Gingrich Says Atheists Can't be Trusted, Disregards 50 Million Secular Americans
WASHINGTON, D.C. –The Secular Coalition for America condemns Newt Gingrich’s statements attacking secularists in government and public office. Gingrich made the anti-atheist statements Tuesday night at the Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Gingrich, a former U.S. Representative and 58th Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, said an atheist has no business in the White House. “Does faith matter? Absolutely,” Gingrich said. “How can you have judgment if you have no faith? How can I trust you with power if you don’t pray?” He continued, “the notion that you are endowed by your creator sets a certain boundary of what we mean by America.” Gingrich said that Americans should value religion first, above morality and knowledge.
Gingrich’s statements encourage precisely the type of mingling of religion and politics that threatens the secular character of our government and is counter to the Constitution Gingrich has in the past pledged to uphold. Unfortunately, not a single one of the Republican candidates on stage dissented from Gingrich’s statements.
“His remark that those of us without faith are untrustworthy and lack judgment is a battle we fight all too often,” said Herb Silverman, president of the Secular Coalition for America. “We may be the last minority against whom intolerance and discrimination are not only permitted, but also sometimes promoted by politicians.”
Gingrich’s comments are egregiously offensive to those atheists, agnostics, secularists, humanists and freethinkers who guide their lives according to principles and morality that are not derived from religion. According to the American Religious Identification Survey as many as 15 percent of Americans do not believe in a deity and have no religious preference. These are citizens who deserve representation in the government they support with their tax dollars and should not be vilified by the politicians that are supposed to represent them.
“For too long, our nontheistic constituency has been considered politically inconsequential,” Silverman said. “The Secular Coalition for America had to be founded because of ignorant and biased opinions like those of presidential candidate Newt Gingrich.”
“There is only one member of Congress (Rep. Pete Stark, D-Cal) who acknowledges being an atheist,” Silverman said. “We know of many more who are afraid to speak out because of political consequences. The Secular Coalition works to change such biased attitudes so that legislators and citizens in all walks of life can be open about their non-beliefs.”
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