Atheists Grade Massachusetts Congressional District

Washington, DC-- The Secular Coalition for America yesterday released its 2013 Massachusetts Special Election Candidate Scorecard for the upcoming elections -guide for secular-minded Massachusettsians  on the candidates.

The scorecard grades the 10 candidates-Republican and Democratic-vying for the 5th District Congressional seat on October 15. The candidates received the following grades:  

  • FRANK JOHN ADDIVINOLA, JR.  - F
  • WILLIAM N. BROWNSBERGER  - A
  • KATHERINE M. CLARK  - A
  • PETER J. KOUTOUJIAN - N/A
  • MARTIN LONG - N/A
  • PAUL JOHN MAISANO - N/A
  • CARL M., SCIORTINO JR. - A
  • KAREN E. SPILKA - A
  • MICHAEL P. STOPA - N/A
  • TOM TIERNEY  - B

The candidates were scored on their answers to four topics relating to separation of church and state issues: 

  1. What role would religion play in the candidate's decision making in his or her role as a U.S. Representative?  Does the candidate support a mutual separation between religion and government?
  2. Does the candidate support a science based curriculum in public schools and reject the use of public funding of religious schools or religiously-based curriculums?
  3. Does the candidate support social policies that do not discriminate based on religion, such as marriage equality?
  4. Does the candidate support scientifically based regulations including science surrounding reproduction?

"We are pleased to have several strong candidates in Massachusetts," said Edwina Rogers, executive director of the Secular Coalition for America. "But no matter who is elected the Secular Coalition and our state chapter in Massachusetts will work to educate and unify lawmakers on both sides of the aisle behind our country's core secular founding principles."

A recent Pew Forum study indicated that a full 40 percent of Massachusetts residents do not express an absolute belief in God, and a majority of Massachusetts residents-60 percent-disagreed that "religion is very important to their lives."  In fact, when it comes to this question, Massachusetts is one of the least religious states, outranked only by Alaska, New Hampshire and Vermont.  Another Pew study found that the majority of Americans (54%) say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, and 38% says that there has been too much expression of religious faith and prayer from political leaders - a number that has grown to its highest point since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago.

Zachary Bos, co-chair for the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts said, there are hundreds of thousands of secular-identifying Massachusetts residents who vote and want elected officials to protect the nation's secular founding principles. According to the Pew Research Center, the religiously unaffiliated are now the single largest voting bloc within the Democratic Party, comprising 24 percent.

"It's all too easy to give lip-service to faith in order to curry favor with religious voters, but the truth is, everyone's freedoms are better protected when our political leaders work hard to keep any religious bias out of government," Bos said. "Nontheists have always been a part of the Massachusetts community, but now that we've become organized, we're going to make sure our concerns can't be overlooked-- that includes asking hard questions about the candidates' commitment to secular government, so that our voters know where to throw their support."

Rogers agreed and noted that the larger fights over religion and government are often at the state level.

"The separation of religion and government affects all of us in a positive way--including protecting the religious from having another's brand of religion imposed on them," Rogers said.  "These secular values are particularly important to remember and protect at the state level, where we're seeing some of the most egregious legislation in state capitals across the country."

In September David Niose, president of the Secular Coalition for America, presented oral arguments before the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, in "Doe v. Acton-Boxborough Regional School District." In his arguments, Niose cited the Equal Protection clause to challenge a state law that requires daily school-sponsored and teacher-led classroom recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, which includes the term "under God."

The Secular Coalition for America published the scorecards in conjunction with the Secular Coalition for Massachusetts, an established state chapter of the Secular Coalition, which lobbies state lawmakers on behalf of secular Americans in Massachusetts.

CONTACT:

  • Lauren Anderson Youngblood, SCA Communications Manager at [email protected] or (202)299-1091 ext. 205, cell (202)630-9725
  • Zachary Bos, Secular Coalition for Massachusetts Co-chair at [email protected] or (617)935-4951

 

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