Nontheists Applaud The Announcement of a Congressional Freethought Caucus

Washington, DC --Today, Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) announced the formation of the first-ever Congressional Freethought Caucus. The mission of the caucus is to promote public policy based on reason and science, to protect the secular character of our government, and to champion the value of freedom of thought worldwide.

"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 standing up for the 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 was first publicly announced during the Secular Coalition for America's third annual awards dinner by Representative Huffman who included the announcement during his speech accepting the Secular Coalition for America's 2018 National Visibility Award.

"I'm thrilled to be a co-founder of the new Congressional Freethought Caucus, which will help spark an open dialogue about science and reason-based policy solutions, and the importance of defending the secular character of our government," said Rep. Huffman. "There currently is no forum focused on these important issues, and with this Administration and certain members of Congress constantly working to erode the separation of church and state, this new caucus is both important and timely."

The Freethought Caucus was organized with assistance from the Center for Freethought Equality, the advocacy arm of the American Humanist Association, an organization which works to increase the number of open humanists and atheists in public office at all levels of government. The mission of the new Freethought Caucus will be four-fold:

  • First, to promote public policy on the basis of reason, science, and moral values;

  • Second, to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict constitutional principle of the separation of church and state;

  • Third, to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, and the nonreligious, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and

  • Fourth, to provide a forum for Members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.

"We commend Representative Huffman for having the bravery, integrity, and conviction to be open and honest about his lack of religious belief," said Decker. "While so many people today remain private about their nonbelief because of the stigma, Representative Huffman defied this prejudice and, in doing so, stood up for all secular Americans."

"The American Humanist Association and the Center for Freethought Equality were honored to be participants in the organizational meetings held to create and define the objectives for this caucus," said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the American Humanist Association, a member organization of the Secular Coalition for America. "The very existence of this Congressional caucus for freethinkers and humanists is a marker of how far the movement for secular and nontheist equality has come. This significant step is also a new beginning for our country as both religious and non-religious leaders work to better the nation."

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The Secular Coalition for America is the nation's premier advocacy organization representing atheists, humanists, agnostics, and other nontheists. Its mission is to increase the visibility of and respect for nontheistic viewpoints in the United States, and to protect and strengthen the secular character of our government as the best guarantee of freedom for all. The Secular Coalition represents 19 voting member organizations.

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