47 openly nontheist or humanist elected officials at the federal and state levels

47 openly nontheist or humanist elected officials at the federal and state levels November 8, 2018

From the Freethought Equality Fund:

(Washington, D.C., Nov. 8, 2018)—Tuesday’s election will make 2019 the Year of the Freethinker. Once sworn into office, there will be 47 openly nontheist or humanist elected officials at the federal and state levels. “Prior to the 2016 elections we knew of five elected officials serving in state legislatures who identified with our community, and after the 2016 elections that list grew to 17,” said Ron Millar, political and PAC coordinator for the Center for Freethought Equality.

The Freethought Equality Fund Political Action Committee (PAC) is proud of the remarkable increase in openly humanist, atheist, agnostic, and nonreligious candidates who ran for office this year. The Freethought Equality Fund PAC is affiliated with the Center for Freethought Equality, which is the political and advocacy arm of the American Humanist Association.

“Considering that a quarter of our country’s population now identifies as religiously unaffiliated, our democracy would be impoverished if this large segment of American citizens is discouraged from pursuing elected office and having their voice heard in our government.” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the Center for Freethought Equality. Speckhardt continued, “That’s why it was so heartening to see a record number of atheist and humanist candidates run for office and win their elections this year. Their efforts will increase the visibility of atheists and humanists and work to remove the stigma against our community,”

The Freethought Equality Fund applauds the successes of new atheist, humanist, and agnostic candidates like Megan Hunt, who won the District 8 seat in the Nebraska State Senate, Jacqueline Chretien, who won the Hillsborough District 42 seat in the New Hampshire State House, and Howard Watts, who won the District 15 seat in the Nevada State House.

This list includes Congressman Jared Huffman (CA-2) who announced last November that he is a humanist and agnostic. In April, along with Jamie Raskin (MD-8), Huffman founded and now co-chairs the Congressional Freethought Caucus, which is an affinity group for atheists and humanists in Congress and an advocacy group for church-state separation.

In the 2018 election cycle, the Freethought Equality Fund PAC endorsed a total of 290 candidates at the federal, state, and local level, compared with just 61 in 2016. The candidates identified as humanists, atheists, agnostics, religiously unaffiliated or religious allies of the nontheist community and all ensured that they would defend the rights of atheists and humanists and uphold the separation of church and state.

Despite these historic electoral gains, the atheist and humanist community is still severely underrepresented in elected office. The religiously unaffiliated will continue to attempt to gain electoral representation equal to the community’s proportion in the American population – an effort that would require the nonreligious community to obtain another 1,500 seats. As Millar says, “We have a lot of work to do.”

A list of nontheist local, state, and federal elected officials can be found here.

A full list of endorsements and their election results can be found here.

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The mission of the Freethought Equality Fund PAC (www.freethoughtequality.org) is to achieve equality for the nontheist community by increasing the number of open humanists and atheists, and allies, in public office at all levels of government. The PAC is affiliated with the Center for Freethought Equality(www.cfequality.org), which is the advocacy and political arm of the American Humanist Association (www.americanhumanist.org). 
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