When the Pew Research Center released its list of the religious affiliations of everyone in Congress, as it does every two years, only one member was listed as “Unaffiliated” (Sen. Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona). Another 18 were listed as “don’t know” or “refused.”
From my perspective, that meant there were literally no openly non-religious politicians.
That was odd for two reasons. First, how the hell could we have 535 members of Congress without a single person willing to use the word “atheist” (or some reasonable synonym)?
Second, didn’t Rep. Jared Huffman say he was non-religious? He did! In 2017, the California Democrat announced that he was a humanist (With a small “h,” if that matters). In an interview with the Washington Post, he specifically said the phrase, “I suppose you could say I don’t believe in God.”
Was that wishy-washy? Totally. The ghost of Christopher Hitchens would be very upset. But at least he said it!
So why wasn’t he listed as a Humanist on that Pew Research list? According to Pew, “Huffman remains categorized as ‘don’t know/refused’ because he declined to state his religious identity in the CQ Roll Call questionnaire used to collect data for this report.”
(Dammit, Jared, you had one job!)
I bring all of this up because CQ Roll Call just released the latest version of its Congress At Your Fingertips directory — think of it as a concise profile of every member of Congress along with their top staffers — and in this edition, Huffman is finally (finally!) listed as a Humanist. With a goddamn capital “H” whether he likes it or not.
Because this is the source that Pew Research draws its information from, that means when the next list is released after the 2020 elections, there will finally be an openly, explicitly non-religious member of Congress. At least one, anyway. (In the same publication, Sinema is listed as “None.”)
(Thanks to Ron and the Center for Freethought Equality for the link)