I was hoping for something to counteract the smear-job from Paula Zahn’s ‘non-interview’ about Atheists on CNN. And no, her second interview was definitely not balanced nor informative – even the 30 second Richard Dawkins interview was countered afterwards by Reverend Jesse Lee Peterson snapping repeatedly, “Where do you get your morals from” at American Atheist president Ellen Johnson.
I guess this might do – on Monday, 12 March, the Secular Coalition for America will be announcing that there is a “nontheistic” member of Congress.
The Secular Coalition announced this first in October last year as a contest to guess which nonbeliever holds the highest ranking elected position in America. The contest reward is $1,000, and entry to the contest seems to be closed now.
My guess? Out of the Senate and the House, I think the person in question is definitely a member of the House. I think it would be more difficult for an Atheist to be elected to the Senate; candidates are carefully examined by the media. The national media does not examine candidates for the House as closely. But which House member is an Atheist? I have no idea. I wonder if he was elected during the last campaign, or if he (or she) has been sitting in office for a while? Maybe he deconverted while in office?
Deconverting while in office would be the best scenario for moral reasons. If a congressperson ran for office while hiding his or her Atheism then at some point it would be necessary to lie – either overtly or by omission. I don’t know for sure, but I would guess that it is almost certain that someone would bring up God at some point. Perhaps the congressperson got invited to a church potluck supper, or was invited to speak at some political venue with religious overtones. What would the candidate do when the venue opens with a prayer? The question of God will come up at some point, and the only way the candidate could answer would be to say that he or she was not religious, or to give a misleading non-answer.
A deconversion while in office will somewhat protect this congressperson from having all of his or her old statements dug up and broadcast; it would protect against charges of lying.
People are people, and regardless of belief they will find reasons to be moral or immoral – but Atheists are under a magnifying glass these days, and our every (human) moral imperfection is being carefully scrutinized. We need to stay on our toes.
Otherwise Reverend Peterson will bust a gut yelling at us.