Last week, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) announced that he was a “non-religious Humanist,” making him the only member of Congress to openly disbelieve in God. It was a big deal since atheism is typically seen as a political dealbreaker, but it also made sense since he wa sa California Democrat in a relatively safe seat. He’s exactly the sort of person who could come out as non-religious without the label coming back to haunt him.
The San Francisco Chronicle‘s Joe Garofoli just ran a brief profile of Huffman, and one part of it really stood out because it suggests Huffman isn’t alone.
… He said there are probably at least 10 other “seekers” like him in the House. Just before we spoke, one stopped Huffman on the floor of the House and said he, too, was thinking of coming out of the religious closet.
“Knowing this person’s district,” Huffman said and laughed, “I told them I didn’t think it was a good idea.”
These kinds of rumors aren’t anything new. When Rep. Pete Stark (another Californian) announced his non-theism in 2007, I heard that roughly two dozen members of the House were also atheists but didn’t want to go public with it. Huffman says it’s ten. None of that matters until others follow in his footsteps.
But at least it means House members are talking about it. Maybe when they see the overwhelmingly positive responses to Huffman’s announcement, they’ll consider doing the same thing. Might as well do it now when any announcement would be overshadowed by the usual glut of bad news.
(via The Morning Heresy)