Contact: Ron Millar, 202-238-9088 ext. 201, email@example.com
(Washington, DC, Nov. 9, 2016)—In light of the national election, the Freethought Equality Fund Political Action Committee is very proud of its openly humanist, atheist, agnostic, nonreligious candidates who won their races, demonstrating that secular candidates can succeed in elections.
“Now more than ever, politicians who openly identify as humanists, atheists, agnostics and nonreligious Americans and who advocate for the humanist values of tolerance, compassion and reason must combat the irrationality and bigotry of the religious right,” said Roy Speckhardt, executive director of the Freethought Equality Fund.
Speckhardt continued, in reference to a recently released Public Religious Research Institute study, “A quarter of our country's population now identifies as religiously unaffiliated, and our democracy is impoverished when these citizens are effectively denied the opportunity to pursue elected office or have their voices heard in government.”
President Barack Obama recently acknowledged the plight of open atheists and agnostics in an interview on Real Time with Bill Maher. Obama told Maher, "I think you’re right, that there are certain occupations — probably, most prominently, politics — where there would be a bias against somebody who’s agnostic or atheist in running for office.” Obama also put forth the goal that “we should foster a culture in which people’s private religious beliefs, including atheists and agnostics, are respected.” His message stands in stark contrast to the statements of Donald Trump, who has indicated a support for blasphemy laws and for permitting Christian churches to blur the separation of church and state through endorsing political candidates.
To that end of gaining acceptance and respect for atheists and agnostic political candidates, the Freethought Equality Fund applauds the success of Arizona Rep. Juan Mendez, an open atheist, who won his election for the Arizona State Senate after serving in the Arizona House of Representatives for the 26th District. The Freethought Equality Fund is also pleased with the success of Nebraska Sen. Ernie Chambers, recently given the Lifetime Achievement Award by the American Humanist Association at its 2016 conference, who won re-election in his race for the Nebraska State Senate seat for the 11th District.
Other openly secular candidates who successfully won their elections include: Athena Salman, an open atheist elected to the Arizona State House’s 26th District; Chris Kennedy, an open agnostic elected to the Colorado State House’s 34th District; Tim Smith, an open atheist re-elected to the New Hampshire State House’s 17th District; Diego Hernandez, an open agnostic elected to the Oregon State House’s 47th District; Sam Young, an open agnostic re-elected to the Vermont State House’s 1st District; Beth Doglio, an open agnostic elected to the Washington State House for District 22-2; Strom Peterson, an open agnostic re-elected to the Washington State House for District 21-1; and Melissa Sargent, an open agnostic re-elected to the Wisconsin State House’s 48th District.
The Freethought Equality Fund is also proud of our candidates who, while unsuccessful in gaining their seats, were successful in running positive campaigns that increased the visibility of the secular community in American. Representative of these candidates are Gayle Jordon, who ran openly as a humanist and atheist for the Tennessee State Senate’s 14th District; and Jennifer Goulet, who ran openly as an atheist for the Washington State House District 9-1 in conservative eastern Washington state.
The Freethought Equality Fund PAC endorsed a total of 61 candidates at the federal, state and local levels. The candidates identified as humanists, atheists, agnostics, religiously unaffiliated or religious allies of the secular community and all ensured that they would uphold the separation of church and state if elected. A full list of endorsements and their election results can be viewed at http://freethoughtequality.org/endorsements2016/.
The mission of the Freethought Equality Fund (FEF) is to change the face of American politics and to achieve equality by increasing the number of open humanist and atheists, and their allies, in public office at all levels of government. FEF supports progressive candidates who are strong advocates for the separation of religion and government and the protection of American’s civil liberties. FEF is affiliated with the Center for Freethought Equality, which is the advocacy and political arm of the American Humanist Association. To learn more about the Freethought Equality Fund, visit Facebook and Twitter.