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Rep. Stark applauded for atheist outlook

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  • Greg Cannon
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070313/ap_on_go_co/congressman_atheism_1;_ylt=Ak5apmrKKPutrFlF_xi4hYEb.3QA Rep. Stark applauded for atheist outlook 23 minutes ago
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 13, 2007
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      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070313/ap_on_go_co/congressman_atheism_1;_ylt=Ak5apmrKKPutrFlF_xi4hYEb.3QA

      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
      States."

      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
      Stark.

      "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.
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