Earlier today, Rep. Jared Huffman appeared on C-SPAN’s Washington Journal to discuss the recently formed Congressional Freethought Caucus which he co-chairs.
There wasn’t anything groundbreaking in the interview, but Huffman did an excellent job defending the caucus and talking about why promoting reason and science in Congress was so vital to our national interests.
I can’t embed the video, but you can watch it in full here.
One interesting note: Huffman said one of the reasons he decided to be more visible on these issues (reason, science, non-religion) was because he witnessed the rejection of climate science by Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt and others for irrational reasons. He knew he had to speak up. This was his way to do it.
C-SPAN’s morning show is also known for its crazy callers and one of them popped up at the 17:00 mark of the video. Watch Huffman’s facial reactions as “Bonnie from Wyoming” talks about why she rejects science — and then stick around for his excellent response.
BONNIE: I do not believe in a lot of this science. You look at the shots that the seniors were supposed to get for shingles and they are killing people! Now, I realize that Democrats want older people dead, but that’s a little bit ridiculous. You do not believe in science 100%. And I don’t believe global warming is a thing that we even have to worry about, that God will take care of us, and whether you like it or not, I believe in God. So you can have your views any way you want because I have mine.
HUFFMAN: Totally respect your belief in God and your religious views, but these are good examples that you’re bringing up of how strong religious views, if they’re translated into public policy, can hurt other people. You may be confident that God is gonna deliver us from climate change, global warming. I hope you’re right! But all of my reasoning, all of the facts, all the science I’m aware of says that you’re wrong about that. And so on what basis should we make public policy? I think we should listen to the facts and follow them, the same with regard to our public health, whether it’s vaccinations or medicine or research. Again, totally respect your individual choices about what medications you want to take, and your beliefs about the vaccines, perhaps, but we also have all the science telling us that we have to guard against disease outbreaks, and we have to protect our public health through certain medicines. So I’m on the side of science, I’m afraid.
Clearly, we have to teach Huffman to be more militant…
Kidding. That was a very solid response to a caller who didn’t deserve that kind of respect.
Aftewards, when asked about his approach to public policy, Huffman was more blunt: “We’ve just gotta check the religion at the door. It just should not be driving public policy, in my opinion.”
He’s very conciliatory toward religion, but that’s fine for a congressman. He’s not there to be an advocate for atheism; he’s there to promote reason within Congress. There’s no reason religious members of the House can’t join his caucus and I hope more do that as the group grows. In a more reasonable society, every person on Capitol Hill would be part of this group. But given the GOP domination in Congress, it’ll take some time before we get there.