Atheists Meet with Conservative Kansas Governor Sam Brownback

Sometime last year, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback was interviewed on a call-in radio show. A listener asked him on air if he would ever consider meeting with atheists, and Brownback said he would. Was he just trying to be nice?

It didn’t matter. Local atheists worked for months to get that “promised” meeting with him and yesterday a small group of them (along with one Christian) finally met with the Governor:

(From left to right) Fred Heeren, Michaelyn Everhart, Cole Morgan, Gov. Sam Brownback, Adam Brown, and Amanda Brown

To no one’s surprise, Brownback didn’t change his mind on the major social issues. But you have to give him some credit for taking the time to listen to atheists’ concerns, even if there wasn’t much more to it than that.

Staks Rosch spoke with meeting attendee Adam Brown and wrote about the evolution conversation:

[Christian Fred] Heeren spoke to the Governor about getting Creationism our of science classes. Brownback is a supporter of “teaching the controversy” and so Heeren pointed out that among the science community there is no controversy. Brownback admitted that he does accept the science of evolution, but not as it related to human origin. Heeren pushed for the view that God guided the evolutionary process and tried to get Brownback to acknowledge the scientific view of the age of the universe.

Amazing that we still have to talk about basic science with some politicians in this day and age…

Amanda Brown was also at the meeting. She tried at one point to get the Governor to at least mention atheists in his speeches as part of the makeup of Kansas, thinking that would be an easy-to-accept position. He didn’t go for it, but he did say something else that was surprising to hear:

[Brownback] said he has never given any particular group a mention during his speeches. He has just never thought about it. After speaking with us [atheists] he understands how being included would help for the state to start working together. He wanted us to know that he really did appreciate us coming out and although he had some misconceptions of how we would act, what we would look like/be like, and what we would say he was now glad to have gone through with the meeting and will be happy to meet again in the future. He even agreed to come out to a special “Town Meeting” with other “nones” in the Kansas City Metro Area. To hear directly from this new constituency what direction we would like to see the state go and what we feel he can do to help.

Again, this may just be the empty promises of a politician, but it’s still a nice gesture. And you can bet the atheists will follow up with his staff.

No matter what you think of Brownback, this is the sort of meeting that needs to happen across the country, regardless of the Governors’ parties. They need to hear our concerns and demands. Sure they can (and probably will) ignore us, but it’s a lot easier to dismiss us if you haven’t spoken with us and heard our stories.

Huge hats off to the atheists here for never giving up on this meeting and making it happen.

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.


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