U.S. Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., addressedconvention of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, in Madison, Wis., on Oct. 29, 2010 via video.
Hello, I’m Congressman Pete Stark. I’m sorry I can’t be with you in person, but I want to thank you for the Emperor Has No Clothes Award. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be in the same league as George Carlin. More importantly, I want to thank all of you, along with the leaders of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, for the marvelous work you do.
Due to your efforts, many people have the freedom to exercise their beliefs or nonbeliefs, as the case may be. In 2007, the Secular Coalition For America surveyed members of Congress about their religious beliefs. I answered that I didn’t believe in a supreme being. Within a week I had 5,000 responses from around the world, almost all of them favorable, and those that weren’t favorable were very kind. I’ve never had such kindness directed toward me by people who disagreed with me.
I’m also pleased with the support of my colleagues in Congress. Imagine when Mike Huckabee was asked on national television about my proclamation, and he said he was proud to live in a country where people could say what they believe as I did. Thankfully, we’re moving in a direction where some feel it’s not an act of courage simply to state that you don’t believe in a god. The work of the Freedom From Religion Foundation is helping to make this possible. Your legal battles have helped keep us from taxpayer subsidies for religious schools and distribution of bibles in schools, and your continued legal work in that area is essential.
Keep up the good work. We must continue to speak out and be honest about our beliefs, continue to exercise that freedom of conscience. And I guarantee that every day, each of your representatives in Congress hears from the teabaggers who take their cues from Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh. Make sure that your words are heard as well.
It’s because of the wonderful work of organizations like FFRF that we’re able to continue our progress. Thank you for the delightful award, and all of you be well.