Tuesday, March 13, 2007

For Pete's Sake: Congressman's Stark Conversion to "Nontheism"

Yesterday California Democrat Rep. Pete Stark, a member of Congress since 1974 and a senior member of the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, became the first congressman (as well as highest ranking elected official) to publicly proclaim he does not believe in God. "I look forward to working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts and the military," Stark stated starkly as The American Humanist Association, who took out a full-page ad in the Washington Post to congratulate unbelief-Pete, beamed, "It is our hope that his courage . . . will become an inspiration for others who have hidden their conclusions for far too long." Indeed this seemed to be the case for Rep. Stark as well, who stayed in the secularist closet for thirty-three years, until the Secular Coalition for America (who offered a prize of $1,000 to the person who could identify "the highest level atheist, agnostic, humanist or other nontheist currently holding public office in the United States") "outed" him.

What this profession of non-faith means is yet to be determined. While it is nice to see that conscience, not to mention U.S. voters (recent polls show atheists to be "the most distrusted" minority in America with the majority of voters stating they would not vote for an atheist even if he/she was the most qualified), still make godlessness something to be ashamed of, one wonders if it is just a matter of time before atheism, like homosexuality (which a mere forty years ago was just as frowned upon), is not only accepted, but governmentally promoted.

Clearly, the time for FIT readers to fight is now, when the Atheist for Congress (or judge or president) movement is still weak. While it is easy for the influential website Common Sense Political Thought to ridicule the Secular Coalition for America for using the non-offensive word "nontheist" instead of the more easily understood moniker "atheist" for people of Stark's political persuasion, or to chastise Stark himself for depicting himself as a "Unitarian" rather than a non-believer all these years, we cannot underestimate our opponents' devilish ability, especially to seize control of public opinion, when there is little opposition. I'll be the first to admit (in my case, based on information from a recent Simpsons cartoon episode, when Todd Flanders' video game considered Unitarianism the stage between drug-dealing pagan and fundamentalist Christian convert) I thought being a Unitarian still implied at least some belief in a supreme being. But since Episcopalianism apparently can't even guarantee that Christ is God anymore, Unitarianism's demise shouldn't come as any surprise. On the other hand, if Catholics, the only Christians who both possess and profess the full Creed, do not take the lead against those who have none, we may soon find ourselves on the bottom rung of the next video game conversion chain, looking every bit as deadly and demonic as the drug dealers in Flanders' version did just a few seasons ago.


Andrew McIntyre said...


Hoooah. Great post! Just as a little "aside" point, don't judge all of us Anglicans/Episcopalians by the rich, intolerant, godless, liberal, uncatholic, unbiblical, American variety in the news. The majority of Anglicans worldwide do believe the creeds.

Peace to you,


JimAroo said...


As always in church history there is an antidote to "rich, intolerant, godless, liberal, uncatholic, unbiblical" Anglicans....... it is only a short walk across the Tiber.


PS When you come, could you bring the entire contingent of African Anglican Bishops with you? Thanks!
See you at Mass.

Tom O'Toole said...


Thanks for your comment. And while it's true the Anglicans are generally not as "uncatholic" as American Episcopalians, their range of belief is just as wide. You seem to be a thinking catholic Anglican, of the Oxford Movement school. And there is no holier catholic member of the Oxford Movement than John Henry Newman - and you probably know what happened to him. Have you read his Apologia? It's a must for thinking Anglicans. If you HAVE - how can you justify the Via Media? Even the great Newman couldn't ...

Hidden One said...

Andrew, I don't have any particularly intellectual historical or philosophical tidbits or jokes aimed at converting you to Catholicism, but I advise you do it anyway. :P

GreenGuy said...

How typical for a theist to pontificate on other religions and sects when they don't bother to find out what they're based on.

Before you throw stones at the pro-reality crowd, perhaps you should pray to your God to clean your own church's glass house? Your self-righteousness rings pretty hollow against all those stories of Catholic priest pedophiles and the millions (or is it billions now?) of dollars paid out to silence the accusers. How many Unitarian (or gay!) pedophiles do you know of?

Tom O'Toole said...

GreenGuy - As G.K. Chesterton, the noted agnostic critic who became Christian apologist, noted, "The worst argument for Christianity is Christians." But while his book Orthodoxy is definitely worth your read (since he thought along much the same lines as you do), the truth he found is that Christianity can only be judged by those who truly follow Christ's teachings. Of course, by logical extension, your senator (until recently) failed the test too. While these Catholic criminals pretended to be Christians when in fact they weren't, Rep. Pete Stark didn't admit (until now) to being an atheist when in fact he was.