It’s Official: Kyrsten Sinema Wins a Ticket to Congress, but Atheists Will Be Unrepresented in Congress Yet Again

The Associated Press has declared Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) the winner in her tight race for Congress:


That’s very exciting and it’s good news for those of us who share Secular values since Sinema’s a Progressive… but it’s somewhat bittersweet since Sinema now refuses to openly admit she’s an atheist/non-theist/freethinker, choosing instead to use no label at all. That wasn’t the case about a week ago when her campaign did nothing to dissuade those rumors but they’ve been persistent in stopping them ever since it became apparent she would win this race (and be up for re-election in two years).

The headlines are saying that Sinema is openly bisexual, making her the second LGBT woman elected to Congress this cycle (along with Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)).

It seems like it shouldn’t hurt her to just go ahead and say she doesn’t believe in God… but two taboos might be too much for her to take on right now.

Damn. Too bad.

It’s like having 99 cents at the dollar store. We came so close to having at least one atheist in Congress, but we will instead be left with no direct representation, no one we can call our own.

Maybe she’ll embrace us again during her first term in office…

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.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lindsey.stock.7 Lindsey Stock

    Maybe she really isn’t an atheist and the whole thing was just a misunderstanding? Why assume she’s just trying to cover it up? I’m sure her campaign had more important things to worry about right before the election than correcting a bunch of internet bloggers.

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

      Her campaign wrote to correct the record in the Huffington Post and this blog. The NYTimes got the same statement we did.  And they made no attempt to do this when Sinema was getting thousands of dollars in donations from people who gave believing she was an atheist.  They only did it after the election was already over.

      • TheExpatriate700

        And why should she be under an obligation to talk about her private beliefs just to advance your cause? Seriously, I’d rather have a Scientologist in Congress who advanced progressive causes than an atheist who thought Ayn Rand was the best thing to happen to America. The fact is, so long as they aren’t trying to push their beliefs on other people, a government official’s religious beliefs are none of our business.

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

          Like I’ve said repeatedly, she’s under no obligation to do anything for our movement. I’m more upset that her campaign led us on for so long (and took our donations) only to take it away from us at the last second.

          I’m still glad she’s elected and that she’s a liberal.

          • TheExpatriate700

            That’s what every politician, liberal or conservative, does. For example, Republican politicians pander to pro-lifers during the election cycle, but put them on the back burner for the rest of their terms.

            The fact is, a bunch of atheists scrambling to support a candidate whom they probably wouldn’t care about if she wasn’t perceived as a non-theist is a rather pathetic sight. It’s the kind of group think that drove me out of religion in the first place.

            • amycas

               Republicans do not put their anti-choice agenda on the back burner once they’re elected.

              http://msmagazine.com/blog/blog/2011/07/14/how-were-doing-2011-is-record-year-for-anti-choice-legislation/

              If you had said,”Republicans do the same thing. In 2010 they ran on a platform of creating jobs and stopping unemployment, but then once they were elected they ignored that and focused on writing anti-choice bills,” then you would have been more accurate.

              • TheExpatriate700

                If that’s the case, why haven’t they passed that anti-abortion constitutional amendment they’ve been talking about for forty years now?

                • Pawel Samson

                  Because it would never pass a vote in the House, much less the senate. The closest the Human Life Amendment came to passing was in 1983, when it fell 18 votes short in the Senate.  That’s during the Reagan years no less.

                  Don’t worry, the social “conservatives” have other ways of getting rid of abortion, unfortunately.

                • amycas

                   Because constitutional amendments take way more to pass than mere state laws. I would think that’s obvious.

    • jdm8

      I they issued their statement after the election.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    I don’t care if she privately believes that the Great Pumpkin rises out of the pumpkin patch every Halloween night to fly around giving candy to all the good little boys and girls. As long as she actually practices the secular principles in government that she described, and she keeps the Great Pumpkin out of bills she writes or supports, that’s fine with me.

  • Gus Snarp

    I have no problem with her choosing not to use any religious label, but I still find the language she used to distance herself from the atheist label to be dismissive and insulting and perpetuating false stereotypes.

  • http://boldquestions.wordpress.com/ Ubi Dubium

    I’m fine with her choosing not to use a label.  That would be my goal for all members of congress, that they stop making such a big deal about what religion they are, stop being concerned about labels, and get on with running the country.

    I also understand that while she might actually be a non-theist, choosing not to label herself as anything will sit better with her theist constituents.  And if we want to keep her in congress, we need those theists to keep voting her in there.

    I remember that when a poll was done awhile back, Pete Stark was the only congressman to admit to being non-theist, but there were a bunch of others who said they were non-theist but refused to be public about it.  So I think we actually do have at least some representation, but none of it’s open.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/chidy/ chicago dyke, Blonde

    yet again i find myself glad i gave $0 of my hard earned money to a politician this election cycle.

    yes, it’s disappointing, and frankly quite insulting of our intelligence, for any politician to take our money in the name of our cause during the campaign and then publicly distance themselves from us as donors once they have won. i’m not surprised to see her do this, it is AZ after all. but it’s more than annoying to know our community was abused like this. i won’t have a lot of faith in her to do the right thing in the future. 

    she’s a bisexual, too. i don’t know if that was mentioned here. i wonder how much that plays a role in her nontheism, for all she won’t talk about it now that she’s a congresscritter. 

  • Reginald Selkirk

    It’s like having 99 cents at the dollar store.

    No problem. Go to 99 Cent City instead.

    • Sinfanti

       Actually, you’re screwed at either store because of the tax.

  • Nordog6561

    “Atheists Will Be Unrepresented in Congress Yet Again”

    What happened to Fortney Pete Stark?  Wasn’t he re-elected last week?

    • Nordog6561

      Nevermind.  I see that in fact he did lose.  Perhaps that is best.  If I were an atheist I wouldn’t want him representing me.

  • Frank Bellamy

    The statement her office put out doesn’t actually deny that she is an atheist. It doesn’t claim that she believes in a god or is a member of any particular religion. So what if she doesn’t want to call herself that? All evidence is that she is an atheist, so why shouldn’t we call her that? Politicians (and people more generally) usually don’t get to tell other people how to talk about them, why do we seem to assume that she gets to tell us how to talk about her?

  • Sinfanti

    I’m registered in AZ district 9 (although voting from Taiwan) and I researched my candidates on Wikipedia and liked what Sinema brought to the table in way of standing up for women’s rights.  AZ is a very red state and for any liberal to get elected is quite an accomplishment.  If she’s also a nonbeliever and a member of the LGBT community, all the better.  I will respect how she chooses to share or not share those aspects of her life, because voters can be fickle and I would hate to see her end up like Pete Stark.

  • DougI

    In other positive news, a Buddhist and Hindu were elected to Congress.  I suppose the Buddhist counts as an Atheist (although I know practically nothing about Jodo Shinshu).  With Democrats having Muslims, Jews, a Buddhist and a Hindu in office the religious diversity may tone down the dogmatic appeals to fundamentalist Christianity.

  • Mmcmillan84

    Hey Kyrsten, Will you marry me? lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/dreslough Clay Dreslough

    She’s still an athiest, whether she embraces it publicly or not.

    Also, all 11 members of congress that are unaffiliated are probably “a-theists”.


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