Tomorrow, the Secular Coalition for America (SCA) plans to announce the name of a member of the US Congress who is not a professed theist. I’m looking forward to the announcement of the results of the contest to identify the highest ranking elected official in the US with whom I share at least some religious views. My comments follow this snip from SCA’s press release of 5 March:
On Monday, March 12, the Secular Coalition for America will make history by announcing the name of the first openly nontheistic member of Congress.
Elected officials who do not hold a god-belief are a rarity and only a few nontheist politicians have been open about their beliefs. Perhaps the best-known was Robert G. Ingersoll, called the Great Agnostic. He was a famous orator and gave the nomination speech at the 1884 Republican Presidential Convention for James G. Blaine. Influential Illinois Republicans wanted Ingersoll to run for Governor, but on the condition that he conceal his agnosticism. Ingersoll refused, and he never held elected office.
As put forward in law by the U.S. Constitution, “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.” However, in practice politicians are compelled to expound on their religiosity, forcing nontheists to keep quiet about their beliefs or opt out of pursuing public office.
Whom do you think SCA will identify? Will the person be hounded and hassled? Likely. Imagine the hue and cry that will arise in the nation’s religious buildings. “Oh no! The Godless are taking over!” Virgil Goode may predict that our coins will soon have “In Satan We Trust” printed on them.
I should monitor the press and blogs, measuring how much positive and negative coverage this outing gets. Any predictions on the ratio of +/(+ + -) coverage?