Politician comes out as atheist to reduce stigma against nonbelievers

Politician comes out as atheist to reduce stigma against nonbelievers February 9, 2016

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Scott and Cara Prior

Scott Prior, a candidate for the Arizona Senate, has publicly identified himself as a nontheist. Prior had this to say about coming out as an nonbeliever:

“There has been a lot of highly visible discrimination against minority faiths and nonbelievers in this state recently. When the Phoenix City Council held an emergency meeting to discuss whether it would allow the nontheistic Satanic Temple to offer an invocation, I heard a lot of inflammatory things said about secular Arizonans. There’s too much animosity against my community for me to be silent any longer.”

The Secular Coalition of Arizona had a lobby day of 150 secular voters and State Representative Juan Mendez wanted to welcome the group with a secular invocation. However, Mendez was blocked from giving the invocation by House Majority Leader Steve Montenegro. Montenegro claimed that the House must open with referencing a higher power.

Scott Prior was understandably quite angry that his community was not allowed to be represented in the opening invocation:

“I’m a secular humanist. It is infuriating that our community is not allowed to be represented in the opening invocation in the State House of Representatives. The people’s house. I have worried in the past about publicly talking about being nontheistic because I do not really think religious identity should be the focus of politics. But there is such a terrible stigma about nontheists right now. I want to work on changing that.”

Cara Prior, Scott’s wife, is also an atheist politician who is running as a state representative. She said regarding these events:

“I have never been secretive about my atheism, but I decided I needed to put it front and center when my community came under attack.” 

The Priors hope to continue to give a voice for the many nonreligious Americans and end discrimination against atheists. Check out Scott’s Facebook page here. 

[Featured image from Jim Hesterman. Story from Serah Blain of Spectrum Experience]


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