State Rep. Brandon Phinney is an atheist who rejects “archaic beliefs that deny reality.”
The New Hampshire lawmaker recently issued an eloquent letter to the editor explaining some of the problems with religious superstition, while also noting the importance of the separation of church and state.
In his letter, Rep. Phinney responds to an article published by Foster’s Daily Democrat that seems to imply that “secularism,” and shrinking church attendance, is a bad thing.
Phinney’s response indicates that he values secularism, and finds no problem with the growing number of citizens abandoning “archaic beliefs that deny reality.” Further, the lawmaker finds no value in “belief systems that consistently devalue others by telling them they’re bad people for not believing the same things…”
Rep. Phinney’s position is even more astonishing given the fact that he is was elected to office as a Republican, the party currently promoting Christian theocracy at every turn.
The following is an extended excerpt from Phinney’s letter to the editor:
… In an age of information, scientific progress and exploration and the understanding of the workings of our world, it is difficult and to be frank, rather foolish, to hold onto archaic beliefs that deny reality. In these modern times of religious extremism, I do not see the value of belief systems that consistently devalue others by telling them they’re bad people for not believing the same things or having some sort of moral superiority. Also the amount of hatred from these groups that manifest into violence turns people away. People are rejecting religion because it just does not coalesce with our modern times.
The reliance of self is something to be celebrated. By being able to rely on ourselves instead of unseen forces that cannot be proven to exist, we encourage personal responsibility, personal freedom and autonomy with others. Love, morality, justice, etc. are not strictly religious doctrines, but originate in our human nature to do good for ourselves and for others.
The last thing I would like to point out is the crucial and often times ignored aspect of our society, which is the separation of church and state. Religion has no place in governance and should be kept separate as we are not a theocracy. Our federal and state Constitutions protect religious freedom but we should respect the freedom from religion as well. We are no more a Christian nation than we are a Muslim country or a Jewish country or an atheist country. There is plenty of proof in history, such as the Treaty of Tripoli, that highlights the fact the United States of America was not founded on the Christian religion.
Rep. Phinney’s remarks are spot on. His observations concerning the importance of the separation of church and state, the dangers of religion, and the fact that the U.S. is not a Christian nation, are well reasoned and to the point.
Reporting on the letter, Hemant Mehta at Friendly Atheist asked Phinney if he was an atheist. The lawmaker replied:
I am an atheist.
That’s… incredible. That makes Phinney the highest-ranking openly atheist politician in the GOP. (In New Hampshire, at least, he’s not alone. Democratic State Rep. Tim Smith is also an atheist.)
On his Facebook page, Rep. Phinney expressed thanks for all the positive feedback his letter had generated:
I want to say thank you to everyone for all the support for my letter on religion and politics that was published in the Foster’s Daily Democrat. I did not even expect anyone to read it or pay attention to our little state. But here we are and I’m happy to be a voice for the underrepresented.
I received many messages and comments in support of what I’ve said and I will continue to vote for the people of Rochester and for the benefit of the people of New Hampshire.
Bottom line: Rep. Phinney’s honesty concerning his atheism is refreshing. More important, his willingness to stand against the powerful forces of Christian theocracy, and to stand up for the separation of church and state as guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, is a much needed, and much appreciated, act of patriotism.