This is part of The Humanist’s monthly series highlighting openly nonreligious elected officials across the nation. Because of the work of the Center for Freethought Equality, the political and advocacy arm of the American Humanist Association, there are now ninety elected officials at the local, state, and federal level who identify with the atheist and humanist community serving in thirty states across the country. Join the Center for Freethought Equality to help politically empower the atheist and humanist community—membership is FREE!
The Center for Freethought Equality’s advances have been groundbreaking. Prior to the 2016 election, there were only five state legislators and no members of Congress who publicly identified with our community. Because of its efforts, we have sixty state legislators today—a twelve-fold increase – and a member of Congress, Jared Huffman (CA-2), who publicly identify with our community! It is critical that our community connect and engage with the elected officials who represent our community and our values—you can see a list of these elected officials here.
Representative Sherry Frost
Representing Strafford 16, New Hampshire
“My interest is in my fellow human being and the idea that we’re all in this together; when my neighbors are housed, fed, healthy, and financially secure, my life gets better too.”
Representative Sherry Frost was first elected to the New Hampshire House of Representatives in 2016 and has since served two terms. She represents the Strafford 16 district and serves on the Legislative Administration Committee. She also serves as clerk of the Strafford County Executive Committee and on the Strafford County Democratic Committee as vice chair.
A born and raised New Englander, she grew up in Exeter, NH and earned her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of New Hampshire. She teaches English, American history, and the Holocaust to high school and adult students on the Seacoast. She lives in Dover with her husband, two daughters, and a small pride of house cats.
Sarah Levin: What motivated you to run for office?
Sherry Frost: I had been asked for years to run for office, but it took a friend asking me to run for me to actually take the leap. When the incumbent in my ward chose not to run again so he could chase love across the border, I was tapped to run for that seat. This was during the ’16 elections, and I was highly motivated by Bernie Sanders and his exhortations that progressives “should run for every office, from Dog Catcher to DC.”
Levin: What are your policy priorities and how does your nonreligious worldview impact your policy platform?
Frost: My policy priorities are all about making people’s lives safer, happier, and more prosperous. I have championed workers’ rights, LGBTQA+ rights and protections, and reproductive freedom, as well as advocating for a livable wage, accessible housing, a robust public education, and universal health care. I never really thought much about how my nonreligious worldview affects my policy platforms, to be honest with you. My interest is in my fellow human being and the idea that we’re all in this together; when my neighbors are housed, fed, healthy, and financially secure, my life gets better too.
Levin: Why was it important for you to be open about your nonreligious identity?
Frost: One of the things about religion that makes me most uncomfortable is the insular nature of it; there are “in” people and “out” people, and I can’t get behind that. While I respect human differences, I have a lot of trouble with systems that seek to exclude others. As a teacher, a mother, an elected official—hell, as a human being—I think it’s important that I model an openness and acceptance of all people.
Levin: How did voters respond (if at all) to your openness about your nonreligious identity?
Frost: Honestly? Religion doesn’t really come into politics very much in New Hampshire, so my openness as an atheist never had an appreciable impact on my campaigns, nor did it ever figure into the correspondence I’ve received from the public (whether my constituents or not).
To learn more about Representative Sherry Frost