Former Congressman Barney Frank Finally Comes Out as an Atheist

Yes, former Congressman Barney Frank is gay.

Yes, Barney Frank is liberal.

Yes, Barney Frank is a Democrat from generally-progressive Massachusetts.

Yes, we all probably assumed he was an atheist.

But until now, his official religious affiliation (PDF) had always been “Jewish.”

Last night, after taping Real Time with Bill Maher, Frank referred to the fact that he was a “pot-smoking atheist” on the post-show segment “Overtime” (about 0:50 into the segment):

Bill Maher: … you were in a fairly safe district. You were not one of those Congresspeople who have to worry about every little thing. You could come on this show, and sit next to a pot-smoking atheist, and it wouldn’t bother you…

Barney Frank: [Pointing back and forth to himself and Maher] Which pot-smoking atheist were you talking about?


Bill Maher: Ooh, you are liberated!

Barney Frank: No, I would tell you now… I regret… I had asked my governor to appoint me to the open Senate seat and he decided not to, and I was looking forward to having my husband Jim hold the Constitution, not the Bible, and affirm, not swear, that I was gonna be a wonderful Senator.

Bill Maher: You would’ve been a wonderful Senator…

It’s one of those things you wish he could’ve said more openly during the 32 years he sat in Congress. Somehow, it was okay to be a gay liberal, but saying he was an atheist would’ve been taking things too far…

Incidentally, the Secular Coalition for America gave him a “C” grade in their 2011 report card:

The grade was lower than expected because Frank supported reaffirming “In God We Trust” as our national motto, voted to give land to the Boy Scouts of America, and supported a measure that allowed “certain church plans to be exempt from registration and disclosure requirements.”

In any case, former Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) still remains the only openly atheist member of Congress in our history.

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.