In 2012, after the last election, we knew there were no longer any openly non-theistic members of Congress with the loss of Rep. Pete Stark. We also knew that there were 10 members of Congress (all Democrats) whose religious affiliations were “Unspecified.”
Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) was one of them.
Last night, Huffman appeared on The Colbert Report (for the “Better Know a District” segment) and Stephen Colbert grilled him on the ambiguity of that label. He may have even gotten the Congressman to admit he’s not religious…
Colbert: I see you’ve listed your religion as “Unspecified.”
Colbert: Would you like to re-specify as Roman Catholic?
Colbert: Door’s always open.
Huffman: … nothing against Roman Catholics and I love your new Pope…
Colbert: Thank you very much. “Unspecified.” C’mon, grow a pair. What is it? What is it? Are you an atheist?
Huffman: I–I don’t know…
Colbert: Agnostic then?
Colbert: What is an Agnostic but an atheist without any balls?
Huffman: [Awkwardly nods]
Colbert: [Smiling] I see you’re choosing not to specify your response to that “Unspecified.” I’ll just put you down for heathen-slash-hellbound.
I know he only said “Perhaps,” but that may be the closest any sitting member of Congress has been to admitting s/he’s not religious in more than two years.
I’ve asked Huffman (or at least his staff) to clarify his beliefs. It would be incredibly important to millions of non-religious Americans to know that there’s at least someone in Congress who is openly non-religious.