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As religious diversity in Congress rises, there is still little place for nonbelievers

The Jan. 3rd Globe editorial on the religious diversity of the 113th Congress (“Fighting, but not about religion”) failed to mention one telling fact. The same Pew Research Center analysis you quote, listing the religious affiliations in Congress, also shows that not a single current representative — not even Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona, who, through a spokesman, has said she prefers a “secular approach” — has publicly stated that he or she is an atheist, nontheist, or nonbeliever.

Recent polls report that at least 5 percent of Americans identify themselves specifically as atheist, and 20 percent describe themselves as “unaffiliated.” The Sixth Amendment states that “no religious test shall ever be required as a qualification to any office or public trust under the United States.” But, in reality, there is a de facto test: Atheists and nonbelievers are not welcomed by the electorate.

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When it comes to religious diversity, the 113th Congress still comes up short relative to the actual makeup of the American public.

David Mack


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