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By Scott Douglas Jacobsen
In some ways, coming out gay is so 80s, the new coming out, likely, is as someone without a formal religion. This can be in media. This can be in politics. This can be education and within families.
No matter the means through which an individual comes out for the area of life that they choose to do it in, it is a difficult thing to do because of the standard stigma against those who come out.
Think about some of the most difficult areas for people to come out such as those in The Clergy Project, in this initiative, those pastors, preachers, and ministers who lost faith while at the pulpit have difficult choices to make (The Clergy Project, 2017).
Those choices involve family, as well as community and income. How will they make a living? How will they find a community? Will their current community accept them still? If lucky, as with Grett Vosper, you will be accepted.
One lawmaker in the United States has come out as an atheist. He does not believe in God. U.S. Rep. Jared Huffman (D-Calif.) used to decline statements about his formal or informal religious beliefs (Boorstein, 2017; Mehta, 2017).
He went from the California state government to Congress. Of the 535 members in the United States Congress, Huffman was one of nine who chose to leave their markings of religious belief blank.
Huffman has been active during the time of President Donald Trump, the Trump Administration, Roy Moore, and the campaign of Betsy DeVos to move Public Funding for schools into religious schools religious schools. He notes that religion has now been used in such a negative way.
He has now stated openly that he is a humanist with an ethical life focused on reason compassion and science, while explicitly rejecting the supernaturalistic outlook on life. We have the Natural Life Here and Now.
Insofar as religious identity is related to Congress and a members existence in it, Huffman appears to be only the second in the history of Congress. This is coming out. I would argue this is probably coming out more explicitly than gays in the 80s, where the closet is much, much deeper.
Although, as Eddie Murphy quipped in a different context, some have skeletons in their closets; others have cemeteries. The first member of Congress in the United States to state their identification, religiously, as unaffiliated was U.S. Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) in 2013.
Huffman makes an explicit point that he is not hostile to religion or judgemental of other individuals’ religious beliefs. Religion is not central to his political life. Rather, he focuses on an ethical life in the natural world here-and-now. That’s that.
How’s that for coming out?
Boorstein, M. (2017, November 9). This lawmaker isn’t sure that God exists. Now, he’s finally decided to tell people. Retrieved from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2017/11/09/this-lawmaker-is-skeptical-that-god-exists-now-hes-finally-decided-to-tell-people/?utm_term=.651e442f24af.
Mehta, H. (2017, November 10). Why Didn’t a Congressman’s Humanism Declaration Make a Bigger Splash? Retrieved from http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2017/11/10/why-didnt-a-congressmans-humanism-declaration-make-a-bigger-splash/#bXGTtpqRir6vDlgI.99.