am I to argue with God about it. I trust EVERYTHING God does as we all should do.

    I believe atheists have an ignorance fallacy that is very common. Think about when you die, why would you delay to repent and put your trust in the savior? Are you waiting for a better offer?

    What does God have to do to prove his existence to you? Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus what more “evidence” do you need.

    1 Corinthians 1:19,1 Corinthians 2:14

    Thought you all would get a kick out of this debate between my buddy Todd the Christian and Eddie the Lawyer atheist. I think we can all learn from it. DEBATE

    For Him,
    Dan

  • MonkeyMind

    Hey Nick, I grew up in Nebraska and I always considered Ernie a healthy antidote to the prevailing blandness. There’s a great profile of him in Mother Jones:

    I especially like the description of how he blocked a frivolous pro-hunting amendment to the state constitution:

    In classic Ernie Chambers style, he introduced a raft of riders to the amendment that would protect such other rights as “creating, recreating, conversating and procreating,” “hunting for the link between Noah’s Ark, Joan of Arc and Archimedes,” and “sitting on the front porch on a warm summer evening, drinking a glass of cold lemonade, dreamily watching the silvery moon rise to begin its journey across a darkening velvet sky powdered with stardust.”

  • Richard Wade

    Dan,

    What does God have to do to prove his existence to you? Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus what more “evidence” do you need.

    I don’t know what the significance of the quotation marks around the word evidence is; indicating a sneer in your voice perhaps? A disdain for demands for evidence? Well, anyway I’ll ignore them and answer as if it’s a sincere question.

    A story in an old book is not evidence of anything other than somebody wrote a story long ago and it got put into a book.

    Evidence would be something real, solid, physical, in the here and now that can be observed and examined by many people. It’s significance would have to match the significance of the claim it is supposed to be supporting. In other words, unimpressive claims require only unimpressive evidence, while extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. If I claim to have fifteen cents in my pocket, some unimpressive evidence will back that claim up. If however I claim to have a million dollars on me, that’s going to require some extraordinary cash on the table.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Richard,

    I am sincere but now I say this to you then:

    What does God have to do to prove his existence to you? Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus what more evidence do you need.

    1 Corinthians 1:19,1 Corinthians 2:14

    How about manifestation like he did to me? would that work? YES great John 14:21

    I am guessing it still isn’t enough, am I wrong?

    For Him,
    Dan

  • Richard Wade

    Dan,
    You’re right. It’s not even close to enough. It’s not evidence. It’s reassurance. I respect that reading those passages are manifestation to you. To me they are somebody’s reassurance to somebody else, and I have no need or desire for that particular reassurance. When I read them nothing special or remarkable happens for me. If something important happened for you, great. But they don’t have the same effect on everyone as they did for you.

    I’m not going to make any attempt to sway you to see things as I do. I would ask you for the same respect. We can come to understand each other better by asking questions about each other and making statements about ourselves.

    Tossing more and more verses of scripture at me is a waste of time. Try talking about something that might mean something to both of us, like fighting polluters, or ending the war, or getting Ann Coulter to shut up, or what to do about my growing bald spot.

    Or tell me about that little kid in your picture.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Richard,

    Well in that story of the Rich man and Lazarus God says that he gave us the Bible and if you don’t even believe that then there is no hope. He gave you Jesus and the miracles that followed he gave you 500 witnesses to his resurrection. What more do you really need.

    God will not give you more then what he promised, he makes you take that leap of faith and then he opens the heavens up to for you. I have a question for you Mr. Wade and for anyone for that matter, how important is it to you to find out?

    A sinner without being washed of those sins can not be in the presence of God because he would burst into flames. (Genesis 32:30) You all want to see proof but as sinners you would all perish so God stays away, for your own good. Look what happened to Saul (now Paul) he was blinded by God’s holy presence of light. So I pose this to all of you, would you be willing to lose your eye sight to see Him to be sure that God existed and in this life you would be able to repent and trust in him? Would that be worth the sacrifice to see God just to know for sure without a doubt? You must be clean first then God will manifest himself to you so you are all in a quagmire and you are demanding the one thing that would kill all of you. Are you all suicidal?

    For Him,
    Dan

  • Siamang

    Well in that story of the Rich man and Lazarus God says that he gave us the Bible and if you don’t even believe that then there is no hope.

    Wow, so according to the Bible, the Bible is the word of God? What flawless logic! I’m kicking myself for not believing this. What am I, suicidal?

    He gave you Jesus and the miracles that followed he gave you 500 witnesses to his resurrection.

    The bible gives me one man who wrote that there were 500 witnesses.

    Big difference.

    Millions of people were watching live when David Copperfield made the Statue of Liberty disappear. That doesn’t mean anything supernatural occurred.

    So I pose this to all of you, would you be willing to lose your eye sight to see Him to be sure that God existed and in this life you would be able to repent and trust in him?

    In an instant. Without hesitation.

    Would that be worth the sacrifice to see God just to know for sure without a doubt?

    Anything short of doing harm to others would be worth the sacrifice.

    You must be clean first then God will manifest himself to you so you are all in a quagmire and you are demanding the one thing that would kill all of you. Are you all suicidal?

    I seriously think you are mentally ill. You seem to have taken this religion thing a bit too far. You’re sounding like a ranting mad mullah here.

    I suggest you take a chill pill and back off this and relax a bit. God didn’t make the universe in order to run it like an egomaniacal mad genius out of a bad comic book.

    Take it easy with your “you will burst into flames if you look at Him!!!!” I’ve seen Raiders of the Lost Ark too. Here’s a hint: It’s just a movie.

  • Richard Wade

    Siamang, I guess I shouldn’t have pushed that button, huh?

    Okay Dan, I’m going to say one last thing to you, and then I’m done. I won’t be responding to any more of your comments.

    The various pictures of god that religious people have in their minds reflect the kind of person they are inside. Some people concentrate on the loving, gentle, creating aspects of god. That’s because that is the kind of person they are inside. What I see in what you write here and on your blog is a lot about killing, torturing, scary stories, and a theme of exclusivity where you assert that you and only a very select few have the true way. The impression you give of your picture of god does not say flattering things about the kind of person you are inside.

    I strongly suggest that you start hanging around Christians who see god as a loving, caring, forgiving being. Be with them always as a student, never as a teacher. Hopefully their loving, caring, forgiving and inclusive nature will rub off on you. I think you will be less tense inside and your relationships will be happier.
    I hope your life gets better. Farewell.

  • MTran

    Remember the parable of the rich man and Lazarus what more “evidence” do you need.

    This is not evidence of god. It is, at best, evidence that someone once reduced this tale to writing. The only thing of interest to me here is that it is part of an ancient text. And I enjoy archaeology, ancient history, ancient art, ancient texts and ancient languages.

    What does God have to do to prove his existence to you?

    I will give you the same answer I give to everyone who asks this question of me:

    I honestly do not know what it would take for me to believe in any god or supernatural entity or force. However, if there is a god who is omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent, then it knows exactly what it would take to convince me.

    The fact that I have seen no such evidence of such a god’s existence indicates that either there is no god, or that god does not care if I believe, or that if there is a god, it is not omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent and omnibenevolent.

    In other words, I have no reason to believe in the god described in the Bible. Or any thing else supernatural.

  • Darryl

    Dan Marvin,

    You are a sincere and devout follower of the Bible as you understand it. You are doing your best to live up to the standards that the Scriptures have set for you. For this you are to be commended. I would simply ask this of you: do as Jesus did. Jesus lived and ministered among the poor, the outcasts, those that were rejected by the respectable persons of society. You know, publicans and sinners, harlots and tax collectors. So, this is what you ought to do: pick a charity–it does not matter which one–a mission to the homeless, a half-way house for errant teens or pregnant unwed teens, a mission to prisoners, a food-distribution center–you decide. What is important is that you put your words into action, that you mingle and get to know all kinds of people–even people who do not believe what you believe, just as Jesus did. If you do this you will be a better Christian and you will come to understand the words of Jesus in a way that you do not now understand them. My friend, talk is cheap. Put your words into action.

    If you have done it unto the least of these, you have done it unto me.
    Let your light shine before men, that they may see your light and glorify my Father who is in heaven.

    This is the test of faith: will you only speak it, or will you live it?

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Darryl,

    pick a charity–it does not matter which one–a mission to the…will you only speak it, or will you live it?

    What makes you think that I don’t do this already? Do you think I am just a prick or some jerk that harasses people saying na na na na na you are all going to hell?

    Read some of these and tell me if I am still doing it wrong. Tell me how the bible instructs me to bring people to repentance and faith in Jesus: HERE

    You all think this is a joke? What part of weeping and gnashing teeth in the eternal lake of fire don’t you understand? (That is how Jesus describes hell) The most serious thing you all should think about is what it is going to be like when you are next to the child molesters and murderers in hell and you are on fire FOREVER! Your salvation should be number one in your planner before your wife and kids, before work or school. It seems I love you all more then you do. Look perfect love is a constant confronter. It takes far more love to confront then to just ignore the situation. Would you let your friend drive drunk? Would you let that child burn in a building that is on fire? Wouldn’t you try to save them if you could?

    BTW I have three kids Richard and I could be with them but I am trying to get all of you to understand that if you lied lusted or stolen one time in your life that you broke God’s law and there must be punishment for the crimes, otherwise God is corrupt. Revelation 21:8. Jesus said if you hate someone you commit murder of the heart and you will be judged. Would a judge let someone go because they were sorry? No way he would say you should be sorry now go to jail. What are you going to do about it? Do you actually think I can just sit here and fold my arms and say well I am saved and I give to charity? NO WAY, my heart aches for all of you atheists out there that are blasphemous saying there is no God. At this very moment my wife is in the hospital waiting to have some tumor removed and I am worried less about her then I am about all of you because she is saved. Just think about it tonight, please.

    For Him,
    Dan

  • Siamang

    Honestly dude, really honestly Dan… Please seek help. I’m serious. You need professional help.

    You are taking a really normal religion and acting crazy with it. You sound like a raving lunatic, a drunken street-preacher who blew his mind out with drugs in the 60′s.

    Please get some help.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Typo on the first one

    I submit this

  • Richard Wade

    So Siamang, who do you think will be the next elected official who will “come out” as a non-theist, now that Pete Stark and Ernie Chambers have blazed the trail? Are there any rumors? This thread about politics is really fascinating, isn’t it? And have you read Jimmy Carter’s remarks about religion and politics, and the possibility that an atheist could make a good, moral president? We live in amazing times, don’t we? Where we can see so much growth of pluralism in politics.

    Does anybody else have any ideas who will be the next secular elected official, and how that may effect politics?

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    BTW Siamang,

    You are using a ad Hominem Fallacy I thought I should let you know

  • Siamang

    I think the next big secular elected official might be one who runs as an open atheist in 2008. I think the times are changing. People have had enough of this stuff.

  • Siamang

    Dan, I’m not trying to win an argument here. I really do think you need help, and I can’t think of any way to break through your block against hearing that. I only hope that if enough people in your life tell you that you need help that eventually you’ll listen. I’m probably not the first person to tell you that you need to seek help or that you’ve gone too far with this religion stuff, I certainly won’t be the last. Please add me to the list of people asking you to get some perspective, and seek a little peace and balance in your life.

  • Richard Wade

    Well Siamang, I hope you’re right. I mean it’s one thing for a politician to already be elected and come out as a non theist, and quite another to run as one from the start. I’m actually looking forward to the next election rather than dreading it. I have never missed a chance to vote, and I was one of the last generation who had to wait until I was 21 to do it. I sometimes think that bringing down the voting age to 18 was a mistake. Young people seem to so often take it for granted, and they don’t vote. Maybe because my generation had to wait longer, we take it more seriously. The change came during the Viet Nam War, and one of the arguments in favor of lowering the age was that if they could die for their country in the service, why couldn’t they vote? It kind of made sense at the time, but I’ve been disappointed to see so many young people be so disinterested in politics. I really think that’s where positive change can come, if we can get them to be more involved in their own country.

  • MTran

    First we see this:

    there must be punishment for the crimes, otherwise God is corrupt (emphasis added).

    Then we see this:

    What part of weeping and gnashing teeth in the eternal lake of fire don’t you understand?

    and this:

    you all should think about is what it is going to be like when you are next to the child molesters and murderers in hell and you are on fire FOREVER!

    I think this pretty much describes a corrupt god. Any one, god or otherwise, who inflicts eternal torment on any one who doesn’t hold the same belief as Dan describes, is clearly not just corrupt but depraved.

    I am incapable of respecting, or even obeying, such a corrupt entity. If there was actually a god like this, I would end up doing everything I could to oppose it.

    Still, Siamang seems to have the right idea. Dan needs to get some serious help.

  • http://www.thehonestdoubter.blogspot.com The Alpha

    Dan,

    I don’t think homosexuals should be ashamed of themselves so I think they should come out of the closet just like atheists should. Additionally, thank you for reminding me of Psalm 14:1. Psalm 14:1 has always been evidence of how the Bible teaches humility and non-judgmental behavior.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    God is the JUDGE so he has judgemental behavior.

    Revelation 21:8

    But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Why are we here?

    I just don’t know if there even will be free will in heaven. I know we won’t want to leave and be tempted to leave. We can appreciate Gods goodness in the presence of evil. Unlike Adam who didn’t know evil, Satan who didn’t know evil, until they fell. We do! Because of it, we so appreciate his goodness and no matter what temptation that will come our way in heaven, if that could even happen, there would be no way, why? Because we knew how horrible evil was and now we can fully appreciate his goodness. The presence of sin allows God to demonstrate his righteousness, the presence of sin allows God to demonstrate his love, and how else could he show the character of love that loves enemies and sinners if there were none? God endures this horrible assault on his everlasting holiness; he endures the horrifying blaspheming, history of fallen beings, he suffers it, the imposition it is on his purity to display his wrath to the fullest extent, to put himself on everlasting display.

    Why are we here? What is the theological answer? To give the text book answer, to glorify God and enjoy him ever more. How do you glorify God? Here is how, you sinner, go get saved. Get saved so God can be glorified, that’s it; this is the purpose of this universe.
    God knew we would sin, He knew we would rebel, He knew we would introduce evil, He knew it. So that he can send forth a savior born of a virgin, to live under the law to save us under the curse of the law so that, we can be a little trophy of his grace, he can always point to us as a testimony to his goodness. Read Ephesians 2:7

    We wouldn’t know how God is righteous as he is, everlastingly, and give him glory for it if it hadn’t had of been for unrighteousness, we wouldn’t know he’s loving as he is if it hadn’t been for sin, we wouldn’t know he’s holy if it weren’t for judgment.

    How holy is God? So holy that he must send out of his presence, everlastingly, anyone who is not fit. Why of all this? That he might make known the riches of his glory, that is, he did all of this in order that he might gather into heaven a redeemed humanity who would forever glorify him for all that he is.

    Paraphrased from Todd Friel and Dr. John Macarthur

  • http://www.thehonestdoubter.blogspot.com The Alpha

    Dan,

    Quoting scriptures from the Bible to an atheist is like quoting scriptures from the Quran to a Christian. You don’t believe the Quran to be the word of God. More than likely, as a Christian, you would find the quotes to be uncompelling, so why do you think an atheist, who by definition lacks a belief in God, would find your quotations from scripture to be compelling? Additionally, you must provide evidence of God’s existence before you make blanket statements regarding what God wants or desires. The Flying Spaghetti Monster desires much of you as well, but rest assured you’d want proof of his existence before you’d believe my claims as to what he wants of you.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Mohammed was buried and is not God but Jesus is!

    The Bible was written by God and penned by man. It is proof in history of what happened and it prophesized many things. It is our schoolmaster.

    Proof

    For Him,
    Dan

  • MTran

    God is the JUDGE so he has judgemental behavior.

    Hey, this is just a crock. You have no idea what a judge is or what a judge does or how a judge goes about judging. The god you posit is neither a judge nor does he demonstrate the capability of judgment.

    He is, instead, a mere bully, a thug, a petty, infantile, sadistic, psychopath. You wanna worship a piece of trash like that, go right ahead. Just remember that your beliefs are repugnant to anyone with a sense of justice or any sense at all. And if there exists any god with a sense of justice, then that god must ultimately prevail over yours.

  • MTran

    like someone who is “in the closet” like homosexuals because it is something to be ashamed of.

    Homsexuality is not something to be ashamed of, nor is atheism. People hide in a “closet” because they are oppressed and the innocent subjects of violence.

    Take your ignorant hatred elsewhere.

  • Richard Wade

    Excuse me guys. An accurate diagnosis was made, the best recommendation for treatment was stated several times, and further discussion is just a distraction from getting treatment and an aggravation of the disorder. Notice how the statements are becoming more random and disjointed, not really responding in a question-and-answer sequence? Further interaction will only make it worse and will amount to two things: the futile feeding of a troll and the cruel taunting of a disturbed person.

    Please stop.

  • MTran

    Okay.

    The only reason I respond to these things is out of a concern for lurkers who could be sucked into this crap.

    But your’e right. Even most literalists would recognize thinking as disturbed as this one.

  • Richard Wade

    Great. So MTran, Siamang thinks that we won’t see another non-theist elected official come out until one runs in the next election. What do you think? Hemant alludes to others waiting in the wings, but does he really know something that we don’t know?

  • MTran

    I’ve been politicallly surprised in the past but I think it very unlikely for another non-theist to come out, for all the usual reasons.

    A long-time office holder with a high confidence rating by voters in a blue district may have the ability to make these sorts of announcements but I’m not betting on there being any who are eager to do so.

  • http://emergingpensees.blogspot.com/ Mike C

    The god you posit is neither a judge nor does he demonstrate the capability of judgment.

    He is, instead, a mere bully, a thug, a petty, infantile, sadistic, psychopath. You wanna worship a piece of trash like that, go right ahead. Just remember that your beliefs are repugnant to anyone with a sense of justice or any sense at all. And if there exists any god with a sense of justice, then that god must ultimately prevail over yours.

    MTran, I completely agree. If that god he describes existed I wouldn’t want to worship him. However, as a theist, I am hopeful that the God you describe does exist.

  • http://dmarvin811.blogspot.com Dan Marvin

    Your right your God wouldn’t banish you because your god doesn’t exist. That is where the problem is… It’s your pride getting in the way. When you say “my god” you are breaking the 2nd Commandment because you are making a god to fit your beliefs.

    There is a God he does exist and you will face him on Judgment day you have lied which makes you a liar if you have lusted you have committed adultery in your heart. And if you broke one you might as well have broken all the commandments because it says in Matthew 5:19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.

    I am very concerned for your soul because it doesn’t matter if you believe in a creator or not what matters is will you die in your sins or will you be washed in the blood of Jesus. If you believe you are a wretched sinner like me then you will run to Jesus like I have. What are you hanging on to? Let me take a guess, you are fighting this news because you are doing something that you don’t want to give up or stop to become a Christian. For that Jesus said “What good is it for a man to gain the entire world only to loose his soul” Just go and read John (just John) in the bible and you will see Jesus for who he is and that is your savior. John 10:30 I and my Father are ONE. Luke 12 will show you who will go to heaven and hell.

    Good luck on your journey

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