Since the new Congress has been sworn in, I’ve read a few articles about the makeup of the new body, in both houses. The concern seems to be that there are no open atheists in either the House of Representatives or the Senate. When I read stories about this I wonder what the concern happens to be exactly? It’s not like we atheists are a large voting bloc and of course, if we would like to see atheists in our Federal or State offices, atheists have to actually run for office, don’t they?
When I say we’re not a large voting bloc, it’s true: we represent a little over 3% of the population in the United States. Christians, on the other hand (those that identify as such), are more than 70%, so it’s not unusual to find a lot of people in office that profess a belief in God. It’s one way they are elected, whether they are Republican or Democrat. You’d think that voters would be more aware of this than they seem to be, and maybe we are, but we continue to elect the same to office year over year.
If we atheists want to see any change in that demographic, we need to have people begin to run for office, at every level of government. Yes, that includes local government as well (city council, school board), because a lot of what affects our communities occurs at the local level. We shouldn’t be hiding when it comes to participation in government. It’s fine to sit back and complain about how the city council offers a sectarian prayer before each meeting, but rather than sue to stop it, why not have one or two elected atheists. that would object? The same way with the school board when there are some that may want to include “creationism” in the school curriculum.
I view this the same way I look at voting: don’t complain about the outcome of an election if you didn’t vote. If we want atheists in office, we need to have some that will actually run for office. I have no allusions about atheists being elected. In fact, I would venture that having atheists elected to office is going to be a difficult road to traverse, but we have to keep trying whether the election results are close or not.
It shows the communities where we live that we’re not going to remain in the background where we’re expected to stay. We’re no different than any other candidates running for office knowing what not only concerns us, but others as well. If we begin to run smart, attractive(those that espouse policies a majority may agree with) candidates for office, we can begin to have an influence in the political discourse.