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Rep. Stark Applauded for Atheist Outlook

The Associated Press

Tuesday, March 13, 2007; 10:17 PM

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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This article is from Tuesday but I didn't hear about this until yesterday. Since polls have shown that atheists are the least trusted minority, I'm surprised this hasn't been a larger story.

Anyway, bravo to Rep. Stark! :angry: Hopefully this will encourage other public officials to admit their disbelief.

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The only reason this should be considered any kind of a story is if he told his constituency he was something other than a non-theist. And if that's the case, he should immediately resign for having misrepresented himself in an attempt to get elected.

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The only reason this should be considered any kind of a story is if he told his constituency he was something other than a non-theist.

I disagree. Whenever there is a "first" of some type (religious, ethnic, etc.), it is newsworthy. It can signal the changing of the times and the breaking of taboos.
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The only reason this should be considered any kind of a story is if he told his constituency he was something other than a non-theist.

I disagree. Whenever there is a "first" of some type (religious, ethnic, etc.), it is newsworthy. It can signal the changing of the times and the breaking of taboos.
So did you get excited about the first Black woman to adventure to the North Pole then?
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Did Stark take an oath of office on the bible?

Interesting question.
Why is that?
Seriously? It's very hypocritical.
Not really. If I were an atheist, it would be easy for me to rationalize this as just following along with a silly tradition that I would change if I could but that I'm not going to make a big fuss over. Stark probably spends money that says "In God We Trust" on it, and I don't think that makes him a hypocrite.
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Did Stark take an oath of office on the bible?

Interesting question.
Why is that?
Seriously? It's very hypocritical.
Not really. If I were an atheist, it would be easy for me to rationalize this as just following along with a silly tradition that I would change if I could but that I'm not going to make a big fuss over. Stark probably spends money that says "In God We Trust" on it, and I don't think that makes him a hypocrite.
But if he lives in a 20 room mansion..... :D
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Did Stark take an oath of office on the bible?

Interesting question.
Why is that?
Seriously? It's very hypocritical.
Not really. If I were an atheist, it would be easy for me to rationalize this as just following along with a silly tradition that I would change if I could but that I'm not going to make a big fuss over. Stark probably spends money that says "In God We Trust" on it, and I don't think that makes him a hypocrite.
That's different. You don't get sworn into office with your hand on a fitty.
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Did Stark take an oath of office on the bible?

Interesting question.
Why is that?
Seriously? It's very hypocritical.
Not really. If I were an atheist, it would be easy for me to rationalize this as just following along with a silly tradition that I would change if I could but that I'm not going to make a big fuss over. Stark probably spends money that says "In God We Trust" on it, and I don't think that makes him a hypocrite.
That's different. You don't get sworn into office with your hand on a fitty.
They should, considering that's the only thing they seem to be loyal to.
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Did Stark take an oath of office on the bible?

Interesting question.
Why is that?
Seriously? It's very hypocritical.
Not really. If I were an atheist, it would be easy for me to rationalize this as just following along with a silly tradition that I would change if I could but that I'm not going to make a big fuss over. Stark probably spends money that says "In God We Trust" on it, and I don't think that makes him a hypocrite.
That's different. You don't get sworn into office with your hand on a fitty.
They should, considering that's the only thing they seem to be loyal to.
:jawdrop:
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My question about Stark was really just curiosity. I'm an atheist, and I've taken oaths where I had to swear to God. Most of the time it isn't worth the trouble of putting up a stink about it.

That just means you're not a wacko - at least not on this issue.
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My question about Stark was really just curiosity. I'm an atheist, and I've taken oaths where I had to swear to God. Most of the time it isn't worth the trouble of putting up a stink about it.

IIRC there is no bible used to swear in Congressman. The reason you have pictures of them using bibles is that they take a picture in their private ceremony later.
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My question about Stark was really just curiosity. I'm an atheist, and I've taken oaths where I had to swear to God. Most of the time it isn't worth the trouble of putting up a stink about it.

IIRC there is no bible used to swear in Congressman. The reason you have pictures of them using bibles is that they take a picture in their private ceremony later.
Wasn't there just a big deal about the Muslim guy getting sworn in on the Koran?
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My question about Stark was really just curiosity. I'm an atheist, and I've taken oaths where I had to swear to God. Most of the time it isn't worth the trouble of putting up a stink about it.

IIRC there is no bible used to swear in Congressman. The reason you have pictures of them using bibles is that they take a picture in their private ceremony later.
Wasn't there just a big deal about the Muslim guy getting sworn in on the Koran?
Yes and the reason it was silly is that would have been in his private ceremony. No religious text has ever been used in the official ceremony and in fact it might be unconstitutional to have one, based on Article 6.
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Every week my Optimist Club meeting starts with a prayer. I never say a thing I just go along. The 2 minutes out of my life that make those other people(mostly older and I am no spring chicken) feel better is no biggie. I have a feeling this will change as the leaderships degrays a bit. But until it does, have at it.

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