A secular activist group is claiming that there are 24 members of Congress who have a big secret that they refuse to tell their constituents and the general public: they’re atheists.

This would be significant, if true, considering that there are currently no outspoken — or even open — nonbelievers serving in Congress.

Maggie Ardiente, director of development and communications for the American Humanist Association, a secular activist group, reportedly waged this claim earlier this month, saying that the politicians “privately” admitted their nontheism to representatives of her organization.

Photo credit: Shutterstock

Photo credit: Shutterstock

“We already know of 24 members of Congress who have told us privately that they don’t believe in God, but they won’t come out, of course, and if we tried to out them they would deny it,” she recently said, according to Religion News Service.

Atheist activist leaders have made similar claims in the past, though these accusations are difficult to substantiate due to secrecy over fears that such an open opinion would impact candidates’ future electoral prospects.

Believing in God and professing such a view is, in many if not most American circles, politically prudent.

Consider that up until 2012, Pete Stark, a former Democratic representative in California, was the only open atheist serving in Congress, but his loss brought the cumulative total of open nonbelievers down, once again, to zero.

Barney Frank

Barney Frank (AP)

And Barney Frank, a former Massachusetts representative who identifies as a nontheist, served in Congress for more than three decades, but didn’t reveal his theological views until he left office in 2013.

It’s no surprise that some atheist or agnostic politicians would be cautious about sharing their views.

Recent public opinion polling has shown that Americans do not have highly favorable views of atheists, though past surveys have also shown a slightly more positive proportion when it comes to whether or not citizens would vote for an atheist presidential candidate.

(H/T: Christian Post)

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