Atheists cheered U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) when he acknowledged earlier this year that he does not believe in a supreme being. The American Humanist Association designated him as the highest-ranking elected official and the first congressman to proclaim to be an atheist.
But they might not want to feel too empowered, as Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) reinforced the notion Thursday that a stained-glass ceiling remains firmly in place for atheists and agnostics.
They stand little chance of becoming president, Kerry told reporters at a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life luncheon.
“The vast majority of Americans say they believe in God,” Kerry said, responding to a question about the likelihood of an atheist or agnostic winning the presidency. “The vast majority of America, at some time, goes to church, and I think it matters to people. When you are choosing the president of the United States, people vote on the things that matter to them.
“So I think it is probably unlikely that you are going to find somebody who stands up and says, ‘Well, I don’t believe in anything,’ and you’ll get a whole bunch people who get excited about voting for that person,” Kerry said. “It’s just a fact.”