The U.S. Congress will soon have a caucus — a group of legislators that gets together to promote common interests — dedicated to reason and science, the secular government our founders envisioned, and issues concerning non-religious Americans.
You would think, given how there are caucuses for everything, we’d already have one of these. After all, there are caucuses for cement, chickens, and rugby. But until now, there’s been nothing for members of Congress without organized religion.
The newly named “Congressional Freethought Caucus” was announced last night during the Secular Coalition for America’s annual Awards Dinner in Washington, D.C. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), the sole non-theistic member of Congress, broke the news while accepting the SCA’s 2018 Visibility Award.
While video of Huffman’s speech isn’t available at the moment, he shared the mission statement of the new group.
“The Freethought Caucus exists to promote public policy based on reason and science. To protect the secular nature of our government and to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, and religious seekers.“
The caucus will also “provide a forum for Members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.”
The reaction from the SCA was, as you’d expect, one of celebration:
“The formation of a Congressional Freethought Caucus is a milestone moment for nonreligious Americans in our continued struggle for inclusion in the political process and recognition as a constituency,” said Larry T. Decker, Executive Director of the Secular Coalition for America. “We are living in a time when one-quarter of Americans identify as nonreligious and yet, despite these demographic changes, our community is still disparaged, stigmatized, and underrepresented in elected offices at every level of government. By proudly and unapologetically identifying as nonreligious, these Members of Congress have struck a powerful blow against the de facto religious test that keeps so many secular Americans from seeking public office. We applaud the founding members of the Freethought Caucus for their courage and look forward to working with them on Capitol Hill.”
The caucus came together after conversations between Huffman and representatives from the American Humanist Association and its advocacy arm, the Center for Freethought Equality.
***Update***: The Chair and Co-Chairs of the Congressional Freethought Caucus include Rep. Huffman, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD), and Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA).
Read the full story at the Friendly Atheist Blog