Atheism Hasn’t Hurt Pete Stark

Congressman Pete Stark’s public profession of atheism hasn’t hurt him, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

Atheism might be the last political taboo, but it doesn’t seem to have hurt Rep. Pete Stark in his East Bay district. In town hall meetings in Newark and San Leandro [Saturday], the 35-year congressional veteran received only cheers and applause when a speaker brought up a survey this week that named Stark as the highest-ranking politician in America who was willing to admit he doesn’t believe in God.

Stark waved away any suggestion that he was being courageous when he described himself to the Secular Coalition for America, an association of atheist and humanist groups, as “a Unitarian who does not believe in a Supreme Being.”

“It’s not courageous to make a simple statement about personal beliefs,” he told about 70 people at the San Leandro City Hall. “What is courageous is to stand up in Congress and say, ‘Let’s tax the rich and give the money to poor kids.’ Now that’s courageous.”

Standing up and saying you’re an atheist might be political suicide in most of the country; the San Francisco Bay area isn’t among them.

And, surely, saying, “Let’s tax the rich and give the money to poor kids” is anything but “courageous.” Indeed, it’s the height of demagoguery, targeting an unpopular minority and citing perhaps the most sympathetic beneficiary group.

FILED UNDER: Congress, Religion,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    Standing up and saying you’re an atheist might be political suicide in most of the country; the San Francisco Bay area isn’t among them.

    True… we’re not exactly talking about the heartland, here. Bottom line, here is that Stark’s experience… contraty to the apparent lean of the article.. cannot be taken as a measure of much of anything at all.

  2. Anderson says:

    Atheism Hasn’t Hurt Pete Stark

    Traditionally, doesn’t the harm happen, um, later?

  3. floyd says:

    Maybe not, but have they discovered that he’s a closet heterosexual?

  4. bob in fl says:

    Sure, it works in San Francisco. As far as the “Rob the rich, Feed the poor, Till there ain’t no rich no more” philosophy, it also works in San Francisco. Neither would fly in any other part of the country.