Even though 19% of Americans self-identify as atheist, agnostic or simply non-believers (according to a recent Pew Poll), only one member of Congress, Pete Stark (D-CA), has openly admitted to being atheist, a stance considered to be 'political suicide'.
You Tube video description:
On Sept. 20, 2007, Congressman Pete Stark (D-CA) gave the first speech in US history where a sitting Congressman affirmed his values as a nontheist and Humanist. Stark's speech was the 15th annual Alexander Lincoln Memorial 'Harvard Humanist of the Year' lecture, presented by the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard University. Stark is a senior member of the influential Ways and Means Committee; a strong defender of the separation of Church and State; a Unitarian Universalist; and a veteran of the United States Air Force.
Brief Biography courtesy of Michael Nugent's blog (www.michaelnugent.com):
Pete Stark was born in 1931 and served in the Air Force and founded a bank before being elected to Congress in 1973 to represent a liberal district in California. He grew up a Republican, but had switched sides when he opposed the Vietnam War. He is a Unitarian Universalist, a congregation in which members seek their own truth about theological issues. Stark does not believe in a supreme being, saying that he is more interested in people, though he adds that the Stark family does recognize a supreme being – his wife Deborah.
So what horrific future would this openly atheist Congressman inflict on Americans? His shocking priorities are universal health care, ending the war in Iraq and protecting Medicare. He wants higher taxes for the wealthy and on cigarettes. He wants incentives for teachers to work in low-income schools. He wants higher payroll taxes to better fund social security. He wants better job re-training, child care and housing assistance. He supports the UN, the Kyoto protocol, abortion, gay marriage and affirmative action. He opposes the death penalty, and wants to restrict sex and violence on television. May God protect us all from Pete Stark.
Stark is unruffled by religious fanaticism, saying that ‘the leading candidates all agree that they believe in a supreme being, but forget about it as soon as they are elected.’ He believes that religion affects the style, rather than the substance, of the main political debate in America, which he says is between the Democrat view that government makes our lives better and the Republican view that government is dangerous for us. On ‘coming out’, he looked forward to ‘working with the Secular Coalition to stop the promotion of narrow religious beliefs in science, marriage contracts, the military and the provision of social service.’