This week marked the launch of the first nontheist political action committee in the United States. On Wednesday, the Center for Humanist Action introduced the Freethought Equality Fund PAC which, according to the organization’s announcement, aims to “provide financial assistance to candidates who support secular government.” Although ostensibly a vehicle to promote nonreligious political candidates, the group will not limit itself solely to endorsing atheists. Current elected officials and candidates who identify as religious may also receive financial assistance so long as they support the PAC’s core principles, which include protecting the civil liberties of nonreligious Americans.
Although the PAC has yet to endorse particular representatives, the PAC’s coordinator named Democratic congressional candidates Lee Rogers of California and Will Brownsberger of Massachusetts as likely choices, given their views on separation of religion and politics issues. Representatives Judy Chu (D-C.A.), Rush Holt (D-N.J.) and Bobby Scott (D-Va.) are also on the PAC’s radar. Currently only one member of Congress, Representative Kyrsten Sinema (D-A.Z.), openly identifies as religiously unaffiliated.
Even with strong financial backing from nontheist PACs, atheist political candidates still face long odds running in many parts of the country and as well as for national office. Two-thirds of the public report that they would feel uncomfortable with an atheist serving as president, and three-quarters of the public say that American society would be better off if more Americans were religious.