The U.S. Senate is finally addressing the concerns of freethinkers.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation, the nation's largest nontheistic organization, sought to put these matters front and center in a list of questions it recently sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee to ask Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general nominee. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the committee, seemed to be channeling the letter during the confirmation hearings.
On the first day, Whitehouse asked Sessions his views about Justice Department attorneys "with secular beliefs," since Sessions had in the past criticized such lawyers.
Whitehouse asked: "And a secular person has just as good a claim to understanding the truth as a person who is religious, correct?"
Sessions replied: "Well, I'm not sure."
The back and forth, as Slate reports, stunned the Senate into silence.
On the second day of the hearing, Whitehouse again stood up for secular attorneys — and, by extension, all secular Americans — saying that they shouldn't be punished for being nonreligious.
In its letter, FFRF specifically highlighted Sessions' problematic views on this subject.
During a panel discussion at the Republican National Convention last July, in reference to Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor's comment that "there is no objective stance, but only a series of perspectives," Sessions reportedly stated, "If you have secularization in the world and don't believe in a higher being, maybe you don't believe there is any truth."
FFRF asked: Is it Sessions' contention that not believing in a god makes someone categorically an undesirable citizen?
During the hearing, Whitehouse closely echoed FFRF's line of questioning.
FFRF again expresses its concerns at Sessions' troubling perspective on the issue and applauds Whitehouse for his defense of the nonreligious.
"Sessions doesn't seem to have let go of his biases, making him unfit for the attorney general position," says FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor. "Sen. Whitehouse deserves cheers for highlighting and combating this narrow-mindedness."
The Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF), representing more than 26,000 members across the country, has as its purposes the protection of the constitutional principle of separation between religion and government, and the education of the public about nonbelief.