Congresspersons who do not specify religious affiliation

Stephen Colbert interviewed a congressman from California and zeroed in on the fact that in his bio he gives his religious affiliation as ‘unspecified’, like 10 other members of Congress. This is up from six in the previous Congress. Colbert suggests to him that he is in fact a hell-bound heathen but is trying to hide the fact.

Listening to the interview, it seemed pretty clear that the congressman was an unbeliever though he avoided coming right out and saying so. On the one hand, it is a little sad that he feels he cannot be open about his unbelief. On the other hand, at least we have got beyond the stage where nonbelieving politicians would have felt obliged to pretend to be religious, even to the extent of going to church regularly. So it is progress of a sort.

(This clip aired on September 23, 2014. To get suggestions on how to view clips of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report outside the US, please see this earlier post. If the videos autoplay, please see here for a diagnosis and possible solutions.)


  1. my2cents says

    I agre 100% that it is sad that he can’t just come out and say he is a nonbeliever but I do enjoy the fact that there at least some progress in this arena. As a side note, I don’t which I would prefer most, a handful of congressman being atheists or a large majority of congressman taking the monicker “unspecified” and not talking about religion at all in the realm of politics.

  2. lochaber says

    Is this possibly some sort of inverse-dog-whistle?

    Like, if someone doesn’t specify a religion, they are assumed to be whatever and escape the notice of the inquisitors, while possibly gaining a bit more sympathy from the more secular folk?

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