Wow, so I think I have an atheist senator now. Ted Kaufman has been appointed to take Biden’s senate seat, and get a load of this from the NYT:
What he calls his “humanistic” way of thinking he attributes largely to his Irish Catholic mother, a teacher, and his father, a secular Jew, a social worker and his hero.
“Humanist”, as we all know, is the pussy way of saying atheist and “secular Jew”? Well, there’s no pussy-footing about that. So did the Catholicism seep into him? Maybe, maybe not.
Of course he wasn’t elected, and perhaps this is the only way to get an atheist into a seat this high, appointment, but it’s a start. What sucks is the denial and use of “humanist”. Provided Mr. Kaufman doesn’t do anything really terrible, his term could be referenced as proof that an atheist can serve quite nicely in office. But then, because he’s not fully out, such a reference will have an asterisk.
Certainly there must be other atheists in Congress. So far only congressman Stark is openly so. The excuse is of course the prejudice in this country against electing an atheist and those in office now would like to stay in office and get re-elected, but Mr. Kaufman is a placeholder, a guy possibly just keeping the seat warm for Biden’s son to take it in 6 years. So why not openly come out? What’s there to lose? If you’re not going to seek another term, wtf?
I should note that the Catholicism I grew up with was not what most people think of today. Sure there were some nutters (a friend of mine was one of 13 kids because, well, Irish Catholic crazy parents), but for instance, no one I ever knew would threaten someone over a cracker. Belief was like life insurance, you figured it was there “just in case” but otherwise, you never gave it a thought. Morals? Forget that. Going to elementary school in South Philly, the Catholic school kids were like gangs, moving in packs starting fights, vandalism, you name it. Luckily in high school, the Catholic school girls were equally, um, “immoral”, but in the good way. Friends who were Catholic could always be counted on to do the craziest shit, be it partying, fighting, or other shit.
So I have mixed feeling about Catholics. Today I know of Donahue and cracker cooks and wild anti-abortion, anti-gay fanatics (oh yeah, and Mel Gibson), but what I grew up knowing was a Catholicism which wasn’t all that far from secular Jew, a thing that was more ritual than belief. I’ve always thought of Biden as one of those kind of Catholics, the pragmatic, go through the motions kind, so his god references have never been that stinging. Don’t get me wrong, I hate them, but it just never hit me with the force with which a “true believer” like W saying it would.
If Kaufman says he’s a “humanist”, I’d say chances are he’s a full blown atheist. If not, worst case is he’s the kind of Catholic I know, or perhaps something new, a secular Catholic. I guess what I’m saying is, I probably don’t have to worry about any crazy Christian legislation any time soon around here, but damn, it would be nice to know for a fact that my senator is an atheist. Now if we could only get one elected.