April 30th, 2018
(Washington, DC, April 30, 2018)–The Center for Freethought Equality (CFE) and the American Humanist Association (AHA) are proud to announce the establishment of the first-ever Congressional Freethought Caucus as a Congressional Member Organization of the 115th Congress.
Founded by Representatives Jared Huffman (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Jerry McNerney (D-CA), and Dan Kildee (D-MI) , the Congressional Freethought Caucus will: promote public policy formed on the basis of reason, science, and moral values; protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict Constitutional principle of the separation of church and state; oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, and nonreligious persons; champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and provide a forum for members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys.
“The American Humanist Association (AHA) and the Center for Freethought Equality were honored to be participants in the organizational meetings held to create and define the objectives for this caucus,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of AHA. “The very existence of this Congressional caucus for freethinkers and humanists is a marker of how far the movement for secular and nontheist equality has come. This significant step is also a new beginning for our country as both religious and non-religious leaders work to better the nation.”
In November, Rep. Huffman was endorsed by the Freethought Equality Fund Political Action Committee as he identifies as a humanist, as nonreligious, or as agnostic. Humanism, as defined by the American Humanist Association, is “a progressive lifestance that, without theism or other supernatural beliefs, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead meaningful, ethical lives capable of adding to the greater good of humanity.”
“Establishing the Congressional Freethought Caucus is an historic step in normalizing the participation of atheists and humanists within American politics,” said Ron Millar, Political and PAC Coordinator at the Center for Freethought Equality. According to research from PRRI, the percentage of Americans who identify as “religiously unaffiliated” increased from 16% in 2006 to 24% in 2016. The Pew Research Center found that the change in the Democratic Party is even more dramatic with the percentage of the “religiously unaffiliated” increasing from 9% in 1997 to 33% in 2017.
“Our democracy is impoverished,” said Millar, “and the quality of our political candidates is diminished, if a quarter of the population is effectively banned from the electoral arena. This caucus will help end discrimination against nontheist candidates and elected officials, allow candidates and elected officials to be authentic about their religious beliefs, and encourage atheist, agnostic, and humanists to run for political office.”
Read Representative Huffman’s press release here.