April 27, 2018

A Congressional Freethought Caucus

view of Congress
As you have probably heard by now, the U.S. Congress now has a Congressional Freethought Caucus. Not surprisingly, it is quite small so far; however, I think this is a very positive step. The sort of changes we desperately need to see are bound to be slow, but this seems like an important step in the right direction.

According to the Secular Coalition for America's press release, Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) described the mission of the Freethought Caucus as having four objectives:
  1. "...to promote public policy on the basis of reason, science, and moral values;"
  2. "...to protect the secular character of our government by adhering to the strict constitutional principle of the separation of church and state;"
  3. "...to oppose discrimination against atheists, agnostics, humanists, seekers, and the nonreligious, and to champion the value of freedom of thought and conscience worldwide; and"
  4. "...to provide a forum for Members of Congress to discuss their moral frameworks, ethical values, and personal religious journeys."
I'm not sure I understand the reference to "personal religious journeys" in the last one unless it is supposed to refer to their personal journeys away from religion, but that is a minor point and not worth nitpicking. I think the first three are fantastic and support these efforts. They seem long overdue.

In an era when Congress rarely seems to get anything right, it is nice to see a few members take a step like this. I'd have to think it might be politically risky. Perhaps others will join them, and it will become less risky over time. Then we might receive some much-needed help in preserving the separation of church and state, promoting evidence-based policies, and ending discrimination against atheists. Good news out of Congress may be rare, but I'll gladly take it when it comes. This certainly counts as good news.