Which members of Congress should get a lump of coal in their stocking this year? AHA Legislative Associate Matthew Bulger cites several who have voted against humanist legislation this year.
Christmas is fast approaching, which means that millions of children are eagerly awaiting gifts from Santa Claus. While atheists know that jolly old Saint Nick is just another made-up religious figure, religious adults and children take great joy in the gift-giving tradition that Santa inspires.
Santa has also served as a source of fear for those children that behaved badly during the previous year, because according to the legend Santa has a “naughty list” full of those who will be getting coal instead of presents. Santa might have to make some extra room on that list, as certain members of Congress have been behaving extra badly this year.
|One legislator that seems certain to receive a lump of coal is Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas. Gohmert recently stated that Christianity is the most persecuted religion in the world and also called on atheists to support God and prayer if they want to continue living in a free country. According to Gohmert, “if you are completely areligious, completely atheistic, but you want to have a free country, and you want to have it safe and protected, then it would sound like — from historical purposes — that it might be a good thing to encourage those who believe in God to keep doing so, because when a nation’s leaders honor that God that nation is protected. It’s only when it turns away that it falls.” Gohmert has also been an opponent of humanist chaplains in the military and laws that would protect LGBTQ Americans in the workplace from discrimination because of their sexual orientation.|
|Another likely recipient of coal is Rep. John Fleming, who led the charge against humanist chaplains and suggested that our military is based on Christian beliefs and made up entirely of Christian soldiers. While advocates had tried to explain to Fleming that humanist chaplains are important to soldiers of a similar worldview because of certain confidentiality protections that chaplains enjoy but which are not afforded to military psychiatrists, Fleming seemed interested only in alienating non-religious soldiers and insulting the nonreligious community.|
|The last legislator that deserves coal in his stocking this year is Rep. Chris Smith, who seriously endangered the wall of separation between church and state by introducing and helping pass a bill which will rebuild houses of worship following the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy. While the nonreligious community sympathizes with religious institutions that saw their buildings damaged during this natural disaster, the federal government should not be involved in the business of constructing or repairing buildings that will be used for explicitly religious purposes, especially when so many secular businesses and communities could use that money to repair their buildings.|
There are many other legislators that could also be included on a Congressional naughty list for this year, including those who use religious teachings as the basis for their voting behavior. Hopefully next year these public officials will remember to keep the church out of the state, and the state out of the church lest they be placed on the naughty list.
Who else do you think should be placed on Santa’s “Naughty List” of Congressmembers? Let us know in the comments!