It is with a heavy (10.5-ounce) heart that I tell my millions of supporters I am ending my campaign to become the first acknowledged atheist to serve as a U.S. senator from South Carolina. While I didn’t hear from each of the 60 million people in this country without any god beliefs, I’ve heard from enough of them (and even some religious believers) to know how proud and surprised they would have been to see South Carolina take a leadership role in such political diversity. Their support helps justify my eight-year legal challenge that ended with a 1997 South Carolina Supreme Court victory nullifying the anti-atheist clause in our Constitution. This battle forms the centerpiece of my recent book, Candidate Without a Prayer: An Autobiography of a Jewish Atheist in the Bible Belt.
Special thanks go to the over 3,700 people who voted for me in the straw poll conducted by theCharleston City Paper. That’s a whopping 85 percent of the votes cast, which shows an increasing awareness and political engagement by secular Americans. Charleston native Stephen Colbert, who announced his candidacy on national television, finished second in this poll. As a huge fan of Colbert, Itook great pleasure in highlighting his appearance at the College of Charleston and by voting for Herman Cain in the Republican primary because Colbert had endorsed him.
Before Gov. Nikki Haley made her disappointing choice, there was a plan for the top two vote getters in the Charleston City Paper straw poll (Colbert and me) to engage in a senatorial debate on Colbert’s TV show. Regrettably, I was the only one with such a plan. Colbert didn’t come right out and admit it, but he apparently chose to duck the debate because he knew he would have had little chance of winning. Here is how I would have framed my senatorial case on his show:
Al Franken and Stephen Colbert are among my favorite comedians. Franken, however, mysteriously lost his sense of humor after becoming a U.S. Senator, and he hasn’t been heard from since. Our country cannot afford to take such a risk with a national treasure like Stephen Colbert, so he needs to stay where he is. As Senator, I promise not to fall off the humor cliff—as most politicians do. I will report to my constituents every week on C-SPAN television about the many weird things I see and hear from members of Congress. I might not be as funny as Stephen Colbert, but the C-SPAN humor bar is set so low that even a mathematician like me can clear it with ease. Finally, I hope to start a much-needed trend toward shorter political speeches by dropping the standard cliché ending, “God bless you and God bless the United States of America.”
Written By: Herb Silvermancontinue to source article at washingtonpost.com