It’s been nearly a year since the Congressional Freethought Caucus has expanded, but a new member has quietly been added to the list: Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, a progressive Muslim in her first term (who just crushed her primary opponent two weeks ago) and a member of “The Squad.”
I say “quietly” because there was never any real announcement of her joining the group from either her office or the Caucus itself, even though various websites suggested otherwise, but her office confirmed her membership this afternoon with the Center for Freethought Equality. (Her official House website has not yet been updated with the affiliation.)
In case you need a refresher, the CFC was announced in 2018 by Rep. Jared Huffman, a Humanist and currently the only openly non-religious member of Congress.
It now has a total of 13 members, including co-chair Huffman. The others are:
Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) (Also a co-chair)
Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA) (Also a co-chair)
Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI)
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-WI)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA)
Rep. Susan Wild (D-PA)
Rep. Sean Casten (D-IL)
Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.)
To be clear, this isn’t an “atheist club” for Congress, as some critics have suggested. This is just a group of lawmakers dedicated to promoting reason-based public policy, keeping church and state separate, opposing discrimination against non-religious people, and championing freedom of thought around the world. There’s really no reason anyone should be against this, including religious politicians. Tlaib’s membership is a natural fit given her progressive politics.
The hope is that the membership continues growing — making the Caucus more influential — while the stigma of being an atheist (or even being associated with non-religiosity) decreases across the country. Those two things are more closely linked than we might imagine.
(Portions of this article were published earlier)