News / USA

Non-believers Create Political Pressure Group

Non-believers Create Political Pressure Groupi
X
September 24, 2013 8:38 PM
Polls show that at least six percent of Americans do not believe in God, but their numbers are not reflected in Congress. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky reports from Washington that a new political action committee or PAC will try to win them political representation.
Polls show that at least six percent of Americans do not believe in God, but their numbers are not reflected in Congress. A new political action committee or PAC will try to win them political representation.

Representatives Andre Carson and Keith Ellison are Muslims. Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is a Hindu and Senator Mazie Hirono a Buddhist. But not a single declared atheist sits among the 535 lawmakers in Congress.

The recently launched Freethought Equality Fund wants to change that. Executive director Roy Speckhardt says among the public, atheists and those who question God's existence now outnumber Jews, Muslims and Mormons combined.

“We are in fact one of the largest minorities in the United States today. But you’d never know it from our organized numbers or political power,” he said.

He says the Fund will support candidates regardless of faith who support secular ideals. Candidates like New Jersey Democrat Rush Holt who recently asked Congress to honor Charles Darwin  for his theory of evolution.

Maggie Ardiente of the American Humanist Association hopes some lawmakers will even declare themselves publicly as skeptics.

“I think this PAC is needed because there’s still a stigma against atheists and humanists and people who don’t believe in a God," she said. "I think many people believe that you can’t be good without a God and be an elected official in the United States.”

Robert Jones of the Public Religion Research Institute takes the longer view. He said, “In the American context, the word atheism has a troubled past.”

It was associated with Communism during the Cold War, and Jones says belief in a higher being is still seen as a proxy for morality.
 
“And I think for many Americans evaluating and saying, ‘Does this person believe in God or not,’ is a sort of mental shortcut, I think, that many religious Americans make when they’re evaluating candidates,” he said.

It’s one reason so many official speeches end with “God bless America.”

But with surveys showing one third of adults under 30 don’t identify with any religion, God’s place of prominence in American politics may no longer be as assured.

Jerome Socolovsky

Jerome Socolovsky is the award-winning religion correspondent for the Voice of America, based in Washington. He reports on the rapidly changing faith landscape of the United States, including interfaith issues, secularization and non-affiliation trends and the growth of immigrant congregations.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs