Running for Political Office As An Atheist May 11, 2011

Running for Political Office As An Atheist

There’s no one way to run a political campaign, but we certainly need more atheists running for public office.

Cecil Bothwell is currently a City Council member in Asheville, North Carolina. He’s one of a small handful of local politicians who is openly atheist, and he’s running for Congress in 2012.

He spoke at the recent American Humanist Association conference in Boston for the Secular Student Alliance’s “Leadership Track” for students. In the video below, he tells his own story of running for office and his plans for the future. Don’t miss the Q&A at the end!

Do any parts of the video stand out to you?

How nice would it be if atheists running for office was just a regular occurrence…?


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  • derek

    I wish the fact that he was an atheist running for office wasn’t considered important. It is pretty groundbreaking for him to openly run as an atheist, but I wish the out-group hostility towards atheists did not make it so.

  • John

    Just quote Article 6 from the Constitution, and let all those “constitutionalists” deal with it! “No Religious Test Shall be required to hold a PUBLIC TRUST under the United States! This is really clear enough to end all discussion!

  • I have been contemplating running for city commissioner in my area, as a college student in an area where there are students aplenty and our voice is not heard to the small city, but I am worried that being an atheist will make election much harder. It is a pretty conservative area, and running as a student would be enough of a barrier to cross and be successful.

  • Steve

    @John
    It’s not about his legal rights to run as an atheist. It’s about the public perception and his appeal to the voters

  • Annie

    The poem and the information about Billy Graham stood out the most for me. He appears to be a very thoughtful man, which is refreshing. I also agree with his ideas about ending the “war” on drugs. Good luck Cecil!

  • Russ Greene

    I have never been so proud to be an Ashevillian. I look forward to voting for him, and not just because he’s a skeptic!

  • Alex

    You have to read his books too. Start with Whale Falls. http://www.braveulysses.com/

  • Very interesting, thanks!

  • Rick

    Mr. Bothwell has contradicted himself when he says he is trying to appeal to libertarians, yet he says he still supports gun control(banning high capacity ammo clips). The vast majority of libertarians are single issue voters on the gun control issue and they will not vote for him(even if they are atheists).

  • Defiantnonbeliever

    Much of rural North Carolina doesn’t have video viewable web access. He may do well enough in Ashville(a more liberal oasis) but gl in the rest of the state if he doesn’t use other media and have a message that appeals to rural areas. I haven’t seen much of his policies yet. Our roads are inadequate where I am and bike trails for cities wont cut it as improvements, for me. He might ride a backlash wave against tea party services cuts into office but this is the state that kept Jesse Helms in office for life.

  • I disagree with his interpretation of the Christian interest in drugs. It is not feeling good but not indulging oneself. It connected with feeling good but there is just this anti-substance bias in puritanism that goes back to alcohol.

  • stephen

    I met Cecil at the AHA conference this year– he’d certainly have my vote were I in NC.

  • Allan H

    Does it really matter what a person believes when they run for office? Isn’t their political platform really the only significant factor?

  • captsam

    i knew billy graham was bad for a free u.s.a. but i now see him in a much worst light

  • Rich Wilson

    Seems the Democrat he’s running against is a member of ‘The Family’
    http://www.examiner.com/atheism-in-national/atheist-challenges-c-street-congressman-democratic-primary

  • BlueRidgeLady

    Another Asheville freethinker here. Go, Cecil!

  • I am an atheist and I find it disgusting to put forward that we should vote for a politician BECAUSE they are an atheist.
    I don’t care for the faith of my surgeon, barber or grocer.
    Disappointing rhetoric.

  • ACN

    There’s no one way to run a political campaign, but we certainly need more atheists running for public office.

    Cecil Bothwell is currently a City Council member in Asheville, North Carolina. He’s one of a small handful of local politicians who is openly atheist, and he’s running for Congress in 2012.

    Nope, Hemant didn’t say you should vote for him because he’s an atheist here.

    He spoke at the recent American Humanist Association conference in Boston for the Secular Student Alliance’s “Leadership Track” for students. In the video below, he tells his own story of running for office and his plans for the future. Don’t miss the Q&A at the end!

    Or here.

    Do any parts of the video stand out to you?

    How nice would it be if atheists running for office was just a regular occurrence…?

    Or here!

    Nowhere in the text of his article was the claim that “you need to vote for him BECAUSE he’s an atheist” made. In fact, no one in the forum said it either. I think derek said it best in the first comment:

    I wish the fact that he was an atheist running for office wasn’t considered important. It is pretty groundbreaking for him to openly run as an atheist, but I wish the out-group hostility towards atheists did not make it so.