***Update*** (9/19/13): Here is video from yesterday’s press conference:
This morning, the Center for Humanist Activism (the political and advocacy wing of the American Humanist Association) announced at a press conference that they had formed a political action committee called the Freethought Equality Fund. The PAC will financially support candidates who are openly atheist as well as theistic candidates who support church/state separation:
The mission of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC is to change the face of American politics and to achieve equality by increasing the number of open humanists and atheists in public office at all levels of government.…
The FEF PAC will provide nontheist Americans the opportunity to make their voices heard in the political process by supporting candidates who identify as humanist, atheist, agnostic, and who share our goals of protecting the separation of church and state and defending the civil liberties of secular Americans.
When people see respected ethical humanists and atheists serve in public office, this will begin to dispel many myths about nonbelievers. The FEF PAC will also support a number of candidates who identify as religious but who are leaders in supporting the rights of nonbelievers.
Bishop McNeill, an activist who has years of political campaign experience under his belt, will serve as the group’s full-time (paid!) coordinator:
“The increasing numbers of non-religious Americans now have a vibrant PAC that will be directly supporting candidates who champion the principles of secular government now so fervently under attack,” said Freethought Equality Fund PAC Coordinator Bishop McNeill. “There is a clear need to assist candidates who will challenge those looking to use the power of government to impose religious doctrines on everyone.”
According to the Huffington Post’s Amanda Terkel:
The PAC has not yet endorsed anyone, but McNeill identified Reps. Judy Chu (D-Calif.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) as possibilities, as well as Democratic congressional candidates Lee Rogers in California and Will Brownsberger in Massachusetts. Officials said on Wednesday they would be open to endorsing members of either party, although right now, they’re not finding many Republicans who agree with their positions.
It’ll be interesting to see if they support Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ) — she calls herself “Unaffiliated” and is rumored to be an atheist but has not said so openly, certainly not since getting elected.
Also: Will Republican candidates who support church/state separation take the PAC’s money if offered?
In any case, this group is a welcome addition to the D.C. landscape. With the Secular Coalition for America already lobbying and a PAC now representing non-theists, we’re making it much easier for like-minded candidates to come out as atheists. They’ll know saying so won’t be as much of a political disaster as it might have been in the past. It’s not easy for a candidate to say s/he doesn’t believe in God, but now there’s a way to donate to those who do.