Barney Frank Comes Out Of The Atheist Closet!

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Discussion by: 8theist

It really says something that Barney Frank came out of the gay closet long before the atheist closet. I think it speaks volumes about where atheists are in "the pecking order" in the US. Now that it appears same-sex marriage will become legal throughout the country before too long, could we now be seeing the beginnings of a real motivation for American atheists to finally "come out" of the closet en masse?

August 2, 2013, Bill Maher's "Overtime" segment:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UmtIIzWUbDc
 

16 COMMENTS

  1. OMG, thanks for sharing this, I hadn’t even heard he did this. Frank was such a rarity for a US congress person. Not just smart but he actually spoke his mind and didn’t mince words. It was a shame when he retired, although I completely understood why he did and I admire him for sticking with the job so long. It must be awful having to deal with some of the powerful half wits who rule the congress.

  2. Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

    That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      Well a lot of people on the American left would agree with you. That is one reason the American left has been so amazingly successful the past few decades. An atheist would have no chance to get elected to congress in just about any district including his which includes a lot of working class religious Bostonians.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      People do what they’ve got to do. Maybe we can dig up some dirt about you that’s not worthy of respect. Frankly, I think we need to stop playing this “your reality offends me either way game.”

      • In reply to #5 by QuestioningKat:

        In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

        Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

        That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

        People do what they’ve got to do. Maybe we can dig up som…

        I agree with QuestioningKat. It was not long ago that GHW Bush identified atheists as unfit for public office. You can’t change the system if you can’t get in the door.

        Sure, you can call it a lie, but it feels more like the reveal at the end of a taste test; or the magician showing you that the rabbit was in the hat whole time.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      There is also the practical matter atheists rank below terrorists is popularity. There would be no chance of winning the election. There is more pressure for atheists to stay in the closet than gays.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      Well, that’s one way to look at it, but I think we should be slow to judge others about the right time and place to “come out.” True, he might have done some good by being openly atheist while in office, started conversations, even changed some minds. Maybe he could have managed to keep his seat and open the door for other non-believers to hold office.

      It is also true (or even more probable?) that he might have simply lost his seat to an actual theist and then faded out of the public eye.

      We can choose to see that as cowardly self-preservation or perhaps as a carefully calculated assessment of risk and reward. “Can I do more good for my fellow man and for secular society as a congressperson or as a spokesperson for atheism? If I do the ‘courageous’ thing and then lose my job, who will be likely to fill the vaccuum and wield power in my place? Would another candidate be more or less likely to advance secular causes from Congress than myself? Is public acceptance of atheism the most important cause to me, or are there other political fights of value which I could wage most effectively from the floor of Congress?”

      I can understand the urge to condemn dishonesty, but I’m skeptical of absolutist approaches to the morality of lying. It seems to me that, in the current US political climate, atheists who are concerned with secular causes in American politics have a dilemma. Do we want office holders who actually believe in irrational supernatural ideas or do we want politicians who are willing to pretend they do in order to gain office and effect change? All else being equal, then I’d say honest is better, but would all other factor’s truly be equal?

      For me, there is a difference between keeping silent about your lack of belief and actively repudiating it. Honestly, I’m not from anywhere near his district, and did not follow his career closely, so I have no idea if he ever took public positions regarding his personal faith (or lack thereof) before.

      But even if he did pretend to believe, I’d personally have to ask “so what did you do with the power you bought with that lie?” before I’d criticise him. I’ll generaly save my condemnation for active hypocrisy, like, say certain “champions for morality” with a track record of support for anti-gay causes who get caught soliciting gay sex in an airport bathroom.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      Well, given the social status of atheists in America, that’s pretty harsh. A lot of American’s seem to think that if you’re an atheist you have no morals and will eat their children or something. Certainly, you’ll be condemning their children’s souls to Hell by spreading your corrupt anti-God, anti-moral ideas.

      In other words, you’ll be judged by their pre-conceived notions, rather than who you actually are. Having someone serve their time in office and then indicate their atheism serves to demonstrate that atheists in office don’t actually eat babies or legalize serial killing or things like that. Well, the baby eating happens during Our annual witches’ coven, of course.

      • In reply to #11 by downshifter:

        Well, given the social status of atheists in America, that’s pretty harsh. A lot of American’s seem to think that if you’re an atheist you have no morals and will eat their children or something.

        There are some who think that but there is something else going on here IMO. If you look at how people in the US vote there is a significant percentage (although not a majority, not even close) in just about any congressional district (except where all the weirdos live like my district) who will make atheism a deciding factor. So if Frank says he’s an atheist he has to write off say 20% of the electorate. Now the thing is some of those 20% would vote for Frank otherwise. He was very pro-union and pro other issues that resonated with working class people.

        However, there are almost zero people in any district who will do the opposite, who will say “I’m only voting for atheists”. So from the standpoint of a politician its a no brainer. He gains essentially nothing by announcing he’s an atheist but he has to write off one non-trivial chunk of the electorate if he says he is.

        To me its just childish to look at that and say “he’s cowardly”. He’s just being a politician. And Frank especially has advocated for some great causes, reform of wall street and of course gay rights. So would I rather have someone who kept his atheism to himself and stayed in office for decades and did all sorts of great work for average people? Or would I rather he be not so “cowardly” and immediately lose and get replaced by someone like a Scott Brown who wants to roll back even the modest financial services reforms not to mention do terrible things like privatize medicare and social security?

        If you actually care about working people the answer seems obvious to me.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      Going around saying you are a good Christian when you are an atheist, is living a lie. He was keeping his personal business personal. I have no issue with this.

    • In reply to #2 by Stevehill:

      Came out when he’s quit Congress, and no longer needs votes, in other words.

      That comes across to me as cowardly, disingenuous, and living a lie. Not a person I would go out of my way to respect, to be honest.

      It may be, but have you ever at any time in your life kept your opinions to yourself to avoid persecution, religious or otherwise? If so, I would not be so quick cast aspersions. In the work place I always keep my opinions to myself, can you imagine how an atheist and fiscal conservative with civil libertarian leanings would be accepted in the work place? 😉

  3. as a brit i cannot think why anyone would not vote for you because of your atheism. i haven’t a clue of my m.p (congressman) religion, or lack of it.i have no facts to back myself up but based on personal experience i don’t think it would change many peoples vote were they to be christian,jew muslim or atheist.got to say this forum has been a real eyeopener for me in respect of “atheistophobia” in the u.s.a

  4. Not only do I hope that atheists across America reveal themselves unashamedly, I want them to take efforts to expose religion for the mental slavery that it truly is. People everywhere need to realize that faith, this absurd idea that someone can claim something to be true and impose it on other people whether or not it is practical, moral or has corroborative evidence, needs to be deplored and abolished. As an atheist, I am not content with a simple lack of belief in God. I want religion and the mentality that gives it life to be destroyed, but I want people to do this of their own volition. I don’t want to break the building down; I want it to crumble because it is dilapidated and untenable. If people start “coming out,” it will encourage others to do the same.

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