Members of Congress, What Will You Do for Atheists?

The National Atheist Party has been asking various U.S. Representatives, Senators, Governors and candidates for those offices what they will do for atheist voters.

Such a simple thing to do and yet so few have ever taken the initiative…

Quietly, they’ve been posting the responses on their website.

There’s not much in the way of “Here’s how we’ll help atheists,” but there’s a lot of support for church/state separation and equality for all from the people who have responded. Below is just a sampling of the posts:

Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer, What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

The Governor will continue, during this, his final year in office, to treat all Montanans of any or no faith fairly and equitably.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

Thank you for contacting my office with your question regarding my support of atheist constituents.

In a nation founded on diversity and strengthened by the contributions of many faiths, we must never use religion as a wedge to divide the American people. Instead, we must state in a united voice: violence in the name of any religion is a betrayal of our fundamental values as Americans; any responsible government action must be rooted in facts, fairness, and an unending commitment to the rights and liberties of every American.

Senator Patrick Leahy, What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

The First Amendment of the Constitution protects people who exercise their right to practice a particular religion and those who practice no religion at all. Another important part of the First Amendment is that it prevents the government from endorsing a particular religion. I believe we need to maintain the strength of the First Amendment by guarding the rights of free speech and freedom of religion, without permitting the government to direct or interfere with religious or spiritual beliefs. Separation of church and state is a fundamental component of our system of government. I believe that we must respect the genius of the founders and tread lightly in the area of religion when it comes to government action.

Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), What Will You Do for Atheist Voters?

Religious freedom and acceptance of a diversity of worldviews, including atheism, are at the core of our nation’s history. These values remain as important today as they did more than two centuries ago.

Rep. Ron Paul‘s answer was even better: “[I'll] leave them alone.”

You can check out other responses as they arrive on the NAP’s website.

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the chair of Foundation Beyond Belief and a high school math teacher in the suburbs of Chicago. He began writing the Friendly Atheist blog in 2006. His latest book is called The Young Atheist's Survival Guide.

  • CelticWhisper

    Pat Leahy co-authored PIPA, the companion bill to SOPA.  Given the free-speech implications that bill had, I can’t take him at his word on how he values the First Amendment so highly.  I’m glad he supports keeping religion out of government, but take his words with a grain of salt – he was all too happy to sell online free speech down the river with internet-censorship legislation.

    • Ellie

      The last I’d heard of them, PIPA, SOPA, and their followups were more a fourth amendment issue than a first amendment.  But your point is understood.

  • Lucilius

    I can’t reasonably expect anything beyond cautious generalities – with the likes of James O’Keeffe around, congresspeople have got to have in the backs of their minds that any such request could be a front for an opponent who wants to distort their positions come election-time.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ED6TTXZER7BVAJZVM5OB26GPT4 MarkM

      Then their safest position is also the one that benefits *everyone* — the position that the Constitution guarantees both protections for freedom of religion as well as freedom from religious persecution.  That’s all that we want anyway.

      I posted something on Facebook once that sums it up: 

      1. Me asserting my rights does not constitute an assault on your rights.2. Protecting my freedom *from* religion also protects your freedom *of* religion.3. If you are the majority, you cannot pretend be persecuted by someone in the minority.

      • Lucilius

        I would agree if the constituencies that elect Congress were truly representative of American citizenry, and if high school civics classes had their desired effect.

        Sadly, all too often it’s the case that a narrow, organized constituency provides the margin of victory (aided by dismal turnout from the pool of eligible voters), and many of those groups’ perspective on Constitutional history is already distorted; viz., the “always been a Christian nation” crowd. Congresspeople have to cautiously avoid triggering any extremist group from suddenly jumping in to defeat them. It’d be nice if more had the courage to stand up, but it’s hard for me to blame people who may have only won the last election by one or two points.

  • Gus Snarp

    Well, Ron Paul will leave them alone as long as their not women. If they’re women he’ll do his best to make sure states can pass whatever laws they want restricting their right to an abortion. But that’s not a religious stance or anything, he’s a principled libertarian, right?

    • Gus Snarp

      Goddammit, I had a feeling in my sole that I had typed the wrong “their” there.

      • http://yetanotheratheist.com/ TerranRich

        Know problem at all.

    • Gus Snarp

      By which I mean that “leaving alone” atheist voters is not the same as protecting the separation of church and state. Paul’s statement is no better, and probably worse than meaningless platitudes about diversity, seeing as his view of states’ rights means states being allowed to teach creationism, ban abortion, or have mandatory prayer in school. (OK, I’m just extrapolating the last one, I could be wrong).

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_ED6TTXZER7BVAJZVM5OB26GPT4 MarkM

      He’ll leave us alone, but he’ll also leave the religious fundamentalists alone when they bully us (it’s free speech, right?) and he’ll also leave them alone when they pray before city council meetings, school events, football games, etc…

      Ron Paul can’t see that absolute libertarianism is just as detrimental to society as a whole as absolute communism, absolute socialism, absolute monarchy, etc.  History has pretty much shown us that any political, religious, or economic “-ism” taken to its extreme will ultimately doom the society that undertakes it.

      • Entertaining Doubts

         Yup. The final nail in the coffin of my brief youthful flirtation with libertarianism was when I realized that we need a strong federal government to promote the common good — defending minority rights, maintaining infrastructure, protecting the environment, etc.

        • Sindigo

          Mine too. Libertarianism would be great if we all started with a) a level playing field and b) good intentions.

  • http://northierthanthou.com/ nothierthanthou

    Paul’s answer is hilarious. It’s also sad.

  • http://twitter.com/TominousTone Thomas Lawson

    Ron Paul won’t do anything on a federal level, save for revoking Roe v. Wade, defunding Planned Parenthood, and making it law that life begins at conception.

    All of your other rights will be taken away by your governor and other local officials.

    I hate States’ Rights politicians. If we let states handle human rights we’d still have slavery or at the very least Jim Crow laws in place in some states. Some commandments have to be handed down from on high (meaning, from D.C.).

  • Keulan

    Ron Paul’s no friend of atheists. He sponsored the We the People Act which basically would allow the states to ignore the First Amendment while preventing the federal courts from doing anything to stop them. Fuck Ron Paul.

  • http://twitter.com/ErnestValdemar Ernest Valdemar

    Patrick Leahy is still alive, and still in office?

    I can’t decide if this makes me impossibly old, or still young.

    He used to be someone, during the Reagan administration.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I’ve written to Rep. Pelosi several times with respect to 
    H. CON. RES. 13

    Whereas if religion and morality are taken out of the marketplace of ideas, the very freedom on which the United States was founded cannot be secured;

    She hasn’t responded, but she keeps asking me for money.  (No, she’s not my rep, but it’s her signature on the letters from the DCCC)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

    Ron Paul would leave atheists alone.

    Unless they’re women.


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