Congressman Peter Stark’s Address On Religion and Public Service
This weekend, U.S. Representative Pete Stark spoke to the Reason Rally, a gathering of thousands of non-theist Americans on the National Mall. The following is a transcript of his statement (video also available).
“Hi. It’s great to join you in your Reason Rally today. I’m Congressman Pete Stark, and I represent the east bay in the San Francisco area of California, and as many of you know, I am considered the highest ranking politician in the country who does not believe in a supreme being.
When I made this fact known about five years ago, people said it would be political suicide. Hardly. I received over five thousand emails and contacts from around the world.
Almost all of them were supportive and said that it was a courageous act. It wasn’t courageous. I just said what I believed. About five hundred of them didn’t agree with me, and they felt that I needed religion in my life and they offered to pray for me. Never have I been criticized so nicely in my political life.
I represent perhaps the most religiously diverse district in the country, the east bay of San Francisco. My constituents, however, are concerned about all the other things we need to do, about jobs, about the environment, about education for our children. These are the important things that are troubling them, not whether they go to the temple or the mosque or the church. That is not what is on their minds.
A public servant doesn’t need to believe in God, or in any other religious character, to do an efficient job in bringing about changes in the world that are necessary. I have noticed that, ironically, the more a member of Congress talks about religion, the less they do to help people, and so, many bad things are done in the name of religion, like going to war, which we would all like to end.
So, I hope that you have, today, that you enjoy celebrating reason. We have a lot of work to do to maintain the separation of church and state, and I am pleased to be with you, to encourage you to continue in your work, and we will all continue to work toward getting Congress to be more constitutional, and a true democracy.
Thanks for being here today.”