Rep. Stark applauded for atheist outlook
23 minutes ago
WASHINGTON - The American Humanist Association
applauded Rep. Pete Stark for publicly acknowledging
he does not believe in a supreme being. The
declaration, it said, makes him the highest-ranking
elected official and first congressman to proclaim
to be an atheist.
The organization took out an ad in Tuesday's
Washington Post, congratulating the California
Democrat for his stance.
"With Stark's courageous public announcement of his
nontheism, it is our hope that he will become an
inspiration for others who have hidden their
conclusions for far too long," executive director Roy
Speckhardt said in a statement.
Stark's beliefs garnered attention after the Secular
Coalition for America offered a $1,000 prize to the
person who could identify the "highest level atheist,
agnostic, humanist or any other kind of nontheist
currently holding elected public office in the United
Associate director Ron Millar told the Los Angeles
Times that the group wanted to highlight the
difficulty that politicians have declaring they don't
believe in God.
A member of American Atheists California nominated
"We didn't think we'd have any member of Congress come
forward," Millar said.
Stark, whose district is in the San Francisco Bay-area
town of Fremont, confirmed his belief in a statement
to The Associated Press late Monday. He said he was "a
Unitarian who does not believe in a supreme being."
"I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition
to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in
science, marriage contracts, the military and the
provision of social services," he wrote.
Unitarian Universalism describes itself as creedless,
allowing members to shape their beliefs based on
personal experience rather than an authoritative
statement of religious belief. Some members believe in
God, but not all do.
Stark has represented Fremont in Congress since 1973
and chairs the health subcommittee of the House Ways
and Means Committee.