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Wed Aug 12, 2020, 11:41 AM

Rep. Jared Huffman: Coming Out as Openly Non-Religious Has "Been a Net Positive"

https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2020/08/11/rep-jared-huffman-coming-out-as-openly-non-religious-has-been-a-net-positive/




Rep. Jared Huffman: Coming Out as Openly Non-Religious Has “Been a Net Positive”
By Hemant Mehta, August 11, 2020

We always share stories on this site about religious politicians acting badly, so here’s a palate cleanser for you. Over the weekend, the American Humanist Association gave its annual “Humanist of the Year” award to Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA), the only openly non-theistic member of Congress.

During a 20-minute conversation between AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt and Huffman, the congressman was asked about that decision to “come out” — and he explained that many of his most trusted advisers urged him not to do it.

Being openly non-religious seemed like it had only political downsides. But Huffman announced his atheism anyway — and here’s the kicker — it didn’t hurt him at all.

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Reply Rep. Jared Huffman: Coming Out as Openly Non-Religious Has "Been a Net Positive" (Original post)
NeoGreen Aug 2020 OP
CaptYossarian Aug 2020 #1
Nitram Aug 2020 #2
SeattleVet Aug 2020 #3
CaptYossarian Aug 2020 #4
SeattleVet Aug 2020 #5
CaptYossarian Aug 2020 #6
LineLineLineNew Reply I
Ingersollman Aug 2020 #8
RussBLib Aug 2020 #7

Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 11:49 AM

1. It's funny seeing "coming out" and "openly" in this context.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 02:23 PM

2. It does sound a little funny, but entirely appropriate considering how it can be used to energize

evangelicals and other religious fanatics to vote against somebody.
This is the DU member formerly known as Nitram.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #1)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 04:20 PM

3. Used to be a much bigger deal.

When I was in the Air Force I joined American Atheists while I was stationed in Germany. Used to get some very funny looks when I picked up my mail. One day I saw a news article about a seaman in the Navy that had just gone through a court case to get ATHEIST on his dog tags. (At the time the best they could do was "No Preference"...well, I damned sure DID have a preference!) As soon as I read about the case being decided in his favor I hightailed it over to the personnel office and demanded new tags. After some back-and-forth, including calling the Pentagon, I got my new tags. As far as I know I was the first person in the Air Force to be able to have the word ATHEIST on my dog tags.

When I got back stateside I was assigned to NSA at Fort Meade, MD, between DC and Baltimore. American Atheists had their annual convention in DC while I was there, so I attended. Before every session that'd announce that if anyone was uncomfortable being photographed, they should go to a certain section of seating. You would see some people cover their faces or turn away when a camera was seen. Many people could have jeopardized their careers by being there. One very active member worked for the Library of Congress, and others had varying government jobs. When we had an event at the Jefferson Memorial and at Arlington National Cemetery there were several 'men in black' types photographing and filming (with shoulder-held 16mm movie cameras) the attendees.

So, yeah, coming out and openly were, and still are, valid terms to use.

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 06:05 PM

4. So you weren't a "sky pilot".

And they went so far as to call the Pentagon? Geez. My DU namesake would be so proud.

That convention story is very believable, especially with today's headlines.

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Response to CaptYossarian (Reply #4)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 06:53 PM

5. They called the Pentagon because the court ruling was very new.

They had not received any guidance yet. I had just showed up with a copy of the Stars & Stripes newspaper and showed them the article about the seaman winning the case. They had to find out if this was going to apply service-wide, and how to code the paperwork properly. Their system wasn't set up with it as an option, so they had to figure out how to manually override and get it entered. If I remember correctly, it took a few days before I was notified that my tags were ready for me to go pick up (usually these were done on the spot, while you waited).

The DC convention would have been during that bastard Reagan's first term, when evangelical fervor was ramping up and being encouraged by people in and around his administration. Jerry Falwell was a big name back then.

Yeah, there was a lot of paranoia at the time...when I went to the Atheists convention in Denver a few years later we had a march to a rally on the steps of the capitol. That morning the police told Madalyn Murray O'Hair that she should change from the red dress she had on to a white one - 'so that we could more easily see if you got shot'. She wore the white. After the rally 4 of us went to a little cafe/restaurant nearby for lunch, and one of the religious nuts followed us there and stood across the street with a portable PA system 'spreading the gospel' to us, until the police came by and told him to shut it down and let us eat in peace. He shut off the PA, but still stood across the street spouting his stuff, and as soon as we left the restaurant he turned it back on and followed us most of the way back to the hotel, spouting all the way.

Then there was the guy that followed groups of convention-goers around while dragging an 8-10' cross with little wheels on the end so it rolled nicely. He wasn't too happy when we asked him about his crucifix with the training wheels.

At one of the banquets a friend from the NYC chapter of American Gay Atheists (now, *there* is a group the knew persecution from multiple directions!) came dressed in his pope outfit, complete with a frog on a cross. He wandered around the banquet room handing out 'corpse cookies' that he had bought at a local religious supply store. The serving staff from the hotel was completely shocked, and a few of them would cross themselves every time they left the room. A bunch of them stood just outside the doorway staring in.

Fun times!

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #5)

Wed Aug 12, 2020, 07:09 PM

6. I see you writing a book about this: "Never Had a Prayer".

O'Hair never had a chance (see what I did there?). She was kidnapped and murdered about 20 years ago.

I remember Falwell. I once referred to the Reagan years as having Moe Reagan, Larry Falwell and Curly Bush.

Peace.

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Response to SeattleVet (Reply #3)

Wed Aug 19, 2020, 10:22 AM

8. I

had to get "No Preference" on my dog tags as well. US ARMY 1981-1989. I never heard about the change in the rule or I would've had mine changed like you did. Oh well.

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Response to NeoGreen (Original post)

Fri Aug 14, 2020, 10:08 AM

7. Nice. Looks like the Freethought Caucus in Congress will grow this year

While the GOP sinks lower, and lower, and lower.

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