There’s a longstanding belief that atheists are unelectable in the United States. After all, only 60% of Americans say they would vote for a well-qualified atheist even if that person was from their own party, and there’s only one openly Humanist member of Congress (Rep. Jared Huffman).
However a new crop of nonreligious candidates, challengers and incumbents, are eager to prove that’s belief is false in 2022.
According to a new spreadsheet compiled by OnlySky, the Freethought Equality Fund PAC, and the Center for Freethought Equality—the latter two being affiliated with the American Humanist Association—we now know there are dozens of openly nonreligious candidates running for office at the state and federal level. They use a variety of labels to describe themselves, but these are all people who don’t subscribe to organized religion.
Because we’re still primary season, the list will be updated in coming months leading to November’s midterm election. But a few things stand out right now:
- For the first time in recent memory, there’s a Republican on the list: Geoff Schroeder, who’s running for State Senate in Idaho.
- There are nine Nones running for Congress, more than ever before.
- There are an estimated 77 Nones running for State House or State Senate. Many of them are challengers. Many others are incumbents. Some are even hoping to leap from the House to the Senate.
While many will not win their races, given they are in ruby-red districts where they face an uphill climb, they have greater freedom to be themselves and not play it safe politically. By coming out as nonreligious, while never making it the centerpiece of their campaigns, they’re making it much easier for others to follow suit in the future.