BREAKING: Kyrsten Sinema Is Not an Atheist

Back in the summer, I put up a post about how Kyrsten Sinema was poised to win her Democratic primary in the race for Congress. At the time, I described her as a “bisexual nontheist” because, well, that’s what I had heard.

The LGBT blog Towleroad described Sinema as a bisexual. But when you look at that post, there’s really no evidence for it. (***Edit***: While that post didn’t really give much evidence, Sinema’s sexuality has been mentioned in many other places.)

What about her nontheism, though? That’s what I cared about. What evidence did I have to back that up?

Well, for one, I’d seen it mentioned on other blogs. Also, Sinema had received an award from the Center for Inquiry for the “Advancement of Science and Reason in Public Policy.” She was also present at the opening of the Secular Coalition for Arizona:

Based on all of that, I thought it was safe to assume she was a non-theist (regardless of which specific label she used).

Over the past week, though, I’ve had good reason to question that.

Whenever I asked representatives from the Secular Coalition for America how they knew she was a non-theist, they referred me to news reports or blog posts… which inevitably linked back to my own post. Oh boy… Politico later quoted the SCA on Sinema’s non-theism, too, adding fuel to the fire.

When Religion News Service reporter Kimberly Winston reported on the race, she did the same thing — referring to Sinema as the person who would replace Stark as the “sole atheist in Congress.”

Now, it looks like Sinema’s Communications Director Justin Unga is trying to set the record straight. When I inquired about this via email, he sent me the same message he must have sent Kimberly Winston because she updated her piece with a clarification:

While Sinema’s campaign was initially unavailable for comment after Tuesday’s election, spokesman Justin Unga said Friday that Sinema does not consider herself a nonbeliever, adding that she prefers a “secular approach.”

“Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character,” Unga said in email. “She does not identify as any of the above.”

Unga added in his email to me:

She does not identify as any of the above, nor does she choose a label to describe what she believes is deeply personal for every individual.

Ok… that’s fine. I don’t care about her label and it doesn’t take away from Sinema’s support for church/state separation. But if she’s not an atheist, that means we have a Congress with no non-theist representation. That’s a story we need to be talking about… but we’re not, because we all think that when Sinema’s victory is officially called — something that hasn’t happened yet — we will have an atheist in Congress.

But we won’t.

Furthermore, I’m really disappointed by how Unga phrased his comment:

“Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.”

“Not befitting”? Why the hell not? How do any of those terms detract from her character or life’s work? They’re not dirty words! You can be good without god!

I hope that’s just a gaffe on the part of Unga and not a sincere belief held by Sinema, but until someone gets a chance to talk to her on the record about these issues, who knows how she really feels.

I apologize for not being more cautious in my initial reporting on Sinema’s beliefs. But let’s set the record straight: Sinema may agree with many of our secular values, but she is not an atheist/non-theist/any-of-the-above. So we need to stop saying that. I hope she wins, but with Pete Stark out of the picture, we just lost a true voice for our community in Congress.

***Update***: Unga sent me a fuller explanation of where Sinema stands on this issue:

Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or non-believer are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character.  She does not identify as any of those. 

Though Sinema was raised in a religious household, she draws her policymaking decisions from her experience as a social worker who worked with diverse communities and as a lawmaker who represented hundreds of thousands.  Sinema is a student of all cultures in her community and has learned that responsible stewards must consider all faiths with respect and dignity.   She believes that a secular approach is the best way to achieve this in good government. 

Sinema has earned the mutual respect and admiration of faith communities in AZ, though she does not consider herself to be a member of any faith community.  Many of the groups that supported her campaign are communities of faith.  Sinema’s campaign is endorsed by Jewish, Muslim, Christian and non-denominational organizations that support her because of her principled drive to help her fellow man and fellow woman by passing legislation that helps every individual grow and thrive — regardless of their background or religious affiliation.  She has the backing of the pastors and ministers of some of the largest community churches in the area.

It doesn’t change much for me. I’m glad she’s not offended by the “secular” labels, but the fact remains that no member of Congress (or hopefully-soon-to-be member of Congress) currently says that he/she doesn’t believe in a god.

In an election with so many historic firsts, the one group that seems to be taking a step backwards are atheists.

***Update 2***: The Sinema campaign said the same things to Mark Oppenheimer of the New York Times, though Oppenheimer puts it in a broader context of a politician who eschews all labels altogether… to me, that simplifies things too much. It avoids the question of whether or not she believes in God:

Although raised a Mormon, Ms. Sinema is often described as a nontheist — and that suits the activists just fine. A blogger for the Secular Coalition for America wrote Thursday that while he was still dispirited by the loss of Representative Pete Stark of California, an open nonbeliever, he was “emboldened” by the apparent victory of Ms. Sinema, “an open nontheist.” Her nonbelief, the blogger, Chris Lombardi, wrote, “was not used to slander her as un-American or suggest that she was unfit for office.”

But a campaign spokesman rejected any simple category for Ms. Sinema.

“Kyrsten believes the terms ‘nontheist,’ ‘atheist’ or ‘nonbeliever’ are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character,” the spokesman, Justin Unga, said Thursday in an e-mail. “Though Sinema was raised in a religious household, she draws her policy-making decisions from her experience as a social worker who worked with diverse communities and as a lawmaker who represented hundreds of thousands.”

Furthermore, Ms. Sinema “is a student of all cultures in her community,” Mr. Unga said, and she “believes that a secular approach is the best way to achieve this in good government.”


About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • C Peterson

    I expect there are a good many atheists in Congress. The problem may not be exactly a lack of representation, but a system where those people can’t be open about their beliefs.

    • GwydionFrost

      I don’t believe there are a “good many atheists” in Congress, simply for the fact that presenting yourself as someone who is religious will require you to also maintain that illusion by voting for legislation as someone who is religious. Which sounds all too much like the closeted homosexuals voting against homosexual rights. Nope, not exactly who I want to represent me, thank you.

      • 3lemenope

        There are even non-cynical reasons why an atheist in Congress might vote in a non-secular way. Since religion is largely a matter of personal opinion, and like-or-not atheism is still quite a minority position, a congresscritter who was sent to represent his or her district may be cognizant of the rather large metaphysical disagreement they have with their constituency at large, and vote accordingly. An integral part of being a representative is being a delegate for one’s constituency, even when the opinions of that constituency diverge from one’s own (to what extent and upon what issues that holds true or should hold true is a matter of fierce debate, of course).

        There is an additional complication, as you allude, that atheists are not just a minority but a strongly disfavored minority, and so a congresscritter’s duty to represent their constituents is also tempered by their duty as a human being to stand up for those who are disfavored by the society-at-large. So like the rep who is gay but votes against gay rights because their mostly homophobic constituency desires them to (and would reject that rep if they knew his sexual orientation), there is an ethical quandary inherent to being in the position of being an atheist representing a constituency of largely religious people who hold strong negative opinions about atheists and atheism and are generally hostile to secularism.

        The only thing that tempers this, in turn, is that people don’t exactly trip-and-fall into political office. They know when they run what they’re getting into, and unless they are very bad at their job, they know just in what ways they differ from the opinions of the constituency that invests them with political power. The third option in these situations is to stand up for what’s right, acknowledge that it represents a breach of duty to the people who hired you, cast the vote according to your conscience and then either not run for re-election or resign (depending on the perceived size of the breach and the proximity to election). Somehow this never occurs to politicians to do. 

    • Riconui

      Whether or not one believes in the sky-god is as personal as it gets. No one, especially not the constituents of any elected official, can know with any certainty WHAT someone believes. I would say though that there are quite a few people in Congress that behave in all of the most debased ways that are so often unfairly ATTRIBUTED to atheists. So, whether or not they actually are atheist while paying generous lip service to the religious community, is unknowable, unprovable and unfalsifiable. How convenient is that?

  • Stev84

    Given the sad state of American politics when it comes to religious influence, being a declared secularist is already a huge thing.

  • hollyml

    For what it’s worth, Pete Stark’s loss had nothing to do with the fact that he’s an atheist.  I live near, but not in, his district, and I would have had a very hard time deciding on that vote if I did live in his district.  He’s done some great things in Congress, but recent reprehensible behavior has certainly suggested that he’s gone a bit off his rocker.

    Yes, it would be nice if there were a decent number of “out” atheists in Congress.  Or even one.  But I can’t say it’s a top political priority; I’ll settle for people who identify with any given religious faith in private life but take a reality-based approach to public policy.

    • AZDem9933

      His Democratic opponent, Eric Swalwell, chose to attack Stark for his vote against reaffirming “In God We Trust” and the US motto. This was undoubtedly done to pander to religious Republicans in his district. You are probably right that’s not what caused Stark to lose but it was pretty odious and bigoted nonetheless. It’s the kind of thing I’ve come to expect from DINOs. 

      • BillStewart2012

        California’s “top-two primary” voting system means that the general election was between two Democrats.  I don’t like the term “DINO”, because Democrats aren’t an exclusionary party like the Tea Party thinks the Republicans are, but Stark was a dinosaur, and there was a lot of discussion about whether he might be getting senile or have health issues causing his recent erratic behaviour. 

        As a religious non-Republican, I really object to “In God We Trust” on the money – bad enough using God’s name in vain on Caesar’s money, but the coins used to say “99% real silver”, and “In God We Trust” is a pandering substitute for “Trust us!  We’re the Government!” on now-fake-metal coins.

        • AZDem9933

          Not very inclusive of Swalwell to slag off on Stark for being non-religious, was it? 

  • Wildrumpus67

    I got a chance to talk with Sam Harris last week and I’ll remind you that he does not identify as an Atheist and Dawkins is agnostic -so there’s that. (… and yes, I completely understand their semantic arguments).

    • Baal

       Both of them are very ‘scientist’.  As such, they use words in particular ways.  It’s a fair translation to normal English to call both of the atheists.

  • Jon Peterson

    I think “not befitting” is accurate and appropriate in this situation. If she does not identify as an atheist, then calling her as such is not befitting. /shrug

  • http://nwrickert.wordpress.com/ Neil Rickert

    I’m not quite sure what to make of this.  I’m inclined to think that she does not want “atheist” to be associated with her public persona, perhaps for good reason given the harsh nature of political dialog.

    Personally, I would not want to force the issue.  Her support for secularism is sufficient.

  • Annie

    Hmm.  Reminds me of Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s response about atheism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=639378446 Bridget Gaudette

    Damn. :-(

  • Phasespace

    I can’t say that this surprises me very much (that she’s not really an atheist, agnostic, etc, or that she is but wants to distance herself from those terms).  I grew up in that area, and my parents still live there, and I have to say that I found it kind of hard to believe that an out atheist would have much of a chance there.  The district does include the area around the ASU campus, but the areas east, north, and south of the ASU campus are pretty conservative.  Russel Pearce, the rather infamous “show us your papers” immigration guy represented part of the eastern side of district 9 just to give you an idea of how far it skews.

    • BillStewart2012

      She may also be concerned about getting more grief for being a lapsed Mormon than for being an atheist. 

      • Phasespace

        Yeah, that too.  I didn’t hear about her Mormon past until recently.

  • AntiNaziEqualistAnarchist

    Sounds more agonist than atheist, still a possibility for either side.

  • Quintin van Zuijlen

    Let’s not forget that, according to the SCA, about a dozen or so congressmembers have declared themselves nonbelievers in private communication. They’re there, we just want them to be able to come out publicly without inciting political murder.

  • Guy

    this is just sad, apologetic BIGOTRY on her part. 
    it’s especially lamentable that it comes from someone who, as it’s been claimed by several sources, is openly bisexual. apparently, calling on people to stand on the “right side of history” on bigotry and discrimination is really a call to stand on “the right side of HER GROUP’S history”, and bigotry against other groups is a different matter.  Hell, it’s even useful, if it can help her secure some approval in bid for a congress seat…    disgusting.

  • JamesEmery

    Wait… What about Pete Stark? :P

    Oh… Wait…

  • President

    Insofar as we know, she’s not an OPEN nontheist. We very well may have a proportional amount of atheists representing us; they just might be closeted.

    • BillStewart2012

      There are now three Buddhists in Congress.  One’s a convert to a branch that’s generally non-theist.  The other two grew up in Jodo, a Japanese Pure Land version of Buddhism, which is sort of theistic-like, though one of them is non-practicing.

  • benjdm

    I emailed her this:

    “”Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character”?
    So you think those terms are in some way negative? You just left the stories that you were a non-theist out there long enough to get a bunch of money from the secular community and then disown us?

    I hope you reconsider.

    Sincerely,
    *********, disappointed out of state supporter”

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    “Kyrsten believes the terms non-theist, atheist or nonbeliever are not befitting of her life’s work or personal character,”

    Character? That’s the word that made me wince. Her “life’s work,” yeah, whatever, but “Not befitting her character” clearly implies that atheists, non-theists, or nonbelievers have inferior character. The phrase “not befitting” is seldom used to mean “it doesn’t fit.” It’s almost always used to mean “not worthy of.” It’s a value judgment, an assessment of moral inadequacy or deficiency.

    Hemant, since Unga sent you that statement, you’re in a good position to respond directly to her about this, to bring her awareness up about this insult, and to ask her for clarification.

    • Stev84

      I think it’s probably badly worded and that she really means “doesn’t describe her well”, but it’s a very unfortunate choice of words

      • BillStewart2012

        When politicians are attempting to blather and distract using complex language, they don’t always get it right.  Just because it sounds like fingernails on a chalkboard to many of us, that doesn’t mean that the staffer’s message isn’t understandable.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=509794993 Orson Sedmina

      It probably is an example of a poorly chosen phrase.  I don’t think non-theists really need to get their panties in a bunch about it.  If what she says through her people is true, than we should be glad that a person, believer or not, acknowledges the superiority of a secular approach in a pluralistic society.  If the all in office thought this way, and governed evenhandedly as she suggests she will, I’m pretty sure non-theists wouldn’t keep a tally of how many on ‘our side’ held a seat.

    • Curious

      So does she like cocks or not?

  • Marc J

    If I were a politician, I wouldn’t want to be associated with the atheist community either, given the ridiculous controversies that have been on display over the past several years.  

  • Caroline E Diederich

     This is just as bad as the Mormons who would change their views on Romney if they found out he was secretly Atheist or something.  Policy is what matters.  Separation of church and state applies to Atheism too.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Hemant Mehta

      Of course policy matters more than labels — which is exactly what I wrote above.
      The issue here is that people have wrongly been claiming that Sinema is an atheist. She’s not, though, and we should set the record straight on whether or not she believes in a god.

      • Marco Conti

        Does she believe in god? Any god? Then she is not an atheist. Does she not believe in god? Then she is an atheist.
        It’s really as simple as that. Until she answers that direct question, we should not call her an atheist. But if she does answer in the negative to believing in a god, then she is an atheist no matter what labels she likes or dislikes.

        On our side, we should try to be more careful in defining people we don’t know well.

        • AxeGrrl

          Does she believe in god? Any god? Then she is not an atheist. Does she not believe in god? Then she is an atheist.It’s really as simple as that. Until she answers that direct question, we should not call her an atheist. But if she does answer in the negative to believing in a god, then she is an atheist no matter what labels she likes or dislikes.

          The thing that some people apparently don’t get is that words (like atheist) aren’t just ‘personal labels’ they choose for themselves, they also have objective meanings that apply whether or not they like it.

          • 3lemenope

            On the other hand, sometimes it is contextually inappropriate to use a label, even if objectively true. For example, it might not be the wisest or most salutary move to use a label for a politician that most of their constituents consider a slur, unless your intent is to get them defeated.

            A person can have very good (usually social, but sometimes also professional) reasons to avoid what would otherwise be an appropriate label; to insist that they must be called something they don’t wish to be called merely to satisfy a desire to see things be slightly more accurate is a bit selfish. If she is not a believer in God, she *is* an atheist, but to insist, after she asks you not to, to continue using the term to describe her doesn’t seem to serve any legitimate purpose.

            After all, if a person told you that they were attracted to someone of the same sex, and you called them ‘gay’, and they asked you for whatever reason not to, would you continue to insist on calling them gay out of service to “objective meaning”?

            • AxeGrrl

              A person can have very good (usually social, but sometimes also professional) reasons to avoid what would otherwise be an appropriate label; to insist that they must be called something they don’t wish to be called merely to satisfy a desire to see things be slightly more accurate is a bit selfish.

              I completely agree.  As I mentioned in my post about the amazon poster who labels himself ‘agnostic’ rather than ‘atheist’, neither I or anyone else has “demanded” (his word) that he label himself atheist……

              I know plenty of people who fit the definition of a ‘feminist’ but who vehemently reject the label.

              The only person who gets to decide what ‘personal label’ they want to use is the person him/herself, and to insist that they use a certain label is, as you describe, selfish.

              But……..

              If a person describes their position and that position fits the definition of ‘atheist’, then it would not be inaccurate or invalid to say that their position is consistent with the definition of the word.

              I think it’s possible to respect a person’s choice of personal label and acknowledge that their position fits the definition of a word they may want to distance themselves from.

              • 3lemenope

                Then I misunderstood what you were saying, and for that I apologize. 

                But I don’t understand, in practice, how what you’re describing would actually work. If a person fairly strenuously objects to being associated with a label, and someone tries to split the difference and respect the denial of the label while noting that the reality is consistent with the label, how does the label not become a fait accompli regardless?

                • AxeGrrl

                  If a person fairly strenuously objects to being associated with a label, and someone tries to split the difference and respect the denial of the label while noting that the reality is consistent with the label, how does the label not become a fait accompli regardless?

                  Good question.  It would seem that such paradoxes would be a natural result (and perhaps unavoidable) if/when someone denies an accurate term :)

  • IndyFitz

    “In an election with so many historic firsts, the one group that seems to be taking a step backwards are atheists.”

    Kind of like the step backward by not checking facts, and relying on BLOG POSTS for such critical information?  Ouch.

    While I agree it would be nice to see atheists in Congress, maybe we should be more concerned about the fact that this unsubstantiated rumor was based on blog posts than we seem to be about her not being an atheist.

  • Xeon2000

    So she’s an atheist, but it’s nobodies business what she believes in personally and she doesn’t like labels.  Plus the “a-word” is toxic in government, so she plans to avoid that as a PR move.  As many others have said, she is probably an atheist like many others in congress other.  They just aren’t public about it because it’s not safe to be public.

    • Pseudonym

      Maybe she’s an atheist, maybe she isn’t.

      I found Hemant’s last comment that it wasn’t enough for him because “it avoids the question of whether or not she believes in God” bizarre. Of course it avoids the question! You know why? It doesn’t matter.

      This is the ideal world that true secularists are looking for: one where a political candidate’s religious beliefs or lack thereof are irrelevant.

      That is what we’re looking for, right?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=515019810 Joseph Sileo

        In theory it doesn’t matter, as in theory ones personal beliefs should not come into play when making decisions for a secular nation. In practice it does matter as quite often that is how people make their decisions. I think Bill Maher is an ass but he had this great line “If you believe in the last judgement. I have to seriously question your judgement.”

  • zokah

    I support her stance. I’m a self-identified atheist but I don’t mention it unless I’m asked or it comes up in conversation. Many atheists have a problem when theist announce their religious beliefs and I find it hypocritical to want them to keep it to themself but to expect other that MIGHT share a lack of belief in any deity to announce it.

  • AxeGrrl

    Her response/attitude kind of reminds me of a poster on the amazon.com boards who vehemently eschews the label atheist (even though his position fits the definition) and moans about atheists “demanding” that he call himself an atheist too (which isn’t true) ~ he often suggests that he’s not an atheist because atheists are “certain” and more “closed minded” than agnostics (which is what (surprise surprise) he labels himself.  He’s constantly suggesting that he’s somehow ‘separate’ from theists and atheists……*eyeroll*……

    Another poster got tired of this guy’s repeated attention-getting rants about this (and his self-righteous insulting of atheists) and came up with a new label for him:

    an agnarcissicst :)

  • Jason Horton

    It has often been said that “atheist” is a pointless label. We don’t need a word for those who don’t believe in leprechauns so why do we need a word for those who don’t believe in gods? I would think that Sinema is taking that approach. Atheism exist only as a reasonable counter to the lunacy of religious claims. I can understand how a politician would want to appear more inclusive and avoid any kind of faith or non-faith label so why not say that? Why not just say that her views on religion are personal and nothing to do with her job. That’s what I’d like to see all politicians do.

    • AxeGrrl

      Why not just say that her views on religion are personal and nothing to do with her job. That’s what I’d like to see all politicians do.

      Amen!

      And you’ve just described Canadian politics in a nutshell.

    • Xeon2000

       Except leprechauns aren’t telling millions of people to vote no on women’s rights, discriminate against gays, and go to war with Muslims.

      • BillStewart2012

        I’ve met a couple of leprechauns.  One of them’s a musician who’s very strongly in favor of women’s rights, against discrimination, and against the xenophobia against Muslims.  The political discussions I’ve had with the other one have been about how the local politicians talk a good game about marijuana legalization but the police are still harassing small-time baked goods dealers.

  • http://profiles.google.com/mark.phillip.peterson Mark Peterson

    If “she does not consider herself to be a member of any faith community.” Why is the label “non-theist” at all inappropriate to describe her position?

  • anon101

    I don’t think it is right to force Atheists out of the closet. She is young, she just started her career in Washington. If she does not believe in god we should give her time to come out.

  • http://religiouscomics.net/ Jeff P

    Religion is in the domain of human imagination and there is probably an infinite number of positions (or beliefs) one can take towards religion.  There are also lots of nuance associated with labels such as atheist, agnostic, theist, non-theist, deist, Christian, non-Christian, etc.  As a politician who wants both to represent her constituency and probably have a chance to represent them again in another 2 years, I can understand how she would want to avoid being labeled at all.  Lets just sit back and see how she votes.  That is what will matter. 

  • Democrat

    Once again Hemant, your “reporting skills” are suspect. Perhaps you need to take a deep breath before you go and make your wild and misguided statements and posts. This is not an isolated incident. You have routinely shown yourself to be reactionary without regard to fact checking or even good titling.

    And this is your “not-pology”. 

    I used to think you could do better. I guess I was wrong.

  • Matthew Weidman

    Sounds to me like she’s an atheist that’s politically afraid to say she’s an atheist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/JohnFest John Case

    I certainly see how some are reading the “personal character” clause, but I think we doth protest too much. She didn’t say being a nonbeliever was a bad thing or didn’t reflect her work or character, she said that the TERMS are not befitting. I’d guess that most of us can relate to how wearing any of those terms can affect a person. Maybe she, like many others who don’t believe, find that defining oneself by what you DO NOT believe is wrongheaded and that her personal character is better represented by using labels reflecting things she DOES believe are important as an individual and a politician. Further, Ms. Sinema was raised in a religious household. While she apparently is not a practicing member of that faith, to her putting on a big “Atheist” hat may betray aspects of that upbringing that informed her character or inspired her life’s work. It may relate to respect for her family, her parents’ choices in raising her that way, or any number of other factors that are really none of our business. And it may be much simpler than that for a politician in a country where being an atheist is as close as you can get to political suicide.

    While I would love to live in a place where we are governed exclusively by people who don’t believe in fairy tales, that’s simply not an option. What I found most important about this article is that she asserts “a secular approach is the best way… in good government.” She is right and I think we should celebrate this official stance, whether she is an atheist or worships Amen-Ra at home.

    I understand and share in the lamentation that with Pete Stark’s loss we’re now without a standard-bearer on the national stage of governance. However, I don’t think that it is fair, or even reasonable, for us to start recruiting people who would rather not carry our flag, and criticize them for saying so. I don’t recall the LGBT community trying to “out” sitting politicians in order to have vocal representation. They waited for someone to take up the charge of their own volition and rallied behind them.

    The establishment clause and “no religious test” clause do not exist because good politicians must be atheists, but because good politicians must govern atheistically. Ms. Sinema seems committed to exactly that.

  • Pawel Samson

    But she was a guest on the Young Turks, and Cenk described her as an agnostic and she didn’t correct him.  Of course, that was  few weeks ago when she was still getting that sweet out-of-state atheist money donated to her campaign.  Guess she doesn’t need the cash now.

    • Stephen Albert

       Maybe she is okay with that label, and doesn’t see it as falling under the “nontheist” umbrella (though I think it does). But she certainly didn’t have to say the label was “not befitting of her personal character”.

  • rlrose328

    All of her rep’s comments serve to distance herself from the word “atheist” and all other words of that ilk because they KNOW if she is continually referred to as the atheist congressman, she will not win reelection.  She’s no more atheist than my very righteous Catholic mother (whom I adore).

  • Iroll

    The Secular Coalition apparently forgets its own identification of Kyrsten Sinema as a nontheist in a series of emails it sent out in the fall of 2010. On 8/26 they wrote, “While we have many challenges still before us as a community, 2010 is looking to
    be a strong year for Secular Americans, as nontheist officeholders and
    candidates are making themselves known. As the midterm elections get set to
    kick into high gear, we’d like to showcase some of them.” [SCA's emphasis.] Pete Stark, Kyrsten Sinema, and two others were featured in that email. In another message on 9/1, Sean Faircloth wrote in an executive director’s update: “Rep. Krysten Sinema, a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, has
    agreed to do the welcome preceding my remarks at the announcement of Secular
    Coalition for Arizona in October. A few years back, Rep. Sinema and I were
    Flemming Fellows together, a legislative leadership training program. Rep.
    Sinema has agreed to do the welcome at the announcement of Secular Coalition for
    Arizona in October. Rep. Sinema has also agreed to be identified as a secular
    legislator! We are very thankful. We are working hard to make the kick-off for
    the Secular Coalition for Arizona a success.” Either the SCA was misrepresenting Ms. Sinema, or she has since decided to stop being open — but either way, you shouldn’t be blamed.

  • Len Blakely

    I find it sad that describing someone as a non-theist could be considered slander.

  • Mazz

    Sounds like she’s already in the public eye as s bisexual woman and doesn’t want to fan the flames with the use of the labels of atheism or non theism, etc…

    I too would love to have more visible representation by non theists in Congress but I think she’s already blazing a serious trail. As a bisexual person I can tell you it is too easy to be ostracized by the gay AND straight communities.

    I will point out one more thing though, which is not a new concept but: isn’t it interesting that to be labeled a non believer is still less acceptable than to garner a same sex or in this case two sex identity?

    We have a lot of work to do. But I think our time is coming.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Barbara-A-Drescher/1307296112 Barbara A. Drescher

    “… to me, that simplifies things too much. It avoids the question of whether or not she believes in God…”

    Perhaps you have missed the point, which is namely that this question is utterly and completely irrelevant.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ellenbeth EllenBeth Wachs

    Well she has learned political double-speak rather quickly. This is discouraging and really insulting, frankly.

  • Rodrigo Samper

    Today, 11/12 in the The Daily Rundown show, Chuck Todd not only mention she is the first openly bi-sexual to get elected to congress but that she is an devoid atheist.   Be interesting what would be the ramifications.   I did searches and did not see direct evidence until I got to your page.     If she is an Atheist, that would be great.   Everything that she does points that she is definitely a non-believer

  • http://twitter.com/Mannzhu Dave Mann

    I do not consider keeping a head count of self-declared atheists to be a useful way to measure the progress of secularism.  Atheists can use Christianity as a political tool as well as theists.  Two better approaches: measure how much money is spent on programs that are conditioned on theism and for those things that can’t me monetized how much government time and citizens time is invested in adhering to theistic practices.

  • mobathome

    Russian Mathematician Grisha Perelman turned down the Fields medal, the highest prize in mathematics, and also $1 million dollars from the Clay Institute for having solved a Millennium Problem.  One mathematician quoted Perelman as explaining that he did not want to distract from what is important: the mathematics.

    Maybe Sinema’s point is that she doesn’t want to distract people from what is important: the secular position of member of Congress.  Wouldn’t you rather that people’s religious affiliations not matter in politics?  Declaring herself one way or another will  distract voters from that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692069453 Dana Logsdon

    I think she needs a new PR person with a more expansive vocabulary.  In any case, hey, they could have elected a “Todd Akin” type “character.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000134791115 Tom McLachlin

    Outing an atheist politician in 2012 is still the kiss of death for their career. It is like outing a gay politician in the 1970s and 1980s.  Kyrsten is smart enough to know this, so why don’t we all respect it.  Humanists will need to speak in code for a while if we really want to achieve a secular government.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X